The longest hour...

I just heard a call-in segment on the radio about "the longest hour of your life." It prompted a bit of thinking back on my part. I'm going to go with "the time I thought I might lose an eyeball" story. (don't worry, I won't get too graphic)

It was the first night of two weeks of summer camp in 2005. I was basically the camp coordinator...the person who is over the staff and activities for about 200 people, and the one running around behind the scenes all day making sure everyone is where they're supposed to be and doing what they're supposed to be doing.

It was late Monday afternoon, and several of us on staff were in the camp office prepping for the late-night activity, which included a marshmallow roast over a campfire. Unable to find wire hangers at Wal-Mart (what the heck?), we settled on a roll of 14-gauge wire that was about the same size as coat hanger wire.

While clipping off lengths of the wire, the loose end sprang back from the roll and popped me right in the eye. YIKES!!!

As everyone turned to look at me, I could see the stages of panic go across their faces... OHMYGOD! what do we do next? where's the nurse? how are you feeling? can you see? But I really got scared when they all became surreally calm. Two or three people around me started the "you are going to be fine...don't worry about it...we are going to get you fixed up..." etc. They were being a little too reassuring, which clued me in to the fact that it must look pretty bad. That, and when I asked if it was bleeding, they said, "Yes, but it's not that bad..." and I could tell they were being nice and not entirely truthful.

The nurse came up the hill after what seemed like two hours, but was more like 5 minutes. She covered it with a bandage and asked me keep it closed. My dear friend Amanda hopped in the car and we began the trek to the nearest hospital.

Side note: our camp was about 25 miles from the nearest town in any direction. Just west of East BFE, if you will.

I was praying, and felt a tremendous peace. I asked God to keep us all calm and to help us get where we needed to go. I was navigating us toward Lancaster, SC, with my good eye and trying to make conversation so I didn't start crying or freaking out.

Thankfully, the ER only had one person waiting. But, the assistant seemed to think that my bandaged, bleeding eyeball did not warrant rushing me right in to see someone. Instead, she started getting all kinds of information. I was trying to calmly relay my address, insurance info, and surgical history without screaming at the top of my lungs, "LADY!!! MY EYEBALL IS BLEEDING!!!! GET ME IN TO A DOCTOR NOW!!!!!!!!!!"

The funniest thing was that at one point she asked me a question that sounded like this: "Do you have a leeeving whee-yul?" I didn't know how to respond, since it seemed to be asked in a dialect of Southern I had not yet met. I looked to Amanda with my one good eye, hoping for a translation. She just shrugged. "I'm sorry?" I asked. "A leeeving whee-yul." She responded, as though perhaps she hadn't said the strange syllables loudly enough. Again, with the one good eye to Amanda...again, a shrug of confusion.

LIGHT BULB! A living will. "No, I don't have a living will." As I said the words, I could see Amanda smile with recognition. Now, I'm from Georgia, and have lived in Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina, and have "people" from Alabama. I am no stranger to the Southern dialect...but that one really befuddled my noggin.

Back to the eye.

Finally, the doctor saw me...did a thorough check-up, and asked me if I was in any pain. The strike had happened in the white of my eye between the inner corner and iris. When I replied that I was not, he seemed confused. He said that it might just not have started yet, or I might be in a bit of shock, but that I would surely be experiencing some hefty pain. He prescribed one of the heavy-hitters in the pain meds catagory as well as some optical antibiotic.

We tracked down a pharmacy and spent two hours getting back to camp (we got lost). Miraculously, I never really experienced any pain, and only took the pain meds about twice. The biggest bummer was that I couldn't do any lake activities or go swimming and that I had to wear my glasses (no sunglasses in the SC sun) for the next two weeks. But I will take those "bummers" over some of the alternatives. I am still super-squeamish about eye issues and wear shades anytime I think there's a possibility of anything getting near my eyes! I am thankful for my sight, and need to get working on that leeeving whee-yul. And maybe spend some time in Lancaster learning the native language.

It can be a pretty long hour when you're wondering if you will have one good eye or two!


Sheila said...

Dear friend,
You make me smile. (and laugh)


Anonymous said...

Funny, I was thinking of this story back during your birthday. Perhaps the terror of the situation made it so much more hilarious in hindsight. I recalled confusion at check-in but I couldn't remember what the lady had said. Now, I'm giggling afresh.
Thanks for this . . . and I'm still sorry about getting us lost. After all, you couldn't really be blamed - one eye and all. ' ) (This a one-eyed smile icon).
I love you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is Amanda.