Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Blinded by the Light

(OK, I KNOW that someone -- or everyone -- knows this song. I think I'm just going to have to start every post with a song title or lyric from now on. Then I can say, "QUICK! Name that song!" allll the time. And you can guess, and maybe even win! Sadly, though, I don't have any prizes because I'm poor, but I rewrite your resume (that's my job) or tell you you're neat or something. Or you could not get anything but the satisfaction of knowing that you are up on all the hits, past and present.)
For some reason, my motivation to work out has been nonexistent for the past three days. Which is very odd because if I go more than two days without some activity I get ANTSY. This might be because I'm not allowed to wear my contacts for a while (more on that in a sec), and the only thing I can really do is the elliptical or the recumbent bike while wearing my glasses. I just don't love these. Or really even like them much. I just want to ruuuuun, especially since our weather here has been perfect for it lately. But in glasses, it's not really easy. They slide down my nose or sweat drips on them or they bounce around and mess up my depth perception (my palms have met the sidewalk and many a building corner trying to run in glasses). And honestly, my eyes are so bad that not wearing glasses is NOT an option, kids.
OK, so this is the "more on that in a sec" part. I've been having problems with my eyes for a couple months. I figured it was just dirtier air from living in the city during the summer. Hmm, well, maybe I was wrong. I woke up early Saturday morning and realized that OMG I LEFT MY CONTACTS IN. Normally I wouldn't freak out so much that it required all caps, but with the eye issues, I was worried. Also, I haven't done this in forever. As in, if I did no other thing when stumbling in at 4 in the morning during college (OK, and a few times in the past few months. -- I'm really no good at lying), I took out my contacts. About 4 hours later on Saturday morning, my eyes were blood red, I had tears streaming down my face and I was having major photosensitivity issues. I HAD to get to an emergency clinic downtown because I literally could not see. The problem with that was... I could not see. Which makes wandering around the third largest city in the country really fun.
Or one of the scariest things I've ever done in my life.
I decided that I should probably not go it alone since two feet ahead (if that) was pretty much as far as I could see. So I tried calling T to see if she might be able to accompany her invalid friend downtown, but she was out on a long run. I left her one message saying, "Hey give me a call back... I kind of need a favor, but it's not a huge deal." Half an hour later, I left her another voicemail, this time featuring me crying and throwing around the word "emergency" because, well, I thought I was literally going to lose my sight. After I was on the train because I already decided that I just had to get downtown before the clinic closed, she called me back, fearing the worst. Oops, silly me, I forgot to tell her that the problem was just my eyes and that I needed her to hop on the train with me. She thought I was hurt and/or dead (can you be both? I mean... if you're dead, are you really hurt anymore? did i just ask that?) because I was an idiot and told her I could walk home alone from the bar the night before. So here she was wracked with guilt, thinking she had let her Chicago BFF (because I know that's what I am to you, right?!!?) die a less-than-noble, wine-fueled death. Sorry for the minor heart attack, T!
Anyway, in leaving my apartment, I realized I couldn't wear my glasses because I had to put sunglasses on due to the photosensitivity. But guess what, folks? My vision is at NEGATIVE EIGHT. I am that nearsighted. When they ask me to look at an eye chart without any form of vision correction, all I can (barely) make out is the gigantic E at the top. And really I think I've just memorized that -- all I really see is a big, black, fuzzy block. So for me, walking around Lincoln Park and downtown Chicago with no visual help is practically suicide. Just so we're clear, I know that actual blind people do this all the time and we don't hear about them meeting their maker on a daily basis. And I give them sooooo much more credit for that after this experience. But, you see, even though my vision IS terrible, I'm not used to not being able to see at all. On Saturday, not only was I without contacts or glasses, but I had to keep my eyes shut for most of the time I was walking around because the burning and light sensitivity were that bad. And unlike our severely visually impaired friends, I am not used to being in the dark. And I don't have the city memorized without the use of my eyes. And I didn't have a stick. I knew that when I got off at Wabash and Madison, Monroe would be to one side of me and Washington would be to the other. (Thank goodness Chicago is built on a grid!) But that was about it. I didn't have the number of steps memorized for each block, and of course, there is major construction on Wabash that is blocking the sidewalks, meaning I pretty much had to walk in the street. Great timing, Chicago.
After all that, I did make it to the doctor -- who, after looking at my bloodshot eyes, was amazed I made it without major injury and prescribed me with steroid eye drops to reduce the inflammation and clear up any possible conjunctivitis from such bad irritation (ew, yeah, I know). She also seemed a little frightened when she took a look at my eyes -- at least from what I could see. And she made me call T, who gladly obliged to pick me up on the Brown Line (and then cringed when she saw my eyes) so she didn't have to worry about me meeting an untimely death again. Then I popped in some eye drops and about 5 ibuprofen, and had to lie in bed for about 4 hours with my eyes shut with a bag of ice over them except when I was putting in drops every two hours. That KILLED ME. I wasn't tired so I couldn't really sleep. And I'm naturally kind of restless, which doesn't help when I've been told to just lie still alllll day. All I could do was listen to music and you know, be alone with my own thoughts, which is usually not the most stellar plan of action for a nut-job like moi. Like I said, people, that just about killed me.
But do you know what was worse than that about this whole day? (OK, besides the burning sensation and almost dying when I stumbled through a crosswalk that clearly said "DON'T WALK.") The worst part was having to explain to people what my deal was all day. I mean, I know I didn't have to, but everyone I encountered thought I was on drugs. I went into Starbucks in a Dominick's grocery and would not take off my sunglasses indoors. And I'm sure I was looking slightly to the left of the barista and he was thinking, "Yeah, like YOU need more coffee." Then when I had to enter my PIN for my debit card, I literally leaned my face down to within two inches of the keypad just so I could see the numbers. And on the train, I think everyone felt really uncomfortable sitting next to the potential junkie. Who was wiping her nose and twitching occasionally when she looked into the light just a little too directly. And the security guard at the doctor's building and the pharmacy girl at Walgreen's? They were none too patient with scary girl with bloodshot eyes and suspiciously dilated pupils. Until I finally kind of snapped and said, "I'm sorry, having a little trouble with my vision here, so it's just a tad difficult for me to sign whatever paper you are waving in my face." They were suddenly very nice to me.
Every other time I just got on the phone with my mom (let's call her Super Nurse Practitioner for diagnosing me via phone) to give her a loud update of my progress (yes I was THAT girl on the train) so that people could overhear and think, "Oh, poor girl, she's not calling her dealer for a fresh shipment of coke after all." You know what, maybe that was too much trouble to go through. If this ever happens again, I'm just going to show everyone my red eyes, get all Whitney on them, and yell, "Bobby! Crack is WHACK!" Then we'll see what happens.

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