That’s what it’s like to go offline for a week with a scratch in the eye

A few hours ago I tweeted:

In this post I’ll talk about how the experience was like. If you suspect you have a similar issue and came here searching for it, stop, and get the patient to a hospital ASAP. If you are interested in the human experience, read along.

How did it happen?

Things like this can be very easy. The bottom of one of the pants of my pair of jeans hit my left eye while Mrs. was tiding. It hit me like a sharp knife even though it was obviously by mistake.

This happened on Tuesday evening and I didn’t think it’d be a big deal even though the pain was horrible. By morning time, I know I knew I needed to visit a hospital.

What was it like?

It felt like a strong sting. It always felt like I had something in my eye, but sometimes it felt like a knife, or a pin, and sometimes it felt like I had a tiny coin in my eye. At first I was quite sure there’s something in my eye (I thought maybe a very tiny string or whatever).

The hardest part is that it hurt more whenever I blinked. Due to some surgery in the left side in my head as a child, my left eye is already “lazy”. This means I tend to blink/close it all the time. Not to mention the annoyance of feeling pain, automatically closing my eye from the pain, just to get more of it!

Seeking Medical Advice

I had some infection in my right eye a few weeks ago and went to a GP who got me some good antibiotic eye drops. So, I got an appointment with her on Wednesday noon (the earliest I could get). While waiting, I thought that I need someone well equipped to check if there’s something in my eye. I took my wife and went to St. George Public Hospital emergency.

The constant about any medical practice anywhere in the world is waiting. I’m talking about 1-2 hours of waiting especially at a public hospital. I did try a private hospital but they said they didn’t have emergency section and told me to go to St. George.

At the first hospital

I met someone whom didn’t look aware of Albinism (that’s the general medical condition of people with pure white skin + hair like me, especially eye effects). He measure my eyesight and told me “Do you realize you are legally blind?”. You can imagine how freaked out I was.

At this time I was thinking the degradation of sight is just due to so many tears overnight and still nonstop. I thought he is wrong taking it more serious than my pain. I was wrong.

He called a senior doctor, who advised having some fluorescent eye drops. They are called fluorescent because they light up under the light of the eye specialist’s tools and show the cornea very well. That was when they told me that I had a scratch in my cornea.

They gave me some antibiotic eye drops, and told me to use an ointment at morning and night. They gave me a certificate to take Wednesday and Thursday off. By the looks of Wednesday night, I could easily tell this was not enough, so, I asked my wife to email my company, Readify, (which was very understanding) that I’ll take Friday off as well.

At Sydney Eye Hospital

Sydney Eye Hospital - Credit: Wikipedia

By Thursday night, it was pretty much the same annoyance. I visited Sydney Eye Hospital on Friday morning. The eye specialist (after another 2 hour waiting) used less fluorescent eye drops (the first one filled my face, this one felt more right), and told me the scratch was so big that it must have been the same size it was on Wednesday.

He called his senior doctor, who suggested I stop the prescribed antibiotic and use the off-the-shelve ointment on hourly basis!

Getting ready to go back to work

I used the ointment every hour. I got my wife to put it for me, and it felt like an addict in some movie asking for his drug dose, LOL! I also asked her to email my company and tell them I may not come entire next week, just in case.

My pain started to improve on Monday. My vision started to improve on Tuesday, it wasn’t still clear, it still got blurry at not-so-close objects / text, and quite watery.

I visited Sydney Eye Hospital again on Wednesday this week, did my 3 hour waiting (1 hour for the nurse, and another 2 for the doctor) who didn’t call for a senior doctor this time.

She advised me that the scratch is now too small that it is even hard to see. I accepted her feedback as during the long wait I was already feeling hourly improvements in my vision without any medication that day.

She told me that I can go back to work. She said the laptop screen should not cause harm to the cornea even with the scratch. She asked me to reduce the ointment to morning and night only (where did I hear that before?) as it’s probably the main cause for the watery/slightly-blurred vision I have, and suggested a dry eye off-the-shelve eye drops to use as often as possible (up to hourly).

So, I went home, opened Visual Studio, made sure I can read and modify code, and emailed my company by myself letting them know the changes, and here I am ready to work, with a plan to visit the eye hospital again next Wednesday.

What I was doing all this time

The first couple of days I was mostly just in bed suffering pain. My wife had to handle all the things I used to handle for our 4 years old son, and our shopping, etc. (thanks!).

After Friday, having expected this to expand to next Weekend in fact, I started considering something to do. Because I was extremely cautious, didn’t let myself in front of any screen even with covered eye, especially that eye covers were touching the eye lid and I took them off more often, I only got one podcast on my mobile, and kept listening to it all week.

The Entreprogrammers Podcast

The podcast deserves its own post. For now lets say I had about 14 episodes of 1-2 hour long podcast to listen to. I didn’t have any podcast setup at that time, and the default player didn’t always sync the last listened-to position. I listened to duplicated parts, sometimes because I was afraid of finishing the podcast and not finding anything to do, and something because I keep thinking about other things, like my eyes.

The funny thing about that is that after fearing to run out of episodes, I now listened only to 10, and need to catch up with the rest 4 and find room for it in my busy routine, not to mention the amount of personal and work email I need to check, catching up with the project I was working on before this happened, and catching up with other channels I used to follow. Fun stuff!

The Good Parts

O.K., as it’s hopefully close to an end, I can have a better look back, and tell that it wasn’t all too bad. There were some good benefits as well:

  • I got to take a week off. I rarely take any. Mostly I just take the Christmas break as often a mandatory leave for our clients.

  • I got to spend more time with my 4yo son. This is something I always feel guilty about whenever I’m sitting at my laptop at home, even when maybe I shouldn’t. There’s no “enough” time for spending with your son, and there are always tons of competing priorities

  • I didn’t drink coffee for a week. For some reason I thought I won’t benefit from even a tiny pressure increase or awake nerves. I wasn’t doing much anyway. I kept it coffee-free. This is very good for the heavy coffee drinker like myself, and it’s something that I read people only do when they are on leave

  • I think the podcast has got me to think differently about how I want to tackle personal branding and related profitable activities. I’m not too horrible at personal branding (although I can do tons better), but I suck at getting to any other profitable activity other than my full time job. This has to change!

Going forward

Well, I’m still recovering, and have a doctor appointment week, but at least I can resume my usual activities, so …

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