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Adventures in Eye Care

I had my eyeball buffed this week.

It was a treat.

It was a treat.

Jamming things into my eye has become a recurring problem in my life. As a talent, I possess the inherit ability to inflict personal ocular trauma. This is not a talent that I wish to have. Literally, any other talent would be preferable. Even the opposite talent would be preferable; the divine ability to AVOID foreign objects lodged in my retina. But nooooooooooooooooo. I manage to poke, scratch, burn, and embed crap into my eyehole at an alarming rate. While some people are able to go their entire lives without donning an eye patch, I can usually go about ten minutes. So, for those of you not “in the know,” I am going to run down my Top Ten list of the most horrific encounters of the eyeball, just so you know what you’re up against.

In order from mild to miserable, I present:

Top Ten Most Horrific Eye Injuries (incurred by me and recorded for posterity and the purposes of scientific evaluation upon my inevitable eyeball-related death.)

10. An eyelash.

Pain level: .001 on a scale of 1-10

Ha. An eyelash. That’s hilarious. I remember getting an eyelash stuck in the lower lid once. I thought I was never going to get that sucker out. It was scratchy feeling and the tears were a’ flowin’ making removal impossible. This is the lowest form of eye pain that exists. This is the kind of eye pain that only middle school girls who attend horse-riding themed private schools whine about. I get about 40 eyelashes in my eye on a daily basis. Frankly, at this point, it feels good. Bring it on. I’m not scared of you, eyelash. That’s right. It feels like a cool, summer breeze on my retina. I don’t even notice you. You’re like the buzzing of flies to me.

9. Contact inserted inside-out

Pain level: annoying

When I first got contacts, I clearly remember the eye doctor explaining to me how to properly insert and remove these little magnificent bastards. He placed one carefully on the the tip of his index finger and held it in front of my face telling me that I wanted to make sure that when I put it in my eye, it didn’t look like a World War II Dutch army helmet. If it did, then I was putting it on inside-out.

I smiled and said okay. What I should have said was: “How many of your 17 year old female clients have an exceptional knowledge of WWII helmet shapes, varying by country? Do I appear to be a person who knows WTF a Dutch war helmet looks like? Well, I’m not. I couldn’t pick a World War II Dutch army helmet out of a lineup of football helmets, war helmets, and 4-slice toaster ovens. Are you kidding me?

Was it the Packers or the Dolphins? I can't remember which way won't cause my eyeball to explode...

Was it the Packers or the Dolphins? I can’t remember which way won’t cause my eyeball to explode…

Regardless, I taught myself what was inside-out by placing an inside-out contact onto my eyeball 400,000 times over the course of the next year and a half. I don’t know how I would describe the minuscule difference in shape from the properly-sided insertion other than the slight tingling in the back of my head that senses impending evil when it is inside-out.

8. Eye allergies

Pain level: annoying as fuck.

In the last few years, I have developed random and mysterious eye allergies. This is the go-to response of eye doctors when I tell them that I randomly suffer dry, burning, teary eyes that flare up immeasurably in movie theaters. That’s right. For some reason, the brightness of the screen and the darkness of the room combine forces to create a fiery, tear-filled mess in my face. According to eye doctors, that means I have eye allergies. According to me, that means that I had to leave the final installment of Twilight with red, puffy eyes and mascara-tracked tears down my face. Now everyone thinks I cry at Twilight. Thanks face. Thanks.

Your sparkling brings tears to my eyes. Stop it.

Your sparkling brings tears to my eyes. Stop it.

When I ask what I’m allergic too, I get the patented medical personnel blank stare. Apparently my eyes are allergic to sparkly vampires. And to living. Thanks eyes. Thanks.

7. Drinking straw.

Pain level: mildly unpleasant

I have a few different kinds of laughs. Sometimes I laugh so hard that only dogs can hear it. Sometimes I throw my head back and laugh like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Sometimes I throw my head back and laugh and when I try to right myself back to a sitting position, I miss the trajectory and jam my eyeball face-first into my drink, resulting in stabbing myself in the eye with a plastic straw. I do not recommend this. That is not the way to have a Coke and a smile. It’s a way to have a Coke and a corneal abrasion.

6. A chip in your contact.

Pain level: rather unpleasant

I don’t know what it is about contact lenses that makes them randomly fall apart while I’m wearing them, but the majority of my eye afflictions are caused by a random chip in the lens. This usually occurs when there is absolutely nothing that I can do about it, such as being stuck at a cash register with a line stretching from the bath section to the “beyond” during the middle of the holiday rush at noon on Christmas Eve. Or while I’m two hours into a 6 hour road trip and all of my extra contacts are in my bathroom drawer at home, just four hours from my current location in rush-hour traffic. I don’t know what causes it, but I know within minutes that my lens has a chip and it will spend the foreseeable future rubbing an irritating hole into my cornea and making life exponentially more and more miserable until I can get that chippy demon out of my face. I hate you, contacts. I hate you! Just kidding, I can’t stay mad at you. Come make me see…. make me see all the things.

It looked like the right lane to me, officer.

It looked like the right lane to me, officer.

5. A torn contact. Half of which is still in your eye.

Pain level: searing.

Thanks to my mystery allergies, sometimes my eyes get incredibly dry. When that happens, my contacts become one with my cornea. They are fused together with a mystical bond of burning attachment, the likes of which rival history’s greatest love stories. Trying to separate them isn’t going to end well. Suddenly the surface of my eye is having a 50 Shades moment with my contact and the next thing I know, I have a finger full of half a lens and and an eyeball full of pain. Screaming ensues.

4. Getting snapped with a towel

Pain level: horrific with a side of god damn it.

This just in-- BAD IDEA. Back to you, Kent.

This just in– BAD IDEA. Back to you, Kent.

I once had a friend who earned his Master’s degree in being a dumbass by snapping a towel. AT MY FACE. In my eye, to be more specific. It’s the kind of thing that you hear about in urban legends, only it seriously happened to me. I’ve never been punched in the face, but I imagine it feels exactly like this. The pain starts on your eyeball and radiates out to your brow bone. For two days I couldn’t look in any direction because of the horrific pain and swelling inside my eye. It watered constantly. You would think this is the worst thing imaginable in the way of eye injuries. You would think wrong.

3. Deodorant

Pain level: ungoddly torture

Yeah, I’ve gotten deodorant in my eye. I don’t even know what to say. One of my armpits always smells worse than the other, so when I finished violently applying anti-stink cream, I shoved the plastic cap back on and shaved a little of that white, chalky crap onto the counter.


That’s the only thing that really makes sense. From that point on, everything is a little hazy. No pun intended. I opened a new lens. I put it on my eye. Somehow it had a chunk of deodorant on it. I saw Jesus. He wasn’t happy.

2. Sizzling your eye with cleaning solution

Pain level: blindingly, massively horrible.

I flew into Ocean City, Maryland on the 4th of July to see a friend. For whatever reason, I didn’t bring contact solution and I had to run to walmart to pick up a bottle. We had been excited about going to the beach to watch the fireworks and hanging out on the boardwalk, so I was naturally distracted when I combed through the travel aisle for a small bottle that didn’t cost a lot. I recognized my usual brand and tossed it into the cart without much thought. I should have given it some thought.

The next morning, when I got up, I opened my contact case and took out one of my lenses. It was gooey as if it had been covered in mucus, and kind of sticky, as if it had been slowly melting overnight. You would think that would be a red flag and that I wouldn’t just jam it into my eye.

You would think wrong.

Well, it turns out that I had bought hard contact lens solution for my soft lenses. In case you didn’t know, they are NOT the same thing. I now had an eye full of chemicals and the burning was more intense than you can possibly imagine. I was convinced that I was going to go blind. Fortunately, as bad as it felt to sizzle my eyeball with a cesspool of chemicals applied directly to my retina, the pain receded in about 24 hours making an ocular chemical burn only the second worst pain I’ve suffered through with my eyes.

Experiencing the fires of hell through your face.

Experiencing the fires of hell through your face.

01. Random piece of nature

Pain level: Oh, the humanity

The mystery chunk of tree that embedded itself into my eyeball has become the worst, most horrific, most impossible to heal and unbelievably craptastic pain of my entire life. I never even felt anything enter my eye. I couldn’t point to a specific incident that would have caused it. There was no towel snapping or slimy, burning liquids. Just a minor irritation after a run. I assumed I could sleep it off, even. But oh no. I woke up the next morning with blurred vision, a swollen, red eye, tons of irritation, sensitivity to light, burning, and tearing the likes of which convinced me that my cornea had been scratched and/or possessed by a demon.

I went to the doctor and sure enough, I had a piece of fucking wood embedded into my eye. They had to numb it and get “instruments” for removal. Then, they had to BUFF my eye to rid it of the remaining debris. I am currently on day three of this bullshit. I have two different anti-biotics and have been stuck in glasses for the duration. Three days later and it appears to be getting better but I still can’t open my eye all the way, I still can’t wear contacts, I still can’t see well, and I still want to go around randomly punching trees to teach them a lesson for all the bullshit they have caused me.

Come enjoy some nature. If you dare.

Come enjoy some nature. If you dare.

So the next time you find yourself whimpering over a speck of dust or an eyelash, just remember, it could be much worse. You could need to have a tree buffed out of your face.

I Work in Candy Land

If there was a time in my life where I could stop the clock and demand a do-over, it would be when I got my first job out of college. At the time, life seemed fun and exciting, but I didn’t realize that I had unwittingly spun a dial that landed me on the starting square of a trail of bad decisions.

I worked in Candy Land.

In Candy Land you eat your way to the top. Let’s play.

“Welcome to Candy Land, a world of sweet adventure! Come and visit some very special friends! Travel the path and stop along the way to explore the Den of Donuts, Vendor Valley, Birthday Cake Canyon, Lunchtime Lagoon, Russell Stover River, and Candy Jar Junction. As you go, don’t forget to visit Coffee Creek with its forest of flavored creamers, Elevator Island because stairs and breathing are over-rated, and watch out for the ever-menacing Emperor Elastic and his Waistband Pants.”

Hold on, I need a nap... and my left arm is tingling.

Hold on, I need a nap… and my left arm is tingling.

Object of the Game:

Be the first player to reach Candy Castle and kick your feet up in our first floor Morbid Obesity Suite. Roll the dice to eat your way to glory and redemption!

Look who has to have for permission to have cookies now, MOM

Look who has permission to have cookies now, MOM

My weight gain had nothing to do with getting older and the slowing of metabolism; it had everything to do with the sheer quantities of crazy decadent food heaped upon me day after day. I had never seen anything like it and I didn’t really consider the option of simply having willpower because willpower doesn’t taste like cake.

When I started working at Candy Land, it was a roller-coaster of food glory from the moment I arrived in the morning until the moment I weeble-wobbled my way out the door at night. The change came almost immediately. I went from wondering why everyone rode the elevator to go up one or two floors to thinking that walking was the worrrrrrrrrrst. I went from not even eating breakfast to breaking a sweat over whether to have a donut or a bagel. And then I discovered that I could have a donut with a bagel on top. Things escalated quickly.

Excuse me, aren't you forgetting someone?

Excuse me, aren’t you forgetting someone?

Typical Day in Candy Land:

Cram into the elevator with the other Candy Land sausages. Make pit stop at the cafeteria, home of the world’s greatest scrambled eggs. I had never considered adding cheese and green onions to my eggs before. At least I didn’t douse them in Hershey’s syrup. Small victories. Eventually I discovered the mammoth muffins. These were muffins the size of a bus tire, glittered with sugary streusel topping, and the joy of a thousand unicorns flitting about in a field of sunflowers and children’s laughter.

You're basically cupcakes, you magnificent bastards

You’re basically cupcakes, you magnificent bastards

I liked them.

We’ll call this 8am. But let’s face it, it was closer to 8:15 because traffic. Also that strange unhealthy feeling that causes one to experience near constant fatigue and excessive neck sweat. By 9am my boss was arriving with donuts. Always donuts.

I was good at resisting donuts longer than just about everything else. I had been raised to believe that donuts were basically the devil’s starchy asshole. Eventually, though, that yeasty pastry stench would get to me and in a moment of weakness, that doughnut was mine. This would be about the time that someone would excitedly pop their head around the corner and announce that one of our art vendors had just arrived with a veritable treasure trove of bagels and flavored schmears.

Donuts are great and all, but I love me a bagel and some schmear. I couldn’t bear to miss out on this, even if it was my third breakfast. I think this is around the time that I lost all sense of what it means to be “full.” Satiated. NOT. HUNGRY.

Sure, I could go for thirds

Sure, I could go for thirds

It was almost like a challenge. I was a goldfish. I would have continued eating until I imploded. The only thing stopping me was the fact that I occasionally had to produce something akin to work. And even then, it was mostly just a way to pass time between coffee breaks.

The worst part was, we all did it. You would think that there would be some reptilian part of my brain screaming in agony as I systematically destroyed my body with an unweilding arsenal of carbohydrates.

But you would be wrong!

And we haven’t even made it to lunch!

Lunchtime was a saucy safari into the depths of Tourist Country. I worked next to International Drive. That’s Disney World, in case you aren’t hip to the street names in the Magic Kingdom. Every restaurant known to man and mouse was located on this strip. If you wanted gourmet burgers, there was the country’s top-rated gourmet burger joint. If you wanted to slurp down some pasta, there was a five-star Italian restaurant complete with the local Mafioso. Margaratville. Right there. Emeril. There it is. Buffets. Themed restaurants. Sushi. Seafood. Murder-Mystery Theme Dinners. IT WAS ALL RIGHT THERE. If I was still working at Candy Land I don’t think I would have made it to all the restaurants yet.

The state bird is a marshmallow

The state bird is a marshmallow

Brown bagging it was simply unheard of. Skipping the appetizer was simply unheard of. This is the first time I ever noticed that it is possible to sweat while you eat. We would spend an hour in the most hedonistic places on Earth and we weren’t even hungry…

As time passed, I eventually started to notice that pants were no longer my friend. I started seeing the very real repercussions of moving up the colorful path of Candy Land whenever I looked in the mirror. I smelled fast food all the time… but then I realized that was just me sweating and that my body had simply taken on the unmistakable musk of onion rings. This is when I finally started learning a little bit about the food I was shoveling into my body as if the apocalypse was nigh and I must live off endless scores of ho-hos that I could only store in my ass and upper arms. Here was the first twinge of a heart attack reaction to the “shouldn’t have been but totally was” alarming speed of weight gain: I started looking up the nutritional information of the things I had been eating.

Grande White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks: 470 calories
Everything bagel with cream cheese from Einsteins: 430 calories
Queso blanco from Don Pablos: 1,080 calories
Slice of birthday cake: 240 calories (who knew cake was the healthiest thing I’d eat in a day?)
22 ounce Dr. Pepper: 250 calories
Bahama Breeze Calamari: 480 calories

I can still see my feet, so it's okay

I can still see my feet, so it’s okay

It wasn’t pretty. But that still didn’t stop me. It was as if I was scared that I was going to miss out on something. Like 15 years from that moment I would look back with soul-crushing regret that I didn’t eat a piece of Sally Johnson’s birthday cake. It’s like I was terrified that if I didn’t actually eat the pizza with the group I would lose a turn and somehow miss a vital part of the human experience. Which is ironic because eating your way to a spherical shape is a great way to miss out on valuable human experiences… like living an extra ten years or walking to your mailbox without wheezing.

I was simply compelled to spin the dial and see where my mouth would land next. And it was usually around a piece of cheesecake since the afternoon is when the really fancy vendor gifts arrived. And vendor gifts were always food. Because Candy Land.

Did I always have this much skin?

Did I always have this much skin?

Let’s say it’s 3pm now. We’ve had the breakfasts. We’ve dined like Viking kings, mocking the peasants and pillaging the dessert trays. We’ve even had threesies (which is the lesser known, but equally important afternoon hobbit variation of elevensies) and now we’ve consumed enough calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium for 2-4 players without ever setting our lips on a vegetable.


My life was an actual typhoon of food. One of my coworker’s had a husband who worked for Russell Stover. The candy company. More often than not, extra candies… the ones that were too repulsive to garnish a consumer profit, were passed around the ol’ fourth floor. This would pretty much carry us to the home stretch. 5:00pm. Quittin’ time. More energy was expensed in the eating of food than in the making of any product. At the time, it seemed kind of awesome.

Now it makes me feel sort of sad and uncomfortable, like my skin is covered in bacon and I just want to scrub it off with a cucumber…

Following my day at the office, gorging my way to high-speed heart disease, I would spend two hours sitting in traffic. This was the final step to the elusive Candy Castle. The rest of the path may not have candy-stops, but it does feature an extensive and debilitating period of immobility. I would arrive at the finish line feeling exhausted and bloaty. The thought of preparing dinner was nauseating.

Oh no. No, no, no. Not because I had already consumed 85,000 calories in the course of 10 hours. No. Silly rabbit. Because the idea of doing things was just too hard. Any things. Rinsing a head of lettuce? Grilling some chicken? I could MAYBE convince myself to do those things, since food had become my ultra-mega-super-specialty in life, but then there would be dishes to do. That would simply not happen. My inactivity had reached an impressive high. Not to mention husband-at-the-time was in a similar boat as myself.

We had both just graduated and, with good jobs, had money for the first time in our adult lives. We could go out to eat.


Let's spend all of our money on crab cakes!

Let’s spend all of our money on crab cakes!

So we did. Whether it was grabbing a combo meal at the Wendy’s that was conveniently located in the parking lot of our apartment complex, or hitting up yet another restaurant (because getting our fix at lunch was impossible), it felt so good to be able to go out and eat. It felt like we were adulting like god-damn professionals. We had spent four years at college eating canned tuna and making a meal we affectionately called “mash” which was just what it sounded like: a skillet of crap we had left over in the apartment from questionable ground beef to jelly beans. Now, we could say: “Let’s dine yonder, this evening, shall we?” and go forth and order decadent pastas with fancy alcoholic beverages featuring paper umbrellas and very little actual alcohol.

This was a bad idea.

This was a bad idea that we kept having over and over.

And then we would reward ourselves on the weekends for making it through the workweek by having movie nights with pizza and chips and the sporadic visit to the gym.

So, I worked in Candy Land. Then, I came home to the Candy Castle.

Winning at Candy Land can only mean regret, and boy did I win at Candy Land.

Years later, I find myself still struggling with the repercussions of my time spent in Fatty Falls. I have to watch what I eat with a vigilance that often gets an eyebrow raise from friends and coworkers. I have to work out. I simply have to. My weight bounces from acceptable to questionable, but I’ve never come anywhere close to my days as a player in the winding, rainbow path of Candy Land.

That’s the thing about board games. You always get another turn.

I'll have a salad, please

I’ll have a salad, please

Note: This has been revised from the original post, sometime in 2006.

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