Maybe it was brought on by whatever disgusting filth the dog rolled in. Maybe colonies of fecal bacteria disbursed from his ruffled and soapy fur like little aeronautic Gossamer spiders wafting through the air during last night's emergency bath. Or maybe the germs just splashed on my face. Whatever the cause, I now have pinkeye.
Halfway through the work day, I noticed my eye clouding over and burning. By day's end, it was raging red. No doctor's office was open by then but I live across the street from a CVS Minute Clinic and stopped there on my way home.
I walked in and the nurse stared in horror at my right eye. "What brings you here?" she asked.
"I think I have pinkeye."
She leaned forward and stared intently, eyes narrowed into little slits, assessing contaminant risk. Then with a slight measure of panic but still focused keenly on my oozing orb, she reached behind her and produced a bottle of antibacterial gel.
"Here," she said, and glorped a hefty pile of gel onto my hands. "Rub it in" she commanded. Then she took a handsome helping of the stuff for herself.
"Ok, now can I have your drivers license and insurance card?" she said, sighing in relief, face relaxing.
I gave her my insurance information, self-conscious of my infected fingers reaching into my wallet, positing bacteria along the way as I felt around. I handed her the cards and she eyed my hand as if I were one of The Infected* before gingerly taking them.
The nurse then handed me a form, and froze, hands outstretched, realizing too late she had proffered her only pen to the diseased being in front of her. "You can KEEP the pen!" she hastily added, and I immediately understood this was not a gift so much as a command.
She began examining me. "Yep, it's pinkeye. Now what will you DO with your eye makeup?" She stood back, arms crossed defensively and waited for the correct answer.
Um. Lick it before applying heavily?
"I guess I will throw it all out and just buy new stuff," I said shyly.
"That's RIGHT!" she said. "But what will you DO in the meantime, WHILE you're using the medicine?"
I wished she would just spout out the canned recommendations instead of putting me through grade school question & answer period. But I complied. "I won't wear any, I guess."
"VERY GOOD!" she sang. I passed.
Then she tested me for a sinus infection by pumping air into my ears, a new experience for me. "If your eardrums flap in the wind, then your sinuses are clear," she said. If there was fluid behind them, they would be completely still. "We're testing for this because it's a common cause of pinkeye." I passed that with flying colors, at least.
"Are you sure you weren't around anyone with pinkeye recently?"
"No one I know has pinkeye," I responded.
"This is a VERY. CONTAGIOUS. condition. VERY. It's very odd that you would have it without being exposed to it."
I shrugged. "Beats me."
Her eyes narrowed again. "Is there anything else you need to tell me?"
I wanted to say, "yes, I forgot my hall pass" but demurred. "Oh! Last week I had dental surgery. Could that have anything to do with it?"
She brightened, happy that my oral trauma might lay claim to the disease overtaking my head. "Possibly!" she purred. "YES and your lymph nodes are all swollen too. I bet that's it!"
Thanks, I wanted to tell her. Glad to bring you so much joy.
She wrote me a prescription for Vigamox and sent me home. "Put drops in BOTH eyes!" she called after me urgently. "Even if you don't think you need to, DO IT!"
The first time I put the drops in, my eyes burned like I'd thrown acid on them, and then turned even more red, but not a blood-vessely-red, more like a scarlet-fever-chartreuse. Not an ounce of white existed.
I stared at myself in the mirror trying to refrain from clawing at them to relieve the itch. Then I called the pharmacist just to double-check that I wasn't having some kind of allergic reaction. After an extended pause, he put down his bong to look it up online.
"hmmmmm... hold on a minute, let me see... (long silence) Nope, doesn't seem like it's supposed to be painful and itchy when you put the eyedrops in," he said. "But try again tomorrow and if it's still a problem, go back to the clinic."
Great, I thought. I'll call you from the emergency room when my eyes explode.
This morning though, I was okay. The drops aren't bothering me anymore and even seem to be working. But it's loads of fun to walk around work red-eyed and teary and watch my coworkers either prepare to run from The Infected or place silent bets on my condition.
*Just see the movie "28 Days Later"!