I picked up my daughter this afternoon to find her right eye red, watery and swollen. I thought she had been crying but her other eye looked normal so I figured she must have rubbed and irritated it.
We got home and her state hadn’t improved so I sat her down on the kitchen bench to take a good look. It appeared her corner lashes were sticking into her eye, irritating the surface. I had seen those three strands of lashes positioned too close for comfort before but she didn’t seem bothered by it so I didn’t think anything of it. The lashes must have grown longer now, long enough to cause discomfort.
Lucky child. I wish MY lashes were long enough to stick my eye.
I immediately booked the next available appointment with the nearest GP to have it looked at (yep, I’m that kind of mum) but not before googling, “eyelashes sticking into the eye” (yep, also that kind of person) so I could cause myself further anxieties with my findings, thanks to the wealth of (unnecessary and often times unreliable) information easily available.
My husband was a nurse so his instinct was to conduct first aid, if you will. He got to work swabbing the offending lashes away from the eye with a cotton tip and for a while it seemed to work. I nearly cancelled the appointment but thought best to keep it just in case.
When we got to the doctor, he checked her vision to make sure there weren’t any problems and he said the lashes needed to be taken out. He led us to the back where there were hospital beds lined up, sort of like an emergency room and my anxiety sprawled into action.
He asked her to lie down on one of the beds and shone a bright light on her eye so he could take a good look. He said he would have to cut the clump of lashes off with a pair of scissors and asked me if I was alright with that. Scissors? To the eye? Welp. Anxiety levels skyrocketing in 3, 2 …
Before I could even process what was happening, the nurse was behind me, unwrapping a freshly sterilised pair of scissors. They were discussing how they would go about it and I could hear the words “scalpel”, “a sort of blade perhaps?”, “scissors are too big”.
I kissed the top of my daughter’s head and explained what was going to happen. “They’re going to try and cut those lashes OK? They will use a very sharp pair of scissors so it’s verrrrrry important that you behave and stay still, OK?”
She looked at me and calmly said, “OK” but she’s a child. A very curious, restless child, who was experiencing discomfort. I wasn’t feeling very assured.
The doctor and the nurse appeared and positioned themselves on either side of her, still discussing. I inched away from them so I won’t hear but the doctor turned to me and said “This isn’t working (pointing to the scalpel tip and disposing of it) we’ll have to go with the scissors, it’s the only thing I can do for her.”
And he turned back to Ysabel, “You need to stay very still, OK? Very, very still.”
I had my back to them. My pits were drenched in sweat. I could feel my heart thumping against my chest and hear my ears ringing. It was so quiet and so still that I swear, I could hear a strand of grey hair pushing its way out of my scalp. “Oh God, oh God, oh God” I must have said these words a million times in what were the longest few seconds of my life.
One wrong move from Ysabel and she could be blind. Scissors just a hairline away from a child’s eye — what was I thinking? Visions of blood, of my husband and my son blaming me, of the doctor and the nurse screaming they’re sorry and Ysabel howling in pain clutching at her bleeding eye overwhelmed me.
“You can look now, she still has her eyes, don’t worry,” the doctor said.
I felt relief, guilt, shame, fear and gratitude all at the same time.
“That tickled, but my eye feels so much better now.” Ysabel told the nurse. I hugged her and thanked the doctor and the nurse profusely.
It’s only when we got to the car that I realised I was still holding my breath.
Anxiety in itself is hard enough, being a mum and having anxiety? Takes it to a whole new level. Ysabel did a far better job than I could ever have back there and I was so proud of her. I’ve seen her stay still on the dentist’s chair and have the dentist gush about how well behaved she is. And I just heard the doctor and the nurse say how impressed they were with her just then.
I read somewhere how anxiety can be genetic — looks like that gene didn’t pass on and stayed put. Thank goodness for that.