“Pay Attention;You’ll Poke Out Your Eye!”


 We all keep outrageous mum sayings hidden in the back of our brains. Even though modern mums try not to resort to these gory warnings, they do slip out now and again:

“Come down this instant; you are going to fall and break your neck!”

“Careful with that knife; you don’t want to cut your finger off.”

“Don’t come crying to me if you fall and break your leg.”

” Look out for cars or I’ll have to scrape you off the road and put you in a box.”

“You will be the death of me yet.”

“That water is boiling hot; you’ll be sorry if it spills all over you.”

“Pay attention; you’ll poke out your eye.”

That last warning about the eyes? .

Suddenly the dramatic over statement  became a reality one Sunday evening.

All the kids had simply flopped down on the Chesterfield, chairs, pillows and rug after supper. This was Walt Disney Night if you were young or Sports Night if you were a teenage boy.

The problem was that we had only one T.V. for eleven people. Half asleep, lounging on the couch, with a grin on his face,  my oldest son, Matthew,  had just switched the channel back to basketball yet again. In utter frustration, three-year old Lucy, who was standing up,  flung a charcoal pencil down towards the floor. Anthony was laying on the rug. Lucy’s flying pencil pierced Anthony’s eye.

At first I thought that Anthony had a piece of the chocolate pencil laying underneath his iris;  in my ignorance, I tried to flush it out.  Anthony resisted my attempts  and my husband rushed over to stop me,

” Better leave the eye alone. I ‘m taking him straight to the children’s Hospital.”

We handed Anthony a huge freezie to hold  and to keep his mind off his injury.  Michael instinctively repeatedly reached over, as he drove, to keep our little guy’s hands away from his eye.

Had I been successful, in rinsing out my son’s eye, Anthony would definitely have lost it to infection. What I was seeing was not a piece of brown artist’s pencil, I was actually seeing the iris  muscle leaking out from the puncture wound.

Later, just before surgery, a resident doctor asked my husband to sign a waiver which stated that, as Anthony’s parent, he was f that Anthony could lose his eye during the operation. My young son didn’t even sigh during the interview but after the doctor left, he stared sobbing, petrified that he would lose his eye. Michael calmed him down and after he prayed over him, draining fear, trauma and pain, Anthony fell asleep until the surgery. Anthony’s indignant father informed the  head eye specialist that a certain resident needed instructions on bedside manner.

Outside the operating room, Michael held six-year old Anthony’s hand as he lay on a stretcher surrounded by the seven member team. Down the hall, white coat flying behind him rushed the brilliant head surgeon. He was a wiry, French-Canadian with a charming accent, curly hair that stuck straight out and wire-rimmed glasses. He looked like a typical genius as he started shouting,

“I want 22, 26,28 silks”, long before he reached his team. Those silks were invisible to the naked eye. Using high-powered microscopes, the team stuffed the iris back in place, stitched the puncture wound, drilled three holes into Anthony’s eyeball and pumped fluid back in to restore the exact curvature to his eye! In post-op, while two other little fellows struggle and fought the staff by trying to rip out tubes, Anthony was so calm and pleasant that the surgical team gave him a bear for being the best patient ever. The team even remembered  guilty little Lucy with an adorable bear sporting fairy wings and a tutu.

Although Anthony sported a metal eye patch and was pumped full of an anti-inflammatory, anti- infection medicine and pain killers, he felt like a prince. He had sole possession of a remote, play station and t.v. That simply never happened in our large family where every kid watched the clock as their time to play the game approached. During his Princely holiday, he picked his own meals and received visiting siblings and their friends who all came bearing gifts and candy.

Anthony’s badge of distinction, to this day, is a pie shaped area in his iris that is more green than brown and 20/20 vision.

We marveled at what modern medicine could accomplish.

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