The accident happened sometime late Saturday night. I’d spent the whole day at an airport cafe trying to get my shit together and imbibe some Renaissance literature good. I’d spent a ridiculous fifteen fifty on mushroom soup, one soy cappuccino, and a truffle chocolate cake. Yes, my love hate relationship with chocolate cake is still going on. Love hate as in, hate that I love it. It’s a long story for another time.
That night while showering I was thinking to myself how I always get Duffy and Amy Winehouse confused for no good reason. I was thinking this because when I shower every night I prop my phone up against a dry spot in my toilet counter, blast some Spotify, and have a karaoke party by myself, and last night Warwick Avenue was on. Come on, you know what I mean. Shower Karaoke parties are the best. And about halfway into the shower it happened.
I blinked water out of my eye and blinked some more. It wouldn’t go away. There was something annoying my eye and it wouldn’t go away. No problem, I thought. It happens all the time. It’s probably soap, or something.
I was wrong. A tiny, whitish, transparent object had somehow flown into my left eye and lodged itself in the lower lid of my eye. I would find this out approximately thirteen hours later.
I got out of the shower, still blinking furiously, grabbed some eyedrops from the kitchen and drowned my eyeball. We have a lot of eyedrops everywhere in my house because I have very sensitive eyes and these things happen a lot. It didn’t raise any red flags. After ten minutes, I still couldn’t stop blinking, so I pushed my way to a mirror, shined a torch in my eye, and flipped the lid. Cue: Ew. I know. I couldn’t see anything still, so I just dropped more eye lubricating drops in my eye and settled on the sofa to do some editing work. I was working on a short story for a spec fic magazine – more details on that to come – but I couldn’t see the screen properly and also, I couldn’t stop blinking.
“It’s probably your vein,” the boyfriend said. “These things happen.”
So I shut down my computer, put in more eyedrops, and went to sleep.
Sunday morning one of my eyes woke up. I say one of my eyes because I woke up, sat up, and realized only my right eye was open. I tried to pry my left eye open but SWISS CHEESE, IT HURT. I literally could not open my eye past a certain point because it felt like something sharp was pressing further into my eyeball when I did.
“Get changed,” my mum said. “We’re going to church.”
I got upset. Nobody understood my pain. This couldn’t wait for a sermon to end. I was not functioning. She made a call to one of our old family friends and we went to church.
I don’t remember much about the ride to church or actually arriving in church. This is where one of those life cheat codes come in. One of my mum’s oldest friends who also goes to our church is the best eye doctor in Singapore. When I say best, I literally mean she taught every eye doctor in Singapore how to perform lasik, rolled her eyes at vanity, and got herself a pair of prescription glasses. She is the reason why for the last few years, my church has been able to organize massive eye checkups with the best doctors and equipment in the healthcare industry for free for the older residents in MacPherson. She also looked at my eye, made a call, and told me to get myself to SGH’s A&E immediately.
I don’t remember anything about the route to SGH either, because my eyes were closed the whole time. This I remember – listing my upcoming shoot dates in my head and wondering if I’d still be able to film. Wondering if I’d go blind. Imagining a life blind and wondering what writing would be like without sight. Isn’t much of the writing process seeing and revising words as they appear onscreen? Can it translate to transcribed speech? I don’t know, but I don’t think so. These are the things I thought of on my way there. By the time I reached the hospital I was already a fifty year old blind person in my head who’d let her entire life go to waste. I already know I’m melodramatic, you don’t have to tell me.
Thanks to the connections our family friend had, I was admitted far more quickly than anyone who walked in for consultation was. I say this with full knowledge of my privilege and I am grateful. They took my blood pressure and my heart rate and I wanted to shout OF COURSE MY HEART IS BEATING FAST, I HAVE SEEN MY FUTURE AND IT IS BLINDNESS. And then, thankfully, I saw the eye specialist.
After extensive probing and poking of my eyeball, the specialist told me how lucky I was to have come in as early as I did. There was something lodged in my eye, she had to wash it out and retrieve it. She dilated my eyeballs to check the back of my eye and everything was a blur for the next four hours. I didn’t understand why after retrieving the offending object my eye was still hurting. Big words were thrown around like “cornea wound” and “surface injury”. They made appointments for me to be monitored by more eye specialists. I got scared.
When you have an eye related injury and you’re a girl, people all assume it’s down to vanity. Every single well meaning person I love has asked me in no particular order if it’s my contact lenses, my eyelash extensions, or my make up. It’s neither, I’ve had to repeat so many times, something foreign flew in. It’s an incident. An accident. Are you sure it’s not your contact lenses?
I have been nowhere except the hospital and my house for the last couple of days. I spend all my time sleeping or tearing up. I’m tired of tearing up; I’m not even sad. I have so much medicine to take it’s not even funny. In a bid to cheer me up my family rented Transcendence which was a terrible movie with a female lead who looked creepily like Scarlett Jo. It’s some sort of cosmic irony that I was debating whether or not to take my Astronomy examination this week and now it transpires I can’t go for it even if I want to. These few days have been a lesson in keeping very still.
I’ve been sitting at home in bed feeling completely frustrated and useless. I have a story to finish editing and an exam to study for and precious time is ticking away.
“I feel so impotent,” I complained to the boyfriend.
“You’re impotent to me.” He replied smugly.
It made me laugh and laugh and I’m still laughing. I think to myself how lucky I am to have people who care around me, and how sometimes life gives you the people you need. Today it gave me a desperately needed dose of humor. Yesterday it forcibly gave me rest. Amidst the frustration and crankiness I feel grateful for the impotent things in life.