Seeing Clearly—by Jamie Levine

A week ago Sunday, on the last day of my eight-week grad school cycle, I was up early, getting ready for school—and two impending finals. I finished putting on my make-up and grabbed a sharp pair of tweezers to pluck a few stray eyebrow hairs, and then, impulsively used the same tweezers to separate a couple of my mascara-clumped eyelashes—and involuntarily blinked. I poked myself in the eye.

The pain was severe and my eye wouldn’t stop tearing. I grabbed an ice pack and contemplated what to do. I could deal with the discomfort and head to school in 90 minutes as planned, and if my eye still hurt at the end of the day, head to the emergency room. Or, I could get my eye checked out right away, and risk missing my finals. With blurred vision, I got on the computer and googled what to do about “an eye poked with a sharp instrument,” and most entries said I needed to get an antibiotic because in the worst-case scenario, I could go blind.

My father is an early riser, so I asked him to watch my daughter until her babysitter arrived, emailed my professors that I was heading to the ER and hoped to make it to my classes afterwards, and, with one eye closed, drove myself to the hospital. Fortunately, when I arrived, the ER was empty, and I was in and out of the hospital in 90 minutes. The doctor said I had scratched my cornea, and after numbing it and giving me a tetanus shot, she released me and told me to see my eye doctor the next day—and to immediately fill a prescription for antibiotic drops. I did, and raced to class—getting there in time to take my finals.

Sunday sucked. My eye was blurry and hurt like hell, but I made it through the day. And right before I drove home, I collapsed in my car and sobbed. I had made it through a crisis: I had my vision back, my daughter had been well-cared for (and was mostly unaware of what I’d gone through), I’d taken my finals, and I was finished with school for a week. I sobbed with exhaustion—and relief. As my mother said, “things like this never happen on a day when you have no plans…” but the timing of my crisis couldn’t have been worse.

My eye doctor told me I’d been lucky—the scratch was very near the center of my eye, which could have scarred—but it didn’t. It healed nicely. And the week that followed made me appreciate my good fortune: amazing friends, a supportive family, and a positive future ahead of me. I was commended by my professors for making it to my finals, and did well in my classes, was cared for by good friends who boosted me up when I experienced yet another dating disappointment—as well as a setback from my ex, and often marveled at my beautiful daughter who constantly asked me if my eye still hurt, and kissed the lid to “make it all better.” Enduring and overcoming hardships often makes you appreciate the positive things in your life, and I can clearly see now that while my life isn’t always perfect, I am truly blessed.