I have never forgotten the words from the nurse who worked with my eye doctor. She had completed an assessment of my eyes. She quickly surmised that the chalazion on one of my eyelids would need to be surgically excised. The nurse did not hold back, she bluntly told me—“It’s going to hurt!”
That was 16 years ago. The nurse was correct. It did hurt.
Today, Monday, August 19, I have been dreading.
The Commander Supreme has driven me to the eye clinic. I have a chalazion on my upper left eyelid. Despite my recommended medically approved tactics on the chalazion, it has not gone away. It never showed any signs of wanting to retreat. Stubbornly red and angrily inflamed, the chalazion would not withdraw.
For 16 years, I have battled an annoying eye lid condition called blepharitis. Blepharitis is a fairly common inflammation of the eyelids. Symptoms vary, but for me one of my challenges is the tiny oil glands at the foundation of each eyelash. If one oil gland gets clogged, that can lead to the formation of a chalazion, which is a fancy word for a stye or cyst.
My original eye doctor put me on a regimen for preventing the development of a chalazion. This includes daily eyelid scrubs using warm water and q tips, warm water compresses with a bath cloth, gentle washing of the eyelids with soap and water, and adding ground flax seed to my diet.
Now, I have had the sporadic chalazion pop up, and I’m usually able to make them go away. But, this one would not cooperate.
To add to my anxiety on this hot and humid August morning, my reliable, trusted eye doctor has retired. While I’m happy for her, internally I’m crushed. But, I guess there is only so much chalazion excising that a doctor is able to handle during a career—especially with a wimpy patient like me.
With a bit of uneasiness, I check in with the receptionist. Even though I had completed all of the registration paperwork on line, I’m still required to sign my life away. Plus, I make a bandit driven insurance co-pay. Grumps like me must make the receptionist rethink why she chose this line of work.
Soon, I’m called back. The Commander Supreme offers me a hopeful good luck. This nurse confirms my information related to my overall health and my eye health. I often wonder why they go through this routine. All of that information is already out there, stored in a computer cloud somewhere. She checks my vision, and for my left eye, I am certain she is stunned. My guess is she wonders how this old guy walked into the examining room without crashing into a door frame.
Satisfied with the information I provided, she tells me the doctor will be in soon. Soon is tough to define in a doctor’s office. Soon could mean 30 seconds, 30 minutes, 30 days, 30 weeks, or 30 months. In this case, soon was somewhere between 30 seconds and 30 minutes.
When the doctor came in he was accompanied by another nurse. The doctor greeted me. A rapid round of questions were directed toward me. Then, the doctor grabbed a hold of that chalazion with his fingers. Quickly, he assessed that there was about a 20% chance with some different techniques that I might be able to get the chalazion to go away.
I thought to myself—I’ve been trying to get this booger to go away for two months. I have failed, and that’s when “It’s gonna hurt” starting screaming through my memory banks.
I received permission to walk out into the waiting area to tell the Commander Supreme what was transpiring. I had on my running shoes, if I had really been thinking I should have sprinted out of the building. But, I was a good boy, and returned to the nurse who walked me into the room where the excising would be performed.
The only good thing about the next few minutes was the chair. Thickly padded, it could be manipulated to fit the contours of my old sack of bones including my neck. I’m sure when I receive the itemized bill for this procedure there will be a chair cost, and it will probably be $10,000.
The nurse prepped me and the room. I had to sign some more giving my life away forms. I think the fine print on this one required me to forfeit my shoebox full of craft beer bottle caps.
The doctor entered. He tweaked the chair, more dollar signs. Numbing drops plopped into both eyes. To my left I saw a palm sized blue ball. The nurse put it in my right hand.
I could see the syringe full of a numbing agent heading toward my left upper eyelid. The fine tip of the needle was poised to intrude and inflict pain. It was successful. In a nano second that blue ball in my right hand was flatten. I never gave it a chance to regain its breath. The ball became flatter than one of those awful communion wafers.
I winced at some tugging on my eyelid. The doctor told me he was clearing other oil ducts in the lid. Several times the doctor asked the nurse to wipe away the vile oozing from the chalazion.
Soon, he was finished. My eye was cleaned up. A swath of ointment was applied, then packed with cotton gauze. Next, the nurse taped me up with an eye patch. The tape did not want to stick to my perspiring facial skin. The nurse doubled up the tape.
Slowly, the chair was manipulated to bring me up right. The nurse went over the post operative instructions. She gave me the instructions sheet, and she sought my assurance that I was not going to topple over.
I walked out into the waiting room.
Through me right eye, I could see the people in the waiting room look away or down when they saw the eye patching.
A calm Commander Supreme walked me out to the car.
I could not take off the eye patch until Tuesday morning. So for much of Monday afternoon, I stared into darkness. I did not want to strain my right eye.
It wasn’t long before the numbing agent wore off. I had permission to take an over the counter pain killer. Every four hours I took ibuprofen, and by bedtime the pain was gone.
The Commander Supreme had picked up the prescription— an antibacterial ointment for me to apply to the eye for the next two weeks. A regimen of cold and warm compresses would be required too.
On Tuesday morning when I removed the patch my left eye looked gnarly. I had a busy day ahead of me between Trinity and school board assignments.
I had my words rehearsed for explaining my appearance. Contrary to what you are thinking after almost 44 years of marriage, my wife did not finally lose patience and slug me.
One thing I did note on Tuesday was even after taking a shower, some of the stickiness from the double taping of the eye patch remained on my skin. I worried that flying insects might land on me and not be able to escape. That would have only added to the comedy of my appearance—human fly paper.
Per our wedding vows, the Commander Supreme rendered good care to me. I am grateful that somehow she still tolerates me and all my faults.
Each day the eye looked a bit better.
Compared to what some people endure with health conditions, a chalazion on an eye lid is nothing.
There is no comfort or encouragement in the words—“It’s going to hurt!”
And while I am far from perfect in loving the Lord and the people he surrounds me with each day, I was drawn to these words from Psalm 116 verses 1-2: “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.”
I sensed during this little medical skirmish that the good Lord heard my calling. This included the prayers of the people around me.
As we all know, at times life does hurt. But, perhaps those hurts are soften a bit when the Lord hears our cries.