We faced this conjunctivitis dragon in the past. She went down. Hard. And the fight was pretty weak if I do say so myself… Where this past experience had the dragon flying solo and targeting only Clara – without backup and the cover of a Quick Reaction Force (QRF), this time was much different.
Maybe we were riding high over the last battle’s landslide victory, or perhaps we had just become too complacent to keep up our preventative protocols… In an honest moment, the conjunctivitis dragon would admit that she had employed a great number of war-fighters to target our entire family in the hopes of complete destruction. We were surprised and completely overwhelmed. Whatever the case, it was the perfect storm of destruction.
The TL:DR (too long didn’t read) version of the story below is that pinkeye is a mother. She’s contagious and she’s unrelenting, especially when not treated with respect. If you’re interested in the details, though, and hopefully a chuckle (why not, right?), I encourage you to press on and hear the somewhat comical story below. I promise to only keep you for a few minutes. Thanks in advance,
“Daddy. I have a crumb in my eye,” was Clara’s comment that passed through my brain without registering a note.
Besides – I was in the shower, she was on the bathroom floor reading some books, and we were soon-to-be-late for a Friday dinner (one of Monica’s pet peeves – and justifiably so. Not dinners, in general… Being late to dinners. And everything else).
“It’s probably a hair, honey. Daddy will get it in one minute.” Parent of the year??? Not quite. Before the valve shut to cut off flow through the shower head, I had completely forgotten about the crumb and we were off. A quick shave, some brushing of the teeth, a change of clothes for the little miss, all culminating with the tug-of-war over the books formerly in her hands… Never thought I’d be telling my child to, “Stop reading, honey. Put the book down!” But hey, as I said above, time was tight.
With the three of us filing into the car and me helping Clara into her car seat, she reminded me: “Daddy. I have a crumb in my eye.”
“Oh. Yes, you do, darling. Let me get that for you.” And with one swipe of the pinky finger, our next 10 days were changed forever.
Fast forward to Saturday morning
Clara had redness in the eye and some discharge, and Monica and I were completely caught off guard. Monica even made mention, “She didn’t even complain about her eye in the last day or so…? What gives?”
Then I remembered that I hadn’t been caught off guard. I had been caught sleeping in the guard tower and now it was time to pay the piper. There was one man responsible for letting the conjunctivitis dragon through the gate unnoticed and that man was me. It was time to inform my superior officer…
“Uh, honey… Now that we’re on the topic, Clara did mention a crumb in her eye yesterday. I really thought it was a hair. My fault here.” There was no physical outburst, just the dreaded look of disappointment on my lieutenant’s face. Never a welcome sight.
No time to sit and sulk. Now that we knew the enemy had breached our defenses, it was time to fight. Drops for Clara and relentless hand washing and sterilization procedures for the rest of us.
24 hours told us that our methods were weak and ineffective
Sunday around nap time (1300-ish), Monica came down from getting Clara to sleep, turned to proceed down the hallway, stopped midway as we made eye-contact, and just pointed to her eye. Red with discharge. MAN DOWN!!!
We were taking casualties and it felt karmically right that I was the one that (at this point in time) didn’t have pinkeye. No, I got to watch my sisters fall because of the mistake I made… Don’t know which is worse, the pain I felt for letting it happen or the blurred vision they had due to the conjunctivitis discharge? Both were bad.
“Let’s get you to the urgent care so you can get some drops.” (Here’s where my chances for promotion take a further hit). “There’s that urgent care we haven’t been to yet, but it’s practically in our neighborhood. Should you try that one out?” Weekend hours are precious and I knew that the Cadillac of urgent cares (an insurmountable 4.2 miles away – yes, I used Google Maps) is like flipping a coin for your Sunday. Heads – potential patients are outside playing and still determining if they’re sick enough to be seen or not. Tails – kiss 6 hours of your Sunday goodbye.
We called both. The Pinto of urgent cares hinted at no wait and the decision was made.
We got what we asked for
Monica was out in 30 minutes. “Seen,” treated, and orders prescribed. She called me before leaving the parking lot as the doc had opted for an antihistamine in favor of the antiBIOTIC – you know, that medicine that’s used to treat pinkeye. I was at the pharmacy in anticipation of her call (really, I was grocery shopping for the week ahead and happened to be right next to the pharmacy when she called) and I asked the pharmacist, who we’ve come to know, for confirmation of the doctor’s uniquely ineffective method for treating the condition.
Her response: “You need an antibiotic to treat true pinkeye. I don’t understand the question…?” Nice.
I called the doctor for an explanation (I had Monica’s approval and yes, I am that guy). When asked why both mine and our daughter’s pink eyes were treated with an antibiotic in the past (a minor white lie as I hadn’t had pinkeye… yet) – why the difference in treatment from him for the 3rd wheel on our family tricycle (Monica)?
This is priceless and deserves its own paragraph: “Because I am a CDC-trained physician and my method is the correct method.”
Wow. And I thought I was overconfident… I hung up the phone (after semi-sarcastically thanking him and saying goodbye). I got home from the grocery store, picked Monica up and took her to the Cadillac across town. The copays were adding up but finally, we had the antibiotic we needed – or so we thought.
The time is 0515 and my alarm starts to sound softly. I catch it before the escalating noise level wakes Monica – win – and as I’m slipping out of the bedroom to my downstairs staging area (with workout clothes and contacts) I notice my vision is slightly impaired. Just blurry but the blurriness won’t subside. Oh no… MAN DOWN!!!
Having learned our lesson over the weekend, I’m at the Cadillac before they open and I’m just waiting in line outside. Never mind there was no line and it was just me waiting… I will say that I was the first patient seen that day, AND I was in and out in 30 minutes.
The crazy thing about my visit though was that a different antibiotic was used to treat my pinkeye. This one had an added steroid (yes – I did flex for both the doctor and my wife at first mention of the steroid. Both reactions were the same).
The steroid/antibiotic regimen had treated me well and the eyes once pink were now white. Clara was also on the mend and back on the battlefield. The lynchpin to our squad, though, was still in the infirmary with her steroid-free antibiotic not quite eliminating the pinkeye at all. This battle was more of a stalemate. We chose to ride it out and let the drops get a few days of work in until they would be deemed ineffective.
The following Saturday (pinkeye day +7)
What started out as 1.25 infected eyes for my lovely wife had matured to a full 2.05 eyes infected – it was that bad. We observed a worsening and could take retreat no longer. It was time to mount an offensive and win this battle once and for all.
After a visit to our primary care doc, a quick jaunt over to our eye doc, and a little recent health history exchanged with both, Monica had her orders. It was time to pull out all stops and start her on the antibiotic/steroid combo that had treated me so well.
Feeling a sense of relief and overlooking the math/budget destruction these copays will do the medical column of our monthly spending, Monica drove over to our pharmacy and couldn’t help but flash a quick grin. “FINALLY, I’ll be able to pick up a quality eye drop that will get rid of this pinkeye for good. Things are starting to look up!”
(For those keeping track, that’s 4 different doctor’s visited and 3 different medicines prescribed… Those of you that thought pinkeye was easily treated and diagnosed have obviously not battled against the prepared, reinforced, and motivated enemy our family went to war with a few weeks ago…)
The pharmacist greeted Monica with a “finally you have the right medicine / I feel bad for you that this has gone on this long / there’s a bit of bad news I’m not stoked to share with you,” face.
“What’s the matter?” Monica had no time for banter or catching up on daily musings…
I found out the rest via text message: “You took the last (antibiotic/steroid wonder-drug)!!”
30 heart-wrenching seconds later, she continued: “Haha the other pharmacy has it so it’s all good. Otherwise, you would be in big trouble (a series of emojis that insinuated a punch in the face).”
…Oh to be young and in love!!
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