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I ended up taking myself to the local emergency room last night. I'll say right not that it was not at all life-threatening, but it was painful and quite worrisome.

I am sure everyone has had the experience of trying to pump lotion or soap out of a bottle and having the lotion/soap shoot off in some unexpected direction because some dried out stuff was blocking the way. Well, while taking a bath I attempted to pump some soap on to my scrubber and got a pumpload of soap beamed directly into my right eye. Yes, that is exactly as painful as you think it might be.

I rinsed it out as best as I could in the tub, got out, checked the internet for what you are supposed to do when you get soap in your eyes, went back to the bathroom and rinsed more. The pain went down but it was still there, but I was now able to think again. The Mayo Clinic site recommends seeking medical help after getting chemicals in the eye, and soap is definitely a chemical, even more so when accompanied by tea tree and lavender oils. I've gotten soapy water in my eyes and not worried about it, but getting something like a tablespoon of undiluted soap in there worried me. After thinking it over (and rinsing some more) I decided that 1) eyes are precious and 2) I was willing to fork over the co-pay for an emergency room visit in exchange for some peace of mind.

So I got dressed and found some shoes. Then I found my purse, looked for my insurance card, gave up looking for my insurance card, found the giant envelope of information my insurance company sent me last year, found a book to read in the emergency room while I was waiting, found the bottle of soap in question, and put everything in my backpack. Then I walked to the hospital. Lest this sound too hardcore I'll point out that the hospital is only a block away from work, so it was less than a mile away.

The triage nurse took me in right away and started getting my vital statistics. He also asked what kind of soap it was, at which point I triumphantly hauled it out of my backpack and gave it to him--I knew they were going to ask that question, you see, and I didn't see any logic in trusting my memory at a time like that. Then I was shown to an examining room and told the nurse would be there shortly. This is when I pulled out the book (Michael Palma's translation of the Inferno) and started to read. It occurs to me as I write this that normal people probably don't read in the emergency room while waiting for medical care of an eye injury, but I needed something to pass the time and I hadn't thought I'd had enough depth perception with one eye to crochet.

By the time I'd gotten through the introduction the ER nurse had shown up. She asked me some questions, wrote some stuff down, and said that the PA would be there shortly. And indeed, I had gotten through the first canto but not read any of the footnotes when the PA arrived. She asked me the same questions the triage and ER nurses had, wrote down some stuff, looked at the soap bottle, and then got to work. She looked at the eyeball and socket in normal light, then dyed the eye orange so she could look at it in black light (which didn't hurt) and then checked the pH of my tear fluid (which did hurt, as it involved sticking a piece of pH paper in between my lower eyelid and eyeball). All of this determined that there were no abrasions or signs of damage on my eyeball, and the tear pH was normal which implied that I had successfully rinsed out all of the soap.

I was inflamed and still in mild pain, and would be for awhile, so the PA wrote a prescription for an eye ointment that would help reduce it. Then I gave the nice clerk my insurance information (happily, the big envelope included a cover sheet that gave the needed ID numbers) and headed home.

There is a Walgreens in between the hospital and my apartment with a 24-hour pharmacist, so I stopped in to fill the prescription. They were surprisingly busy for the hour of night, so I pulled out my book again while waiting. Time flies when you are touring hell, so it didn't seem that long before my stuff was ready.

It was eleven (an hour past my bedtime!) when I got home, and I didn't want to go to bed immediately after putting the ointment in my eye, so it was really, really late before I got to bed.

All in all, it was not a good night. There was one solace, however: It was a really lovely night for a walk. The air was cool without being cold, the blooming crab-apple trees poured out their fragrance, and the sky was clear and full of stars. So I did enjoy the walk to the hospital and back.
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