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Life with Liz: The eyes do not have it

As has come to be expected in my world, after a few weeks of some really good things happening, something bad had to come along and balance the scales.

The dogs and I had finally seemed to reach a place where I could keep Duncan working and active, I had a good training plan in mind for Henson, the kids were settled into their school routines, and although some days I put over a hundred miles on the car running between events, we seemed almost on the verge of having things together.

Time to upset the apple cart. While on my trip to Ohio with the dogs, I encountered what I thought was some wild allergic reaction. I first noticed it when we stopped at a rest stop just over the Ohio border.

Almost immediately after we got out of the car, I felt my eyes starting to burn and itch. It had also been a long day and making the drive by myself had been exhausting and stressful. I was sure a good night’s rest was all I needed.

Although they were better in the morning, my eyes weren’t great. On top of that, their inflammation and watering was spreading to my sinuses. After spending a day in the fields, where I could see the pollen just wafting in the breeze, I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and put cold compresses on my eyes and drown myself with antihistamines.

That plan and adrenaline got me through the rest of the weekend. The ride home was another story.

After a long day, I wanted to just go crash at the hotel and drive home the next morning, but I was getting texts from the kids that made me think I’d better head home sooner rather than later. Help was needed with homework and the laundry was piling up quickly. Driving in the dark, with oncoming headlights, made me realize that I was also suddenly extremely photosensitive.

By the time I got home, it was clear that something more than allergies was going on. A trip to urgent care the next day got me some soothing artificial tears and a recommendation to get to an eye doctor as soon as possible.

After taking a day to recuperate, and rinse my eyes hourly, they did seem to improve, so, I decided to wait out another few days. Maybe tired eyes combined with allergies, plus some emotional crying after Duncan’s amazing performance, had just taken their toll.

I can talk myself in to just about anything; however, my eyes weren’t buying it, and I woke up on morning to what looked like the inside of a snow globe. My one eye was seeing everything through what looked like white patches.

So, I sucked it up and made the call to the eye doctor, who got me in immediately. It wasn’t good news. My eyes had basically decided that my contact lenses were the enemy, but they also decided that my contacts were part of my eye.

So, part of my eye was fighting to get rid of my contact, while the other part was fighting to keep it over my cornea. And, a raging war is exactly what my right eye felt like, and my left eye was starting the same battle.

Of course, there were a whole lot of other things that were possibly going on, and those were also terrifying. Take it from me, you don’t want to Google things that can be irritating your eyes. At one point, between the irritation and the possibility of amoebas living in my eyes, I was ready to cut my eyeballs out myself.

Even scarier was that the doctor’s original opinion was that they were going to respond within 24 hours of treatment, and things would be OK, or they weren’t going to respond, and then we’d have grounds to worry. You can guess what didn’t happen in 24 hours.

At this point, I needed to be referred to a specialist. Hearing things like “the closest option is in Philly” is not something you want to hear when you can barely see out of one eye and the other eye is exhausted from doing all the work.

Not to mention dogs that were already suffering from a dramatic decrease in activity and were starting to bounce off the walls. Did I mention that within 24 hours of the doctors telling me that under no circumstances could I wear my contacts, my lovely dogs ate my only pair of glasses? They were quite unhappy with the situation.

So, it’s been two whole weeks of being next to sightless. I’ve had to cash in a bunch of favors, which I know my friends are happy to do, but the lack of independence and having to rely on others is still grating, and more than a little scary.

I’ve also finally learned how to use Siri to text people. (That may not be good news in some people’s books.)

One pro tip that I’ve taken away from this is that if you can’t see what a mess your house is, it makes it not a mess!

I also learned that the dogs have zero ability or interest in being Seeing Eye dogs. In fact, I’m certain they knew I was weak and took advantage of it in every way.

A lot of lessons got learned by all of us. The kids did a great job of adding a little patience to their schedule, or getting up a little early so they could all head to school together rather than making me do a second run later in the morning. As usual, it probably could have been a lot worse, and I’m mostly just grateful that it wasn’t.

“It wasn’t as bad as it could have been” isn’t much of a motto, but it’s what we’ve got.

Liz Pinkey is a contributing columnist who appears weekly in the Times News