My word, people. This child of mine is making me age prematurely.
Or else he has a secret plan to collect all the ER’s stuffed animals in the shortest amount of time possible.
Yesterday I had, quite possibly, the most adrenaline-pumping car ride of my life. I exceeded the speed limit. I laid on the horn and zipped through a just-turned-red stoplight. I passed in the right lane. I picked up my husband (who was standing curbside) so fast that, if I had been driving a windowless black van, it could’ve been a scene straight out of a Jackie Chan movie.
Don’t look at me like that. I wasn’t trying to careless. In fact, there’s a good chance I was a better-than-normal driver, level-headed, focused, and attentive. (The tears and snot streaming down my face, the raspy breathing and repeated pummeling of the steering wheel—because cars were going so dang slow—were just for dramatic affect.)
Besides, I bet you’d go through the same little song and dance if your five-year-old’s eyeball turned all squishy yellow and swelled up so huge that it looked like it would fall out of its socket at any minute.
Seriously. I’ve NEVER seen anything like it.
We still don’t know what caused it. I was working outside, planting annuals and perennials, picking asparagus and rhubarb, potting plants, and trying to cajole the kids into helping me. Nickel was hanging out, playing in the yard and on the porch, doing his best to not help me. He got a little fussy. Said his eye hurt, that something was in it. He didn’t cry, didn’t yell. Just sat there fussing. So of course I ignored him.
About ten minutes later I went in the house to get lunch ready. I washed my hands and then said to Mr. Fussy, “Okay. Let me see your eye.”
I took one look—the whole outside edge of the white part of his left eye was bulging—and grabbed the kid under his armpits, raced him to the bathroom, splashed water on his face, realized water wasn’t good enough, and ran in circles around the kitchen, arms a-flapping, searching for the phone.
“Meet me at the ER,” I barked at my husband.
I called my sister-in-law. “We’re going to the ER,” I informed her. “I’m dropping the kids off.”
By the time I hung up the phone, all of the white part of his eye was spongy, yellow, and bulging in a way that no eye should ever bulge.
“GET TO THE CAR!” I screamed at the kids, wetting a hanky with cold water and slapping it on the eye as I raced out the door. The kids were already huddled out by the car. (Sweetsie was so traumatized by the grossness factor that she refused to sit in her regular seat beside her brother.)
After a drive-by drop-off at my sis-in-law’s house (and getting flagged down by my sis-in-law who was on the phone with my husband who was asking if I could pick him up on such-and-such a road), I passed a woman out walking her dog and pulled over, “Do you have medical training?” She shook her head no and I sped off.
By this point, Nickel’s whole eye was bubbling and bulging with wild abandon. The skin under his eye was pushed out so far it seemed like it no longer possessed any eyeball restraining power whatsoever. (To steady my racing brain I focused on the fact that there’s an awful lot of networking behind the eye that keeps it in place.)
“My eye feels like it’s cracking,” Nickel whimpered.
Suddenly the 20-mile drive to the hospital seemed impossibly long. Our friend, a nursing professor and a long-time overseas missionary in Central America , lived several miles down the road. Surely she would have a clue as to what in the world was going on. When I zipped around the curve in front of her house, she was sitting outside on her porch—I jerked the car over and backed into her drive. I called to her and right away she knew this was no regular neighborly visit I was paying. She jumped up from her rocker, ran to the car, took one look at Nickel’s eye, made like she was going to jump into the car with us, changed her mind and flew into the house for ice and a cloth, and off we sped. (Our friend was so worried about his eye—she had never seen anything like it, either—that she eventually drove the whole way to the hospital to find out how we were, but we had already been discharged.)
I already told you about the rest of the drive, minus the part when Nickel said, “My throat hurts,” and John said, “Just drive.” (I figured if a cop pulled me over, all the better. I’d just show him the eye and get myself a personal escort service.)
By the time we got to the hospital, the swelling was going down and we were beginning to realize that this was an allergic reaction. They put us straight through to a room, but then it took the doctor awhile to come in so we had a chance to regain our composure. Clearly, his eyeball wasn’t going to fall out. He would be fine. We relaxed.
The doctor confirmed our suspicions. Nickel had had an allergic reaction. To what, we don’t know. We now have drops to put in his eye if it happens again. If his lips swell up, he needs more than the drops (but it was the pharmacist who told me that—the doctor didn’t seem concerned about that).
I still have tons of questions. Like, do we even need the drops if a cold compress did so much to bring the swelling down? Like, was the slightly swollen eye that I noticed last week (the left eye, too) a precursor to this? It is likely this will happen again and will it be worse next time? Is this a condition he’ll have during a particular season for the rest of this life?
The internet was reluctant to cough up very much information on this condition. I looked for images and this one (the second picture) most closely resembles my baby’s eye (though his was more yellow than red and the skin under the eye was bulging out much further). I wish now I had taken pictures—it was so incredibly incredible-looking—but I don’t think of photos when I’m in the middle of being traumatized. Sorry.
In any case, Nickel now has a new stuffed animal and I know that I have the potential to be an ambulance driver if I ever get the urge.
P.S. Whaddaya know, he had another reaction as I was posting this.
So here you can see what his eye looked like in the very beginning stages, lucky you.
Oh yeah, and in all the drama of the last ten minutes, I burnt the bread, too.