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"Mom, I have so much goo in my eyes," my 12-year-old son,
Evan, said as he stared at himself only two inches away from the mirror in my
bedroom. It was 11 p.m., and we'd just
dragged ourselves through the door and into our house after a long flight home
from a family holiday. I took an
obligatory, but half-ass look at his eyes.
"I think you are just really tired from the flight, dude. Try to get some sleep, and it will probably
be gone in the morning." He turned and
walked back to his room. And I proceeded
to get ready for bed. I honestly didn't
think a thing of Evan's eyes, other than, man, that flight took a toll on him, his
eyes look red. But looking back, if you
had asked me to be more accurate at the time, I would have no doubt described
the color of my son's eyes just as they truly were, as being unmistakably PINK.
Over the next few days, I went from thinking my son just had
jet-lagged eyes to allergies to oh good, they've calmed down. But on the fourth day, my 2-year-old
daughter, Stella, woke up with her eyes sealed shut with yellowy gunk. Oh snap … This must be pinkeye.
Sure enough it was. And in the next week, I got it, then my
husband Peter got it. And just as we
thought the prescription antibiotics had cleared our family of it, Stella and I
got it again the following week. Up to
that point in time, our family had managed to avoid the curse of
conjunctivitis. Prior to that day, it
wasn't even on our radar.
Had I really
paid attention to Evan's condition, I would have seen the tell-tale, textbook
signs and worked on preventing the spread of it. But not ever having it before, I didn't even
realize that it could have been something more than a reaction to a normal
Southern Californian high pollen count. Not only had our
family's "clear eye" status been compromised, but as it turned out, the
greatest victim in the conjunctivitis fallout of late summer 2014 was our peace
of mind. In fact, here are 4 ways pink
eye really traumatized us.
1. If we hear that
someone "may" have pink eye or has had pink eye recently, we stay away. Far, far away.
Putting eye drops in a toddler's eyes is a sentence neither you or the little one want to bear.
Because it kept recirculating, pink eye took our family out
of regular commission for two weeks. In
the days that we didn't have to keep Evan home from school or Stella home from
daycare, we were constantly washing sheets, towels, stuffed animals, spraying Lysol on toys and anything that could potentially house the bacteria.
Not only was it a ton of extra hassle and
work for all of us (me), but have you ever tried to put eye drops in a toddler's
eyes? Twice a day? It's a sentence neither you or the little one
want to bear.
So even though we now know
that someone is probably not contagious 24 hours after antibiotics have begun,
if we are invited to dinner by a friend who thoughtfully mentions that her kid
just got over pink eye, or that there has been an outbreak at their school, we
politely and frantically take a rain check. We are not messing around,
man. We are on constant pink eye high
2. I had to throw
away my makeup.
Being the pink eye rookie that I was, I wasn't even thinking
that the pinkeye bacteria was most likely living on my mascara wand or my
eyeliner brush and pencils. I had
treated myself with the antibiotics, but was continuing to reinfect my eyes every
time I got ready in the morning. It was only
when I got it the second time that it finally dawned on me that I'd been
coating my lashes with waterproof conjunctivitis in 'very black'. I had to throw all of my eye makeup away, most
of which I had just bought and had only used a few times, at most. And boy, did
that piss me off!
3. We are all on high
We have regressed to a family of "ewwwing" fifth-graders.
It's not that we were casual about things involving poop
before, but now we are next level vigilante. This is because each one of us has at one point heard that poop
particles in the air can travel into your eye and cause pink eye. (i.e. When that kid Alan got pink eye in the fifth grade and it was "common knowledge" that he got it from Kevin's
Now we all diligently make sure the
toilet lid is always down, we carefully scan the sidewalk for traces of dog
poop with each step, and spray down the air with disinfectant spray after each
toilet use or change of Stella's dirty diapers. Basically we have regressed to a family of "ewwwing" fifth-graders with Stella, my 2-year-old, left to roll her eyes at us.
4. Allergies are dead
to us now.
Before the big Pinkeye Attack of 2014, any itchy or watery
eyes in the house was assumed to be because of allergies. We'd calmly meet an irritated looking eye
with a "go take a Zyrtec" or brush off redness with a "splash your face with
water" suggestion. Now, if there is the
slightest twitch of an eye or if any one of us wakes with but the smallest eye
goob, we go into automatic pinkeye emergency mode, manically washing hands, throwing
towels in the laundry and changing pillowcases.
Truth is, although it was pretty disruptive to our lives for
a couple weeks, having a family pinkeye outbreak really gave us a good
education, encouraged us to improve our daily hygiene routines and helped us
form some pretty good healthy habits. Trust, we will do whatever we can to steer clear of gooey vision,
constant sheet washing, eye drop wrestling with toddlers and anxiety that
we're not quite rid of it. Ain't nobody
got time for that.