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4 Ways Pink Eye Traumatized Our Family

"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.

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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 alert.

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 poop-particle alert.

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 fart.)

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.

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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.

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