Eye (Can’t) Spy

I woke up this morning with what felt like something in my eye. I wasn’t overly surprised. I spend an ungodly amount of my existence fishing hay and straw out of crevices you didn’t know existed. In all fairness, neither did I until the hay and straw found them. I sleep with a bearded dude, a wiry-haired pooch and, occasionally, a cat. My house cleaning skills are not unlike those of a feces-slinging chimp at the zoo. When clothes comes out of the washer still covered in barn detritus I acknowledge that it’s now clean detritus and continue on as normal.

So waking up with something in my eye was not unexpected.

I rubbed my eye a few times hoping to dislodge the offending item but the irritation became a lot less like Geddy Lee and a lot more like a Freedom convoy. With tears streaming down my face I wrassled myself from the sheets and tottered off to the bathroom, unsure of whether my bladder or my eyeball deserved attention first.

It’s the first time in a long while that my eye has been irritated like that. I realized, as I strained in the mirror to find the hidden treasure lodged within, that my eyesight is absolutely not what it used to be. Everything was blurry, my eyeball had all the detail of an anime cartoon. Finding a hair or a fibre or whatever would definitely not be easy. I could barely keep my eyeball open, let alone focused. I poked around a bit, rolled my eyes, noted where and when the pain sharpened as my eyelid and my eyeball made contact. And then I decided that the problem had to be a scratch and not a foreign object.

I spent the morning trying not to blink, trying not to touch it, trying not to do anything that involved irritation, trying not to need to move my eye. The tears flowed freely. By 10 am I felt like someone was tightening a ratchet strap around my skull. The intense concentration on pain avoidance was forcing it into the rest of my head like pus squirting from a popping pimple. By 11 my face was red and inflated. I prayed for a day free of deliveries or visits because I looked like I had a lot more problems than an injured eye.

Then Troy called to check in. I told him that I was miserable, that my eye was hurting like hell. “Have you been around burdocks?”, he asked.

He related a story from a friend who has horses. Apparently, while someone was brushing the horses, a burdock seed dislodged and went into their eye. If you don’t know burdocks well you may not be aware of the fact that their seeds are shaped like little barbed fish hooks. If you don’t know our property well you may not be aware that we have burdocks here. A lot of them.

I spent the next hour panicking. I hadn’t been near the burdocks. Had I? The image of a miniscule fish hook in my eyeball was freaking me out.

And then, my eye started to improve. Slowly but surely the irritation faded. By the time Troy came home with drops it was almost gone. Is it still irritated? Yes, but it’s more like a hangnail now than an amputation (something I considered performing on my own eyeball earlier today).

Everyone knows farming is dangerous work, but most people chalk the dangers up to tractors and combines and horny bulls. Most often, though, it’s the seemingly innocuous things that will take you down when you least expect it. Straw, hay, weeds. That’s some dangerous shit. You can’t let your back down, even for a second. Just ask my eye.

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