Last Monday morning I was out on the deck, practicing my daily yoga a couple of hours later than usual, when I heard the phone ringing inside. It was about 8:10 and Tim graciously picked it up. A few seconds later, however, he was at the door, telling me it was my mom, and she sounded distraught. Oh, no. I unraveled myself and made my way back inside.
Deep breath. Exhale.
“Hey. . . what’s wrong?”
She began to explain what turned out, ultimately, to be exactly what I originally imagined as she described it: a subconjunctival hemmorhage, a.k.a. a harmless rupturing of a blood vessel in the eye in which the “white” of your eye (or part of it) suddenly becomes bloody. If you’ve never seen it on someone else or experienced it yourself, it can be quite alarming. I was all-too familiar with it, having ruptured, I think, nearly every blood vessel above my collarbones during the birth of my very large first son, but if she’d ever seen it on anyone, at that moment, the memory had abandoned her.
The Curse of the Bloody Eye
I could tell there was no way, in her panicked state of mind, that I was going to be able to explain this to her over the phone. After a question or two to determine that her eye wasn’t actually exploding out of her head or dripping blood, nor that she was having a stroke, I told her I’d be down in a couple of minutes.
I didn’t bother changing out of my yoga clothes, but I had a feeling about where this might end up, so I did make my cup of coffee, fill my water bottle, and grab a banana and my phone charger before I headed out the door. Despite my suspicions of what this probably was, I still wanted to get there and do a physical and visual check for stroke symptoms. And to attempt to set her mind at ease.
When I arrived, I ran through a few of the F.A.S.T. steps (if you aren’t familiar with them, click on the link I just provided – it could save a life someday). Even though she wasn’t exhibiting any signs, I called the doctor’s office, knowing I could talk with the nurse on call, just to be sure something more insidious than a tiny burst blood vessel wasn’t at play. After 10 more minutes with the nurse and an array of questions, she concluded that although all seemed in order and it was probably just a subconjunctival hemmorhage, it would be worth it to bring her to the E.R. to have her looked at, just in case. It didn’t warrant 911, but it would be good if I brought her in that morning.
Which was exactly why I’d grabbed my phone charger.
You Say “Tomayto,” I Say Hematoma. . . Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off
We were “processed” and in an exam room within 30 minutes (thank goodness it was Monday morning and not Saturday night), but the rest of the morning passed much more slowly. After a LOT of waiting and exams from one nurse and 2 doctors, finally, three hours (and twenty minutes of my dying phone plugged into the charger) later came the official declaration that all was well: it was, in fact, just a subconjunctival hemmorhage (or hematoma, which seemed to be equally substitutable).
A Pound of Baloney, and All is Well
Thirty minutes after that, we received our official discharge instructions, walked out, and paid the valet stand to retrieve my car. In a signal that all was returning to normal, mom remembered to ask me to stop at the market on the way home so we could pick up some bologna for my dad, because (gasp) they were down to their last few pieces. This time, though, not wanting to flash her fancy red eye at anyone who wasn’t a medical professional, she sent me into the store to get dad’s favorite cold cut so Hannah could whip up his “usual” fried bologna for a belated breakfast when we got back.
As I climbed out of the car came her request for his other favorite from that market: their shepherd’s pie. Yep. Just another Manic Monday.