Personal Story: Arrrrrrr, mateys! – It could happen to you!

Guest author: Anne Gentle [Editor's note: STC member Anne Gentle kindly contributed this personal account of temporarily losing vision in one eye while recovering from an injury. This story, first published on her own blog, illustrates how a simple event can have complicated consequences. Anne writes, "I'd just like to get the word out and have others learn from my experience."] I haven't been churning out blog posts for a while due to a crazy birthday party incident. I don't usually tell personal stories on my blog, but I thought I'd personalize this tale and talk about how grateful I am for how it is turning out! The order of events went something like this:

Party

Saturday early evening. Arrived at large jumping inflatables party place for a five-year-old's birthday party. Remarked offhandedly to my husband, "I always get pinkeye after going to these types of places." Boy was that a premonition. Got a front-row seat to the beating up of a large Darth Vader piñata with a wooden stick. On the very last blow, just when the payload fell out of Darth Vader, the piñata bat slipped out the 10-year-old's hands and hit me in the eye and my son, who was sitting in my lap, in the stomach. Ouch hardly begins to describe the incident!

Ouch

Organized chaos ensued and somehow I managed to bleed on other moms, not on myself. My kids were shook up but fine, the party-goers were ushered to a party room for pizza, and we made arrangements for our children, started icing the cut below my eye, and my husband and I took a trip to the nearest hospital.

Hospital Trip

After it was apparent that no eye doctor was answering to their informal on-call arrangement, I was transported to a teaching hospital about an hour away by ambulance. My husband went home to get our kids to bed, another mom slept on our couch to stay with our kids, and my husband drove to the second hospital an hour away. The continued evaluations and a CT scan revealed that I had an orbital blowout fracture, a hyphema, a cut requiring two stitches in my upper eyelid, and a cut below my eye that was glued back together. All this from a wooden dowel rod flung about 20 feet!

Recovery

But I'm feeling much better this week and I am so grateful to get my eyesight back that I really don't care about potential scarring or pirate eye patches. My energy level is still pretty low, which I'm not accustomed to at all. I need to sleep eight hours? What?
Card with hand-written get-well soon greeting
Card with hand-written get-well soon greeting
Apparently I will slowly regain all my eyesight as the blood in my eye gets filtered out. Day by day it improves and I'm amazed at the way the body heals itself. I'm down from three sets of eyedrops and an eye ointment to one drop at night and a clear plastic eye patch while sleeping to ensure I do not accidentally rub my eye. Three different emergency department personnel asked if the event was captured on video! I'm pretty sure no one was rolling film or tape, thank goodness. I got a great pan of brownies and a wonderful hand-made pop-up Get Well card from the stick swinger. He's recovering from the incident as well and we're all going to be just fine. Darth Vader is a crumpled mess of cardboard, as it should be. That guy really is evil.

Gratitude and Admiration

I've known people in the software industry who work with serious eye issues, and I have an even greater first-hand admiration for their tenacity to stick with such a visual profession. I do try to learn as much as I can about web accessibility. I've participated in Open AIR Austin's accessible web design competitions, judged by Section 508 Guidelines for Web Accessibility. It was quite revealing when we were told to turn off our monitors and try to reserve plane tickets! Yet I know I can learn more and do more. Keith Soltys has a great blog entry, In the country of the blind, where he talks about not being sighted enough to drive, and gives a great example of blind Google engineer making a difference to others dealing with vision issues. I'm here as a reminder that it can happen to anyone. Guest author: Anne Gentle

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