After so many years of wearing glasses, I found a pair of soft contact lenses that worked. So, with a new dress, a haircut, contacts, and acrylic nails, I flew off to San Diego for my sister’s wedding. I was looking forward to this weekend and seeing family. My mother and her husband would be there, three of my sisters, their spouses, nieces and nephews, and of course Stan, the fiancé.

It was a great weekend, but far too short. On the way back to Minneapolis, we encountered some terrible thunderstorms. I got stuck in Denver and almost missed my connecting flight. Instead of arriving in Minneapolis at 11:30 p.m., we landed at 2:30 a.m. When I got home, my daughter was sick with the flu and my basement had flooded.

Discouraged, I sat on a stool in my basement and watched the water continue to rise. There was a waterfall coming out of the concrete wall and a spring welling up from the floor. Having a Bachelor of Science degree in water resources, I thought maybe I could turn this disaster to my advantage. I could turn loose a few frogs and fish and have my own wetland. The storm passed, but I didn’t get to bed until 4:30 a.m.

Later that day, I went grocery shopping and bought a pump to pull the remaining water out of the basement. I also purchased some fingernail glue, because a couple of my fake nails had come loose the night before while wringing out the mop. I don’t get professional manicures that often, because it is somewhat pricey for my budget and I wasn’t going to let them fall off so quickly.

Later that week, I called my optometrist because my new contacts made my eyes dry. He gave me a bottle of eye drops. One or two cool drops in each eye and I was good to go for another couple of hours.

I was at work and I think it was about 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon that day, when I was ready to put in a couple more drops in my eyes. I can’t look up at the bottle and watch the drops hit my eye. I blink and they land on my eyelid, so I have to take out a mirror and aim the drops on the outer corner of my eye, not on the pupil or iris.

I took the little bottle out, aimed it at the designated place and put slight pressure on the bottle. A drop gently formed at the tip of the nozzle, and then dangled there. It would not release. I was impatient because I had work to do, so I gave it a slight squeeze. When the liquid finally made contact with my eye, instead of feeling cool, it burned. Puzzled by this, I looked at the label on the bottle, and to my shock, it said “Fingernail Glue.” The glue bottle and the eye drop bottle were almost identical in size and shape, and since I wasn’t used to carrying either of them with me, I grabbed the wrong bottle with which to wet my eyes.

Swearing softly under my breath, I used the ring finger on my right hand and quickly swiped over my eye to remove as much glue as I could. I had no idea what kind of damage I would sustain. My finger stuck to my lower eyelid and when I frantically pulled it loose, a line of lashes was now glued to the pad of my finger. The office kitchen was a short distance away so I went over and began washing my eye with water.

“I’m going to lose my eye,” I thought to myself. “What a stupid mistake to make.” Someone came and asked me if I was okay. I explained the situation and asked her to call my doctor. My doctor said I should come right over to his office, which fortunately was within walking distance.

News of my accident spread quickly and my coworkers were very sympathetic. One woman said, “Leanne, if you had wanted to take time off of work, why didn’t you just put your hand in the paper shredder?”

How do you explain something like putting glue in your eye? I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, especially when even I didn’t know how bad the situation really was. I understood how my co-workers felt. In respect for my situation, however, no one snickered behind their hands. Nope, they just laughed outright.

Finally, while I was being led to the elevator (I couldn’t see well enough to go by myself), I heard someone shout, “Hey, Leanne! Keep your eyes peeled!” I thought that was going a little too far, but as my guide pushed the elevator button, I heard someone sing a song to the tune of “Louie Louie.” The words were changed to, “Oh Gluey Glue-Eye, Oh Baby, You Gotta Go.”

As the doctor examined my eye, he told me that he had looked in the medical books to see if there were any records available from other patients who had experienced the same kind of accident. There were. As I had noticed earlier, the glue bottles are very similar in size and shape to eye drop bottles, the only difference being that the glue bottles have a red cap. Well now, how was I supposed to know that the red cap was a sign of danger and not just another advertising gimmick?

Eye drops and fingernail glue aren’t the only mistakes like this that have been made. The shapes of super glue and sewing machine oil bottles are similar, again the only difference is the red cap on the super glue bottle. One woman told me she used super glue to oil her sewing machine. I also heard of one person who used superglue as eardrops!

I sat in the doctor’s office crying like a baby, telling him about all the tragedies that had hit my family that year, and that maybe someday I could laugh about this, but that it sure wasn’t funny at the moment. He looked at me kindly, but I know he thought I was deranged. He said that because superglue didn’t react with water, it wouldn’t damage my eye and I would not lose my sight.

I am amazed at how a crisis can bond coworkers together. I am even more amazed at how a soft contact lens can bond to one’s eyelid with the aid of a couple of drops of fingernail glue. To prevent scratching the cornea, the doctor had to remove the fused contact, along with any remaining eyelashes that didn’t happen to fuse to my finger. This part was even more painful then the original accident and I went home looking like I had a severe case of pinkeye.

I hear about people who have had near death experiences and how their life flashes before their eyes. My life only flashed before one eye……(maybe it did flash before both, but I could see out of only one).

Well I survived that incident. But sometimes the only thing that helps to make meaning out of a senseless accident is to try to learn something from it. Take this experience for an example. Your coworkers can be very kind and sensitive? Right! Something has to be done about better warning labels on glue bottles? That’s true! While that sounds like a good moral to a story, but after this incident, I’ve become a bit too jaded. All I can say is just don’t ever put glue in your eye.

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