USE EYE PROTECTION EVERY TIME!
Yes, I was yelling. You'd think after nearly a quarter centuary of restoring tractors, and having gone to the eye doctor 3...NOW 4 times, I'd religiously use eye protection. I must admit, I'm very concientious about it, and use them fastidiously...almost. Saturday afternoon, while putting the finishing touches on a bracket to mount an alternator on my cub, (another topic entirely, but it came out very nice I may add,) I had to ever so slightly elongate a hole to allow for perfect alignment. I had been putting on, and taking off my eye protection all morning, between the wire wheel, the belt grinder, and my air carbide cutter. It was just a mere couple of thousandths of an inch I had to take off in order to be done, and I stepped over to my bench. The glasses were across the shop, lying next to the wire wheel. Just a tiny touch I thought would do it. What's the odds? Evidently they were stacked against me, because as soon as I touched the cutter to the hole, BAM... right in my left eye. Little shard of metal. Thought I rubbed it out, and counted myself lucky. Put the bracket on, and it fit perfectly.
That night, my eye was very red and watery. Had a hard time sleeping. I was sure I had scratched it, and figured it would be fine in the morning.
Sunday afternoon, I was absolutely miserable. Called my wife, who was shopping with the mother in law, and asked her to be sure to bring something home for my eye, some sort of soothing liquid. She does, but, being the nurse she is, (really, an RN... good thing for someone like me to have around,) she insists on taking a look. She spots a tiny shard of metal at about 7:00 in the iris of my eye. Off to the Emergency room we go.
Now, I don't know what kind of emergency room you have nearby, but the one we have apparently is a testing ground for new physicians. In my job, I go to the very same E room often, handling crashes, taking drunks in for blood tests, etc. I don't think I've ever seen the same Dr there twice. That night was no exception. Dr. "I may someday be old enough to grow a beard" was on duty. Didn't catch his name. I don't think they give them name tags as they are only there for a very short time. Or maybe anonymity is a liability thing. I'll call him Dr. "A" (for adolescent.)
Dr. A says to me, stroking his chin as though there could be whiskers there, " I see you have something in your eye. Does it bother you?" (long pause, as I look at my wife and the door.)
"Why yes, it does. Matter of fact, it bothered me enough to come to the ER to see a doctor. Any idea when he'll BE HERE?" This may not have been the best way to start out a dr-patient relationship.
Dr. A, after nearly an HOUR of waiting around, gives me a few drops of something nasty to deaden my eye. He then instructs me to lay back and hovers over me w/a NEEDLE that looked the size of a broom handle, preparing to flick the offending metal from my eye. He advised me to remain perfectly still. Not really a problem for me at that time. After precisely one attempt at this, I began to suspect that he was new to this sort of thing. I could feel the needle "flicking" the steel, kinda like when you flip a coin with your thumbnail. I became quite nervous, and told him I needed to shuck my sweatshirt as I was becoming uncomfortably warm. Again he admonished me to hold still, and attempted again, unsuccessfully. I was beginning to become a bit irritable with this, and told him I felt we were probably done and I would see a specialist. Dr. A seemed incensed at my lack of faith and became more insistent that he be given another attempt. Now there was a brief pause in the inquisitional technique he was using, and I stripped off my sweatshirt, revealing my badge and off duty weapon. When he saw it, he said, "is that a taser?" "No, I replied. Its a .40 caliber Glock."
The medical exam was inexplicalby at an end, and he hastily excused himself to make a call to an opthamologist to arrange an appointment for me.
Monday morning, bright and early, I'm supposed to go on duty. I call my Lt. and tell him my dilemma, as I have an 0800 eye appt., in Effingham, where my dist. HQ is. I also have an appt. that morning to get my squad serviced, which due to illness, I've had to cancel on a previous occasion. The state garage guys aren't very understanding to this thing, and I was postponed nearly two weeks before getting this appointment. I assured the Lt. I could safely drive my squad to the garage, then I would take sick time to go to the eye dr. He agreed, so I got to post bright and early, took the important stuff out of my squad and made arrangements for it to be relayed to the garage, while I took a "utility" car to the dr.
This guy was great. Personable, professional, efficient.....and expensive. Again with the drops,then, putting my head in some sort of Hannibal Lector harness thing, He takes the equivilant to a tiny dremel tool, and deftly removes the shard from my eye, and excises a "rust ring" also there in. Whole thing took him about 60 seconds, tops. I was in and out of there in 30 minutes.
Feeling really good, i went back to post and tol the Lt. I was good to go, but I'd work on reports that day in my office. After about 45 minutes though, the eye deadening stuff wore off, and I began to look like folks I've seen under the influence of....well,..... pepper spray. I couldn't open my eyes and had to feel my way down the hall to radio.
The girls in radio have been around long enough to have experienced many of my previous misfortunes... when I cut my thumb off, blew out my eardrums, burned my left foot to the bone w/a fusee, punctured and otherwise abused my body over the years both at work and at home, so they were relatively unsurprised to see me in my current condition. Another troop gave me a ride home and here I remained the rest of the day, sucking down Aleve and sleeping in the recliner. About an hour ago, I felt well enough to, wearing a patch over my left eye, type this up. Please forgive the typos.
Long story I know, but, It's cathartic to write after a wasted day. Please heed the warning.
NEVER USE POWER TOOLS WITHOUT EYE PROTECTION
I'm picking up a few extra pair tomorrow, to put in strategic locations around the shop. I may be slow, but I am trainable, and this won't happen to me again. You get one set of eyes, and a good friend of mine lost his dominant eye last year in a training accident. (he's a deputy and range officer) A bullet jacket fragment came back and hit him, piercing his eye. He was running a range session, and was standing back at the 25 yard line, and had briefly taken his eye protection off to rub his eyes, when he got hit. I remember thinking how foolish that was, as I too am a range officer, and NEVER work the range without eye protection, nor do I let anyone on my line without it. Overconfident, I could have done the same damage at home. Everyone be careful out there. By the way, my eye will be fine in a couple of days. I consider myself lucky.