Addendum This post was written yesterday but I failed to press the Publish button. For reasons which will become apparent.
There was no more gardening for me today. It was a damp and drizzly day, for starters, but more to the point I scratched my eye yesterday. I was very careful working among the shrubs by the oil tank, but as I leaned over the chicken proof picket fence to snip off the last few old hellebore leaves a small side shoot of one of the coloured stem dogwoods slid behind my glasses and glanced across my eyeball. At first I didn't think it was too bad, but as the evening wore on it got worse rather than better. I hoped a night's sleep would calm things down, but did not sleep very well, and in the morning as I looked at the puffy and dropping flesh over my eyelid and contemplated the stream of tears and snot I had to admit that I was going to have to see somebody about it.
We opted for the walk in centre in Colchester. It seemed an easier prospect than trying to get through to the GP practice on the phone and then trying to convince the receptionist that I really did want to see somebody today rather than be fitted in on Thursday afternoon. I had to ask the Systems Administrator to drive me, since the other eye was had got quite damp in sympathy and I really couldn't see well enough to drive, besides which I find it hard enough to judge distances even with two eyes. And I knew the drill, having stupidly done this in the past. In order to inspect the damage they put anaesthetic drops in the eye, followed by an orange dye that makes the scratch show up under blue light, and then they want to put a patch on the eye to protect it until the anaesthetic wears off. The first question anybody will ask you when presented at a health facility with a minor eye injury is Did you drive yourself here?
The rolling information board at the walk in centre said rather discouragingly that the wait for walk in patients was three hours, which might make anybody who didn't honestly think they were that ill turn round and walk out again. We were puzzled, since there weren't that many people in the waiting room, and in fact I was seen after forty minutes by a nurse. I explained the accident and she made me go out into the corridor and do a sight test with each eye. I could only get to the third line down with the injured eye, but only a couple of lines further with the good eye because it was weeping in sympathy. Then the nurse went through the whole scratched eye drill and told me it was quite a big scratch and that she would give me a prescription for chloramphenicol and I must apply it four time daily for at least five days, and if the eye was not better by tomorrow or was worse I must go and see my GP as large scratches like that could become ulcerated, slightly stressing the word GP as if that was where I should have gone in the first place. I asked what chloramphenicol was and she said it was an antibiotic, and called in a second nurse for a second opinion, who looked at the scratch and said cheerfully that it would be fine, they heal really quickly. The first nurse apologised that as a medical professional she had to warn me of the worst case scenario, and taped an enormous wad of gauze over my eye. I was slightly disappointed since I'd been hoping for a piratical black patch and it was so bulky that I couldn't get my glasses close enough to my face to be able to see with the remaining eye. I thanked her and she told me to have a nice day.
We came home via the friendly local pharmacy and the pharmacist observed that I had been in the wars, and told me about her friend who had caught her eye on the corner of her car door while washing it. I paid for my prescription and sat down in a chair waiting for it to be dispensed, although there is nothing very complicated about putting a tube of ointment in a bag. Then the pharmacist said that she would refund the prescription charge since she had realised that it would be cheaper for me to simply buy the chloramphenicol.
The Systems Administrator had a very sensible idea which I shall act on as soon as I can see properly, which is to get some prescription safety glasses. I can order them on the internet since I've got my prescription, and it's not as if they have to be fitted like varifocals. Given that it is (ahem) the third time that I've suffered this particular accident I ought to do something. An incredibly dapper optician once told me that I should wear goggles at all times when gardening. He can't have tried it. They are uncomfortable and impede your vision at the best of times, and in hot weather they steam up. I suppose I could go the whole hog and buy a welding mask, like the man who always sailed in one and said that the tinted glass cast a rosy glow on the world and made him think the weather was about to improve.