A Gift from Camp

When most kids return home from camp, they bring their parents something nice, like handmade pottery or an ashtray.  My child brought me pink eye.

Yes, Stephanie returned home from camp on a Friday afternoon about 3 pm.  By 5, her left eye was pinker than Frenchie’s hair in the movie Grease.  It lasted for five days.  On day seven, my left eye began to itch.  I sit here twelve days later still looking like I just returned home from a night out with Otis from the Andy Griffith Show.

Have you ever laid face down in a sandbox with your eyes wide open?  That’s what this feels like.

I’ve been through two and a half boxes of Kleenex, dabbing the goop from my pus filled corneas.  On the first day of my diagnosis, I had to have  two business meetings with people I’d never met.  I apologized for my tears – told them talking about work just choked me up a bit.

For seven of these days we’ve been on vacation – our annual family/friend reunion at a small resort in Capon Springs, West Virginia.  Imagine 200 people coming together who haven’t seen each other in a year or more.  The hugs, handshakes and pats on the back were flowing … except for me.  When they saw my eyes they gave a tacit smile and backed away as if I had Smallpox.

On Wednesday, Capon staff  hosted our annual BINGO game.  The guy in charge didn’t know I had the funk and invited me to be a guest caller – quite the honor at Capon Springs.  When I stepped up to the microphone, I pulled out a small bottle of hand sanitizer and publicly scrubbed myself before touching any of the BINGO balls.  Instead of calling out the letters B-I-N-G and O, I substituted B, Pink Eye, N, G, O.  I figured if I couldn’t beat ’em, I might as well join ’em.

My sister-in-law is an epidemiologist at Duke University Hospital.  She’s working on cures for some rare diseases.  I suggested she change her focus.  I mean there simply aren’t that many people who are going to be struck by an organ eating bacteria.  But everyone gets pink eye.  Why isn’t someone working on a vaccine for that?  I’m talking Nobel Peace Prize here. 

I’m thankful I wasn’t quarantined and that my family still allowed me to eat at their table in the dining room – although as far away from children as possible.  And I have to give props to one woman who hugged me after finding out of my temporary condition.  She said, “I’m a teacher, I’m immune to that junk.”

Teachers aren’t scared of anything.  She’d have hugged me if I had Eboli.

So today I started steroid eye drops.  My sclera is still pink, but I’m blinking faster than Lance Armstrong can pedal.  Maybe I’m nearing the end.

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