When I was twenty, my tear duct closed, which only happens to infants, the elderly, and me. No one could figure it out.
Tears leaked continuously down my right cheek, except when I walked across campus that winter, and my eye froze shut. There were many other downsides, and only one up that I can recall. I sought assistance from my microeconomics professor that semester, and he was unbelievably kind to me. And patient. And helpful. It wasn’t until after I left his office that I realized he must have thought I was weeping through class every day. Lord knows I felt like doing so.
Treatment began with “wait,”and “warm compresses,” followed by eyedrops and ointments. Incidentally, being able to smear ointment in my eye came in handy for the twelve times I got pinkeye from my students and children.
But when those ointments did nothing, they tried three unsuccessful rounds of irrigation—that is, stabbing a gigantic syringe into the opening, cranking the needle around parallel with my eyeball, and flooding it with saline.
It is terrifying to see a three-inch needle come straight at your eye—but I was not allowed to blink or flinch, as that might not end well.
Finally, surgery was scheduled.
I asked how long it would take.
Answer: about fifteen to twenty minutes, but they allow 90 minutes in case they hit a nearby artery while drilling a hole in the nose, in which case it could take upwards of 45 minutes to control the blood flow.
I’m all for honesty and disclosure and all that, but I really didn’t want to hear the whole story. Let’s leave out the part about when you might seriously botch it and I am spurting blood uncontrollably for an hour.
I could tell you a lot more about the surgery and the aftermath, about how I was severely bruised, with black stitches under my eye, and everyone was afraid to ask me what had happened. Or how they sewed a red rubber tube into my nose so it didn’t scar shut. Or how the stitches were too loose and the tube would dangle out the end of my nose…and how I did not get great tips during that period of time.
I had a lot more to add, actually, but I then googled dacryocystorhinostomy to check my spelling and discovered that I could watch the procedure on youtube. Why, oh why would I want to look? Though I managed to watch while they cut into the eye socket, I freaked out 20 seconds in, because DID YOU KNOW THEY PRY INCISIONS OPEN WITH OYSTER FORKS??
As I said, I don’t want to know the whole story.
By now, you would think I would remember not to go looking for it.