Thursday, March 06, 2014

Stuck on a stick in the eye

Image: A poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

SCREAMS of 'My eye, my eye ...' echoed down suburban Wolsely Street, Buranda, Brisbane, after a sharp branch on a footpath tree impaled a man, pinning him to the spot and striking him into panic. That man was me, forever to remember the sickening feelings of the sharp end of a dead branch in my eye socket and the pressure with just one millimetre of movement. A few minutes earlier I had parked my car and, running late for an appointment at the hospital, hurriedly fed the meter for a two-hour stay. Then I had turned hastily. One quick step put me on a 'collision course' with the tree, and the unforgettable burst of pain, which soon turned to hysteria as I realised the branch was stuck in the eye socket The branch was pressing hard on the bony bridge of my nose and I don't think I'll ever forget the disgusting feeling of its penetration into the socket.
Rightly or wrongly, I felt I had to get free of the tree as quickly as possible and pressed with one hand over the closed eye as with the other I tried to break off the branch. However, the branch was springy and obviously would not break easily. I took a deep breath and pulled my head away for yet another sickening feeling, that of the branch's actual exit with a distinct sliminess that I feared was the eyeball fluid. As I sank to crouch on the footpath, moaning and wondering what to do two passers-by and a woman from a nearby private hotel rushed to help. One of the passers-by, a woman, asked to see my eye to check for damage but I refused to remove my hand as I could only think the worst and said I would open it only in hospital.
A man who had heard my screams immediately took preventive action, breaking off the offending branch and then, seeing blood run down my cheek, giving me a handkerchief to place over the bloodied eye. The hotel manager, Jennifer, called the ambulance on her mobile, and I began to calm down. The man, Sukhi, took a picture, using my smartphone. I called my wife, Jenny, to warn her that she may have to make a trip to move the car because it was anyone's guess how I would come through it all and to ask her to call the council about the accident. A crew of three paramedics arrived to take me on the one block trip to the PA Hospital. They asked to inspect the eye but I refused to open it, saying the confirmation of blindness would freak me out too much. I had already peeked with my good eye at the handkerchief and seen blood in a watery mess. Was it eye fluid?
During the short wait for the doctor to take me to the special eye room, fear finally started to fade. I opened the eye just a little and could see light through the gauze. With the advice, 'Buy a lottery ticket – you are very lucky today,' the emergency dept doctor announced my all-clear of any serious injury. No apparent eyeball, nerve or muscle damage, just a graze between the eyes. So that's the story behind that hysteria in Wolsely Street just after 10am on Tuesday, March 4, 2014.
My thanks to Jennifer; Sukhi; the other passer-by; Brendan and the rest of the ambulance crew; the PA doctor; and the Brisbane Council officers who immediately trimmed the tree and followed up with a call to my home yesterday. A mate counselled: "Don't rush to do anything – that's when accidents happen." But it's not that easy: When you've got to get there, you've got to get there. But thankfully trees don't always get in the way.

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