My eye was pierced by a sharp leaf. I was bending over in the garden to see if some newly potted little plants had enough water, and suddenly, ouch! a sharp pointed leaf on the bay tree stabbed me right in the eye.
I rubbed my eye and carried on. It was annoying, and it hurt, but I wanted to finish what I was doing. It was half an hour before I went inside and sat down to talk to D about what he'd been doing with the cattle.
'What have you done to your eye?' he said.
'Oh, something stabbed me, that's all.'
He came over to have a closer look.
'It's bleeding,' he said. 'You've got to put pressure on it, and lie down.'
I did as I was told. But how long was this going to go on for? I had a great many things to do, we were going away the next day.
I heard him on the phone, explaining, answering questions. I closed my yes, pressing the pad he'd given me to the injured eye, which I had to own was now hurting quite a bit. He came back in and looked at it carefully, then went back to the phone.
'It's a hematoma, and it's growing. It's about 5 millimetres from the iris.'
Then he came back again to tell me, 'You've got to have it checked out at the hospital. We're meeting the ambulance at Uriarra Crossing.'
I groaned and mentally gave up on the day. We drove up the Brindabella Road, each bump and jerk hurting, but I kept the pressure pack on my eye. I thought about what it would be like to be blind in one eye. How would it change things? Would I still be able to drive? But I was not panicking, or even very frightened. It all seemed far fetched, after all, it was only a bay leaf.
We met the ambulance as we started down the hill towards Canberra.
'Shall I tell them your husband's been knocking you about?' said the well-into-middle-age but extremely nice and competent paramedic who helped me out of the car. It was an inept and ill-judged joke, and he blanched at it when he saw my face. 'Forget I said that,' he offered, and I wondered how long the joke had been in his repertoire for lightening up terrible situations. Perhaps this would be the last time he used it.
Inside the ambulance, he strapped me in, hooked me up to the blood pressure monitor, examined my eye, and gave me a shot of painkillers up the nose, simultaneously taking notes, talking into his radio, talking to his driver, and explaining everything he was doing and everything that was going to happen, while seeming to be calm to the point of laid back. He managed to take a complete history of the eye stabbing event, as well as all the relevant medical history, by way of what felt like an engaging conversation.
If ever there was a place to completely hand over control to someone else, it's the inside of an ambulance. As the Fentonyl kicked in, a little part of my mind was admiring of the training and expertise that enabled him to do his job both so professionally and so amicably, but I was starting to feel like he was going to be my new best friend. Drifting off to sleep, I'd wake up and see his kind face, eyes fixed on me, checking, observing, and I'd tell him things. I told him about the only time I ever had a panic attack. I told him about little G being in hospital last week, and how fearful I'd been. I told him about my hip operation, and how lovely it was to be able to walk without pain again. I told him much more than he needed to know. (But he was probably assessing my mental health as well.) I wanted to hold his hand. I wanted to know his name.
When we got to A and E, he fetched me a wheelchair, and I watched him doing a handover to the nurse. It was a perfect summary of my ramblings, but I did rather wish he'd told her it was a bay leaf that stabbed me, not just any old leaf.
I was put into the Fast Track waiting room, where I stayed for two and a half hours. D arrived, and fetched coffee and what food could be found.
Other people came and went, in an order that was impossible to determine. Many also looked as if they had had busy days rudely interrupted - men in work boots, covered in builder's dust; public servants with their ID cards still round their necks. No one dresses for A and E - it's just the clothes you were standing in when it happened.
Finally, it was my turn. The eye specialist was a young man, who seemed to have done a degree in communication skills as well as optometry, his instructions were so precise and his explanations so clear. The bay leaf had narrowly missed my iris, but scratched the surface of the eyeball, making it bleed. I had to have antibiotic eye drops and cream I was not going to be blind, but my eye would be lurid shades of red, orange and green until at least after Christmas.
D drove us home. I was tired and chastened. It was late, the day was over and everything I'd been going to do still waiting to be done. Somewhere in Canberra, my ambulance driver was on the scene, calming the hysterical, managing the disastrous, and my eye specialist was looking into yet another frightened pair of eyes. I saw my lovely Brindabella world again, through two good eyes. Oh, I am lucky, lucky, lucky!