about 10 years ago, i took a mace class. yes, mace. the self-defense spray. why? my answer: it was there. so i took it. a random adventure; and i like to learn. our large, southern, retired-cop teacher taught us about the chemical make up of the weapon, and the various options of dispensation. and then, the fat lady sang, a melody of grown men weeping like women at a Nicholas Sparks film festival: at the end of the class, our no-nonsense instructor sprayed every student in the face with some form of pepper spray, or a combination of pepper spray and tear gas. my friend and i were the only ones taking the class who weren’t being certified to work as security guards, and as such we were exempt from the requirement of having our eyes seared by a canister of agony. but i’m not one to back down from a challenge. i chose the most painful version: a ballistic stream of pepper spray and cs tear gas, which was more than just a contact contaminant–it burned everything it touched, plus everything AROUND everything it touched. i braced myself, and instead of closing my eyes like everyone else, i opened them wide. i wasn’t going to be intimidated by my chemical foe. somehow, miraculously and stupidly, i maintained my open-eyed position, even as the piercing dagger of hellacious contents under pressure neared the surface of my eyeball. 3, 2, 1, CONTACT. PAIN. not just from the sensation that sent my eyes crying rivers and my nose gushing streams. no, it was more than that. it was the immense sensory anguish of being stabbed in the eye. HARD. for two days, my eyeball hurt.
fast forward. to a life where morning became night, and night morning. over the years, my sleeping habits were awful. i never wanted to sleep, because sleeping meant throwing in the towel. it meant saying, “i give up on this day.” so i held on. until physical devastation forced me to bed, an exhausted mess. and i noticed something: whenever i stayed up too late, or whenever i didn’t get enough sleep for a few days in a row, the back of my eye would hurt. BAD. i eventually thought back to my mace experience; i couldn’t remember having this problem before the class. and so i often wondered if my eye had been injured, and now the pain would be a lifelong result. i at times considered going to an opthamologist, but that action never made it past the idea stage. after a while, i was unsure whether it was always the same eye that hurt, and i could no longer remember for certain which eye had been jabbed by the mace. but i reasoned that it must be the same.
and so i lived for 10 years with this problem. it seemed reasonable to me that sleep–the act of shutting one’s eyes–when withheld, would naturally cause my eyes to hurt. at the same time, however, i wondered why nobody else ever complained about eye pain due to sleep deprivation. i only heard others talk of being tired. “tired? tired’s a walk in the park,” i’d think to myself. “i have PAIN.” and so i went, through pain and sleeplessness, through theorizing and defending my need for excess sleep to quell the pain. and so i went…until recently, when the catalyst for this blog forced me to rethink my eye issue. on may 12th, 2010.