In the middle of hanging up washing a contact lens was flicked out of my eye. Where did it end up?
I shall never forget that cold, bleak day in August 1972 when we were living in Toowoomba, Queensland. The westerlies were blowing a gale. I hated the daily battle of hanging up washing, particularly in winter. Mid afternoon I was wrestling as usual with the whirling Hills Hoist endeavouring to peg up a basketful of my three-month-old baby’s nappies refore my daughter returned from Preschool. In those days we were a struggling family, living on one income and having an uphill job in trying to save up for a house deposit. We would loved to have bought a dryer but at that impecunious time, it was completely out of the question due to our finances being so shaky.
Just as I was finishing the job to, a humungous gust of wind caused the clothesline to spin uncontrollably out of my hands, and in the process, a corner of one nappy - just pegged - slapped my face. Immediately, I felt a burning, painful sensation in my right eye and noticed a deterioration in sight. I could not see properly because my right contact lens was dislodged by the blow. Quickly I ran inside, inspected my eye to ascertain whether it had been shifted to another part of my orb. Having experienced similar accidents with my lenses in the past I knew what to do: take off my clothes and vigorously shake them, just in case the lens was clinging to my outfit. Next step was to shine a torch onto the floor and hope that the lens would show its presence by reflecting its gleam.
An awful, sick feeling welled up within as I realised that most likely, my lens was lost. Perhaps the lens had fallen onto the grass. A quick examination did not reveal it. By this time I momenarily gave up my search because of my daughter’s imminent arrival. There she was, waiting patiently for me to cross the road to collect her. She chatted happily about her day’s activities and proudly showed me a painting she had done. I admired it, settled her down for her afternoon tea and then made a long-distance call to my Brisbane optometrist.
The receptionist looked up my records and said “Do you mean to say, dear that you’ve been wearing the same lenses for three years and haven’t had a check-up in all that time. You should make an appointment to have a thorough examination for both eyes because after having children your eyesight could have changed and you may need a different prescription.” This was not good news.
When my husband arrived home I told him about about my lost lens. He was sympathetic and straightaway went outside to search the suspect area . He returned –empty handed. I was sure it was somewhere, hiding in that thick Buffalo grass that grew by the clothesline. That night, after the children had gone to sleep I scanned the area with a torch, hoping I would find the lens. No luck. My next step was to use nail scissors to snip the grass..I was so desperate l yelled out: “If there is a god, please help me find my lens!”
The following day I lopsidedly went about my daily chores. I reconciled to the fact that we would just have another bill to pay, hoping we could manage. That night my husband came home earlier and said, ‘ Karen, let’s get some Chinese Takeaway tonight – that might cheer you up!’ I agreed. When the food arrived it was hot and delicious and well worth the expense.
During the meal something happened which was absolutely extraordinary. “Mummy, there’s something in my mouth. It feels like glass,” my daughter commented.
“Let me see, darling.” Obligingly she opened her mouth wide as I examined the contents. Amongst the half-chewed food, was a small shining disc. Gingerly, I removed it, examined it. carefully and thought: This is a lens. It was tinted blue like mine, was somewhat scratched and appeared to be the same size.
Once I had cleaned it I inserted the lens into my eye. It fitted perfectly! Was this an answer to my prayer? I was over the moon with happiness as my world returned to normal. We finished our meal in great merriment and opened up our bottle of wine to celebrate. Our daughter was feeling very proud of herself but wondered what all the fuss was about.
To this day we have never been able to work out what had happened to my lens once it had been flicked out of my eye. We did not go back to the Chinese restaurant and ask if any of their staff had lost a lens that night. Instead, I wore that lens and its mate for another three years. We have dined on The Lens Tale at many a dinner party. Few have believed it: many have wondered. What do you think?
Karen Wilson, Hobart, Tasmania. May 2006.
Site: Chinese Takeway,
Karen Laura-lee-Lee Wilson
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