OPINION

Doctor my eyes

Ronna LawlessStaff Writer
Doctor my eyes

I haven’t had much experience with fireworks, but somehow I’ve managed to be involved in a few bad situations with them — one of which sent me to the emergency room.

Growing up, my parents wouldn’t let me play with July Fourth celebration toys with any more explosive power than sparklers — which pretty much just left sparklers. Even those came with a litany of warnings from Mom and Dad about how to hold them and where to hold them. Keep it away from my body, my face, other people, pets, don’t burn myself on it, don’t drop it in the grass when it goes out, hold it on the very end so I don’t burn my fingers.

OK. Now go have fun with that sparkler, Ronna. Heck, by the time I’d heard all the warnings, the sparkler was already out.

Firecrackers and bottle rockets were off limits. Even snakes were not on my list of approved fireworks. It was literally just the sparklers. I was so envious of kids shooting off bottle rockets and lighting firecrackers.

Sparklers are to fireworks as Shirley Temples are to cocktails.

I didn’t light a firecracker until I was in my 30s. Fortunately it went off without any problems. But frankly, I know now that my parents were right to restrict me from anything stronger than sparklers because it seems like fireworks are out to get me.

I first noticed this when I was about 12 years old, and my family was watching a municipal fireworks show near Cedar Rapids. It was a lovely night, but then we started to be hit by debris falling from the sky. None of us were injured, but it was a strange and disconcerting situation to have pieces of plastic and ashy paper landing on us from out of the darkness.

It was foreshadowing for things that would happened to me later in life.

When I was in my 20s, I was on a date for the Fourth, sitting on a blanket near the fireworks show in Ames. Again, it was a lovely night. Lying back watching the fireworks, suddenly I got something in my eye. I tried and tried to get it out before I realized the “thing” that I was trying to remove was actually a cut in my eyeball.

It was like a paper cut. When my finger moved across it in one direction I couldn’t feel it, but in the opposite direction, I could feel a little flap. My date took me to the ER, where an exam showed there was a cut. The doctor put something in my eye to prevent infection; it turned the white of my eye yellow.

No one noticed the yellow because I had to wear an eye patch for a few days. So basically, that Independence Day made me look like a pirate.

In my 30s, I attended a family fireworks show in my parents’ backyard. Again, I was just a spectator. From an outsider’s perspective it may have seen like one firework went haywire, but from my perspective, that firework attacked me.

I could feel chemicals burning my eyes. I ran inside to a bathroom sink and rinsed my eyes with cool water. It took a while, but fortunately the burning went away. The fright of it lingered for a long time though.

So suffice it to say that, once again, I have learned as an adult that what my parents said when I was a kid was true and right and wise.

I still haven’t shot off a bottle rocket. Maybe I’ll dig out my safety glasses and give one a try this year.

Ronna Lawless is a staff writer for the Nevada Journal and Tri-County Times. You can email her at rlawless@nevadaiowajournal.com or follow her on Twitter, @ronna67.