Friday, September 26, 2008

Sty Wars: Revenge of the Cyst

Did you ever get a sty in your eye? It’s not a fun experience, as it feels like you have a piece of glass permanently rubbing against your eyelid. This actually happened to me this past week, and I had a very hard time dealing with it. Not so much because of the pain, but because I sometimes suffer from spurts of vanity that make it impossible for me to be seen in public with any kind of facial flaw. The neurosis dates back to my days of acne, when going out in public meant feeling embarrassed about my many blemishes. And I’m not talking about the kind of blemishes you see on those Clearasil commercials, where the really pretty girl gets one big zit right before the Senior Prom. I’m talking about a face filled with so many dots, people might confuse me for a painting by George Saurat. (Thank God for Accutane, which permanently cleared up the situation when I was in my early twenties.)

Nevertheless, the scars from many years of emotional turmoil still rear their ugly head every now and then. (Literally, in this case.) And so, when I began noticing a little white zit-like creature forming on my lower lid, I immediately went to WebMD for assistance. In fact, I Googled everything I could about sties and how to treat them, only to find there’s no real cure. You just have to wait them out. Hot compresses are highly recommended; though popping or lancing them are not.

As luck would have it, the sty appeared two days before I was going to the theater to see “Equus” starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe. And though I’d hot compressed the thing to death, it only seemed to make the sty grow in size until it was practically taking over my entire face. (“Is that a sty in your eye, or are you just happy to see me?”) I am exaggerating, of course, but that’s what it felt like.

On the day of the show, the sty appeared to have grown several other whiteheads on top of it, like an out-of-control litter of bunnies. And since I was going out to dinner before the show with a bunch of friends, I was sort of concerned about how people’s appetites would be after they got a peak at my mushroom sty. Would they be concerned that the sty would suddenly pop and pepper their soups with a pound of puss? Or would they all take pot shots at it for the rest of the evening until they’d worn out every joke and pun that could possibly be related to a sty? And since both options sounded like recipes for disaster, I came up with an alternative plan that would hopefully curb my public humiliaton--I would wear sunglasses the entire evening. (Oh yes, vanity has no limitations.)

Wearing sunglasses during the daytime is one thing. Even if you go inside a building to shop for a while, people don’t really care if you’re still wearing your sunglasses. They probably assume at any minute you’re going back outside so you just didn’t bother to take them off. This might even be acceptable in a restaurant during the day, because you might be trying to avoid eye contact with people, or you have a paparazzi complex. But once the sun goes down, people naturally expect you to take your sunglasses off. After all, without the sun, they just look like dark glasses. Only mine happen to be really dark glasses---the kind you can’t see into.

When I met my friends at a neighborhood bar before we went to the restaurant, I explained to them about the sty and that I was actually wearing the sunglasses for their sake—so they wouldn’t have to eat while looking at such an unsightly cluster of grossness. As my friends are used to such “antics” from me, none of them really cared. Although I did have some difficulty when I tried to find the bathroom in the darkened bar. I managed to find the Owner’s office, the broom closet and the women’s room before I finally was able to decipher the strange hieroglyphics on the men’s room door enough to realize it was supposed to be a cut-out of a male body. Stupid me. .

Later, at the theater, I heard whispers as I took my place in the second row of the mezzanine. I’m sure people were wondering if I was some reclusive movie star trying to hide his persona, or just another wacko New Yorker who imagines himself much more important than he actually is. As I was neither, I tried to concentrate on the program, while everyone around me was apparently trying to solve the mystery of the man in dark glasses. At one point, a little girl came up and asked for my autograph, no doubt thinking I must be someone famous. I pretended I was foreign and didn’t understand her, until she finally went back to her disappointed parents, who might have been hoping the autograph would settle their bet as to who I was.

Once the lights went down, though, I took the sunglasses off. And I’m glad I did, because at one point Daniel Radcliffe looks up into the audience for quite some time, right at the point where I was sitting. I could only imagine what he might think if he saw someone with sunglasses sitting in the second row. Perhaps that I was Severus Snape coming to sabotage his performance, or one of the Weasley boys about to perform a prank.

The next day the whiteness and puffiness of the sty calmed down, or perhaps retreated out of embarrassment, and is now just a small scab waiting to heal. I just hope I never get stymied like that again.

But that’s just me. Have you ever had an embarrassing experience with a sty?


Daisy said...


"I wear my sunglasses at night
So I can, so I can
Watch you weave
Then breathe your story lines
And I wear my sunglasses at night
So I can, so I can
Keep track of the visions in my eyes."

Anonymous said...

I too have suffered from the dreaded eye sty The cure an old wives tale (which works) As soon as the little horror pokes it's head up rub it with a wedding ring,the older the better as they had more gold in them and hey presto it's gone within 24 hours.Apparently there's something in gold that cures them

Matthew S. Urdan said...


When you thought Daniel Radcliffe was looking right at you, with the lights shining on him on stage, I promise, he couldn't see you, let alone a sty on your eye. ;)

I've never had one of those....but every once in a while I get something like a stray grain of sand Mr. Sandman delivers every night stuck in the back of my eye and it hurts. Really hurts. A lot. Often when this happens I have to keep my eye shut really tightly and I can't open my eye, sometimes, 10 or 20 or 30 minutes will go by before an 8 oz glass of tears finally washes this thing out.

I hate it when that happens. Has it ever happened to you? Do you know what I mean?

desperateblogger said...

net time use tobradex drops - works like magic.

you must be quite a looker - imagine being mistaken for a movie star wearing shades for anonymity.

so how was radcliffe's performance?

Henson Ray said...

daisy--Yes, yes...I thought of this song too...but's a weird thing to try and carry off.

anonymous--interesting...never heard of that...

matt--never had a bad piece of sand in my eye. Though I've certainly woken up with "sleepy seeds".

desperateblogger--thanks for the advice. I'll keep it in mind. And Daniel Radcliffe was excellent in the role...very committed and focused...

desperateblogger said...

anonymous: you're kidding, right?! that's synonymous as rubbing dirt on your sty. also, the gold content of any jewelry does not depend on its age but on its karat.

henson ray: i'll put in plain and simple. are you good looking? =)

Henson Ray said...

desperateblogger--To answer your question, as plain and simple as I can....Yes, I am a good looking guy. Hence, the vanity.

desperateblogger said...

henson ray: i love your humility and honesty! =)

Henson Ray said...

desperateblogger--I had planned on a long drawn out diatribe about how I have an issue admitting to being good looking, because I'm always afraid someone might dispute it. (Like they thought I was stuck up or pompous.) But the general consensus has always been that I'm a good looking guy, so why try to pretend I don't know it? Heh, heh.

desperateblogger said...

henson ray: show yourself!!!