I have never felt comfortable being naked before strangers.
By strangers, I mean medical staff like doctors and nurses, not the general public. I am not in the habit of walking the streets naked, but if I live to be 102 as I plan, who knows what the future might entail! Actually, if I am really, really, ill, I don’t give a damn who sees me naked, I just want relief. You could lie me naked on a ward trolley and park me in the car park, as long as someone just took care of me!
Sitting before the Ocularist ( Ocularist not Occultist!) I felt both naked and as if I had a social disease at the very same time. Try making polite chit chat when your eye socket is minus the usually resident ocular prosthesis and experience how difficult it is to talk about the customer service habits of the banking system, or the weather!
In the end, I fessed up and told him that not even my husband has seen me minus my artificial eye. “You are the only person, (minus the doctor who performed the original operation) to ever see me… like this,” I said in hushed tones. Nothing kills romance like a gaping eye socket! It is a strange bond to have with someone who is almost a perfect stranger though, don’t you think?
Actually, it is the third eye he has created for me. This one was delivered in 1998 his files recorded! Dear loyal friend. They are made of acrylic, from a wax mould taken from the previous prosethetic eye, or in the case of a first eye, the empty eye socket (just like an impression for a mouth guard or dentures). The iris is hand painted, which he painted while staring deeply into my one eye. All I could think of was, damn I wish there had been time to get my eyebrows waxed before this appointment. And how I needed to blink so damn much!
The prosthesis needs to be replaced for two reasons. The human body attacks the porous acrylic over time, and eye infections can occur (bingo, my issue!). The other cause for replacement, is that the eye socket enlarges over time, and the eyelids can close over the eye, giving a hidden eye look. A larger eye is required. I was happy to be informed that this has not occurred in any form for me – yeah!
Just like maintaining a car, the prosthesis needs to be maintained. Every six to 12 months it should be taken in for a clean and buff. Yes, he polishes the eye! The process grinds away the proteins that build up around the eye. The only other maintenance, is for the owner to take it out from time to time and wash it under running with a dash of dish detergent! In the privacy of one’s own bathroom of course!
I have to confess that I do the home treatment, but have neglected the professional service. So much fuss…
As I performed my artist’s model routine and he painted my delicate hues, he entertained me with horror stories of badly maintained artificial eyes. A moral tale for the delinquent I am sure!
One man, he said, had his eye for nineteen years and in that entire time had never taken it out (not to clean, not to buff). He finally came in for a replacement. The lids had closed and the eye couldn’t be seen. He also reported that for the LAST THREE YEARS blood had oozed from the socket from time to time. Investigation had revealed that artificial eye had in fact shattered at some time in the past and hence the problems. Would that be classed as a case of self neglect, self loathing, laziness or avoidance?
My old eye cleaned and polished, I was my usual dazzling self as I rejoined Mr FD in the waiting room. The new eye comes home next week.