The Great Curling Iron Catastrophe

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The great curling iron catostrophe a curling iron with a warning lableNote to self: When using a curling iron, safety goggles are recommended. Had I been aware of this earlier, I might have prevented the Great Curling Iron Catastrophe. But, even if I had seen the warning, I probably would have ignored it. Speaking from the other side, however, I can tell you that it’s not as silly as it sounds.

I was home alone. It was a Saturday morning and Kent had taken his small fishing boat and gone to meet a friend at the river landing in Columbus, Georgia, an hour away. Their plan was to travel down river a couple of hours to Eufaula, Alabama, eat lunch, and return. He expected to be gone most of the day. I was enjoying a day to myself to sleep late, read, and generally do nothing.

For some reason, I can’t remember why, I decided to fix my hair around lunchtime. My hair was short and that made using the curling iron a challenge. I had the scars to prove it.

Anyway, as I was curling my bangs over my forehead, not really paying attention to what I was doing, suddenly the curling iron slipped off the ends of my hair and right into my eye. It happened so quickly, I didn’t even have time to blink or close my eyelid. The hot hair appliance seared right into my cornea.

Dropping the curling iron onto the counter, my chemistry lab training kicked in. I had the presence of mind to unplug it, turn on the cold water, and stick my head under the faucet, using it as an emergency eyewash station. During the whole incident, my mind was racing —What do I need to do? Who can I call? How do you treat a burned eyeball?

When I’d been under the cold water long enough to somewhat deaden the initial sting, I headed to the kitchen and filled a plastic zip bag with ice to use as a cold compress while I tried to call Kent. Miraculously he was in cell phone coverage and picked up almost immediately.

“Hey, where are you?”

“We just got to Eufaula and are about to get out onto the dock. What’s up?”

“Well, I was curling my hair and…”

I explained the situation and asked what I should do. At the time, he was working in a hospital IT department in Columbus and our insurance required us to use their doctors. I was in no shape to drive to Columbus on my own. Kent told me to get to a doctor in Auburn and he’d start home right away. We’d work out the medical expenses on the back end. The important thing was for me to get my eye taken care of.

So, I took my ice bag and went outside to see if I could find one of our neighbors at home to ask for a ride. No one home. I called a friend—not at home and not available.

I called our former ophthalmologist, the one we’d always used before our new insurance forbid us to use local doctors. He was out of the country. I finally got in the car and drove myself to the urgent care across town.

There was one other person in the waiting room when I signed in. I sat and waited close to two hours before being called in to see the doctor. My pitiful little ice bag was completely melted by the time the he walked into the exam room. He stood two feet away from me, used an extra-long cotton swab to open my eye, and said, “You need to go to the emergency room.” Well, that was helpful. At least he didn’t charge me.

I drove back home and called our youngest, who was in school in Birmingham, to ask her to help me read the insurance information online. I couldn’t see it and I needed to find a doctor in our network. Kent called to let me know he’d made it back to Columbus and would be home in an hour. We decided he’d just drive me back to the emergency room at the hospital where he worked.

Two hours later, I was finally in the emergency room awaiting treatment. The nurse told me, “You should have come in right away.” I thought to myself, you have no idea. They treated me, gave me something to numb my eye, and scheduled me an appointment with an ophthalmologist. She told us to meet us at her office nearby the next day.

She was a great doctor. After examining my eye, she assured me that it would heal quickly and there’d be no lasting effect on my eyesight. She gave me an eye patch and a prescription for pain medication. Then, she said, “So, your husband wasn’t at home. You were home alone. Just exactly why were you fixing your hair?” Good question.

“Poor life choice?”

The Great Curling Iron Catastrophe had a happy ending. By the middle of the week, I could see blurred images. And, by the end of the week, my eyesight was back to normal.

My brother sent me a pair of safety goggles and suggested I use them. I made a promise to myself to be more careful with heated hand-held hair appliances in the future. And now, if you happen to catch me home alone on a Saturday, be prepared to find my hair in its natural state. Bad hair, I don’t care.

And so ended The Great Curling Iron Catastrophe.

Wear your safety goggles or curl at your own risk.

Happy Summer!

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Beverly Smith
With three adult kids and two preschool grandkids, Beverly stays busy keeping up with her family and loves it. She likes to learn new things, be outdoors, and travel. You can frequently find her running with her dog Jack, reading a good book, or watching movies, crime dramas, and Auburn football. She met her husband Kent at Troy University and they moved to Auburn one month after they were married. Originally a Medical Technologist, she obtained a second degree from Auburn University's School of Education and taught Physical Science and Biology at Opelika High School until she decided to become a full time mom. If you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she'll say, "A writer for children." She has written preschool activities curriculum and is currently writing middle grade fiction.

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