February 13, 2015

What I Learned About The Stigma Of My Stigma

The timestamp on this post is February 13, 2015, 10am Pacific Time.

Lucky, ‘Friday the 13th’.

Perhaps it is.

At this precise moment in time, I’m ‘under the knife’. I’m hoping it’s a rust-proof knife, because the last thing I need now is tetanus. I’m also trusting the doctor is old and wise enough to ably perform the surgery that is necessary on one of my two remaining eyes.

Right now somewhere on Vancouver Island, a doctor is cutting into my right eye because I’m the benefactor of a nasty gremlin who decided to set up camp on my right eyelid for the past two months. The nasty bugger didn’t even offer marshmallows or beer. It reminds me of the Ukraine.

Yes, I am the graceful host to what is commonly referred to as an “eye stye” (more formally a hordeolum) which is really an abscess on the eyelid caused by a staphylococcus bacteria eye infection. I suppose I need better eye hygiene.

My friend decided to pay a visit on Wednesday, December 10. When returning from a nutty travel schedule where I visited five cities in three days, as I landed at the final destination (home) I felt this powerful and painful form of acne surface on my eyelid. By Friday we had a full-scale panic on our hands in the homestead, so I visited a walk-in clinic. We were heading to Maui for a Xmas holiday the next day, and I didn’t want my friend to cramp my over zealous surfing ambitions.

“Oh, that’s gross,” shrieked the doctor.

Not the best start, I thought to myself. We pressed on.

“Well, there’s not much I can do for that,” she continued.

I pulled out my phone right in front of her – disobeying the signs on the wall – and immediately headed for WebMD.com.

Apparently there really isn’t much you can do, other than hot compresses, keeping it clean, and doing some sort of “burst the eye stye” dance which I never mastered. I swear it stated to drink more scotch somewhere on the site, so I headed for the liquor store.

By the time we were in Maui, the swelling had subsided somewhat, but the stye never fully went away. My friend remained the same size for the next three weeks — we celebrated New Year’s Eve together — and then all Hell broke loose.

putin56By this point in time, the stye deserved a name. I chose Putin. After all, this was the Eastern region of my body and it had no business being there.

So, Putin and I went back to the doctor’s and pleaded for mercy. Putin was getting larger (and feistier) and I really needed him to return to Russia, or wherever he came from.

The doctor arrived in the room.

“Oh, that’s gross,” shrieked the doctor.

Where have I heard this before, I thought to myself.

“Well, there’s not much I can do for that,” he continued.

Screw you Putin!

But, alas, there was some welcome respite on the horizon. A referral was forthcoming, to another doctor, who specializes in repatriation exercises of the eyelids. (technically, I believe they are called ophthalmologists) So I left the second doctor’s office (still with Putin) but with a skip in my step as I was happy to know an annexation was about to happen.

Two weeks passed, and no call.

Were there no ophthalmologists on Vancouver Island? Did I need to dust off my Morse Code apparatus or perhaps the Fax machine to communicate with this all-mighty healer?

Magically, the phone rang.

“Hello, it’s Dan … and Putin,” I said.

“Ummm, hi, it’s Doctor Merkel’s office from Germany, we’d like to offer you an appointment on February 13, 2015 at 10am for surgery,” replied the rather transactional voice on the other end.

“Do you know it’s January 13 today?” I asked incredulously.

“February 13, 10am … are you free, otherwise we’re looking at April?” she flippantly retorted.

“Yes, Putin and I are free, we’ll be there,” I responded with a palpable sense of dejection.


I didn’t even have the chance to say goodbye to that voice on the other end of the phone. She was probably onto another call. Maybe it was someone from ISIS.

So, fast-forward to today — February 13 — where I have been living with a stigma for the better part of two months. It’s been painful, and embarrassing at times, and annoying, and consuming.

What have I learned?

  • Generally, people don’t want to look you in the eye when your eye is about to explode liters of pus onto the floor, or their sandwich.
  • When you are proactive and say something like, “Sorry for the way my eye looks,” people lie through their teeth with the usual remark being, “I can hardly notice it.” It’s nice, but they’re lying.
  • Putin is evil.
  • Placing circular tea bags on your eye are far better than square tea bags, when seeking comfort or respite for a minute or two. I recommend camomile, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Oh, and don’t forget to boil the water – a dry tea bag does nothing. (literally, nothing)
  • I’ve had to come to grips with my vanity. I like dressing up, and going out, and being on stage to speak, and working with clients and team members, and answering the door … but Putin put a damper on my normally jovial spirits.
  • But then I really came to grips with my vanity. Who cares? There are so many individuals on this planet who have it worse than I do — particularly in terms of physical deformities or abnormalities — that I am actually glad Putin paid a visit. It made me appreciate my life more than ever, and it put into perspective some things I was taking granted for.

Was Putin painful?


But did Putin help me in my quest to continue growing as a person.


Stigma no more.

UPDATE: the surgery was going to be more complicated than anticipated, so it now has to be performed at a hospital (versus a clinic) and my new date is February 18th. Putin lives.


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