To say I was 20 miles from nowhere might be an understatement. Hiking back to something that resembled civilization (i.e. cell reception and a gas station) would have taken two days of walking (bushwacking part of it) and then two more hours of driving down a bumpy dirt road in Montana. In other words, swinging by a 24-hour urgent care clinic was out of the question.
As I stumbled around the empty outfitter camp we had commandeered for the night – our ultralight backpacking tent strikingly out of place – I realized I would have to make do with whatever I could find in the quart-size Ziplock bag holding the sum total of our first aid supplies.
The pain in my eye was so searing it made it hard to think, or even talk – let alone pack up to hike 3,000 feet over a mountain pass, which was the one and only thing on our agenda for the day.
The day prior a tree limb had scratched my eye. It was raining out, so I had my sunglasses off, but my hat on. The brim of my hat blocked my peripheral vision just enough that I didn’t see those pointy evergreen needles until it was too late.
When the accident first happened, it hurt, but it wasn’t debilitating. However, after a night’s sleep, it was an entirely different story. Every time my eye lid fluttered open or closed, I felt like I was being knifed.
I eventually blurted something out to my adventure friend, Theresa, that I needed an eye patch. We crafted one out of gauze and sports tape. It helped, but my eye still felt too dry to be comfortable. Then I thought about Action Wipes, which I had brought along for the more sensible purpose of wiping trail and river grime off my body (#noshowersouthere).
I remember asking myself, I wonder if Action Wipes are safe for my eyes? Then I almost laughed out loud. I’ve been helping Action Wipes with marketing for several months, and I myself had written several times, in blog posts and newsletters, how Action Wipes are safe for ALL body parts.
I asked Theresa to help me put an Action Wipe under the eye patch we had made. And ... heaven descended! OK, that might be an exaggeration, but as anyone who has felt the sudden relief from searing pain can attest (I’m talking to all you moms who know what it’s like when your baby is finally born), there is something visceral about that moment – a whole body shudder and sigh.
I felt upbeat enough to let Theresa comically draw an eye onto my patch and OK enough to hit the trail (log crossings over rivers with only one eye to look out of were ... umm, interesting!). I kept the eye patch on for the better part of that day and took lots of deep breaths.
Over our remaining three days off the grid – backpacking and packrafting – I used Action Wipes regularly on my eye to clean out gook and dust. My vision wasn’t perfect, but it was SO much better. I was super relieved to be able to more or less see clearly as we navigated tricky whitewater.
By the time I finally made it to an optometrist, five days after the accident, he couldn’t believe how composed I was – and by that time, how composed I truly felt. He looked through several instruments, determined I had done no permanent damage, gave me over-the-counter eye drops and told me I’d be back to 20/20 vision within a couple of weeks. Whew!
The moral of the story? Get clear lenses for my sunglasses! Oh ... and in addition to packing Action Wipes for hygiene and generally feeling refreshed, throw a couple in your first aid kit – if not to make an eye patch, then use them to clean up scrapes and cuts.