I would be rich if I had a dollar for every time I’ve uttered a phrase that started with, “Well, ever since I had kids…” In fact, just this morning I said it. It was 7:10 am and I was sitting in the quaint Quick Care office located within my local Hy-Vee and the doctor on duty, Karen, had just told me I didn’t have pink eye.

I looked at Karen in disbelief as I fought off the temptation to cut out my eye balls to relieve myself of the itching.

“It’s not?”
“No. Unfortunately not. Do you have environmental allergies?”
“No, not really. Well, ever since I had kids I have had more I guess -”

Karen nodded emphatically.

“And they can develop at any time during your life, so I’d recommend these eye drops they just came out with. They’re antihistamine and I’ll show you where they are.”

I followed Karen out of the office and into the over-the-counter medicine aisles.

“We’re looking for the off brand of this. See, it has this ketotifen?” She pointed to an extremely fine print toward the bottom of the box. I squinted from behind her trying to read it, my eyes watering. Of course I can’t fucking see it, Karen! My eyes are on fucking fire. I nodded and gave an exaggerated ‘mhmmmm‘.

“OH. See here? It’s sold out.” She pointed to the label under the only empty spot on the shelf. “Probably because all of the snow is melting and everyone’s starting to feel it.” Her assumption made sense though I hoped it was because I wasn’t the only idiot who showed up thinking she had pink eye only to be told she had allergies. Karen then very subtly leaned towards me and whispered, “Go to Walmart. That’s where it will be cheapest.”

As I walked out of the store, I called Seth to update him.

“She said it’s not pink eye.”
“What is it?”
“I guess it’s allergies.”
“Yeah. That’s what I thought it was, too.” (Can we take a moment to recognize all of the spouses out there who do this shit? Well then, let’s just slap a name tag on you and call you ‘doctor genius’.)
Oh, you did? Okaaaay.”
“Well, at least it’s not pink eye, babe. I gotta go so I can get the boys ready.”

On my way to Walmart I stopped at Target hoping I could just find the eye drops there and let me just say, nothing makes you feel more desperate than walking up to a store front while it’s sleeting and still dark outside, waiting for the door to open, looking confusingly at the employees inside (or what you think are employees because you can’t really see) and then realizing the store is not open yet. Well, at least I thought nothing else would make me feel more desperate than that. But then I walked into a desolate Super Walmart at 7:30 am, stood alone in the eye drop aisle – staring at the generic brand of antihistamine ketotifen eye drops right next to the name brand eye drops – and realized I could have just bought the name brand version at Hyvee had I understood what the fuck was happening. That is what actual desperation looks like.

Seven minutes later I was sitting in the Walmart parking lot trying to put eye drops in my eyes remembering the first allergy season after I had Abbott. That was the year I rubbed my eyelashes off because my eyes itched so badly. Back then I thought it was a temporary side effect of a suppressed immune system during pregnancy; TURNS OUT the allergies you develop while your immune system is suppressed during pregnancy are permanent. Luckily, the brain changes aren’t – I mean, as far as we know…

Not that I can tell.

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