On Wednesday, April 20th, my husband and I landed in Chicago to attend a beautiful wedding for one of our very favorite couples, but upon our arrival to the Windy City a series of unfortunate events began to unfold before us. As we spent our first hour curbside at the airport waiting to be picked up by my cousin, our generous host for the first few days of our trip, it should have been immediately apparent that this was no ordinary vacation. My cousin, a high school teacher, had just come home from his Spring Break and birthday trip to Mexico City the evening before, to find that during his absence his cell phone service had been disconnected, leaving us with no means of communication, and his driver’s license had expired, necessitating him to venture to the DMV the same morning of our arrival. Luckily, after an hour of stress and nerves he magically found us forlornly standing by our luggage, and all was well, at least for a few days.
On Saturday, April 23rd, as the bride, ten bridesmaids, three flower girls, and countless other visitors, photographers, videographers, makeup and hair specialists fluttered around a massively crowded presidential suite in the heart of downtown, I proceeded to full force kick the metal leg of a very fancy, and very evil ottoman. As a lifelong clutz, I quickly recognized the familiar immense pain of a broken toe radiating from my right foot. Ignoring the annoying shooting pain associated with each step, I happily gritted my teeth and endured what felt like millions of unnecessary stairs, hundreds of unnatural photo poses, and hours of dancing. All in all, it was worth every ounce of pain to attend one of the most beautiful and extravagant affairs I will ever be apart of, but then again this pain was mild compared to what the universe had in store for me next.
On Monday, April 25th, my husband and I decided to walk the last few blocks to the newlywed’s house for a relaxing grill out. As we limped down the sidewalk by a construction site, Chicago’s famous wind kicked up some dust, and my husband and I both got some grit in our eye, not a big deal, or so we thought. Waking up the next day, preparing for our flight home, I still had something in my left eye, not fun, but certainly not alarming, so I kept some eye drops handy. A little tired, I slept the whole flight home, and when we landed in Tampa, I took two final exams, and all seemed well again.
On Wednesday, April 27th, we awoke to find that my left eye was almost fully swollen shut, so we contacted several Ophthalmologists and made the first available appointment we could find. The doctor did not find any debris in my eye, but swelling and abrasions to the interior of my eyelid were evidence enough to prescribe a steroid eye drop. Applying as directed, 5 drops per day, I made it through 7 total drops before I discontinued use, and began taking Benedryl due to the appearance of a rash on the left side of my forehead above the affected eye, which we presumed was an allergic reaction to the new medicine.
On Saturday, April 30th, with my left eye swollen shut, a rash developing on the left side of my face, and a incredibly painful migraine throbbing through the left side of my head, my husband rushed me to the ER. As soon as the nurses started my work up, they ominously claimed they knew what I had, and the attending doctor confirmed, Herpes Zoster, colloquially known as Shingles. I mean, a Shingles diagnosis for someone in their late 20’s is by no means something to freak out about, unless the virus is in nerves inside your actual eye ball, then it may be time to worry. To sum up this very long story, I proceeded to spend the majority of May 2016 healing and recovering, but the nerve damage caused by the virus entails a very long and slow healing process. Though swelling has since subsided, and my eye is function, it has been thoroughly damaged, making it extremely sensitive to light and easily strained, limiting my ability to go outdoors, drive, use a computer, read, etc.
On Tuesday, May 24th, I was thrilled to leave my house and venture out for the first day of my internship at the Florida Aquarium. Despite the difficulties I had driving there, I arrived hopeful that I could survive the full day, and I did, but at a cost of agitation and swelling for my eye. In effort to minimize damage and facilitate the healing process, my amazing aquarium supervisor has allowed me to work most of the first couple weeks of my internship from my own personal darkened cave (previously known as my living room).
Despite my remote location, we are on track for my research project, and have begun developing each of the outreach components we will use to promote the aquarium’s sustainable seafood education program, Seafood Now. I have pinpointed twenty local restaurants that we will be inviting to join us for the business partnership peice of the program, and also developed a rating rubric to help assess the sustainability of seafood selections at these establishments. I have also begun compiling a list of relevant content we can include on posts for the social media outreach components, and developed a plan for updates to the program’s website. Over the next week, I will be meeting with the aquarium’s marketing and social media departments for approval, and we will begin implementing the full campaign Monday, June 20th, just two days before my husband and I fly to Chicago for yet another wedding….