Tearful in New York City

My red rimmed eyes smart. Tears fall. A victim of homeland security in the United States, I cannot blame the state of my eyes solely on the State of Siege. My blephs were reddened and my tears prone to fall before leaving Australia.

What is blepharitis?

In general I know –itis. -itis is my stock in trade – be it stomatitis, be it balanitis*, be it appendicitis – if it’s inflamed, it’s an –itis. My own inflammation is blepharitis. Blepharitis is the inflammation of an organ that has no known name: search as we might in medical dictionaries and in general lexicons we will find no blephs. But blepharitis, which is the inflammation of that part of your eyelid which is neither external skin, nor internal membrane, but the terminal edge of the lid, hurts in a niggling and mildly miserable manner. The seat of the problem is a scaly deposit, a scurf, somewhat like dandruff, that forms on the edge of the lid. With every blink that scaly stuff scratches the surface of the eye. The eye responds with perpetual tearing.

There is no cure for blepharitis.

My grandson Toby – known in this blog for his flirtations with danger and for his love of this grandfather – witnesses my tears as they swell to a fullness and fall. His insect features tighten with concern. He approaches, leans forward, pulling me down towards him,
studying my face anxiously. His rodent digits grab at my arms to arrest me: ‘Are you sad, Saba?’

His love makes me laugh for joy. My mirth augments the tearing. A full waterfall of affection and my blepharitis is somehow sweetened.

My son-in-law Dov, a rising genius in ophthalmology, advises me: ‘There’s no cure, but there is treatment; you need to dip a cotton bud in diluted baby shampoo then scratch away at the scaly stuff at the edge of your eyelids. I invite my readers to try this: most enjoy the practice quite as much as vaginal douching performed with sandpaper.

On the eve of my trip abroad, I decant some baby shampoo into a urine-less urine specimen jar. I seal the jar and pack it carefully in a nest of socks in my suitcase. On arrival in the United States I open my suitcase and read the enclosed:


To protect you and your fellow passengers, the Transportation Security Administration is required by law to inspect all checked baggage. As part of this process some bags are opened and yours was selected for physical inspection.

My suitcase has been selected! I feel honoured. Glad to protect my fellow passengers in this manner, I rummage for a pair of socks. My fingers report something unexpected, the tactile sensation of something cold and viscous and gooey, not unlike cooled semen. Sticky soggy socks everywhere swim in baby shampoo manufactured by Johnson and Johnson. The urine jar itself is fragmented, shards of plastic dripping yellow.

The shampoo treatment suspended, my blephs scale, my eyes smart and redden and weep. Without Toby’s loving concern blepharitis is no fun at all.

12 thoughts on “Tearful in New York City

  1. Pingback: Tearful in New York City – II | howardgoldenberg

  2. Oh dear Doc.Howard! I really feel for you and those poor “peepers” there is always another human with a worse problem? I started blinking continuously, especially when driving I thought it was just my nervous state playing tricks! but the eye specialist told me that my eyes no longer self lubricate and my constant washing of them was adding to the problem, my windscreen washers work fine, but (I think?) the lower eye lid has the ducts which lubricate, and mine don’t anymore! but I can use lubricating drops! Oh dear doc.H is this yet another age thingo? “enough already” Hugs and kisses for you and Toby! xxx


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