In A Blink

Last Wednesday I became a statistic.

I was one of about 9,300 people who are injured by fireworks every year in the U.S!

We spent the Fourth of July at a very sedate party hosted by some friends. They’ve been throwing this pot-luck party for years at their lake home. The highlight of the evening is a big display of aerial fireworks. Five or six of their neighbors also launch fireworks around the edge of this shared lagoon. It’s quite amazing and we love going each year.

Toward the end of the display something went wrong. Instead of shooting skyward, a mortar exploded on the platform sending dozens of fragments in every direction. One of those fragments struck me in the left eye. The glasses I  was wearing absorbed some of the brunt but the force broke my frames, shattered my lens, cut my eyebrow, and deposited some tiny particles in my eye.

The firefighters that responded to the 9-1-1 call covered my eyes and wrapped my head in gauze. (I think that look helped me get in to the ER a little more quickly!) While my wife sat with me the dr.’s removed the bandages. I could see! They then conducted a thorough eye exam and removed some of those floating particles that had scratched the surface of my eye including the cornea. That was followed-up by a CAT scan and an uncomfortable flushing of my eye. The prognosis? No permanent damage! I would not become another statistic:  400 people every year lose their vision due to a fireworks related accident.

Five days later the swelling and redness are diminished. The fuzziness in my vision is getting clearer and there is little or no pain. I’m grateful for those who prayed, for those who cared for me, and for the many friends that expressed their concern. I’m grateful that my injury was not more serious and that our eyes were created with the capacity to quickly heal themselves.

It is pretty amazing how quickly things change. One moment I’m sitting there watching spectacular fireworks and then – in a blink – I’m clutching my eye! And now, at a much slower pace, things are returning to normal. And in this case, normal is good!

2 thoughts on “In A Blink

  1. Dave Wagner

    Hey Joe, praising the lord that your injuries were’nt more serious and that you are on the road to recovery. One of my biggest fears in life is loss of my vision. I’m happy to hear you don’t have any lasting impairments… well, at least concerning your eyesight.

  2. Melanie Arntsen

    I’m so glad you are okay! Twenty+ years ago my uncle became one of the statistical 400 you mentioned who lost his vision to fireworks. It was our normal family gathering (which means 40+ in attendance) and everyone always brought fireworks that we purchased to add to the show. At the end, my dad, grandpa and uncles were all picking up the remains of all the fireworks. One that we thought was a dud and had been sitting for quite awhile wasn’t. Suddenly there was a boom and a flash and my uncle was down. It could have been anyone in that group to be hurt. My uncle lost all of one eye but doctors were able to save the retina in the other. After two decades of surgeries and treatments (including multiple cornea transplants), he is still legally blind and can only see mostly shapes of things. He likens it to looking through wax paper. Fireworks are so scary and unpredictable. In a heartbeat they went from a childhood joy to a fear and dread. Jon still likes to light off a few but he was there too (the first family event I brought him to) so he understands my fears and how careful he should be. Fireworks are beautiful though and I like to look at them from a long distance.

    As a side note, we were in the Tri-Cities the weekend prior and saw a stand with the banner, “FACTORY DISCOUNT FIREWORKS!” Really? Aren’t fireworks dangerous enough without having to sell the ones that are last year’s model or that just didn’t quite pass inspection? Maybe they weren’t, but that’s what I think of when I see “factory discount” on anything. Yikes!

    I’m glad you’re taking it easy and feeling better. 🙂

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