A dry eyeball looks at a letter.

A Letter to My Dry Eyes

Last updated: June 2022

Dear Dry Eyes,

Wait, scratch that – there is nothing dear about you.

You've stolen from me

You busted through the door of my life like an unwanted guest, shouldering your way – rude. No warning of your arrival. You set up camp and screamed for attention, no consideration for me or my family. Dry eyes, you look parched. I might offer you a glass of water, but your thirst is never quenched. All you do is take. Maybe guest is the wrong word – you’re more of a thief. You’ve stolen.

You’ve stolen my quality of life. Let’s get one thing straight: life is not easy, but it was easier before you. I could come home after a long day, relax on the couch with my family, carefree. But watching TV with you: no, thank you. I shut my eyes and go to bed. One would think you’d wake up refreshed, but no: in the morning you still scream, inflamed.

You've taken up so much of my time

Now, there’s not running out the door in the morning, happy-go-lucky. Now, I plan. I panic. Do I have my drops? Nothing is easy. You’re my constant companion, making situations just plain awkward. I walk into the gym and squirm when the fans are on. I would pull up my mask in the grocery store, worrying about the air being funneled into my eyes. I’m on the computer at work, and there’s only so much I can take. I go to a friend’s house for dinner and question the menu. Will what I’m eating make my eyes worse?

You’ve stolen my time. How many hours have I spent researching my condition, searching online forums, asking questions? How much time have I wasted in offices with doctors who don’t know what to do with you? I should be at home with my family, but you’ve got me tearing across the country. How much time have I wasted doing nothing except for hurting?

You’ve stolen my money. Too much. I’m done buying your lunch.

You may be part of my life forever

You are a problem most complex; a Pandora’s box, so it seems. The story keeps unraveling. You are no cancer. No, cancer is a mass of cells that people wish away; doctors shrink it or cut it out. I need my eyes. There’s no cutting them out. But I need them normal.

How long will you stay? They say you are “progressive.” They say there is no cure. That’s the hard part: the not knowing. I’m young, you know. I’ve got a lot more life left in me. But imagining you as part of my life forever – that’s downright disheartening. I don’t want to grow old with you.

But you've made me stronger

But you know what? You have made me stronger. Maybe it wasn’t you. Maybe you just showed me how strong I am: how I can tough things out, how I can act normal even when I’m not, how I can live with the ache and still have joy. I refuse to be a victim.

And you know what? Because of you, I see other people who hurt. I empathize. And I’ve got people in my corner. But that doesn’t mean I like you. I can handle you with grace, but you have my permission to leave. You’ve worn out your welcome.

Begrudgingly,

Erica

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