Thursday, April 12, 2012

Be Kind To the Lepers

I woke up yesterday morning with red eyes. "Ew," I thought, "Why are they so red?" It could have been allergies, but I was worried that they were infected. I went to the doctor just to be safe. You can't be too careful with eyes! Plus, the running joke at nursing school is that nurses only go to the doctor when they're dying.
Nurses are notorious for diagnosing themselves with everything under the sun ("Oh! I think I have that!), but refusing to go to the doctor until it's obvious that we'll die unless we get help. In this case, my fear was that I'd go blind. The doctor looked at my red eyes and said, "I think you have pink eye."

Huh? Honestly, I knew very little about pink eye.
Unfortunately, pink eye is apparently well-known as some kind of contagious, yucky, leprosy-like disease among some of my classmates. I must have missed the memo. They took one look at my eyes and pulled back in fear. "You don't have pink eye do you?"
I should have said no. I should have made up some excuse about how it was allergies or some other benign condition... like crying or something.

Instead, I naively answered that my doctor thought it might be pink eye and she had given me some eye drops for it. After that, they told me to stay away from them. They wouldn't touch the same things I had touched before. I seriously felt like a leper.
I washed my hands incessantly because I felt dirty and proclaimed, "Unclean! Unclean!" when people came near me. I felt so bad. How did I get pink eye? Where did this horrible disease come from?
Fortunately, not all of my classmates were so unkind. One of them shushed me when I told her I was unclean and gave me some chocolate eggs to eat. That made me feel a little better.

After only one day, my eyes are back to normal. I don't feel like a leper anymore, but I have learned a very important lesson: Be kind to the lepers. By that I mean, be kind to the people with socially unacceptable conditions. Maybe that would be AIDS or something else that people would judge you negatively for. It's no fun being the leper.
When you see people shrink away from you and avoid touching you in any way, you feel really lousy. I'm not saying you should go hug an infectious person or something, no. You should wear the protective clothing and take precautions, but you can still be nice to the person and talk to them and do your best not to act like they're gross.
The second thing I learned is that I should go to the doctor more often, not when I'm dying. It's okay to be afraid of what the doctor will say to you, but you should still go see the doctor when something is wrong. Take good care of yourself. Your health is important, and you're the best at knowing when something is wrong.

Have a great week!

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