Arrrrrrr, mateys!

I haven’t been churning out blog posts for a while due to a crazy birthday party incident. I don’t usually tell personal stories on my blog, but I thought I’d personalize this tale and talk about how grateful I am for how it is turning out!

The order of events went something like this:


Saturday early evening. Arrived at large jumping inflatables party place for a five-year-old’s birthday party. Remarked offhandedly to my husband, “I always get pinkeye after going to these types of places.” Boy was that a premonition.

Got a front-row seat to the beating up of a large Darth Vader piñata with a wooden stick.

On the very last blow, just when the payload fell out of Darth Vader, the piñata bat slipped out the 10-year-old’s hands and hit me in the eye and my son, who was sitting in my lap, in the stomach. Ouch hardly begins to describe the incident!


Organized chaos ensued and somehow I managed to bleed on other moms, not on myself. My kids were shook up but fine, the party-goers were ushered to a party room for pizza, and we made arrangements for our children, started icing the cut below my eye, and my husband and I took a trip to the nearest hospital.

Hospital Trips

After it was apparent that no eye doctor was answering to their informal on-call arrangement, I was transported to a teaching hospital about an hour away by ambulance. My husband went home to get our kids to bed, another mom slept on our couch to stay with our kids, and my husband drove to the second hospital an hour away.

The continued evaluations and a CT scan revealed that I had an orbital blowout fracture, a hyphema, a cut requiring two stitches in my upper eyelid, and a cut below my eye that was glued back together. All this from a wooden dowel rod flung about 20 feet!


But I’m feeling much better this week and I am so grateful to get my eyesight back that I really don’t care about potential scarring or pirate eye patches. My energy level is still pretty low, which I’m not accustomed to at all. I need to sleep eight hours? What?


Apparently I will slowly regain all my eyesight as the blood in my eye gets filtered out. Day by day it improves and I’m amazed at the way the body heals itself. I’m down from three sets of eyedrops and an eye ointment to one drop at night and a clear plastic eye patch while sleeping to ensure I do not accidentally rub my eye.

Three different emergency department personnel asked if the event was captured on video! I’m pretty sure no one was rolling film or tape, thank goodness.

I got a great pan of brownies and a wonderful hand-made pop-up Get Well card from the stick swinger. He’s recovering from the incident as well and we’re all going to be just fine. Darth Vader is a crumpled mess of cardboard, as it should be. That guy really is evil.

Gratitude and Admiration

I’ve known people in the software industry who work with serious eye issues, and I have an even greater first-hand admiration for their tenacity to stick with such a visual profession.

I do try to learn as much as I can about web accessibility. I’ve participated in AIR Austin‘s accessible web design competitions, judged by Section 508 Guidelines for Web Accessibility. It was quite revealing when we were told to turn off our monitors and try to reserve plane tickets!

Yet I know I can learn more and do more. Keith Soltys has a great blog entry, In the country of the blind, where he talks about not being sighted enough to drive, and gives a great example of blind Google engineer making a difference to others dealing with vision issues. I’m here as a reminder that it can happen to anyone.


  • January 28, 2009 - 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Hallo Anne, I’m really sorry to hear about this accident. Thank you for blogging about it! That must have been a much-considered decision, and I’m guessing that the actual writing of the post was hard too.

    With your energy and tenacity, I’m sure you’ll get through this. I’m holding thumbs for you, and I’m sure there are lots of tech writers out there doing the same.

    Look after yourself!

  • Lee Turner
    January 28, 2009 - 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Oh my gosh! What a story. I’m so sorry to hear about the accident, but glad to hear that you are recovering. It *is* amazing what our bodies can do! Thanks for letting us all know about it.

  • January 28, 2009 - 5:05 pm | Permalink

    wow, how awful. Seriously, those pinata things are dangerous. WHo ever could have predicted that? How long will you be out from work? I am so glad you are well enough to blog this.

  • January 28, 2009 - 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Glad to hear your recovery is coming along well. If you have to sleep eight hours a night for a while, that gives the rest of us a fighting chance at keeping up with you 🙂

  • January 28, 2009 - 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Anne, sorry to hear about your eye. “Orbital blowout fracture” and “hyphema” sound devastating. But it sounds like you have a good attitude about it all. I know I will sit in the far distance the next time I see little kids swinging a bat.

  • January 28, 2009 - 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks everyone!

    Sarah – You know, the hardest part about writing this post was when I took the picture of the Get Well card and realized my shutter eye still has an owie under it. 🙂

    Hi Lee! Thanks for the well wishes. You take good care!

    Hi Robert – I was out for six days which felt like forever, and I’m not at 100% this week at all yet. Turning off the fluorescent lights were the first adjustment I made in my office, man those buggers are bright when one eye is dilated.

    Hee hee Janet! I wondered if anyone would call me out on a sleep challenge! All I have to do is look at what Adam Hyde with FLOSS Manuals gets done in a 24-hour global day and I’m put to shame. 🙂

    @Tom – Yeah those medical terms were so confusing especially at an emergency department in the late hours of the night. At first I heard “high FEMA” and thought, huh? I didn’t google any of the terms for at least a week. 🙂

  • Kirsty
    January 28, 2009 - 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear, how dangerous birthday parties are! 😉
    A bloody eye is no fun, nor are eye drops. Glad you’re getting better.

  • Jessica
    January 29, 2009 - 11:44 am | Permalink

    I’m so sorry!
    I had lasik a few years ago, which really doesn’t count, I’m just relating pain and blood clots, clumps, or whatever they call them when there’s blood in your eye. Ouch! It was terrible. For weeks, the computer screen floated in front of me and I had a hard time focusing on letters.

    I’m glad to hear you’re recovering well. I wish you the best.

    My only advice for when you do return to work is to take eye breaks often. Close your eyes and put your hands over them for a full minute or two even. It sounds crazy, but it makes such a difference. It helps to put your head down on your desk too; it blocks out all the light.

    If you’re anything like me when I’m working, taking those eye breaks feels like being asked to fly! As tech writers, our eyes get glued to the screen and we just don’t look away. It makes such a difference though.

    Best of luck to you!

  • January 29, 2009 - 4:31 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry to hear about your accident. When I was in high school, a blindfolded friend of mine accidentally hit his mom with a bat while doing pinata.

    I’ll never forget the crack sound. Very painful. The party ended and she got stitches just above her lip.

    Hope you recover OK and keep on keepin’ on!

  • January 29, 2009 - 5:08 pm | Permalink

    At least it wasn’t because of a Red Rider bb gun (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).

    I often ask myself if given a choice, would I rather be blind or deaf? My answer: being deaf would be worse. Helen Keller gives a totally different and original answer .

  • January 30, 2009 - 10:10 am | Permalink

    @Jessica, thanks for the tips about eye breaks! I took two yesterday and what a difference it made. Thanks a bunch.

    @Morgan, wow, what a story! Yours is the first other piñata accident story I have heard, thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • Leah Eaton
    February 2, 2009 - 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I am sooooo sorry to hear about your incident. At least there wasn’t a clown involved – that could have been the source for so many nightmares! lol

    Hope you’re on the mend soon.

    I told a friend of mine from the D.C. area that has been working on a wiki to contact you and let you know what he’s been up to. I figured you can always use some good, real-life examples. In fact, it was odd but he was the one that told me about your accident. Isn’t it truly funny how the internet pulls us all together?

    Have a marvelous day – so glad you’re okay – and especially your child.


  • February 3, 2009 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    Hi Leah! Thanks for the note and how funny that a friend of yours told you about my eye. What a small world. I’d love to hear more about his wiki project – feel free to have him email or call!

    I went to the eye doc yesterday and got an “all clear” – although my eye will be dilated for another two weeks which makes it a little fuzzy on that side. I won’t be playing anything that requires eye-hand coordination for a while. 🙂

  • February 3, 2009 - 6:20 pm | Permalink

    For reminders to take breaks, I recommend Workrave. I have it set for 30-second micro-breaks every 20 minutes, and 3-minute rest breaks every hour. It’s intended for RSI prevention, but I got it to reduce eye strain. (Kinda sad that I need a program to tell me to look out the window 🙂

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