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Dealing with the Embarrassment of a Black Eye

Updated: Jan 11

woman with a black eye

If you are nursing a black eye, I sympathise. Mine is currently a putrid mixture of red, dark grey and yellow. It's Day 7 - and I can't wait for my face to resemble something nearing a human being again.

It has been a long week of double-takes, stares, awkward questions and even some time off work. It has also been a week when I've skipped most of my skincare rituals and had to do without eye makeup. It's been agony, in terms of looking like utter crap.

No, I wasn't punched or slapped. I didn't walk into a door. And nor have I recently undergone any surgical procedures.

Like a lot of people, I don't always look where I am going...

The cause of my hideous injury happened early last Wednesday morning. I felt completely awake at the time, and had already let the cat out and enjoyed my first coffee of the day. Disaster struck at 5.45am when I let the cat back in. In a doomed effort to try and save time, I shook the treat tin in the direction of the window. It worked wonders - Flo was back indoors and the window shut in five seconds flat. The only problem was, the treat tin was empty.

I felt a pang of guilt, watching Flo sniff around trying to find a Dreamie. Her little face eventually looked up at mine, as if to say: 'You've tricked me, you nasty person.' So, I decided to run, tout suite, from the living room into the kitchen to get her breakfast out of a sachet and into her bowl.

And that's when it happened... I tripped over my flared pyjama bottoms and, as I tried to save myself, tripped AGAIN over the hallway rug. My forehead took the full brunt of the fall, smacking down on skirting with such force I am amazed I wasn't knocked out.

The pain was instant, quickly followed by an egg-like bump that extended from my right temple to the brow bone a couple of inches below. There was no blood, but I knew I'd really hurt myself. A fractured skull was my worst fear, at that point.

After a bit of moaning and groaning to myself, I managed to get upstairs to tell my other half what had just happened.

He was still in bed but stirring because we both had to be at work by 7am.

"I can't see anything. You will be fine," he assured me.

Two paracetamols later, I was at work and getting on with the day. It was only when I ran a duster over a mirror that I got a shocking, unexpected surprise - the start of a black eye.

"Nasty. That will go all the way around," my boss quipped.

The thought of looking like a panda or a victim of domestic violence ensured that I was trawling the web for quick black eye remedies from the moment I got home.

days 1 and 2 of a black eye
How the bruising started to develop

Treating a Black Eye

I read up on concussion, cold compresses, warm compresses and when to seek medical help. But... the upshot was, there's not a lot you can do to speed up the recovery time.

Apparently, the bog standard healing process takes about two weeks. TWO WEEKS!

In the meantime, the best advice on offer (from the NHS, among other healthcare professionals) is to rest, take painkillers and wear sunglasses to hide the embarrassment.

Shades are a no-go area for me at this time of year (winter). My eyesight is terrible at the best of times, and the vision I've got I need to carry out everyday tasks. I definitely don't want to risk another fall.

So, apart from spending Thursday lolling about on the sofa - bar trips to the mirror to chart how my black eye was progressing - I've had to carry on as normal.

That means going to work, travelling on buses and doing the shopping.

I'm surprised at the number of people who haven't hesitated to ask how I acquired the injury. I've lost count of how many times I've re-told the story. And, I can't help wondering if any of those who've heard it secretly doubt it is true.

The only place that seemed happy to turn a blind eye was... My doctor's surgery! No questions there, but I was quick to impart the whole sorry saga while undergoing an annual check-up.

In terms of 'progression', the blackness peaked on Day 4. Since then, the pigments in the bruise have changed. There is now more yellow than black. I am quietly confident things will look a lot better in a week's time.

day 7 of a black eye
How I look right now, while typing this. What a sorry sight!

Overcoming the Embarrassment

There is no easy way to overcome the mortification that accompanies facial bruising. I guess, you just have to go with it, laugh the whole thing off - even if it hurts - and pray to God that your bruise is one of those that just so happens to disappear in much less time than two weeks.

In the movies, black eyes are vanished away with dark shades or makeup. I daren't try concealing this shiner with camouflage cream for fear of the pressure making the injury even worse.

It is a real case of 'chin up and carry on'.

In the meantime, of course, I am super alert to all trip hazards and have solemnly pledged to never again try to run in a confined space when a simple very slow walk will suffice.

After all, if I'd been running just that little bit faster or was a few years older, it could have been lights out. Permanently.

Here's to this black eye being my first and last!


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