The Cone of Shame

Trouble fiFed up cropnds the yellow-splashed plastic cone that frames her head very tiresome. Almost as tiresome is the inevitable greeting from passers-by – “oh,” they say, “the cone of shame.” Sympathy quickly follows (“What’s the matter with her?”) but the first reaction always refers to shame.

Trouble’s trouble is an indolent ulcer of the cornea. She scratched her eye, somehow, somewhere, at the end of April, and now (past the middle of June) it’s an indolent ulcer – one that can’t be bothered to heal itself. Certainly it resists treatment, including but not limited to pain meds systemic and topical, antibiotic drops, lubricating gel, and even her own blood serum, spun out of a blood sample and instilled drop by refrigerated drop into the eye. Right now, it’s four kinds of drops, four times a day, with five to ten minute intervals between them. Human has a wall chart to check them off, which she does faithfully though not without grumbling.

You grumble, thinks Trouble, squinting upward and sliding her third eyelid toward the ulcer; you aren’t getting the sting and blur sixteen times a day, with only the tiniest of liver treats to compensate.

Three local vets have consulted, prescribed and debrided without making much impact on the ulcer’s indolence. Earlier this week Trouble was examined by the veterinary ophthalmologist – a round trip of 525 kms – and will make that trip again next week for a keratectomy. Human is not so secretly hoping that the pre-op examination will reveal the ulcer finally starting to heal. Time will tell.

Beach bonnet

Not the park, but pretty good!

Meanwhile, Trouble is not permitted to run free in the park, for fear of brambles. She wears her collar almost all the time: it only takes a moment to scratch or rub the painful eye, and make things worse.

And Human wishes she had a collar to prevent her from worrying her own injury. The letter has finally come from Publisher N – “Thank you for submitting your proposal, but no, we will not publish your book.” Her pride and confidence are severely damaged, despite stern self-talk.

“All published writers suffer rejection from multiple publishers. This is only the second attempt and second rejection for this proposal. You’ve got a few more to go to match Stephen King.”

“The publishers said they thought long and hard about it. It was worth consideration. In fact, they said outright it was publishable. Who are you to dispute it?”

Even the positive talk galls the injury, notice: “Who are you to dispute it?” Humans, Trouble knows, are apt to make life more complicated than it needs to be, and Writing Humans are worse. A manuscript rejection? That’s no poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Human is still intact. Her capacity to throw sticks and dish up kibble is unimpaired, and so is her capacity to rewrite the cover letter and address an envelope to another publisher.

Easter bonnet

Her good side. Photo credit: Eileen Donahoe

If she’d only stop scratching the sore spot. Someone give that Human a cone of shame, and a deadline to get the next proposal off.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s