I had made myself a meal of pasta - the sauce with bacon, capsicum, mushroom, onion, pepper, and soy sauce along with some cheese topping - and the people upstairs were starting to party. Then I decided at around 8.30 to call it a night. There had been enough wine drunk and there was nothing worth watching on TV. I was also a bit strung out because my son in Japan had left his workplace the night before but had not subsequently made any contact with his mother or sister, and they were worried. I have been working to enrol him in an English college in Sydney in preparation for his visit here in August and this lapse in terms of safety and probity on his part augured badly for our future peaceful relations. I had had enough and went to bed.
Two hours later I woke up and the people upstairs were still going on the balcony despite it being one of the coldest nights this winter. I still haven't got used to Sydney in the cold season because I only came south from Queensland five months ago and this is my first winter here for many a year. But the big problem at this time - it was by now about 10.30pm - was my eyes.
They were streaming with water from my tear ducts and they were very sore. I tried to work out what was the problem. In the throes of a slight panic that started to take hold I went to the kitchen through the dark apartment and warmed up the leftovers from the pasta meal. I put the dish on the dining table - my eyes streaming liquid all the time, my nose running with the cold, and my nerves jangling from the incessant loud thumping sound from upstairs - and sat down to eat it. I jumped up halfway through the dish and ran back to the bedroom and pulled off the sheets. They were new and I had not washed them yet and I thought that they were the culprit.
After finishing the pasta I got online. I went to Twitter and quickly asked my daughter if my son had finally returned home. She confirmed that he had just returned that minute. One problem solved at least, I thought resignedly. "He is stopped," she tweeted. "Stopped?" I asked, confused. "Sorry. Stupid," she explained.
I remade the bed with another set of sheets and got back in. As I lay there in the dark with the music above me thumping and my neighbours screaming into the night like a bunch of crazed loons on the balcony above my throbbing head I breathed deeply and slowly and tried methodically to work out what could be wrong with my eyes. Then it hit me: that morning when I had had light treatment for my psoriasis I had possibly not worn the goggles the dermatologist always makes sure you put on before entering the light booth. The UV treatment takes only two minutes but eyes are sensitive organs. Though I wondered why it had taken the effect of the UV a good 12 hours to make my eyes hurt.
Should I go to hospital? I thought to myself. It was a Saturday night and there would no doubt be hundreds of sick people in the waiting area of the emergency department queuing up ahead of triage. Would I drive or catch a taxi? If I drove I might get a parking ticket in the morning, because surely it would take all night to see a doctor. If I got a taxi where would I catch it, on the street near the casino? I wondered. I abandoned the idea and promised myself to go to the GP first thing in the morning. As I was cogitating in this way while breathing through the pain in my eyes I slowly fell asleep and woke up again six hours later with puffy eyes but no more pain. My neighbours had turned off the music. The clean dark ruled supreme. I got up to make some coffee.