I was having a wonderful time shooting pictures of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, perched on the side of the berm beside the International Horseshoe for the fireworks show. That is, until I hit my eyeball with my camera. Contact popped out. Lots of pain. Oh, cool, I only have the use of one eye.
If I said I was set up with a camera in the perfect spot, I'd already be in the running for Understatement of the Millenium.
This is where everyone comes back with the iconic Daytona photos with the track lit up at night in front of the big ferris wheel.
Some cars gave me lens flare from the position numbers on the side, which was hilarious.
Best of all for a short person with a camera, there's no catch fence in the way.
So close to race cars. SO CLOSE.
Then the fireworks started.
I could feel my arms getting a bit shaky towards the end. I'd rented a bigger camera and lens that I wasn't used to panning with and lugging around, and I didn't get as much sleep as I'd wanted to before the race began.
Then: the ultimate derp. I stuck my camera viewfinder right into my left eye.
My contact lens? Nowhere to be found. My left eye hurts, so I gave up on trying to use one eye to find it in the grass or on my clothes and went directly to a nearby bathroom to see if my lens had slid up into my eye.
Because I use my left eye more for things like cameras where I need to take a good, close look at something, the vision in that eye is really terrible. I've had glasses since kindergarten, so they're both quite bad by now, but the left eye is by far the worst. Without a contact lens where it should be, I saw better with it shut than I did with it open.
Crossing the road between the photo berm and the bathroom with one eye was sketchy at best. This was right by a shuttle drop-off area, so constant traffic kept me there for a while, holding my eye like a pirate whose eyepatch had been stolen.
Finally, I reached the bathroom, but the lighting wasn't so great and I couldn't see
anything up in my eye.
So, I carefully went over to the medical center I'd seen by the drivers' RV lot. Walking there with one eye really sucks when you're used to having the use of both eyes. To make matters worse, the eye that was out was the one on road side of the path I was walking on. I wasn't sure if this little medical outpost was for the general public's use, but sure enough, that first aid marker on the map was there for everybody.
I explained to the staff that yes, I did something quite dumb and stuck my own camera into my own eyeball. The doctor who poked around at my eyeball said that he's seen dumber accidents walk in the door, but I don't know if he was being nice or, er, it's Daytona, so given the massive party that surrounded the little hut, he was probably telling the truth.
We still couldn't find a contact, though. He then dyed it to double-check that the contact had flown out upon impact.
While I was sitting there, waiting for the orange dye to make it look like my eyeball was full of the urine of a dehydrated bum, I noticed that I wasn't alone. Another guy walked in with chest pain from the infield campgrounds, but more interesting was the guy next to me.
As I was squirming at all of my doctor's talk of inverting my eyelids, the fellow next to me in an Action Express team shirt apparently had it much, much worse. I overheard the words "tire" and "dropped" and something to do with an injured leg. Maybe a borked pit stop was involved? I didn't see it, so I don't know.
This is something I hadn't realized before: all of those hits, flubs, oops and Taki Inoues of the racing world end up somewhere, and that somewhere is a place like this one: the track infirmary.
You usually see the accident as it happens, but you don't always hear the follow-up, especially if it was just a crew member who got knocked over by a car or something.
Granted, I'm too squeamish to even watch doctor shows on TV, so just being around relatively mundane injuries was bad enough, but the medical center is definitely the most interesting place you never want to see at a race track.
After everywhere had been poked and examined in my eyeball (owwwwwwwwwwww), it was determined that I had only scratched my eye, and nothing was stuck in it. My contact lens is somewhere outside of Turn 3. I'm just glad I thought to bring my glasses along with me in the morning since I'd be at the track for the full 24 hours.