Thursday, January 31, 2008

I see

Yesterday, my 27 years of wearing glasses and contact lenses came to an end. I had Lasik vision correction. Yesterday, I couldn't see the largest E on the very top of the eye chart. Today I can see the tiniest letters on the chart! Want to hear how it went? Of course you do. You like hearing gory details and I like giving them.

I arrived at the vision center at 930am. I was taken into a testing room to have my eyes re-tested, just to double check the numbers. Before I even leaned in to stare at yet another red dot, I was given a Valium and some water.

Nurse: Here's your Volume.
Me: (twitch)
Nurse: You should start feeling the Volume in 20 minutes.
Me: (twitch twitch twitch)
Nurse: Have you ever taken Volume before?
Me: Please stop calling it Volume before I have a seizure.

Ok, I'm too nice to say something like that. But come on, lady. You give people Valium all day long for a living. You can't say it correctly? And you're not even southern, so there's no excuse.

And she wasn't the only one. I was escorted to the Zen Room, which is a darkened room with a fountain where patients are supposed to zen out and let the VALIUM take effect before surgery. One dude was sound asleep and snoring. Another dude leaned in and asked, "Can you feel the volume yet?"

No, but I don't understand how I am supposed to zen out to the VOLUME of "Born To Be Wild" playing on the stereo. That's not very zen. And I said so. Everyone in the room laughed except for Snoring Dude, who kept on snoring.

One by one, everyone left for their surgeries. I was left with a guy named Bob who owns a car dealership in Illinois. Bob was hilarious. He kept asking where the shot girl was with extra shots of Valium. I agreed. It had zero effect on me. And on Bob. We were both jittering out of our seats.

Then it was my turn. I said goodbye to Bob and the zen room, which was currently playing The Locomotion. I was taken into another exam room where a friendly man in scrubs put numbing eye drops into my eyes and opened up a sterile package containing a pen. He explained how the doctor was going to make marks on my eyes. "But don't worry, you won't feel a thing."

The doctor was going to write on my eyes? Bad oldies music or not, I wanted back into that zen room. But it wasn't bad. The doc came in, shined a bright light in my eye, made his marks, and repeated it on the second eye. It felt like someone was placing a contact lens in my eyes, no biggie at all. And with the bright light, I couldn't see the pen coming at me.

Then it was show time. I was taken into the operating suite that had a big machine and a long chair, almost like a dental chair that fully reclined. I laid back on the chair and was given two small squeezie soccer balls. Then the lights dimmed. The doctor sat behind me and said he'd talk me through the entire procedure.

First he taped open my eye, securing both sets of lashes with tape so they would not fry under the laser. More numbing drops were placed in my eyes. A large piece of machinery moved over my face. I was told to look at the little orange light. It looked like a circle of white light with an orange dot in the middle. That's all I could see, that's all I was aware of in the room was that circle and dot.

Then an instrument was placed on my eye to hold it open and more numbing drops were applied. Still no pain. He said I would feel the need to blink, but wouldn't actually blink. Then he said all I needed to do was focus on the orange dot. And then it all began.

I was aware of a suctioning sensation on my eyeball, then pain. Actually the pain was pretty intense. It got to the point where I was about to say something, then it immediately stopped. Then I was told the dot would go away and everything would go dark. And it did. And here's where it gets confusing. I'm not sure if the popping noise of the laser happened next or not? I was really focused within and even tho it happened in both eyes, when I go to that place in my brain to soothe scary and traumatic thoughts, I tend to forget details of the actual "trauma."

I can tell you when the popping of the lasers began, I smelled my eye burning. Oh yes, you can smell it! It doesn't last long and at this point there was no pain. I was then told the orange dot would come back into focus and it did. Then he said he would pour a cooling wash in my eye. It felt great. Then he said I would see the image of a sponge sweeping over my eye. I did. It did not hurt. I couldn't feel it at all, actually.

There was some measuring and some numbers called out and the next thing I knew, he was removing the lid tape and placing a protective shield over my eye. Then it was time for the left eye.

This is when my heart really began to pound and I was regretting not asking for another Valium. The left eye went just like the right, including the same amount of shocking pain to the point where I wanted to yell ow, then it abruptly stopped. Then the same thing as the right. But it did seem the left eye took longer. There were more numbers called out, more measurements being done.

It took about 2 mins for the right eye and maybe 3-4 for the left. A shield was placed over the left eye, I sat up, the lights went on, and I was told to look at the clock. I could just make it out, but the shields over my eyes and the tape securing the shields made it a bit blurry.

Then I was taken to Matt, and we were given a bottle of wine and post op instructions, and sent home. I walked outside with Matt and could see everything, including our license plate in the distance. But I still shut my eyes and let Matt guide me to the car. I kept them shut the whole way home.

My eyes didn't hurt, but they did feel gritty, sandy, and at times like a tiny piece of glass was floating around in them. Nothing extreme, mostly annoying, but totally understandable under the circumstances. Easy to accept, let's put it that way. There was no need for painkillers.

We got home, and I tried to eat some lunch, but really felt like laying down. I ended up napping about an hour and when I woke up, the cut glass in my eyes feeling was gone. My eyes felt swollen and uncomfortable, but not painful. I spent the rest of the evening on the couch, listening to TV. No TV, no reading, no computer.

Sleeping with the bug eyed shields over my eyes was not a problem, but I did wake up with my eyes glued shut from the drops they had used. I removed my shields and hopped into the shower and was amazed that I could read the labels on the shampoo bottles.

Actually I was freaked out by the experience. After 27 years of having such poor vision, it just felt so weird to be able to see so clearly. I was also worried about protecting my eyes and anxious to get to my post op appointment.

I was able to drive myself, just marveling at the clarity of my vision. Road signs! Tree branches! Cracks in the road! I could see EVERYTHING!

I am currently at 20/20 vision and will improve slightly over that. That was the promised vision amount, since my vision was pretty poor to begin with. My reading vision is perfect and I am not having any distortion. I am getting some slight haloing around bright light, but nothing extreme. It currently feels like I have worn my contacts way too long. Slightly sore eyes, but no pain and no cloudiness.

I have a series of drops to use several times daily for a week. About 20 mins after use, I get a bitter taste in the back of my throat.

I see the doctor in one week for a follow up visit. Until then I am to enjoy my vision, but not the actual look of my eyes. No eye makeup allowed! The drops tend to crust up a bit around the lids, ack. I'm not very pretty right now.

I do believe I felt more pain than others usually do during the procedure because I have extremely deep corneas. Just a guess and I forgot to ask the doctor that question this morning.

I am just so shocked that this is real, that I can see without glasses or contacts. I've been waiting for this for a very long time. This was made possible courtesy of a few voice over accounts that came in at just the right time. I went to a doctor who is one of the best and his prices reflect that! I should have it paid off as soon as my voice checks arrive, which is a relief and makes it even sweeter.

Any questions for me?


meowmix said...

I'm so jealous! I will definitely have to get up the nerve (and $$) to do this soon. I'll be asking later who your Dr. was. So happy for you and your new vision!!

Karaoke Diva said...

So glad it all went well for you! My dad loves his new eyes too. Someday I will save up enough pennies for Lasik.

sleeplesswonder said...

Wow I have never read a description of lasik before. Glad it all went well, and I think I would have to be put to sleep for it, still seems to weird for me. I was actually wondering that while reading your post, can you go to sleep for it. I think I will put up with my glasses for now.
Is it true you have to wear sunglasses for a long while after?

OmegaMom said...

See?! Isn't LASIK Da Bomb?!?!

My question: Did your laser machine sound like a jackhammer? Mine did, but that was eight years ago, so things may have changed. THUNKA-THUNKA-THUNKA-THUNKA.

And when I did it, the orange light was a great bigt cloudy blob at first, and as they were doing the lasering, it got sharper and sharper and sharper until it was a tiny little pinpoint.

Isn't it freaky?! I love it. Even if there are side effects that don't show up until you're 80 and make you blind as a bat, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Mutha Mae said...

sleeplesswonder- you should wear sunglasses in outdoor light to protect your eyes, but so should everyone. You don't have to wear them indoors. It's pretty much life as usual with the exception of swimming or working in dusty or smoky environments.

Smoky environments? That means no cooking for me! HAH!

Magi said...

What was your vision before surgery? Mine is 20/200 in my left eye and 20/400 in my right. I'm blind as a bat, but terrified of laser surgery.

What's the swimming restriction?

Glad it went well for you!

Mutha Mae said...

No swimming for two weeks, then it's fine.

I'm not sure of what I was pre-surgery. I can tell you I had a pretty bad astigmatism in my right eye. Without glasses, I could only see colors in a blur. No true outlines of anything up close or far away.

My left eye had a slight astigmatism but was mostly nearsighted. I could see more outlines, certainly better than the right eye, but not good at all.

I could not exist without glasses or contacts. Contacts never fit well with that astigmastism. My right contact would cost a lot of money and always slipped around. And glasses cost a fortune with needing super thin lenses.

Omega- yes, it did sound like a jackhammer and then a zap zap noise too.

Shannon River said...

Glad you're still with us. ;-)

Question: Wouldn't vision sharper than 20/20 make you farsighted? That's one thing I'm worried about, going from the perils from being nearsighted to being farsighted.

And did you have to have one year without visions changes? I'm afraid I may never qualify if that's the case!

I hope you might find out what that extreme pain was all about! I'm probably as nearsighted as you once were so I'm a little afraid. :-)

Jamie said...

So glad it worked out well for you.

A few years back, I was told that I'm not a candidate because my RX is too high, but that I would need a lens implant, which is pricier. I'm not sure if this is the case anymore, seeing as how that was about four years ago, and the Lasik industry seems to be making so many advances.

You've really made me want to check this out!

Harmony said...

Glad it went well!
(although I have to admit I couldn't read the whole entry since I was getting grossed out at the idea of someone taping open my eye and touching it...ugh)

Mutha Mae said...

No, they sharpen the vision for reading and for distances. And you don't have to wait between eye changes or wait for eye changes. AND they can correct pretty stubborn prescriptions. It's interesting how the world of Lasik and Lasek has progressed in just a short time.

I would warn people to investigate your lasik center carefully. It's a business and just like any business there's the good and there's the bad.

I felt the most comfortable going with an actual eye surgeon instead of a chain lasik center. You get cheaper prices with the chains, but I wanted a surgeon who was established in this area and had been for many years. I wanted a surgeon who could correct problems if they would occur post surgery. A lifetime guarantee also was a big interest to me.

The price now ranges from as low as 500 an eye (sometimes lower and beware of those deals!) to as much as about 2700 per eye. Maybe even more. I went with the high end, because I wanted to pay for very best. Since I depend on my eyesight to make money, it was worth it to go to the high end of the scale.

Most lasik centers offer financing. The most popular being a form of credit used in dental offices, and plastic surgery centers. You can finance X amount with them and put the rest on a credit card.

It was really so very simple and I didn't feel it was all that risky, considering whom was performing the surgery. If I had gone to a cut rate place, I would have been extremely scared. We had a friend of the family who went that route and is now severely cross eyed. So yeah, I'd go with a doctor who really knew what they were doing.

It's day 3 and I still feel like I'm wearing my contacts. The drops are sticky and my eyes get gooey and blurry at times from the drops. Our dry winter weather isn't helping. I'd suggest having this done during the humidity of the summer! Otherwise, I'm so thrilled.

Shannon River said...

Cool! Sounds good, I really really want this someday sooooooon! I hope I can keep all your suggestions in my head.

Here's an off the wall question:
Do you find yourself randomly jabbing yourself around the eye area, trying to push up your (non-existant) glasses? :-D

Mutha Mae said...

Hah! No phantom glasses push ups yet BUT I am convinced I am wearing contact lenses. Last night I thought, "Ugh, time to take out my contacts." Nope. My eyes just feel like the contacts have been in too long.

I am completely freaked out and in awe of what has happened. Things have been rough around here (will blog that later) so I've been distracted. I try to take time out and just look at everything and appreciate I CAN SEE without assistance. It's just amazing.

Yes DO IT as soon as you can. It's mind blowing.

grizzly said...

I'm glad it all went so well. I gotta say, my own eyes were getting all scrunched up and dry just reading about it.

gnomic said...

Yes, the machine I had went pop pop too. And yes, you could smell it now that I think about it.


OK, better now. Sound like you had about the same experience I did. And its GREAT, but when you hit 40 (exactly 40 for me... to the day) you start getting farsighted and need reading glasses.

Enjoy the freedom while it lasts. Ain't it great!

bb said...

Mae, Congrats on the 20/20...but holy cow! I could never do that. I hereby declare you are SUPERWOMAN !!!
And, thanks for donating to Half the Sky Little Mouse Emergency Fund! Big Cyber Hug!

Jeannette E. Spaghetti said...

I just about had a panic attack reading this story! Luckily, I am not going in for vision-correction surgery anytime soon.