21 July 2013

I CAN SEE or a tl;dr Tale

Ten days ago, I did something that took me about seven years to build up the courage to do. I got LASIK.

Seven years, you ask? Yes. Seven years ago, a little after I graduated high school, my grandmother started asking me if I wanted to get it. I was interested in it, but the thought of someone slicing open my eye and zapping it with lasers terrified the crap out of me. Plus, I look pretty darn good in glasses, thankyouverymuch.
Then, a couple of years later, I realized I looked pretty good without them, too. So I thought about it a little longer. Still nope.
Then I moved to the desert. If you are not from the desert, when you move to the desert contacts + desert do not mix. Well, I have dry eyes. You might not. I couldn't wear my contacts for more than five hours without getting headaches, and then I couldn't wear them for two days after that. I pretty much gave up wearing them unless I was going to  a ball or some other fancy function.
So, I caved. I called Grandma and told her I wanted LASIK. She was overjoyed. I told her I'd start researching places to get it done. The more I researched, the more freaked out I became again. So I put it off. And then, at the end of 2011, Grandma died. I was crushed. I didn't talk about LASIK again.
I only wore my contacts maybe once or twice a month. It just sucked. Never during Windy Season. And then Brian deployed.  I never wore them.
Mid-way through this deployment, Brian and I started talking about LASIK again. My friend, Jaci, had gotten iLASIK earlier with a doctor here in El Paso. So, with much persuasion from Brian, and lots of "You'll be fine" from my friends who had gotten LASIK. I bit the bullet. I went to go to a pre-LASIK appointment.

I went to the doctor's office and the Optometrist gave me an eye exam, and looked over the different LASIK options with me. I went with iLASIK, which is a custom LASIK that is customized to your eyeballs. Being that I have special eyes, I thought that it was the best option. Also, the most expensive.  Then, I was told that the Optometrist Assistant had to test the thickness of my cornea. She numbed my eyeball, and then poked it with this gauge. Didn't hurt. Freaky, but didn't hurt. I was given some eye drops, and was told to use them frequently and don't wear my contacts anymore. Done.
Couple of weeks later, I bring Jaci to my next appointment. Well, I kind of had to. My eyes were to be severely dilated so the optometrist could see inside it, all around it, and do all sorts of neat science-y things. So, one more eye puff test later, the Optometrist Assistant throws some drops in my eyeballs to dilate me.  My eyes were so dilated, I couldn't focus on things. It was weird.  I got my eyeballs scanned, mapped, and poked.  I got to see a very upclose picture of my eyeball. "Your eyes are very dry. USE THOSE DROPS." Yes ma'am. Jaci took my dialated eyes home, and I proceeded to close every possible blind in the house and even had to turn down the brightness on the monitor. Bright lights hurt some normally, but now they really hurt. Just look at these peepers.

I wasn't fully undulated until probably 36 hours later. Eesh.
I was given a DVD to watch, a quiz to take, and some papers to sign. Not gonna lie. Watching that DVD eased my fears a whole lot. Watching the animated LASIK machine slice open the animated person's eyeballs oddly put me at comfort. My fears were eased. This was going to be a piece of cake. I also was going to get a Valium.

The day came. Wonderful, wonderful Jaci had me at the LASIK center at 7:30am. I was mildly nervous, but not terrified. I just wanted my Valium. I was to have LASIK at 8am. I got my Valium at 7:40.
I was called back at 7:50. The nurse took me into a room, and took my glasses from me. Last time I'd ever wear them. She stuck a hairnet cap on my head and numbed my eyeballs with local anesthesia drops. She also put another drop in there, don't remember what it was for. She checked my eyeballs one more time and wandered off. My optometrist came in and asked me if I was ready. "It's too late now, not to be ready." was my reply. That got a good laugh. Then the LAISK doctor came in and explained everything he was going to do to me. Then, he handed me a teddy bear. "Squeeze the bear, not your eyes." I was told.
Few minutes later, I got, "Let's go." I gripped poor Teddy in a death grip and was lead blindly to the OR. From what I could see, it was low-lit and there was a dentist chair for me to lie in. They led me to my seat, and I tripped over the stupid platform. Almost went headfirst into the LASIK machine, but the doctors caught me. Way to go, Amber.
Then, it was happening. The doctor, very thankfully, was explaining to me everything he was going to do.  I had to have this ring thing put around my eyeball to hold it still while the lasers cut it open. Remember my special eyes I mentioned? Yeah. My eyes are small, and the ring thing was too big, so the doctor had to finagle this thing around my eye. It. fucking. hurt. I'd say about a seven on the pain scale. I was freaking out, choking the life out of Teddy, trying not to move. I was in a bit of pain, so I think my eyes couldn't have been in any other position but O_O. The only thing that kept me holding on was the doctor's soothing voice telling me that it was okay, and what he was doing. If I had normal eyes, I would not have been in any pain.
Once they got both flaps lasered open, they flipped back the flap on one eye, which was really weird. It didn't hurt at all, it was just weird watching it. I was told to stare at the red light for 20 seconds and not move. Done. I was paralyzed from fear from the first half of this procedure, I don't think I could have moved if I wanted to. Then, this goo was applied to my eye. This wonderful, wonderful goo. They replaced the flap and did the next eye. Possibly two minutes total to zap both eyes. That part was a piece of cake.
I was told the procedure was done, and the doctor and my optomitrist help me sit up. I blinked, finally. My eyes were still gooey. I could tell the doctor was smiling. "Can you see?" he asked. I looked at the clock. It was 8:35. "I can see what time it is!" I said and then I just burst into tears. Not because I could see, but from the stress of the operation. Too many emotions everywhere. I was led into another room, clutching Teddy and still sobbing. Truth be told, I've cried after every surgery I've ever had. So, this is normal.
Once I had calmed down, and became rational again, my Optometrist started explaining all my drops to me, within my goodie bag. I nodded, still bleary eyed, and was led out to Jaci. I couldn't really see, due to all the goo, and my eyes hurt. They felt bruised. I was tired and stressed.
 As soon as I walked out of the LASIK office, I immediately felt drunk. NOW the damn Valium kicked in. I wobbled out to Jaci's car, and just closed my eyes. I don't know if I nodded off or not, but next thing I knew we were back at my house. I wobbled in there, and handed Jaci some sheets so she could sleep on the couch. She's also allergic to my orange cat, so I figured that might help her not be itchy. I told Jaci to make herself at home, I threw on my pjs, my ski-mask protective wear, emailed Brian that I was alive and okay, then was knocked the hell out.
Woke up four hours later. Eyes still hurt. Couldn't really keep them open. Lights were bright. I put in my drops I was supposed to, and then wandered out to find Jaci. SHE WAS GONE. I assumed she went for lunch or to let out her dogs, so I wandered around my house trying to focus on things. I squinted a lot. Things were bright. But...I could see. I COULD SEE. Ow ow. Too much seeing. As I was staring at something in the living room, Jaci came back in. She had to go run an errand.  JACI I CAN SEE. So, she sat around with me listening to me blabber about things I can't remember until about two, where I said I was fine, and she went on her merry way.
I walked upstairs looking at things, CATS I CAN SEE, and I decided to give the computer a try. I closed the blinds and squinted at my screen for a bit. Emailed my husband. BRIAN I CAN SEE. Got on the internet. FACEBOOK I CAN SEE.  Got bored with the internet and called my mother MOM I CAN SEE. Got off the phone with her. Watched some TV. GORDAN RAMSAY I CAN SEE. Got bored with that and went to bed at possibly 9pm.

Woke up around 6am. CATS I CAN SEE. Unimpressed. I started my drops regimen. Even made a pretty Excel chart so I could remember.  That next day, I really could see. Everything. Especially how dirty my shower was. Oops. I took my shower, and got ready, and drove myself to my day after surgery appointment. It had been 24 hours, and the paper said I couldn't drive for 24 hours. It had been 26 hours.
I drove just fine. My vision was hazy, and it felt like I had my contacts in. I had no issuses. I get to the Optometrist's office and wait. Drops drops. I CAN SEE. Wait a bit more. I get called back. The Optometrists Assistant ask me if I'm having any complications. I tell her it feels like I'm wearing contacts, and that sometimes when I blink, it's like I can see the contact move. And then I pointed out the red blotches on my eyes. "What are these?"

Eyeballs the day after surgery.

"Subconjunctival hemorrhages" I'm told. It's just from the suction of the machine lifting open the flap. They'll go away. She tests my pressure, and then tests my vision. Then, the optometrist comes back. I CAN SEE. He tests my vision. I have 20/15 vision. I get congratulated. As I'm getting ready to leave, they ask where Jaci is. "Uh, I drove my self." I confessed. They both jump back in horror. I'm not even kidding. But...I CAN SEE. So they take me to the appointment desk with a few bits of last information and leave me to make an appointment. I CAN SEE. I get my appointment, and off I go to my Stitchers group. HAY GUYS I CAN SEE.

I go to work four days later. I CAN SEE. 

I have my week after surgery appointment. Everything is healing beautifully. Vision is no longer hazy, but right eye is a little blurry, because it's dry. Keep using drops. I CAN SEE.

And here I am, ten days later. My eyes are still a little itchy and dry. Takes about an hour for my eyes to adjust in the morning. Still have to use drops very often. Left eye is 99% clear, right eye is about 90%. They won't be fully healed for about six months. Night vision is TERRIBLE. And it will be that way for a while. But, it will go away.

Looking back at my surgery, while it was painful and terrifying, I do NOT regret doing it one bit. I'd do it again, if needed.

As for my sleep mask that I no longer have to wear, I found a way to repurpose it:

Protecting my eyes while I clean out the Cat Box room. I suppose it might make a decent pair of goggles while weed-eating, too, but I'm not going to test that out anytime soon.

For another version of LASIK from Jaci, who had a much more plesant experience (and is a better writer) please go read it here!

1 comment:

  1. much better than the two little pods they gave me to cover my eyes. I had to tape them on my face.