I've had a couple of people ask about my experience getting Lasik done and I also figured I'd put it down here for posterity so I can look back. In terms of incredibly odd experiences, it almost ranks up there with Owen's birth story although, praise be that this one took approximately 1.5 hours from check in to being sent home instead of a marathon of 19 hours of hellacious Pitocin labor.
Anyhoo, the back story is such: I first started having trouble with my vision at the end of second grade but I think my teachers were dense so they just moved me to the front of the classroom instead of, you know, telling my parents and/or encouraging me to see an eye doctor. I think it was only about a week into the third grade when I really couldn't see the chalkboard anymore so I got my first pair of (hideous, late '80s, pink) glasses when I was the ripe old age of 9. I think I was 12 when I started wearing contact lenses. I've always worn soft lenses and rarely have I had any issues with them. My prescription was the same from probably ages 15-30 (always -8, both eyes). Recently, my eyes got a titch worse (-9 and -9.5) but since this past February, I started having major issues with my contacts. I was getting dry eye in both eyes. This involves the day starting out normally but by lunch time, experiencing a little cloudiness in my vision and by evening, not really being able to see well out of whatever eye was experiencing the dry eye that day. Rewetting drops helped but I started dreading the dry eye because when I would lay down to go to sleep, my eye would start making tears in overdrive (tears do not really help a dry eye, unfortunately) and then my whole face would run in response and I'd have to lay down for a few minutes, experience a ton of sinus pressure, sit up, wipe my eyes, blow my nose, try to lay down again and so on until I fell asleep an hour or so later. It was NOT GOOD. I believe that perhaps I got a bad box of contacts because all of this started happening after I went to the cheapy eye doctor. (IDIOT.)
The final straw was on Father's Day. I had this epic battle royale with my stupid contact in my left eye and could not get it in. I must have dropped it at least ten times and into the sink a couple of times. I was cleaning it constantly with contact solution but I somehow introduced some bacteria in my eye and got an infection. I was ok for the rest of Sunday but by Monday night, I couldn't hold my eye open and my entire face was again running in response to the massive amount of tears being made by my infected eye. I found a legit MD eye doctor (no more cheapy quack shack) and went to get treated. The infection went away but I had to go for a week with no contacts. They mentioned Lasik to me while I was there, but I just brushed it aside as I've done for the 20 years that people have been mentioning it to me. Lasers in my eyes, no thanks!
On the way home from my appointment, I decided to call them back and just see if I'd even be a candidate for Lasik. Turns out to do the first appointment, you have to be without contact lenses for a week (HOW CONVENIENT) and if my infection cleared up, I could do the consult at the same time as my follow up appointment. A week later, I did the initial testing and found out that my corneal thickness was satisfactory and I'd make a great candidate. My appointment with the cornea specialist was scheduled for two weeks later (you have to be without contacts for that same time period- GAH) and Lasik for the end of that next week. It all happened so fast that I just didn't really think about it. I also was so over the constant dry eye, the infection and the battles I was having with my contact lenses. Enough was enough.
The only thing about the pre-operative work was that I was unprepared to have my eyes dilated and do the stupid eye tests ("Jennifer, which is more clear, 1 or 2? 2 or 6? 6 or 4?" SON OF A B.) several times and ended up with a million headaches. The pre-op testing was tedious and frustrating but I get why there is so much of it. A freaking laser cut my eye and then another one reshaped it, the entire thing was bananas. The morning that I met the surgeon, I was hideously nervous and nauseated. I almost threw up. I did actually get sick the day before my procedure. I was incredibly anxious. They told me at the pre-op that if I needed it, they would give me some Valium (spoiler alert: they must have decided I didn't need it).
The morning of my Lasik, Adam took me to my appointment. I was nervous/excited/scared/overwhelmed by the whole thing. The nurses were wonderful, they put a hairnet on me and started me on the numbing eyedrops. We chatted for a bit and the patient before me was getting Lasik done so I was able to hear what the machines sound like and hear that it only takes less than a minute for each part for each eye. They walked me in the room and laid me on the bed. I think that this point, I realized that I wasn't going to be put in a straightjacket (ha!) and I felt a little less freaked out. They handed me a squeeze ball and I know I was tense and stiff as a board. My doctor was wonderful and he and the main nurse talked me through every single step. The first part is where the laser cuts a flap in your cornea. Beforehand, they said that would be the worst part (it totally wasn't! so easy!). The doctor puts a ring over your eye that applies pressure so at some point you lose eyesight. For me, that made this part incredibly easy. I just laid there, my eye that wasn't being cut was taped shut and I just saw stars in the other eye, basically. It was peaceful and that is the part that is shorter, closer to 30 seconds per eye, maybe. They did the right eye and then moved on to my left eye. I was tense but mainly because I didn't know what was to come and deep down I think I still had doubts that it would actually work!
The second part was, by far, the worst, because you have sight for the entire part. The doctor first takes the flap and lifts it, cleans the eye (I assume? all I know is that there was a crapton of eye drops put into my eye at this point), gets it to where you cannot blink and then sets you up for the laser. I was just starting into a blinking orange light that was surrounded by black. At this point the laser lowers and starts. It sounds like guns going off and I could see purple in my peripheral vision. I was too scared to do anything, moving-wise, and my doctor held my head in place. The main nurse had a countdown going and the doctor just soothingly held me and told me nice things and reminded me to look at the target and hold my head still and so on and so forth. It was creepy, I could see the orange light coming into better focus but before I knew it, that eye was done and they taped it up to start on my left eye. I started to briefly panic at that point because I knew what was to come for my second eye. One thing that I had read beforehand and was worried about was the smell, the second laser that reshapes the eye smells kind of funny and I expected to be more overwhelmed by it but it was really a non-issue for me. So again, I think each eye with the second laser was 58 seconds each so it was all over incredibly fast. Next thing I knew, the nurse took the blanket off of me and sat me up and told me I could open my eyes.
I don't think I was prepared for that moment, I didn't realize how instantaneous the change would be. I could see the nurse! Before I went in, I had to walk up to my doctor and get in his face before I could recognize him. Now I could see. I shed a few tears, they gave me some goggles (that I get to sleep in for a week) and more instructions and sent me on my merry way. They warned me to only use my eyes to get to the car and then again from the car to my bed and then go straight to sleep. I was unprepared for how bad my head would hurt when it was over. My eyes were making tears (such a constant theme here) and my nose was running again. It took me awhile to get to sleep because of all the pressure in my head. It said on the post-op paperwork that I could have requested some better meds than OTC painkillers so that is really my only regret with the entire thing.
I woke up from my nap and things were cloudy (kind of like a mild dry eye, so nothing I wasn't used to) for the rest of the day but for the most part, I could see well enough to watch TV but not play on the phone for more than a couple of minutes. The next morning, other than having the sleep goggles on, I woke up feeling like a normal person. 48+ hours later, I feel normal and I keep forgetting I even had it done. I was not expecting how fast the change would be. At my follow up 24 hours later, I was seeing 20/15. I kind of feel like I experienced a miracle.
But as I said on instagram, for the entire actual procedure the main thoughts running through my head were:
- Who the hell came up with this idea?
- Who were the guinea pigs for the first Lasik procedures?
I really felt like it was this out of body, freak of nature experience. I still can't believe that I had it done! I still don't know that I would have ever considered it without the major issues I was having. The dry eye had gotten to the point where it was really affecting my life, especially driving at night or teaching my evening class. If my contacts were still agreeing with me, I'd still be wearing them. Lasik was scary and most definitely not covered by insurance. But if you're having issues or considering it, I highly recommend!