Saturday, April 07, 2012

Glasses Hell is OVER

Getting LASIK was one of the most surreal things I've ever done. The most advanced procedure, and totally elective. And so far, totally awesome.

I took my first Valium (ever) at 7:30 on Thursday morning. It didn't really do much. I probably could have done without it. I was, happily, the first patient. I might have needed the Valium more if I'd had to sit in the waiting area with no glasses for longer than I did.

Amy, the prep nurse (tech?), took my (perfect) blood pressure and gave me a paper hat (like a shower cap) and booties. She tucked tissues over my ears to catch drop runners. Then she put two stars on my forehead so they knew I was doing both eyes. My nametag was placed upside down, with a few notes about my procedure, like "no monovision."

Oh, and she took my glasses away to give me drops, and from then on I couldn't see.

Good thing, because I think we all looked pretty silly, sitting in that prep area. Not that that changed all day.

When I was taken in to the procedure room, they put numbing drops in my eyes and the doctor marked my eyeball with a pen. I was a little nervous at that point because I could feel it. They helped me into the procedure chair, positioned me, and tightened this inflatable/squishy pillow around my head to keep it steady. Then they gave me a fish.

(I'm pretty sure it was a Nemo-like stuffed fish. I never actually saw it.)

So I held the fish and the assistant kept her hand on me and encouraged me the whole time. The doctor taped my right eyelids open, then slid that metal hook thingie under them. I think I liked that part least, because lights were really bright adn hurt my eye (my left was taped closed at that point). I had to stare at a fuzzy red dot while they sealed the microkeratome to my eyeball. The pressure made my vision go dark. Then I heard a shirring noise as it sliced my cornea. The pressure disappeared, my "vision" returned, and I stared at the fuzzy red dot that got fuzzier as they opened the flap. Then the periphery got dark (thank goodness, I was able to relax at that point) and the laser came on, and I saw lots of pretty colors and heard cool pumping-type noises and smelled my cornea burn. It was like a milder version of getting your teeth drilled. The assistant kept telling me to hold steady, keep looking up, etc. I wasn't sure if she does anyway, or if my eyeball was moving. They'd assured me the laser has a tracker, but she kept saying it so it made me nervous that I was being bad.

It only took a minute or two for the treatment. They put the flap back, and left my eye open for a minute while they started setting up my other eye. A metal cover slid over the laser, and I realized I could read the numbers on it. Then they undid my right eye and put a shield lightly over it while they got the left ready.

When they did the keratome on the left eye and asked if my vision went dim, I said "a little bit." They asked again, and I said not completely, but they sliced anyway. Then I realized I was seeing with my right eye under the edge of the shield. Later that day, I had a kind of sharp pain in my left eye (like a honking eyelash) and a few hours after that, Number Two saw blood in my eye. I think that's my fault! I didn't ask, but they might have increased the suction and that popped a capillary or two. No biggie, but I also wonder if that caused some distortion that's the reason my left eye isn't as good as my right. But I'll get to that.

After it was over, they sat me up and had me tell the time on the wall. Normally I wouldn't be able to see more than a vague circle, but I could tell it was 8:52. My vision was very cloudy, though, so my excitement was curtailed.

The doc looked at my eyes, declared them fantastic, and sent me out to get uncovered. More drops, instructions, "lovely" goggles placed over my eyes, plus wraparound sunglasses on top, and I was sent on my way.

I could see pretty well out some parts of the goggles, but a lot of stuff was fuzzy. Turned out the goggles were fogged. That's their favorite state, and it's annoying when you're not trying to sleep.

Actually, the goggles are annoying all the time. I had to wear them all day on Thursday, and no TV, no reading, no computer. So what else can you do but sleep, which is what they want anyway, because eyes heal faster when they're closed. Every time I took the goggles off to put drops in, my vision was clearer. THAT was when it got exciting.

The goggles (like sports goggles) press hard on my eye sockets, though, and are big and hard and difficult to sleep in. I have to sleep in them for a week. The doctor called me at dinner time to see how I was doing, and said I could take them off and watch a little TV, but put them back on for bad. I could have kissed him.

I did go to bed at 9:00, though, so I didn't push it. Which meant I got up at 5:30 yesterday morning. The Valium and anxiety and trauma made sleeping the first half of the day easier, and dozing after lunch went okay, but I think I woke up every 45 minutes or so after 1:00 a.m. And every day I have a pounding headache.

But OMG, is it worth it. I had my follow-up yesterday. They didn't tell me what level I was seeing at, but I think my right eye was at least 20/20, maybe even 20/15. The left wasn't as good. He said "right eye is great, left...will come along." LOL It's expected to continue to improve and will fluctuate for 6-8 weeks. I'll ask my optometrist for my actual numbers when I see her next week.

They gave me instructions for the drops again, a card to keep in my wallet in case I get pulled over since I no longer need corrective lenses, I also got a coupon for 25% of Botox and a humongous bar of chocolate!

I have to put Zymaxid antibiotic drops in four times a day for a week, plus Falcon predisolone steroid drops. The artificial tears are frequent for a month, maybe longer. The prednisolone is bitter down the back of my throat. They congeal in my eyelashes, too, which sucks because I can't do anything about that. I can't touch my eyes or get water in them. The steam from the shower softened them this morning, and I used a Q-tip under the bottom lashes, but I think I'm gonna look pretty funky by the end of the week. :)

I look out the window and across the yards, and part of me thinks, "this is how I saw with my contacts." But part of me slaps that part upside the head, because the difference, while subtle, is life-changing.

I'll never NOT see like this. That's the bottom line. Of course, I'll need reading glasses eventually. (But not now, which is awesome! They thought I would.) My vision will fluctuate now and might even change over time again (though I've talked to two people who had LASIK 13 and 20 years ago and have never changed).

But I'll never have to take out contacts or take off glasses and be unable to see. I'll never have to worry about losing a contact in O'Hare airport (done that) or being unable to tell which bobbing head in the ocean is my kid. I'll wake up every morning already able to see, and there's no chance of a Rear Window situation if my neighbor goes berserk.

And that makes every penny worth it.


Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm happy for you. Go out and look at the world.

Lisa Kessler said...

SO glad it went well for you!!!

I'm trying to work up my courage and my bank account so I can get Lasik...

Still too chicken and too broke! LOL

SOmeday though!

Lisa :)

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Thanks, Sue! It's so bright and shiny!

Oh, Lisa, it's so worth it! I don't know what changed in me—I was a total chicken, too, and even bought a laptop and paid bills with my mother's life insurance instead of getting LASIK back then. LOL Maybe it's just age. But I used CareCredit, one year no interest, which for me is much easier than saving in advance. LOL I hope someday you can do it! :)

MJFredrick said...

Terrifying and inspiring all at once! I'm looking into it. Fred has GOOD eye insurance. I'm just a big chicken.

Ava Quinn said...

I'm so glad it went well, Natalie. You look great, even with a partial demon red eye!


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Ooh, Mary, do it! There's really nothing to be chicken about. Everything is much easier than it seems like it would be.

LOL Thanks, Ava! You're just saying that cuz I winked at you at the meeting yesterday. :)