I recently conquered the most dangerous of my 30 Before 30 tasks and I've lived to tell the tale. Or more importantly, I can see to blog the tale. That's right, I am typing this with my brand new 20/20 vision, courtesy of LASIK. Prior to the surgery, I knew the basics...how long it takes, does it hurt...but I didn't really have a good sense of what actually happens and how I would feel. So I'm here to break it down for you.
*If you are grossed out by medical procedures and/or people touching your eyes, you may want to skip this post. I'll catch you on the next one. Also this post is long and wordy. I apologize in advance.
I chose the location of my surgery, LasikPlus, based on a discount provided by my insurance. I put all my trust in the fact that my insurance company wouldn't endorse a shoddy company to operate on my eyes. The first step is having your eyes checked to see if you are a candidate, which is somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of people. Honestly this was the scariest part of the whole procedure for me, because I was going to be extremely disappointed if I wasn't a candidate. This is no different than a normal eye exam where they dilate your pupils and check the health of your eyes. Once you are determined as a candidate, you can schedule your surgery.
A week before the surgery, you have to start using prescription moisturizing drops, and two days before you start some sort of medicine drops (that was informative, you're welcome). You go back in the day before just for them to fine tune your prescription and make sure nothing has changed.
Okay, so the day of the surgery. The most interesting thing is that there are two physicians on staff, an optometrist and a surgeon. The optometrist conducts all of your appointments, so you don't actually meet the surgeon until it's time for the surgery. That was a little nerve-wracking, but I rolled with it. You are taken back to a room that reminded me of the Dharma Initiative labs on Lost. For those who haven't seen Lost, it reminded me of this:
When the doctor came in, the first step was numbing drops, then she marked each eye with a pen so she would be sure to line the laser up properly. It was weird to me that you could just write on my eye, but I couldn't feel it so I was fine. (I should note, I have absolutely no problem with people touching my eyes.) Then she took me into the big scary looking lab and we got started.
They go to great lengths to insure that you are comfortable throughout the surgery. You are given a pillow for your knees, stress balls to hold, and Dr. Alban walks you through the entire procedure as she goes. The first laser cuts the flap. You lay down and they put a plastic ring around your eye to hold your eyelids back and stabilize your eye from moving. That's pretty much the worst part of the procedure. You stare at a light and then everything goes fuzzy for about 30 seconds. I had read that you would totally lose vision for that part which freaked me out a little, but that didn't happen for me. Then they take the eyelid holder out and move you to the second laser.
Once again you are given the knee pillow and the stress balls. The second laser wasn't as scary for me because I knew they weren't cutting into my eye. They put the pesky eyelid holder back on your eye and tape your lashes down. You stare at a green flashing light that begins to look like a kaleidoscope for about 30 seconds. It's very loud and smells like an overheated hairdryer. But just like that, it's over and you can see.
The best part was that throughout the entire procedure, Dr. Alban kept up a running commentary of "you're great, you're awesome, looks good, you're amazing, keep going, great job, everything's good, doing awesome, looks wonderful, 20 more seconds, doing great, you're wonderful, no problems, it's great, almost done..." You get the picture. It would have been annoying if it hadn't been extremely comforting. I just kept thinking that if something were going wrong she wouldn't' be able to keep talking.
Then they took me into the recovery room and had me sit with Matt for about 10 minutes, gave me some nifty shades to wear, and sent me home. And I could see!
Before you start, they give you Tylenol PM to help you sleep afterward. The four hours following the surgery are the worst because your eyes will sting and produce unbelievable amounts of tears. My advice, take as much Tylenol PM as they will let you. I only took one and I couldn't fall asleep when I got home, so I suffered through the first two hours before FINALLY falling asleep. After you wake up, you aren't really allowed to do anything that involves your eyes for the rest of the day. No tv, no reading, no bright lights. So out of sheer boredom, I basically slept for 24 hours. Matt couldn't believe it.
The next day you go back for a follow up appointment, where I was told that everything looked good and I was seeing with better than 20/20 vision. At that point you can watch tv, read, etc. to a limited extent. You just have to use four different kinds of eye drops, sleep with eye protectors, and keep water out of your eyes in the shower. You also can't exercise for a week and can't swim for two weeks.
What they don't tell you is what your eyes will look like when you are done with the surgery. Because the eyelid holder puts so much pressure on your eyes, you end up looking like this:
Is it a pain? Yes. Am I embarrassed by my creepy eyes? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. At least it will be, once I stop carrying around a pharmacy in my purse and scaring small children with my vampire eyes.
Has anyone else had similar experiences with Lasik?