Sunday, August 19, 2007

The truth about lasik

As promised, my experience with Lasik surgery. I won't go into detail as to what goes on in the pre-surgery appointments, other than they measure your eyes 3 different ways in order to ensure that the surgery is a success - they check cornea thickness, plot the shape of your eye and measure how far it dilates in an attempt to prevent the dreaded "halo" side effect. At this point I also received several pages of notes to read and sign off on, which basically explained all the possible complications and how I was messing with my eyes and that sight loss was a possibility (or at least this is what I got out of it).

3 days prior to the surgery, I started antibiotic eye drops to kill any germs that might be lurking in my eyes. This was the one medication I had to purchase, that was not part of the package. The doctor said no generic substitutions, so it did cost me $35. The day of surgery, I was told not to wear any make-up or perfume. The perfume fumes could alter the laser, which would be bad. The make-up could get into my newly operated on eyes. Right before I left for the doctor's office, I was to thoroughly scrub my face and use special eyelid scrubbing cloths to get rid of any dirt or debris.
As a note, at this time my anxiety level was starting to mount, as I HATE having anything near my eyes, one of the reasons I have worn glasses for 25 years.

Hubby, Jman and I drove to the doctor's office where I was quickly seen. The assistant briefed me on what I needed to do for after-care, giving me my little pouch containing steroid drops, artificial tears, sunglasses, tape and another copy of instructions on how often to use the medications. There were also 2 Valium, one for now and one for later. I took my Valium, she scrubbed my eyes again, put anesthetic drops in my eyes, put a surgery cap on my head and booties on my feet and lead me blindly to the laser room.

The laser room actually consisted of a seating area and another room with the actual laser in it. I waited in the seating room for a bit with 2 others (the doctor had 16 surgeries scheduled for that day), where we chatted nervously. It seems that the folks who wore contacts were not as nervous as I. The Valium was not kicking in as quickly as I had hoped; either that, or I had extremely high expectations for it.

Finally it was my turn. I was lead wobbling (guess the Valium was working) to the laser room, chatting nervously the entire time. I laid down on the table, with looks the same as an X-ray table, with lots of equipment to the side. The assistant put a cushion block under my knees, to make me more comfortable, and covered me with a blanket, since the room is kept very cold due to the heat coming off the machine. Then the doctor spoke to me, explaining what would happen. Their was an assistant there to literally hold my hand the entire time.

Then the hard part came - the assistants needed to put plastic shields in both my top lid and bottom lid to hold open my eye. The hands reaching toward my eyes started to spike my anxiety, and I started to panic a bit. At this point, hand holding woman calmed me down. The plastic shields did hurt as they were placed, but the worst was the speculum they used to push down and hold my eyeball in place. OWWWWWWW. This all took about 2 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. At this point I was thinking that maybe I did not want this surgery so much. They started up the laser and it hurt...not at was like looking at twinkling lights on a Christmas tree. So easy.
The same thing was done to the left eye, although I didn't mind the shields as much when they put them in. In fact, the pain of the speculum surprised me since I had already forgotten about it from the first eye.
Once they finished, they had me sit up and read the clock-and I could! Amazingly, my vision was already better. Plastic shields were taped over my eyes to protect them and I was led back to a dark examining room. 15 minutes later the doctor came back to check on my progress. He wanted me to open my right eye first, but I couldn't - it just refused to move. I got the left one open, tears streaming down my face (a side effect that was expected) and finally got the right one open. Everything looked good.
Hubby drove us home, me in the front seat covering my face, whispering to them to stop talking, turn off the radio, just get me home. I believe that my nervous system was a bit overwhelmed at about this point and I could not tolerate any more external stimulation. It was very similar to my reaction to light and sound when I have a migraine.
We got home, I took the Valium, and slept the rest of the night. Well, I woke up once at 10pm to find Jman still awake in his room (hubby had to go back to work). I put him to bed then went back to bed myself.
The next day, I painfully pried off the eyeshields (the tape had stuck quite well to my skin, should have used baby oil to remove it) and drove myself the 45 minutes to the doctors. That's right, my eyesight was OK enough for me to drive, to see license plates clearly, to read road signs. I will admit that my eyes were tired by the time I got there, but still, I could see.

And that is about it. I had severe halos the first day post-op, but they have been slowly decreasing as has the dry eye syndrome. My next appointment is this Friday, where I shall see just exactly what my vision is. I truly think it is 20/20, but we shall see.


wally said...

That description reminds me of some of those movies where someone is abducted by aliens and have experiments performed on them. I'm glad it was a success and everything is going well.

Envoy-ette said...

It will all be worth it when you can run around glasses free! I'm envious!

kilgorsky said...

I didn't realized such an operation is so quick. How are your eyes today?