About ten days ago I had LASIK eye surgery. After 25 years of glasses and contacts, I'm now walking around with superhero vision; only 18 hours after my surgery, the doctor confirmed that my vision is now 20/15. And I've only been the tiniest bit melodramatic about it: I've tried to limit my shouting of "I CAN SEEEEEE!" to once every half hour.
I've wanted to do this for ages, and I've been socking away my pennies for over a year. Mostly, I've been summoning up my nerve. Because while this procedure was utterly painless (and–I'm not kidding you–eight minutes long), the thought of this procedure was horrifying.
Blades? Lasers? In my eyeballs?
Thankfully, I found a doctor I loved. Melanie recommended him to me, after he did her LASIK years ago. His name is–well, if you tilt your head sideways, his name sounds just like Dr. Einstein.
( This was a bizarre source of comfort to me; if someone is going to approach my eyeball with blades and lasers, I would very much prefer him to be named Dr. Einstein, as opposed to, say, Dr. Griswold.)
Several friends have asked for a play-by-play of the procedure; they're considering it themselves and wonder what it's like. I'll oblige, but be warned: if you're super-squeamish about eyeball-related stuff, you might not want to read on.
I arrived at the surgery center at 1 pm. The only advanced prep I had to do was a few rounds of antibiotic eye drops. By 1:30 I was checked in, and they had "mapped my cornea" (read: I stared at a red light for several seconds).
I will tell you, in all honesty, I was really nervous. I was so excited about the procedure results, that I hadn't given much thought to the procedure itself. They seated me in a massaging recliner to wait my turn (nice, thanks). I was third in line; two other women sat rattling and vibrating in the chairs next to me. We all smiled nervously at each other; it seemed like we wanted to wish each other well, but this would require acknowledging that there was about to be a laser shooting into our eyeballs on the other side of THAT WALL, RIGHT THERE.
Some things are better left unsaid.
A very kind nurse offered me an Ativan to calm me. Oh yes, please–my sweaty palms popped that sucker just as fast as I could. I closed my eyes and waited for the magical moment in which I would no longer care about the laser-in-the-eyeball issue.
That moment never came.
" 'Scuse me," I said a little too loudly, "I don't think this Ativan iz workin' 'n I might need another one."
(Hint: if you have enough nerve to ask–loudly–for another Ativan, then rest assured the Ativan is working.)
Even with the pharmaceutical help, I still felt nervous. When it was finally my turn, Dr. Einstein called me in. I thought about cracking a joke about the Theory of Relativity, but then I remembered that a) I don't know what the Theory of Relativity is, and b) I was on Ativan, so I summoned the good sense to keep quiet. He walked me to the laser table–it looked like something out of Star Trek. As I lay down, I had a brief moment of panic in which I almost–almost--stood up and said I couldn't go through with it.
But my kind astrophysicist opthamologist just looked so capable, I took a deep breath and went for it.
*Squeamish people, stop reading here.*
They used tons of drops to keep my eyes both deadened and moist. He did one eye at a time (the other one was under an eye patch). A tiny little metal contraption held my open (it sounds weird, but there was nothing to it). Then the good doctor gently put a small circular dealihoo right on my eyeball for a few short seconds–this was the flap maker. No pain, just pressure, and only very quickly.
This is where things got strange. He lifted up the flap–and I could actually see him doing it, though it was fuzzy. Combined with the Ativan, you can imagine that this was a little trippy. He pointed the lasers at my eyeball, warned me that my vision might black out for a second, and then pop! pop! pop! went the lasers for a few seconds. He lowered the flap, and…done. That was it. He let me rest for a couple of minutes, then he did the same thing with the other eye.
Eight minutes after he started, I sat up in the Star Trek chair, and I could see (SEE! I can SEEE!) the clock across the room. He gave me some funky sunglasses and walked me out to Hubs, who helped me into a chair to get my post-op instructions. I was of NO help at this point–between the Ativan, my giddy relief that it was over, and (most of all) my sheer wonder that my eyes were working, I just grinned like an idiot and nodded, and I counted the stripes on the wallpaper across the room.
Hubs was, thankfully, paying attention (and laughing at me), and he drove me home. Per doctor's orders, he gave me a very strong sedative, darkened our curtains, taped some plastic eye shields to my face and put me in the bed. I reached out for him. "Oh please, stay in here and talk with me because I'm just so excited I know I won't be able to slee…." And this is when I feel asleep.
SIX HOURS LATER, I woke up hungry, and went downstairs for some food. Still totally toasted from the medication, I stumbled all over house. "Look! I can see that clock from here!" "Look! I can see your fingers from here!" "Look! I can see the TV from here!"
Poor Hubs. The only thing harder to manage than a stubborn woman prone to melodrama is that same woman on massive sedatives. He corralled me back up to our room, where I once again conked out for many hours. When I awoke the next morning, to my astonishment, my vision was absolutely normal. I could see Hubs in bed next to me. I could see the alarm clock. I stumbled into the bathroom and I could see….wow, is that what I look like first thing in the morning?
And that's it. I'm ten days out now, and I couldn't be happier with the results. My eyes are a little dry, but that's to be expected. My vision is excellent. My night vision is taking longer to adjust, but I'm assured this is normal. I'm THRILLED.
So, there you have it. Nothing to be scared of at all, and that's coming from a certifiable wimp. If you're thinking of it, talk to your doctor. Save your pennies (it isn't cheap, and I think most health insurance plans don't cover it), but don't hesitate to shop around. I looked at several different places and the prices varied much more than I would've expected.
Oh, and one last thing.
"I CAN SEEEEEE!"