Friday, August 25, 2006

The "Eyes" Have It

Smarty Pants is back and pleased to report that despite all the catastrophizing she did about her eyeballs exploding or going blind, she’s fine. Better than fine, actually. My follow up appointment today measured my vision at 20/15. Can’t complain about that. Today is also the last day I have to put in eye drops or wear those goofy goggles to bed. They sure kill the mood, I’ll tell you. Good thing DB is working nights.

Although unrelated to writing, several people were interested in how it went, so I’m going to write up a brief summary. I’m going to be honest, so if you’re squeamish, be warned.

I went to a local Lasik clinic here in Huntsville. I opted for the CustomVue Lasik, which measures the contours of your eye and targets only those areas that are causing the visual distortion. I also opted for the new Intralase method, which is blade-free. Traditional Lasik gives the same treatment to everyone regardless and uses a tool called a Microkeratome to create the corneal flap. I liken it to a potato peeler and had avoided Lasik for years just because of that thing. Mine was completely done with lasers.

The morning I showed up, I filled out all my consent forms, paid, then they took me back. I got a hairnet and shoe slippers, they bathed my eyelids in iodine, put green sticky dots on my forehead and stuck tissue over my ears. (Not my finest moment, thank goodness there were no cameras). They put some drops in my eyes to numb them. The doctor gave me a pill to relax me, then they took me into the surgery room. (I could’ve used a few more minutes for it to kick in, honestly. I was freaked out.)

They laid me down on this bed-type dental chair of sorts and fit this pillow snuggly around my head so I couldn’t move it too easily. They added a few more drops to my eyes, then swung me over to the first laser to cut the corneal flaps. Then came the part I didn’t anticipate. I’d heard they use these clamps to keep your eyelids open. I wasn’t thrilled, but I was prepared. Instead, he put this plastic ring in my eye that sort of looked like a bubble wand kids use. The outer part kept my eye open, then the inner part fit perfectly around my iris. Not too comfortable, but ok. Then he said something to his assistant about turning on the suction.

What’s that you said?

Suction. Yeah. They sucked my eye up through that ring. Not out of my head, of course, but it drew the curve of my cornea up through the center ring so they could cut around the edge with the laser. Fortunately, that made my vision go dark. It didn’t hurt, but it was unnerving, like someone was wrapping a rubber band around my eyeball. 45 seconds later, the flap was created on one eye. Then they removed the ring and made the flap on the second eye.

They took the ring out and swung me over to the other laser for the actual procedure. He taped my eyelids open and told me to watch this orange light. Apparently with the Intralase, the laser just perforates the flap, then the doctor goes with a little tool to actually flip it up. As he moves your corneal flap around, the orange light moves, so I was following it and I got chastized for not keeping my eye still. Apparently, I’m not good at that. Anyway, they finished that, then I had to stare at the orange light again while they did the actual procedure. No big deal except for the smell of burning flesh. 15 seconds on each eye and it was over. They removed the tape and did some other stuff and of course, in the interim, I got yelled at some more for not keeping my eye still. Whatever. The bright lights in the room made my eyes want to roll up into my head. I kept them still during the part with the laser and that’s what was important.

They flipped back the flaps, put some drops in my eyes and took a gander at them through a scope of some kind. All looked good, so they gave me my take home kit and that was it. All in all, I got there about 10 minutes to 9 and left by 10:15.

I went the next morning for a follow up and a week later for another. I go back in 3 weeks for a 1-month checkup. Totally worth the money so far and nothing about the procedure was so awful that I would say to anyone not to do it. My vision is fairly clear now. Sometimes I have to tell myself to focus, but when I do, I see great. I’ve also got some night halos which they said would dissipate in time.

The worst thing so far has been these steroid drops I have to put in every 4 hours. They run back around my eyeball and down my throat (who knew they were connected?) and they taste totally funky. I drink a soda or eat some crackers or whatever and it goes away. Not bad, all in all.

The best thing (other than great vision) was getting my three days on the couch. I made the most of it, napping at every opportunity. Heck, I couldn’t read, get on the computer or watch tv, so naps were the only thing left to do. Plus I was pretty tired for some reason. My brain got the break I was hoping for. Now it’s back to revisions. Sigh.



Rhonda said...

Glad to hear all went well, SP. You're very brave. :-)

Linda Winstead Jones said...

I don't know if this story makes me want to rush out and have this procedure done, or . . . not. :-)

I'm glad everything went so well.


Problem Child said...

The only thing I didn't like about the surgery was the fact I couldn't wear eye makeup for six weeks.

You didn't know that your eyes drained down the back of your throat?


Rhonda said...

I didn't know your eyes drained down the back of your throat either. Ick.

Playground Monitor said...

Count me in the group who didn't know about the eye-throat connection.

Yes indeed, you are brave. I'd need a double dose of Valium to keep me from jumping off the chair. Of course, then I'd be falling asleep and they'd yell because I moved my eye.

I'm glad it all turned out so well for you. I know you'd wanted to have it done and were very anxious about the procedure. It's over! Done! And a success!


Maven Linda Howard said...

H'mm. That's different from the procedure I had. Took longer, too, and my vision wasn't blurred afterward. In fact, when I sat up, I could see! I could also watch television. The only restrictions were: don't fly for six weeks, and don't wear eye makeup for two weeks. I think it was two weeks. It certainly wasn't six weeks! Oh, and don't pick up anything heavy for a week. This was important because Honey (my oldest Golden) was about six months old at the time, and even though she weighed about forty pounds she still thought she was mama's baby and occasionally wanted to be in my arms. Actually, she still is mama's baby :-). And Sugar is mama's little baby (84 pounds to Honey's 100 pounds).

Isn't it wonderful to be able to see the individual leaves on a tree? Before the Lasik, trees were just green blobs.

And speaking of things horticultural, my azaleas are blooming again, and so are Maven Beverly's. Maven LJ feels left out because hers aren't.

Playground Monitor said...

Do you have Encore azaleas? Or just a horticultural fluke?

Maven Linda Howard said...

PM -- I don't know what variety of azaleas they are. All I can tell you is "pink.''

Linda Winstead Jones said...

If y'all had ever seen the stupid people tricks on Letterman where that guy squirted milk out of his tear ducts, you would've known about the eye/throat connection.

And isn't that a lovely visual. :-)


Angel said...

Awesome, SP. You are a brave soul!!! I think the worst part for me would be knowing what would happen before it did. I know that's what always bothered me about my c-sections.

I feel left out too!! My azaleas aren't blooming again. But they never do. Of course, mine are having some issues this year. And I'm having issues with all my flower beds. I know Kathy will think this is blasphemous, but I'm growing to hate my back flower beds. I wish I'd just let the grass take them over.


Instigator said...

I'm so glad to hear it went well, SP! I'm jealous! I've been wanting this surgery for years. Maybe sometime soon - we'll see. It is nice to hear an exact account of what happens though.

Flowers? who has time? I have azaleas but I honestly can't tell you whether they're blooming or not (although I drive past them at least twice a day).
DH handles everything outside. I am an indoor person! I think the last time I walked to the barn was probably 2 years ago. Seriously, I don't go out there unless I have to. Of course when we had the horse I was out there all the time.
It's kinda funny actually. DH and the girls are definitely happiest outside while I prefer the air conditioning. Not sure how that happened :-)