So, I seriously didn’t intend to go all MIA here for the last six weeks, but remember when I said I was going to get LASIK, in my last post? Well, that didn’t happen. What *did* happen was LASEK, and it literally made the month of April almost entirely a blur (in more ways than one). Here goes, why April was a blur…my LASEK story.
April 10. LASIK surgery day! (not)
Totally excited. Nervous, but ready. I walk into a shall-not-be-named office for my LASIK surgery. A surgery I was told I was a ‘perfect’ candidate for just a week and a half prior, and instructed to wear my glasses, no contacts allowed, until the day of my surgery (which was a feat in itself, I wanted to hurl them across the room on an hourly basis. Running, teaching classes, and even working was a huge pain wearing them, but I digress). As I am about to pay for the surgery, I am instructed that I am actually getting PRK today, and *NOT* LASIK, because the surgeon decided – today – that I am actually not a candidate for LASIK. The very surgeon that assured me I was less than two weeks prior.
Uh, what? Huge pit in my stomach. Huge feeling of letdown. PRK is the precursor to LASIK and involves a much longer recover, more pain involved, and vision that takes weeks (or longer) to perfect. After discussing with M and the office manager (random – how about we talk to the surgeon?!), we walked out, deciding not to move ahead with the surgery. Mind you, this place was reputable in many of the reviews I read, it was even recommended by my medical insurance. Yet, no, I did not like that last minute change and immediately wanted a second opinion. Like, right now. And conveniently, my sister was also doing LASIK (you know, since we do everything together, as many of you know!), so we called her surgeon and got an appointment within an hour.
I was not looking forward to the two-hour evaluation do-over to see if I was a LASIK candidate, but was ready to just plow through. I’d gone this far, I got time off work, cleared my barre n9ne teaching schedule and just wanted to get it done (can you tell I am stubborn?!). Immediately, I felt comfortable with this office, the assistants, everyone. The process for the evaluation is long, a lot of eye tests, eye dilation, more tests. And the diagnosis? I still was not a candidate for LASIK. Sad face. My corneas were thick enough (usually why you aren’t a candidate, thin corneas) but my corneas are not symmetrical (damn those astigmatisms!) and therefore, made me not a candidate. Instead, I qualified for LASEK, which is basically a hybrid of LASIK (where they cut the cornea into a flap to do the laser surgery) and PRK (where they shave the cornea from the front, not cutting it at all), which is supposed to be a little less painful and shorter recover than PRK (the old approach).
I thought for sure that if I got the same diagnosis, I was going to walk away and just be destined to wearing glasses and contacts forever. But I was surprised when I immediately felt that I wanted to move forward. They assured me that the recovery was not as bad as I had googled (damn Google!!) or as painful, and many patients are seeing pretty well in 7-10 days, and up to 3-4 weeks, typically for really good vision. So I went for it, the next day, in fact.
So, back we went, that Friday, April 11 for surgery. Shortly after arrival and a few more tests (one of which to make sure my eyes weren’t still dilated from the day before, or they couldn’t do the surgery. I would have been so pissed off, lemme tell ya!), I was ready to go. I was given a Valium to keep me calm during the procedure, and my eyes were numbed (in part so they could write on my eyeballs – yes, write on them! to guide the laser appropriately). Having your eyes numbed is the oddest sensation and one I would get used to having done far too often, in coming days and weeks.
Valium is amazing, let me tell you. It calmed me in the most subtle way. They equated it to feeling as though you just had a couple glasses of wine – to which I joked…but that doesn’t affect me THAT much (wow, spoken like a true wino, much?!), and it really did keep me calm. When they called me in, it went pretty quickly. I was given a stuffed animal to hold onto in case I felt the urge to squeeze my eyes shut (which I never did), and then it began. They clamped my eyes open, which I thought would feel weird or hurt, but it really wasn’t too bad, and I just felt a lot of water and liquid going into my eyes, I could see them ‘wiping’ away my cornea, and then the laser came down – and the only creepy part was that I could smell the laser, it smelled like my eyeballs were burning. Eww – and then they switched to the other eye. I was done in less than 10 minutes, walked out, and was told to shut my eyes for four hours to let them rest. I was given a slew of eye drops for inflammation and antibiotics and tylenol with codeine for pain.
I peeked before shutting my eyes for the next four hours and I could see! it was the WEIRDEST thing. I could see, but it was very foggy, almost like I was walking through a fog, literally. Little did I know, I would get very used to that feeling…
While the surgery itself was not as bad as I thought, and I actually NEVER felt any pain almost entirely over the last 3.5 weeks, what has been the most frustrating has been how slowly my eyes have healed. And this is largely in part due to my inability to just slow the hell down. Take the rest. Shut my eyes. Allow them to heal (this is for another post entirely, this post is already getting so long!). But it’s been a lot of fits and starts. Good days of sight and not so good, very frustrating, teary days of struggling to see. Weeks of not driving (thank goodness I work from home!), which was so hard for me, relying on others, feeling trapped. I am finally at a stage where I can *mostly* see. My eyes are very dry, and this is the biggest inhibitor to my vision right now. The dryness is causing a lot of blurred letters when I read or work, but my vision overall is quite good (if that makes sense!).
So, I joke with friends, family and clients at the studio wondering where the heck I went, that April was a blur – literally – and I am finally ready to SEE and use these (expensive!!) new eyes to experience details I’ve never been able to see for the last 24 years. While this has been one of the most trying experiences of my life, mentally and physically, in hindsight, looking back, I would have still done it, despite the struggles and slowness of the healing process. I am proud of myself for a) going through with it and b) GETTING through it, even when I just wanted to cry.
I think what was most eye-opening – seriously, no pun intended ha! – was how much I struggled with loss of routine, lack of control and change. It is something I plan to explore in some future posts and is just something I realize more than ever I need to work on, like, really really work on.
Until then, I shall embrace my (almost) perfect vision and am glad to say SEE YA LATER April, that was quite the month. :)