I Can See Clearly Now

January 12, 2006    By: Kristen J @ 10:12 pm   Category: Life

As some of you know I just had LASIK eye surgery this week. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. A few times in life I’ve found myself in the middle of a discussion where women are talking about how they want to get their tummies tucked or their breasts enlarged, to which I’ve always replied, “I want to be able to see my tummy before I do any tucking!” So my husband has spent the last 6 or so years listening to me yammer on about how joyful I thought lasik would be and finally this Christmas he decided to end all of our suffering and made a consultation appointment for me. I was thrilled!

The first thing I was told about the whole lasik process was that I could no longer wear my contacts. In order for my corneas to be their natural shape I needed to only wear glasses until surgery day. I hate wearing glasses. After about 8 hours of wearing them I find myself wanting to tear them off my face and hurl them into the next county. This is usually after my baby has torn them off my face about 100 times during the day. I knew it would be worth it though.

I went in for a consultation, they said I’d be a great candidate and I made my appointment for the following week.

The morning of surgery rolls around and I’m feeling a bit nervous. On the drive over I remember thinking to myself, hey if this doctor screws up the surgery this freeway could be one of the last things I ever see. I must not have been too worried because my brain moved on to other things and I was fine.

We arrive at the office, wait for a few minutes in the lobby, and I’m called back. Geoff is going to be allowed to watch the surgery on a monitor in another room. A nurse starts explaining the routine to me and I admit I’m feeling a bit nervous. She then asks, “Would you like a valium?”

“Um, I guess,” I reply.

“It’s only 5 mg. Most people say they can’t even feel it,” she states.

Can I have 3 then, I think to myself. I take the valium we wait a little bit longer and I feel nothing.

I am escorted to the operating room and I sit down on the table and a nurse starts swabbing my eye sockets with betadine (or whatever the brown stuff is called). The doctor comes in to talk about the surgery and the whole time he’s talking I’m thinking, sheesh, I bet I look like a kook with all this brown stuff on my face.

I lie down and another nurse asks me if I’m excited to which I reply, “Yes, but I think I’m more nervous.”

“Would you like a blanket (the O.R. is pretty chilly)? She asks.

“Yes please,” I reply.

Then she asks, “Would you like a stuffed puppy or bear to hold on to?”

Oh for the love of Pete! “No, I’m not that nervous!” I reply.

The surgery begins with the doctor and technicians putting a patch on one eye and taping the eyelids open on the other eye. Then they put in some kind of metal device to further hold the eye open. The nurse drops in some anesthesia to numb my eye and we begin. Oh yes, the doctor told me earlier that I have to hold absolutely still. No feet wiggling, no heavy breathing, no nothing.

A suction device is lowered onto my eye. It’s not painful but it’s not pleasant either. The doctor says, “It should be going dark now.” At which point I’m thinking, darkness, what sweet relief. It only lasts for a few seconds and then I can see the laser again. I’m now thinking to myself, hold very still. Hold very, very still. You’re fine, just hold very still. There’s a burning hair smell and then the doctor starts swabbing my eye with a Q-tip like thing. That’s probably the weirdest part of the whole surgery, watching a Q-tip being swabbed back and forth across my eye. The process was then repeated on my other eye.

The nurse told me to go home and sleep for at least 5 hours. It was very hard to tell my family, “Run along, Mummy needs her beauty sleep.” Those 5 hours went much too quickly.

Since the surgery it’s been great. I haven’t been able to see better than my husband in…forever! Now I’ve got the eyes of an eagle. For the next month I’m going to be an eye drop queen and I have to wear these ski goggle things at night for the next week (they’ve usually been thrown across the room by morning) but I think it’s a small price to pay for great vision.

17 Comments »

  1. Thank you for this detailed account. I’ve been contemplating lasik surgery for like, 6 years now, and haven’t had the courage (or currently, the money) to do it. I got checked out as a good candidate, but never followed through – the idea of someone touching my eyes or bolting them open like A Clockwork Orange makes me very timid! Your story is inspiring, though, and I’m probably going to go through with it in the future. Every single person I have talked to who’s done it, LOVES it!! I’ve yet to hear a negative story. Thanks! Hope you maintain your eagle-eyedness for many years to come!!

    On a side note, my 4-year old had to learn “I Can See Clearly Now” as part of his concert program before Christmas (!?). He was singing it at home one day and the lyrics went, “I can see clearly now the rain has gone. I can see all popsicles in my way…!”

    Comment by meems — January 13, 2006 @ 12:02 am

  2. Haha. Those dang popsicles!

    Glad to hear it all went well. How nerve-wracking it must be. I’ve had diabetic eye exams, where they put this thing right on your eyeball to look at your retina. (I don’t think they do that for normal eye exams? I don’t know, I don’t wear glasses.) It’s so weird. And not comfortable.

    I wish they’d offer me a stuffed puppy.

    Comment by Susan M — January 13, 2006 @ 7:54 am

  3. The worst part is the Beethoven soundtrack during the operation, oh wait, wrong story.

    Fortunately for my peace of mind, I’m an extremely poor candidate for lasik. Of course, I can’t even bear to put contacts on, so I’d be a poor candidate regardless.

    Anyway, congratulations of your perfect sight.

    Comment by NFlanders — January 13, 2006 @ 8:06 am

  4. Thanks you guys. Something must be wrong with my new sight because I’m not seeing popsicles anywhere!

    I’ve had stuff put right up to my eyeballs during regular eye exams (maybe it was for the contacts and not just a regular exam). After 10 years of contacts you can pretty much poke me in the eye with anything and it doesn’t bother me. My children have tried plenty of times.

    Comment by Kristen J — January 13, 2006 @ 8:54 am

  5. Thank you Kristen for your honest appraisal of the procedure. I have wanted this to be done for.ev.er! I went and had the evaluation done and found out how much it would cost. Ugh. $3800. I am waiting a while brfore I do it. Too many other important things to pay for. 3 weddings in 4 years! Sheesh! Those are over, but a portion of the costs remain. Hopefully, next year will be my year. It’ll probably be closer to five grand at that point.
    I am virtually blind.

    Comment by chronicler — January 13, 2006 @ 9:13 am

  6. Wow, Kristen, good for you! My husband had it done about 3 years ago – his surgery was slightly more nerve-wracking (first eye was fine, 2nd eye was really painful). He did take the teddy bear :)

    I kind of want to get it done, but he thinks I’ll pass out. I’m not afraid of things touching my eyes (former contact wearer), but he thinks the lack of control in not being able to move, etc. would do me in.

    Maybe someday they’ll do it where you can be under twilight anesthesia and get it done. I’ll be the first one to sign up when that happens :)

    Comment by Ginny — January 13, 2006 @ 10:45 am

  7. Chronicler… this is one of things you can shop around. I talked with some offices that were going to charge $3000+ but then we got a recommendation to another doctor that was significantly less expensive than that. Obviously you don’t want to go down to Tijuana to get it done for $149.99, but I think some of the surgeons realize that people are so nervous that they sometimes feel better paying double what surgery ought to cost… Ask around and you might find a good doctor at half that price.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 13, 2006 @ 10:48 am

  8. Kristen – Thanks for sharing your experience! It’s nice to hear all of the details. I just set aside the money in my Flexible Spending account for lasik this year. I called 5 doctors here in NYC and every one of them quoted me a TOTAL cost of $5,500. How much did yours cost? You’re in AZ, right? I wonder if I should just suck it up and pay this price (as all of the doctors were either referred to me or listed in the Best NY Doctors book). I mean, is having my eyeball singed with a laser really something I want to scrimp on – especially with all of the shady NY doctors around here? Any advice would be helpful. Thanks!

    Comment by sara — January 13, 2006 @ 11:42 am

  9. The doctor I went to was referred to me by a friend who had it done about 5 months ago and he loved it. His surgery cost him $1800 and mine cost me $1600 total. I guess I had to have less work done (it was pretty straightforward). It was a Nationwide Vision Center that did it which I’m assuming they have offices nationwide.

    After running around doing errands today I want you to know that my eyesight is getting better and I’m still loving it!

    Comment by Kristen J — January 13, 2006 @ 2:18 pm

  10. I ought to check this out one of these years! And, if one can’t find a good price, it’d still be WAY cheaper to fly to AZ, stay for a few days to a week, and fly back, than pay 5 times the cost.

    But with my anxieties, I worry about it messing up my eyes or something.

    I need my whole face lasered (well, part of it). Wondering how much permanent hair removal via laser costs (a couple thou, I assume?)

    Maybe this is TMI, but I can grow more of a beard than one of my older brothers. Stupid Polycystic Ovarian thingie causes too much hair.

    And talk about PAIN! Taking a shaver sized device, w/30 gold-plated tweezing discs, that make the most horrid sound, and PAINFULLY yank out a bunch of hair with each pass, running that over your neck, chin, and even worse, lip, multiple times, just KILLS. And, I accidentally let slip the F word at my MIL’s house the other day, when I was doing it. That is NOT a word I say! But when you are in incredible pain, you kind of lose it. Lol! And it even drew blood. UGH.

    Threadjack. Sorry! Anyway, so I need laser help, and badly!

    Captain, phasers on STUN!

    You may fire, when ready . . . (nothing like mixing Star Wars and Star Trek quotes!)

    Comment by sarebear — January 13, 2006 @ 3:04 pm

  11. Sounds painful! I’ve tried waxing my legs once and that was plenty for me.

    Comment by Kristen J — January 13, 2006 @ 4:25 pm

  12. I’m so excited!! I just checked out as a good candidate, and am scheduled for next month! What perfect timing for your post (for me).

    I am with you on the whole wearing glasses thing. It is the worst part, I just hate them so much! I have a ? for you – My consultation appt was yesterday and my surgery is next month. Can I wear contacts between now and then, or do I have to be a glasses wearing freak for the next 4 weeks? Did they mention anything about that to you?

    Comment by The Wiz — January 13, 2006 @ 5:48 pm

  13. Thanks Geoff and Kristen for the info! I have been wearing glasses since I was twelve. I dispise them. You guys have given me a quest to begin working on! I may be able to get this done!

    Comment by chronicler — January 13, 2006 @ 8:14 pm

  14. I had this done last summer. I still need the rewetting drops once in a while, a couple mornings a week. But other than that it’s very cool. I have 20/15 vision in both eyes and it just doesn’t get any better than that. And great night vision too, no halos or anything weird.

    My surgury was okay. I had a lot more pain than most people. It hurt quite a lot, they put the numbing drops in too early, and then it too them too long to get to me and I think they were wearing off by the time I got on the table. Plus the valium had kicked in and I could barely stay awake to focus on the lazer. So it may be a good thing that it hurt because it kept me awake. And it did hurt. It really hurt. And this is coming from someone whose done natural childbirth three times and been told by doctors and nurses that I have a very high tolerance for pain. And then the whole drive home from the hospital I thought I was going to hurl, very nausated. And I was worried that hurling would hurt my eyes somehow (I still don’t know if it would’ve) so I was determined not to hurl. Oh but I was sick.

    Is that enough whining?

    But it was still worth it.
    I couldn’t wear contacts much anymore, I wore them all through high school, but shortly after I married my corneas warped and my eye balls needed more oxygen. As long as I wore glasses most of time time my vision was fine, but as soon as I started wearing contacts for more than a few hours my vision would go fuzzy.

    I do sometimes miss my glasses. I had some very cool glasses. They made a statement. But I don’t miss the toddler glasses power struggle. Nor do I miss taking them into the jewelers every other month to be repaired because someone tore them off my face.

    It’s been nearly six months, and every once in a while I wake up and start feeling around for my glasses then realize I don’t need them, then I feel like doing the snoopy dance. And occationally, I push my not-there glasses up my nose, and feel like doing the snoopy dance.

    Oh yeah, They only made me wear the ski google for one night. I bet you could get away with that, if you’re the rebellious type.

    Comment by fMhLisa — January 13, 2006 @ 8:53 pm

  15. Wiz- My office told me that I needed to stop wearing my contacts 48 hours before the surgery. Another office (one I didn’t use) told me I needed to have them off for 2 weeks. If your office hasn’t said anything I’d go average it and keep them out for about a week. You are going to love it!

    Chronicler- Do it, it’s great.

    fmhLisa-I know what you mean about cool glasses. I had some that I thought were ultra cool. Maybe I’ll just pop out the lenses! When I woke up this morning I headed in to the bathroom to pop in the contacts. Oh darn, don’t need ‘em. Shoot!

    Comment by Kristen J — January 13, 2006 @ 9:15 pm

  16. Shoot, I feel stupid. I shouldn’t have gone on about stuff that had nothing to do with anything. I HATE it when I do that.

    Comment by sarebear — January 14, 2006 @ 1:36 pm

  17. fmhLisa – that’s the same thing that happened with my husband – by the time they got to his 2nd eye, the numbing drops had completely worn off. Just gives me the shivers. If I ever get it done, I’m making sure that they’ve got me fully numb!

    Comment by Ginny — January 17, 2006 @ 7:48 am

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