It has been a while, but now I can see!
Not that I couldn’t see before, but I was hoping to gain a little sympathy from my publisher, also a writer, whom has probably killed me in at least three of her books. I have put aside all work on my novel and marketing and everything to help the baby sis get ready for her wedding. We are less than a week out and I actually have some writing time scheduled for next week (if no last minute wedding errands get thrown my way).
Since so many people wanted to know about my recent Lasik eye surgery, I thought I would make it a blog post, instead of just a Facebook post. This way I can hopefully tell those that want the play by play about it (honestly) and appease my publisher by bringing a little traffic to my blog. (see Nancy, I’m doing marketing, really!)
Like most important, life changing things in my life, I decided to Lasik with some research and then jumping in head first. I took about two weeks this summer to look into different doctors in my area and surrounding areas. Sorry Fayetteville docs, Raleigh docs just seemed to have more experience in this area (I suggest everyone do their own research and find the doctor/practice that is best for them). Plus a friend of mine and my dad had used this doctor and they both gave very good reviews.
I did my consultation in late July. The consultation was free *IF* you are going to use that doctor. It is about 90 minutes of eye tests, some that you’ve probably had before if you’ve had any regular kind of eye exam and some that are specific for laser eye surgery.
This particular practice is very popular and busy. They have snacks and water (and free wifi!) in the waiting room, so you won’t need much as you wait. You do a few of the eye tests, then watch a video, then meet with an optometrist/ophthalmologist (eye doctor) who looks at your glasses/contacts and does that “which is better, 1 or 2? 3 or 4” with the lenses. I had a really nice eye doctor, Dr. Amy. I expressed my concern that if I picked the wrong number (by accident) that my eyes would be surgically corrected to the wrong prescription. She assured me that there were many fail safes in place for just that sort of thing. She answered my 4,394 questions and never stopped smiling. I asked if she would be doing my surgery and she said no, only Dr X, (whom the practice is named for) performs surgeries. We discussed the two kinds of surgery I was eligible for, PRK and Lasik and the advantages/disadvantages of each. I chose to go with Lasik, the more expensive of the two, mostly because it has a faster recovery time.
I tried to get the surgery scheduled as quickly as possible, but their next date that worked for me was 24 August- only 9 days out from the wedding. I spoke with the office manager about my concerns and Dr. Amy came back in to reassure me that I would be “wedding ready” two to three days after the surgery.
Two weeks before surgery I stopped wearing contacts (recommended is 10 days, I wanted to be super safe). Doing workouts in glasses SUCKS, at least for me. I found it affected my balance and some moves I could do with no issue I really had issues with wearing glasses. That just made me more eager for surgery day.
I was asked to bring three filled prescriptions back with me- 2 different kinds of eye drops and 2 tablets of valium. The instructions were clear– do not take anything, we will give it to you at the appropriate time. I picked up my meds Weds (day before surgery) and the pharmacist asked if I was nervous, and I was like “I haven’t even had time to be nervous”. I’ve been seeing patients double time to prepare for the week off for the surgery/wedding.
Even on the drive to surgery Thursday afternoon (yes, I worked up until 12:30pm Thursday) I was too busy trying to work to be nervous. My husband drove me (you HAVE to have a driver present) and I was on the phone, trying to send last minute texts and emails and make vacation plans as we made our way to Raleigh. We got a call around 2pm from the Doctor’s office, asking if we could get there sooner. I told them we were enroute, and they said “great, when you get here, no need to wait, we had a cancellation, so you’ll go in a little before 4pm.”
I all but ran into the office when we arrived at 3:10pm. There was one other patient, who was VERY anxious. My main concern was “do they have to run an IV line?” I am NOT a good stick. As far as an IV? Forget about it. Ask my iron doc. I had brought 48 ounces of water with me and was preparing to chug like a frat pledge during rush week. I got called back almost immediately. First, more eye pictures. The tech explained these were for comparison purposes to my last set of pictures. Sent back to the waiting room again. Called back again, this time to an eye doctor (not Dr. Amy) who explained that she was comparing my two sets of pictures (ones from the consultation, ones from that day). She explained that I hadn’t been wearing my contacts for 10 (actually 14 days) in my current set of pics, and I HAD been wearing contacts prior to taking the consultation pics. One of the fail safes Dr. Amy had told me about. She then did the “lens 1, or 2” thing and assured me that all of my answers were on target with my Rx. She then administered one of the eye drops- antibiotic into each eye. (no IV line, by the way)
Back to the front for the most painful part (haha) the payment. This particular doc accepts cash, credit card and the payment plan/credit line Care Credit. I’ve done Care Credit in the past for surprise dentist bills, but I had budgeted for the Lasik. I slapped my Disney Visa down (woo hoo, lots of Disney points here) and they swiped. They then went over the informed consent (smart, made sure I had the money first) and then handed me a “hello my name is” sticker with my first and last name on it and “Lasik, both eyes” on it. My first thought was “damn, I could have paid for PRK and then switched stickers!”
My husband and I were then escorted back to a private waiting room with a TV, more snacks and water, a large fan, and books. A tech administered my eye drops and then asked me to take one of the Valium tablets. Then she made me put a cap over the top part of my hair. She told my husband to hold on to the other Valium and that I was to be given it as soon as I got to the car, after the procedure. (Please remember this for the next part of the story.)
I was given a few minutes for the valium and eye drops (numbing) to take effect, at which point I got extremely hot (Valium) and turned on the fan. Then a nurse came in and told Husband he could wait in the big waiting room and I’d be back shortly. She led me directly across the hall to the OR, which was a huge room. I met Dr. X, whom I had seen around the office on my first day. It took me a moment to recognize her because 1) Valium 2) she had her hair under a surgical cap of sorts 3) my eyes were numb. She made me state some PII, I guess to verify it was me, which I did. I then sat in a chair and she examined my eyes with a bright light and a machine. Then I laid down on the operating table, which looked more like a leather lounger, but sterile. They made me repeat my PII again.
Dr. X talks you through the whole surgery. They do tape your eyelids open, as it is human instinct to close your eyes whenever stabby items or lasers are pointed right at them. It was at THIS point that I thought “oh shit, maybe I DON’T want to do this.” Remember that valium? Yeah, they give you that for reason. I was aware that Dr. X and two other people were looming over me and she kept telling me to focus on a green light that was surrounded by red lights. The red lights would completely obscure my vision at times. Then she told me she was going to suction my eye and that I would lose all vision at this point but not to worry, it would come back. She did (I’m guessing my other eye was taped shut) and everything went black for several seconds and then slowly came back into blurry light, like in a movie scene, when a person is coming out of a coma. Then she told me I would hear and smell a laser, and to keep very still and to keep looking at the green light. It did smell odd, like burning hair, but no pain. I focused on staying still. Same process was repeated for the next eye. They helped me up, Dr. X looked at my eyes again through the machine, and then the nurse taped large, clear discs over my eyes and took my hair net off. She walked me down the hallway, and RJ (another office manager) led us outside, told us not to take the steps, and reminded me to take the second valium and to supplement it with OTC sleeping meds if I needed to.
And the next paragraph, my friends, is why I will never do drugs. If I could do it over again, the ONLY thing I would do differently, is get a room in Raleigh, so that I could have had a quick 10 minute drive “home” instead of a 2 hour drive home. Poor, poor, Husband. Apparently I had just enough Valium to drug me up, but not enough to knock me out. Also, fun fact, Valium gave me nausea. So the two hour ride home was me shifting around the front seat, wearing the eye shields, my sunglasses over those, and a blanket I had found in the back seat over my head. At some point I began gagging and spitting, crying for Husband to pull over and get me 1) more medicine 2) sprite or ginger ale 3) chapstick. He made it to Linden Oaks area and ran into a drug store where he grabbed it all. We then found my friends’ house to pick up a surprise for my sisters’ wedding (can’t post it here yet, in the off chance she reads it). I’m sure I was helpful in that endeavor as I remember taking off the blanket as it was “too hot!” and then immediately putting the blanket over my head again “it’s too bright and the light hurts my face!!!”
I then demanded we call the doctor because I started to panic. My closed eyes wouldn’t stop tearing and I wanted to know if this was normal. This was also causing my nose to run and clog up. I wanted to blow my nose so I could breathe, but I was afraid that if I blew my nose, the pressure would blow my eyeballs out of my head. (Valium) My husband called the doctor where RJ patiently answered the questions. That was not good enough for me (Valium). *I* needed to speak to RJ. Husband patiently called him back and I proceeded to ask RJ if constant crying was normal and if I was ok. RJ assured me it was fine and I swear I heard him say “you know you can supplement that Valium with OTC drugs to knock her out, right?” to Husband.
We made it home, where I took off my snotty, spitty shirt and took another Tylenol PM. I lay in bed for an hour or so, (time is meaningless- Valium) where I had crazy stream of consciousness thoughts about work, the surgery and the wedding until I finally did fall asleep. I slept in the guest room so that I would be free from cat hair (relatively), cats, and any stray elbows thrown around in sleep. Husband woke me at some point to take my nightly meds (not related to eye surgery) and I went right back to sleep. Woke at 3 am starving, but realized I could open my eyes (behind the shields) and could see the alarm clock without aid. Darn Husband hadn’t left any food or drinks around. Got up, made a peanut butter sandwich, drank the rest of my diet Sprite and took some more Tylenol PM. Complimented myself on my survival skills. I can definitely survive if left in any suburban setting, with a semi to fully stocked kitchen.
Dr. X’s office had told me I could drive to my follow up appointment, but it was at 9:20 am (leaving at 7:20am) and I kept wanting to close my eyes, even with sunglasses on, so Husband cancelled his plans for that morning and drove me. Dr. Amy examined me and told me that for less than 24 hours surgery I looked great, and that my light sensitivity was normal.
My takeaways from this:
Do your research. Doctors, types of surgeries, payment options, all of it.
If you have to travel a far distance, seriously consider a room nearby, as you usually have a follow up the next day. When they said “mild discomfort” I think they were downplaying it. I had straight up pain. Not the worst pain I’ve ever felt, but it was odd pain, as I had never had eye pain before. I spoke with a guy in the waiting room at my follow up appointment and he said he had to take several muscle relaxers to sleep in addition to his valium and said “no, that wasn’t discomfort, that was pain.”
That being said, by our ride home from the follow up visit I was feeling better.
Eye drops will be your best friends.