Sunday, March 14, 2010

LASIK the good. the bad, and the ugly

I woke up this morning and could see crystal clear for the first time in my life. It is the strangest sensation to have "naturally" perfect vision when you are used to waking up and stumbling through your morning semi-blindly until you pop your contacts in.

Less than 24 hours ago I had LASIK eye surgery and I couldn't be happier. I'm supposed to be resting my eyes for 48 hours but as you will learn in a few minutes - my body decided to do just about everything opposite of what it was "supposed" to do.

For those of you that don't know what LASIK is, it's a laser surgery that corrects your vision so you don't have to wear contacts or glasses anymore. I've worn contacts for about 12 years and have struggled with the hassle of them. Beyond the fact that they are a pain in the butt I was also sensitive to contact solution, so I had a case of constant red eyes. Over the 12 years I tried different solutions but finally succumbed to the fact that my eyes were never going to be crystal clear as long I was wearing contacts. It has also crossed my mind that the twice a day pulling of the eye area to put the contacts in and take them out can NOT be good for that delicate eye tissue. Hello premature wrinkles!

Not everyone is a candidate for LASIK; you have to be over the age of 18, have stable vision (not more than a half a point change per eye per year), and I don't think you can have a major astigmatism. They also can't guarantee to get you to 20/20 or better if you have really bad eyesight starting out.

I got to my appointment and they immediately took me back to have a few tests run - nothing major, just looking at the "layout" of my eyeballs to help them get the coordinates right (like an eyeball map!). Then they put a hair cap over my head to keep my hair out of my face, plopped two yellow stickers on my forehead, and gave me a Valium to help me relax. The Valium was supposed to calm my nerves and make me a bit sleepy, or as they put it, put me in a "I don't care" mood.

Yes... you are awake for this surgery. Are you queasy yet?

I waited for the valium to kick in and all of  sudden…I felt DRUNK!  Not like wasted, just a little tipsy, couldn’t quite find my footing.  A lil giggly too!

So after about 10 mins they called me back, they told me to lie down on a chair/bed and the doctor put a patch over the eye he was not working on. He put numbing drops in, taped my eyelashes back to my lids so they were out of the way, and stuck in the little thing that keeps your eye propped open. All of this sounds worse than it was. He talked me through the entire process, saying things like, "okay look at the green blinking light, a shadow will come towards your eye, you're doing great". It was all dandelions, rainbows and sunshine.. until the flap cutting part happened. In order to treat your eye they have to cut a flap on the surface of your eye, peel it back, and then laser treat the surface. The only bad part of the whole procedure was the flap cutting. It didn't hurt, but it was a lot of pressure and scariness and then your sight goes completely black and you feel like you have gone blind. It comes back after about 3 seconds though, and you can see that green blinking light again (I was so happy to see that little light). Then the laser comes on and you hear some clicking and you can't feel anything at all, but you can smell your eyeball flesh burning (sounds horrible but it is really quick!). Then they lie the flap back down, put a few drops in your eye, take off the tape, and voila! Perfect vision! Then they move on to the other eye.

It takes literally under a minute an eye, and the laser is only on the eye about 15 seconds. Piece of cake! They numb your eyes up first and give you a relaxant to help calm your nerves (not that mine worked, lol)
I then waited about 20 mins and the Doctor came and looked at my eyes to make sure the flaps were lying flat and then sent me home with goggles. I kinda love my goggles - I was allowed to take them off this morning but I still am wearing them proudly. The goggles give me confidence with the kids both of them seem to have flailing arms and Taylor is learning “nose” and I could just see her missing my nose and pointing in my eyeball…so I think the goggles are here to stay, for a while! I am also going to sleep with them for a few more nights so I don't rub my eyes and dislodge my flaps (which doesn't really ever happen but I am convinced it can).

I was told that I would come home and immediately want to go to bed. Apparently the Valium normally makes people very sleepy so when they go home they just pass out, but he said I could also take a Benadryl if I needed it, which is an over the counter anti-inflammatory that is known for causing drowsiness, and then sleep it off. He also gave me a prescription painkiller in case I needed it, but said patients rarely do. So I went home, got in bed... and nothing happened.  It was the perfect sleeping weather…rainy…dark in my house…and NO KIDS…I couldn’t believe it.  I was like what is wrong with you SLEEP!!!!

7 hours later, I was still wide awake. As soon as the numbing drops wore off I started to feel uncomfortable so I took some Tylenol with codeine thinking it would help me sleep - nothing. After all that, eyeball cutting and all, my body was wired to the walls and wide awake, wanting to do anything except sleep it off like I was supposed to. This was the hardest part - it lasted about 2 hours and there was nothing I could do to distract myself (like read or YouTube) because I had to keep my eyes closed. I had to sit under my blanket with all the lights off because of light sensitivity and my eyes were watering like crazy - not pleasant. That was the part I believe most people are SUPPOSED to sleep through (bad Leah).

I finally fell asleep at 9:30 and slept through the night, waking once at 2:30 for about an hour but then falling back to sleep. I woke up with crystal clear vision - it is amazing! I have a checkup appointment Monday to make sure the flap is healing correctly, but considering I am on here writing a blog post and not lying in the dark with a killer headache I think I am doing alright.

I would totally recommend this to someone who is considering it, and I would do it over again if I had to. I encourage people to do research and make up their own minds though - I had a lot of people emailing me scary stories about how they know people who have gone blind, etc., but that rarely happens. In fact... according to most research there is not a single documented case of someone going completely blind from LASIK. Also, there is a chance I will have to wear reading glasses after I turn 40 - that does not worry me in the slightest.

So anyway, cheers to naturally good vision, no more red contact eyes, and if I get stranded in the wilderness it will not be my eyesight that inhibits me from surviving :) Time to get rid of my glasses!