Kelly the Culinarian: October 2017

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

My Lasik Story

I recently ended a long-term relationship with my glasses. I started wearing glasses as a freshman in high school and by college, I needed them all the time. I got contacts, but they irritated my eyes and weren't ideal for athletic pursuits. But I also couldn't wear glasses while swimming and I never owned prescription sunglasses. 

I've thought about getting lasik for probably 10 years. My prescription has been stable for that time, and it's not significant (-1.75). I finally went to get a consult to see just what all it would involve. I went to LasikPlus, which is a chain in my area. The surgeon at my local joint has done more than 68,000 of these procedures. When I talked to a doctor I know who had this done years ago, he said to just find a reputable place that's done a lot of these. I looked on Yelp and Google and Facebook and saw mostly glowing reviews. The negative reviews had to do with the payment plans or financing, which didn't much concern me.

My consult was very thorough - I saw several technicians and doctors who measured my eyes, tested my vision and took my medical history. After an hour of consulting, I was presented with two options: a standard Lasik procedure guaranteed for one year for a little less than $1,500, or the same procedure guaranteed for life for $2,800.

Even pre-op I'm adorable
The technician told me something on the order of 5 percent of people need a supplemental procedure, and that with a prescription as slight as mine, my odds were very small. I took the one-year guarantee because chances are if I need it again, it's still going to be cheaper to come out of pocket for it. I have a pre-tax HSA fund through work, which I was able to use for all of this. I scheduled my procedure for after the Ironman, because working out is not advised for three days after, and you can't swim for a week.

I was also given three prescriptions to be filled and brought with me to the procedure. Beware, if you don't get a coupon, one of the eyedrops is like $165 out of pocket. With the coupon, it's $35. I ended up not needing one of the eyedrops, but it was like $5, so no big deal.

I couldn't wear contacts for a week pre-op, and wasn't allowed to wear any makeup or lotion the day of the procedure. Brent dropped me off bright and early and was told to come back to get me in three hours, but that I would text him with a 20-minute warning.

I signed in, got a bunch of directions, paid and had my eyes remeasured to ensure accuracy. I also had to wash my eyelids with these special wipes, and they gave me a dose of Aleve PM. I was hoping for something stronger, but oh well. I also donned a hairnet and they put stickers on my chest indicating the numbers of the eye corrections I would undergo. My appointment was for 8 a.m. The surgeon showed up at 8:45 a.m. and the first guy came out of the O.R. by 9 a.m.

Before my procedure, I was moved into an office and given numbing drops. A technician explained my post-op meds and procedures and gave me coke to sip on so I wouldn't pass out.

The actual procedure took eight minutes, maybe. I was given more numbing drops and who knows what else. The first machine that I stared into had a red laser for me to look at. I believe this was the machine that created a corneal flap ... which is the nice way to say it cut my eyeball. I didn't feel it. What I did feel was a ton of pressure as the doctor held my eye open and in place. Next, they switched me over to the laser. It took 11 seconds of laser work on my right eye, and 16 on my left eye. During this part, your vision goes from white to black and you smell something ridiculously gross. It's not hot, but it is certainly the smell of cells being destroyed. It wasn't actually that different from the smell when I got laser hair removal.

Cleverly cropped out those fugly goggles
Then, there are more numbing drops and the doctor "sets the corneal flap." You see, there's no stitches. Just a little bit of your eye covering your cornea that was just reshaped by a laser. Hence why you have to be really, really careful to not touch or bump or get your eye wet in the first few days.
When it was over, a nurse moved me back to the office I started in and gave me my first round of eyedrops. On the first day, you get like 40 drops. No joke. The first is an antibiotic. The second is a steroid to reduce the swelling. The third is just lubricating tears. I had one round post op and then was told to do another when I got home.

A nurse put a pair of provided goggles over my face, and then sunglasses over that. I was shocked that they just sent me on my way after that and didn't help me into a chair in the waiting room. I was actually kind of shaky and weak after, but it subsided.

The drive home was really uncomfortable though. In spite of having my eyes closed and wearing sunglasses, everything was entirely too bright.

She came to my post-op because
they have hot cocoa
The key to recovering from lasik is to keep your eyes closed for at least four hours post-op, preferably six hours. Except, I was back in bed by 10 a.m. after sleeping a full night, so that presented a challenge. Also, I had a terrible taste in the back of my mouth from the laser and the drops, and my eyes felt too big for my head. I found out later, when I could open my eyes again and Brent read me the post-op instructions, I could have hit those anti-inflammatory drops every 20 minutes to make that go away.

Live and learn.

I think I slept maybe 90 minutes out of that time. The rest of the time I listened to an audio book and messaged Brent via Alexa about things I needed or were thinking of. It was actually a pretty relaxing day. When you wake up from your post-op nap, you need drops every two hours to keep infection and swelling at bay. I didn't feel hungry at all that day and skipped lunch entirely.

It was a Friday, so by the time the kids got home from school at 4 I was awake and sort of seeing clearly. Everything had a halo around it, and I had to close all the blinds. Being outside was out of the question that first day, and I had to wear sunglasses to watch TV because it was entirely too bright.
Ravinia must go on, lasik or no
Additionally, no one told me that having a burst blood vessel was entirely normal. I took one look at myself in the mirror and called the doctor back in a panic. It's been two and a half weeks and it's still there, but I'm told that's normal.

Still very red
The next morning, I woke up with perfect vision. I drove myself to my post-op check up and found out I have 20/20 vision now. I even went to a concert the day after. I had to wear sunglasses well into the evening because the stage lights were too bright, but it was '90s night so I wasn't even close to the most ridiculously appareled person there.

For the first week, I had to sleep and shower with goggles on. I also couldn't wear makeup for four days, and then could only wear new makeup around my eyes. I couldn't get water in my eyes for the first week, either. In addition to the post-op nap, the doctor said the other crucial bit was to not touch your eyes or the area around it for the first four days. Which proved to be difficult, and make sleeping really annoying. Sleeping solely on your back is harder than it seems.

Now nearly three weeks later, my eye is still red but my vision is perfect. I use gel drops at night, but otherwise, have zero lasting effects. I have a one-month follow up that I assume will go swimmingly.

Mostly I wonder why I didn't do this earlier.