I woke up on the morning of my appointment for LASIK surgery exactly three hours before it was time to put my daughter on the school bus.
She gets on the bus while it’s still dark and cool outside. I was up EARLY.
I usually don’t have any problem sleeping through the night unless I am sleeping with someone who snores (my daughter), or she wakes me up because she can’t breathe well.
She was sleeping soundly, thank you. She wasn’t even snoring.
I’m tossing and turning in the dark, thinking about what will happen in that cold OR. I’m thinking about my FSA claim (my Benny card declined a legit $5 expense recently for reasons that the reps could not explain). And I’m thinking about how itchy my new growth is (I need a haircut and I’m not allowed to use creams or anything in my hair this morning, just deodorant).
I can’t sleep. I’m nervous. And now it’s not even 4:30 a.m. yet.
So what do I do? I wake up my computer monitor and start writing this blog post. I start looking at my health claim paperwork. I pick out my clothes. I go online.
I’m going to sleep most of the rest of the day away, so why not? My girlfriend (the designated driver) is picking me up around 8.
Fast forward about five hours. Post-surgery, all I can say is, like Marvin Sapp, I MADE IT. I survived the ordeal.
To all my friends who told me it was easy, etc. I have to disagree. I was nearly traumatized. It was the longest 6 ½ minutes of my life on that surgery table, I tell you. I liken lying down on the exam table to being strapped into a rollercoaster ride kicking and screaming, knowing that you’re going to hate the ride and totally uneasy, if not terrified, until you’re back on land.
The first hour on my day of surgery was spent taking the tests I took last week to verify that everything was still on point with my eye health, and that I hadn’t been wearing contacts. I also watched another video, made my payment, and received post-operative instructions and 5 mg of valium. Then I met the doctor who did another test with me and gave me numbing drops in the OR. Then IT WAS TIME.
On The Road to Damascus
Yeah I know that headline seems melodramatic but in my mind, the music was cued and nervousness is an understatement. The male tech came to me and cheerily said, “Are you ready? C’mon!” I just looked at him and slowly followed him to the exam table. He covered my left eye with latex or something plastic and taped it. Then he taped my right eyelid up and inserted something hard to keep it there. I stared up at a blinking red light and also saw a halo of a green light. I heard each of the three voices as they monitored the procedure.
The male tech mentioned something about turning the machine on.
Doctor: “Vacuum pressure?”(While placing an alcohol well on top of my eye–hard.)
Female tech: “Vacuum pressure is good.” (Sure was—I could feel it.)
This is It
Things went into a blur as I tried to continue focusing on the blinking red light and not how terrified I was. I blacked out for several seconds as the doctor warned me, but I remained calm and waited for my sight to come back. At one point I felt water squirt from my eyes, like an egg white splashing out of a cracked egg (it was not like a big tear). Once it was over, I could see the red blinking light clearly as I heard the male tech count down, “Five… four… three… two… one.” The whole procedure per eye was about three minutes. Three excruciatingly long minutes. Then the machine got quieter and I saw the doctor wipe my eyeball with a tiny version of a rubber spatula, closing the flap over my cornea, but I couldn’t feel it (it looked like someone was wiping a window) .
As the doctor removed the tape from my right eyelid and uncovered my left eye, he said, “How you doin’, Daree? You okay?”
After a few seconds of me lying there motionless and speechless, he said, “Well, whatever you’re feeling, are you ready to do it again?”
Still in shock, my mouth was open but nothing would come out. What I was thinking was, “Do it again? No. HELL NO. I don’t ever, Ever, EVER want to do that again!” I contemplated bouncing out with only one eye treated, but decided against the melodrama and sucked it up. My big girl pants were still on.
With nothing to grab or hold onto, I took a deep breath and clenched my hands together over my pelvis as they taped up my left eyelid, patched my right eye, yada yada yada. I’m a big girl, but squeezing a friend’s hand would have made all the difference in the world right then. The doctor had a nice bedside manner, but hearing, “Oh, that’s a beautiful flap… almost done, you’re doing great,” just wasn’t reassuring enough. (Shucks, just reliving this story as I write it gives me the hebegebees.)
After the left eye was done, I promise you, if I weren’t drugged up, I would have done a cartwheel off the table. Instead exhaled and I held onto the male tech’s arm as he walked me back to the doctor’s desk for one more check before leading me out to the lobby. My vision was blurry so I was thankful that one of my girlfriends was able to take me home. To my daughter’s chagrin, I spent most of the rest of the day in bed, with occasional flashbacks of this ordeal.
My post-op appointment the next day only took about five minutes, thankfully (they always take me in the back as soon as I arrive). After getting a quick eye check and a new stock of eye drops samples, I was outta there.
Do It Afraid!
One of few movies I have watched several times is Johnny Dangerously (1984) starring Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Joe Piscopo, and Marilu Henner. There is a recurring scene in the movie where one of the characters, who runs a food stand on the street, gets hit in the head with a newspaper. Each time he gets hit, he falls to the ground, then gets up and notices his senses have changed. On one of those occurrences he says, “Oh my God! I can see, I can see! But I can’t hear…” (LOL)
I am grateful to be able to see for the first time since I was 8, with none of my other senses or capabilities damaged. So many things could have went wrong (I signed a two-page waiver sheet that included such warnings as total loss of vision) so I don’t mean to sound so negative about the whole experience. I took Joyce Meyer’s advice and “did it afraid.” Sometimes, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish and how important it is to you, you have to decide on your own, even without support, that you’re going to DO IT AFRAID.
If You Want to Take the Plunge…
I hope your ride is smoother than mine. I can see and it’s ama-za-zing, but if they could have knocked me out and held open my eyelids while I was unconscious, I would go that route. But everyone’s not as chicken as I am. J
There are plenty of places where I can donate my glasses, but I found a couple of places where I can donate my unused, unopened boxes of contact lenses, which don’t expire until the end of 2012 (Madre and New Eyes for the Needy). I just got my Dolce & Gabbana glasses two months ago, but all of my glasses are in great shape and I know someone would love to have them.
POSTSCRIPT: I didn’t write these blog posts about my experience to get anything back, just to share my perspectives for anyone who is contemplating LASIK as I was. However, upon leaving my one-day post-op appointment, they gave me a booklet of referral coupons. So, if you would like to try a Joffe MediCenter near you and receive $50 off the surgery (all eye exams are free), leave a comment and I can get one out to you. But if you wanna keep your contacts, I’ve got a bunch of coupons for solution, too (all kinds).