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January 11, 2010

My lack of posts is not for a lack of topics. In fact, it’s the opposite for sure. In between booking vacations, having LASIK, throwing bridal showers, getting ready for Christmas, and working ridiculous hours on a crazy project I haven’t had the time or energy to be witty and clever with words. But I guess out of all that, the most interesting topic at least among my physically present friends is the LASIK. I have wanted to do LASIK for a while now but I always found one good reason or another to wait until the next shipment of contacts was used up. However, each time I used those reasons I became more and more disenchanted with my lenses, particularly in the last two years. It probably really started with Sister in India. She would wake up and be ready for the day while I was putting my vision in. She didn’t have dirt affect her during a dust storm and she didn’t have the lens solution bottle to carry around. She didn’t have to hunt for more solution in an unfamiliar country.  I was jealous. Really jealous. That jealousy lead to a even greater sense of my dissatisfaction with contacts as the source of perfect vision. And it’s been growing ever since.

I was having a particularly bad day with the contacts at the beginning of November when I had taken a sick day.  They were dry, and gave me trouble putting them in. At one point, an eyelash got underneath, giving me the requisite mind-numbing, tortuous, and horrifying pain.  Then, that afternoon, I received one those auto generated emails from 1-800-contacts. All the contact wearers know what I’m talking about : “It’s time to waste more money on things you hate and things you’ve been spending money on since you were a freshman in high school.”
OK, so the letter didn’t say that… But that’s how it read in my head. All of a sudden I was fed up and I wasn’t going to take it anymore!!! If I had to buy even one more pair of contacts for the rest of my life, I was gonna have to strangle someone. It was the e-straw that broke the e-camel’s back. With righteous indignation and sheer determination reserved for only the most grievous of worldly wrongs, I called a number that had been sitting in my purse for weeks. It was an ad that said I could get $1500 off the procedure if  I agreed to participate in a study. I had been meaning to look up the LASIK clinic and the  study, to see how legit it was. I had never gotten around to it but I was beyond that now. I was a wronged woman on a mission to take back my life… Oh the grave injustice! I dialed with deliberate determination, my finger pressing hard on the number pad and placed the phone to my ear ready to right all that was wrong in my world.
“Stahl Eye Center. How can I help you?”
(crickets chirping)
“Hello? Stahl Eye Center. How can I help you”
I panicked. What was I doing? I couldn’t afford this! But then the email stared back at me. 1-800-Contacts stood staring with a menacing look and issued a challenge. So, you wanna play it like that, do you? Well, take this.
“Yes. I’d like to discuss LASIK.” I replied. Fifteen minutes later I had an appointment for later that week. I spent the rest of the day validating my decision, naturally. And researching the clinic.

On the prescribed day, I went into a typical eye clinics office and met with the doctor. They took “pictures” of my retinas and the doctor took great pleasure in pointing out how dreadfully misshapen they were.

“Oh, yeah. There’s your astigmatism. Look at that.” He smiled at me, like he was showing me my new pony, and expecting some sort of enthusiastic response.

I faked it.  “Wow, look at that.” The man was going to be cutting my eyes- no need to give him a reason to dislike me.

I asked some questions about the procedure and then inquired about the study. Turns out all I had to do was take a certain drop twice a day to help with dry eye. The drug has been on the market for a while but they don’t specifically market it to LASIK patients and they want to. I scheduled the procedure for right before Thanksgiving and spent the next few weeks wearing glasses and gleefully donating my unused solution to the boyfriend.
My roommate, G, decided to go with me to help me get home and I’m really glad she did.

On the way there the driver, who worked for the clinic, said that some people exit tearing up profusely, water running down their cheeks and some exit tapping away at their Blackberries ready to go back to work. I naturally assumed I would be the latter. I told G as much. I assured the driver I was a strong, fast healing individual and it would all be a piece of cake.

Sister had told me that she had Valium before the procedure and after the paperwork was filled out I asked if I could please take my Valium. I was looking forward to the drug induced haze to block out any fear that might accidentally creep in. She handed me a glass of water and said “OK Take it now.”

I gave her a blank look.

“No one gave me a pill. I need a pill.” She looked confused and explained to me that I should have gotten a prescription before and filled it out. I assured her that I had never received a prescription. She looked at me with all the suspicion one reserves for a crack addict.

“I’ll go speak to the doctor about this.” she said and left me alone with the apparent knowledge that I would be doing this drug free. (Just say no… To drug free surgery!) The doctor came in with an appropriately stern look. He asked if I was sure I didn’t get a prescriptions. We discussed it for a short while and then he realized that there was a reason thy I didn’t get one. Apparently I was supposed to be doing it with another doctor and he doesn’t give out Valium. Once that was settled we decided to go ahead with it after all and they mapped out my eye and took me into the room for the procedure. The whole thing took about 4 minutes and it was quite possibly the most unpleasant experience of my life. I recommend the Valium. I even recommend it for those watching. G nearly fainted, I was told. They handed me a stuffed penguin, and told me it would help me stay calm and relaxed. Did I mention there was no taking of the Valium?

As the procedure began, I realized I could really feel most everything they were doing.  I could feel the suction on my eyeballs. I could even feel the slight burning feeling as the laser torched my retina into submission and a perfect curvature. It didn’t hurt, so it’s not as bad as it sounds, but I knew what was happening, and I clung to that penguin tighter than I ever had held a stuffed toy as a child. After that they took me into a room where I was forced like some medieval torture to keep my eyes open for extended periods of time. (Read: 15 seconds). The tears rolled down my face, the blood pounded in my ears and my whole body screamed “W.T.F.!”
I went into the waiting room with G and we sat there until our ride came. All the while, my ears kept having this whooshing sound pound in them. G guided me slowly into the car and away we went. I called Baba… Well G called him for me on our way home and basically told him there was no reason to come over because the second I got home I was going to pop at least one Ambien and go straight to bed. I didn’t care if it was 7 in the evening.
And that’s precisely what I did. The pain was too much and I couldn’t keep my eyes open anyway so what did it matter? I fell asleep with wearing the goggles  that they had given me and prayed I didn’t rub my eyes since they made it sound as if certain blindness would follow that action.
As luck would have it I managed to sleep through the night without blinding myself and when I opened my eyes the next day I could see! But more importantly it didn’t hurt to see! Not even a little bit. It was miraculous.
Since then my vision fluctuated quite a bit the first week but it has steadily gotten a lot better. I probably have 20/20 at this point and I’m very happy with the whole procedure. There is definitely the typical dry eye problem but even that is getting better.

I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that the X-Ray vision will kick in any day now, but I’ll survive if it doesn’t.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2010 1:04 am

    You tell great stories. Similarly, you tell stories greatly.

  2. Jeni Johnson permalink
    July 26, 2012 8:49 am

    Haha! As a (COMT) Ophthalmic Technologist of 10 years.., your story is very familiar. Working closely with Lasik Surgeons and my Husband experiencing his own Lasik procedure, his left eye didn’t take well to the suction. Poor guy, during Thanksgiving with the family his red eye beat out the color of the cranberries… 🙂

    • July 26, 2012 9:20 am

      Oh, poor thing! My eyes did fine with the suction, but the whooshing sound in my ears from the adrenaline. It was so loud!

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