LASIK is a medical miracle. At least I’m still hoping it’s going to be…
A few weeks ago I shared info on my LASIK consult and plans to proceed with the surgery. Last Friday, it actually happened. Please be aware that all of the information I share here is based on my experience at the LASIK MD clinic in North York, and might not necessarily be the same at other clinics offering the LASIK service (mine was Advanced Custom Wavefront LASIK – a treatment necessary because of my high presciption and large pupils).
I took my contacts out a week in advance. 24 hours is the requirement, but when I had my consult the tech mentioned something about my left cornea, which he thought would go back to normal after removing my lenses for a few days. If not, the surgery might need to be postponed or cancelled, so I wasn’t taking any chances. So, I had to wear my glasses for 6 full days, which totally drove me crazy at first, though I did kind of start to get used to it.
Mom and Dad drove me to North York the morning of my procedure (yes, I’m 36 and went with my mommy and daddy, is that a problem?) We arrived early, at about 9:30 and I began filling out paperwork. Then the waiting began. Oh, the waiting. Between paperwork and surgery there was a 15 minute pre-op exam, and another 15 minute meeting with the counselor to go over questions, paperwork and payment – 30 minutes of action which took place over FOUR HOURS, until I was finally called into surgery. I kept thinking I was going to be next, and would be disappointed when someone else’s name was called, but eventually, I made it in!
The surgeon introduced himself and asked if I had any questions. Really, by that point, I just wanted to get things moving. I was asked to put on a hairnet-type medical cap, and to lie down on the operating table. Numbing drops were put in my eyes. (Warning: if you get squeamish or don’t really want to know the details – especially if you’re contemplating the procedure and think too much information might freak you out – skip the next paragraph.)
Next, my left eye was covered and the action happened on my right eye. It was taped open, and I could tell that something was inserted to hold it that way. (Ladies, it sort of reminded me of when another type of medical professional inserts a device to open something up. Sorry.) The surgeon asked the assistant to “apply suction”, and I could feel that on my eye, as the vision went temporarily dark. I was then asked to look at a coloured light, and I did my best to do so as things kept changing. I felt absolutely nothing during the laser part of the procedure, when basically a flap is made in the cornea, which is then pulled back so corneal tissue can be removed to improve the vision, and then the flap is replaced. I felt like I could tell visually when the flap came back, but maybe it was just my imagination. Each eye takes less than a minute to do (I said the rosary, as per my mother’s suggestion, while making good use of the squeezeballs I was provided with in the OR). Then we were onto the left eye.
While I didn’t time it, I’ll bet I was reclined on the table for less than 5 minutes in total. I was asked to open my eyes, and nothing hurt – just felt a little bit scratchy – and the surgeon did a quick exam. I was then escorted out to the lounge area for (oh yay) another waiting period. An assistant came by occasionally with drops, and then my eyes were taped shut for the last 20 minutes or so of my stay, to help the flaps begin to heal. My parents returned, and after almost 6 hours in the clinic, it was finally time to go!
I was provided with a prescription for the drops I would need (purchasing them on-site is also an option, and if you have benefits you can send in the receipt). There were two sets (in addition to two sets of over-the-counter drops), and I was warned that one may leave an aftertaste in my throat…and it sure did. (Seriously, eye drops leaving an aftertaste. Still trying to figure out the physiology of that one. Also really makes you wonder about how chemicals applied to one area of the body – hair, nails – can actually travel to other areas. But I digress.)
A next-day followup appointment is mandatory, and while I decided not to bother spending the night, and instead drive back the next morning, there were moments when I regretted that choice. In particular, an hour stuck in traffic on the 401 when I know I uttered the phrase “this had better be worth it”.
I wasn’t in pain, per se, but a lot of discomfort. My eyes were very watery, with heavy lids, and every time I tried to open them the light seemed way too bright. Patients are provided with fairly unattractive sunglasses, but even with them on I was still sensitive to daylight, and tried to keep my eyes down in the car, which I’m sure led to some carsickness, which led to putting the window down, which led to chills…I felt like I had the flu, but please be clear that it was not directly related to the surgery, but the fact that I should have just gone immediately to a hotel where I could have slept. According to the times I was given on my “drops” schedule, I had to put some in at various intervals during the drive, which also wasn’t easy, but the lubricating drops really did help with the discomfort. My left eye bothered me more than my right, and I know the my vision prescription for that eye has always been stronger, so maybe it required a bit more work. It was also “bruised” (bright red spots) by the suction, so maybe that made it more sensitive as well.
By the time the sun went down and traffic cleared, I felt tons better. We picked up some drive-thru (I was finally having lunch at 6:00 pm) and I joined back in the conversation.
Considering my procedure took place at 2:00, the fact that I felt back to normal by the time I got home is pretty impressive. Oh, and then there’s the whole vision thing…by bedtime, I felt like I was wearing my contacts, my vision was that good. The hardest part was the fact that I wasn’t supposed to read, watch TV or use any devices that night…which really threw off my normal Friday evening routine!
The drive back to North York for my checkup the next morning went smoothly. My right eye was almost 20/20, with my left eye a bit farther behind, but everything was on track. I dropped my glasses off in the donation bin, scheduled my one week checkup for the Whitby location, and headed home.
Since about day three post-op, my right eye has become blurrier, and the regression concerned me, but a quick call to LASIK and I was comforted by the knowledge that that’s a very common occurrence, and the “final results” won’t be apparent until 1 to 2 weeks after the surgery.
Last night I had my one week checkup (well, it’s been six days but I’m heading out of town tonight – a whole other blog post) and was told that what I’m experiencing is very common. Basically because my prescription was so high, lots of tissue had to be removed from the cornea, so when the flap was replaced, a gap was left in between. Because of this, it may take longer for the flap to fully smooth out over the cornea, and the technician could see some tiny folds and cracks that will take time to disappear (he believes that they will, but I do have a lifetime guarantee on the procedure, including “touch ups” if necessary, I just hope it doesn’t come to that).
While trusting that the right eye will get back up to speed, I am pretty confident that the experience will be totally worth it. As someone who has worn contacts for almost every waking hour of every day, I often just think I still have them in, until I stop and register that no, I’m actually seeing that well with nothing in my eyes. People who wear glasses would notice even more of a lifestyle change, though it was a big deal to throw away my contact lens cases and solutions and give my glasses cleaner to my Dad! I’m all about simplifying and streamlining. (Packing for this weekend’s trip was that much easier, especially since glasses and contacts solutions always have to be packed right before departure, and can’t just be thrown in the suitcase days in advance when I pack everything else.)
Please feel free to ask if you have any questions. I would never have done it without the testimony of my mom, brother and sister-in-law, so getting firsthand information from someone really makes a difference with the decision making process and stress level.