Friday, July 02, 2010

Laser Eye Surgery

I was never the "cool kid" in school. I started getting pudgy in grade 3, got glasses in Grade 4 and to complete the ensemble, braces in grade 6. I got contacts in grade 9, as well as lost a lot of weight, and got my braces off. Phew!

There are still cons about contacts: it hurts SO much more to get something in your eye (I would never drive with the windows down if my hair wasn't in a pontyail), they could be irritating, get stuck, and could rip easily.

As I grew older my eyes got gradually worse and worse. At one point they were deteriorating so badly I had to go back to the optometrist within 6 months because I had noticed a difference.

Around age 25 my eyes seemed to be slowing down, so at the end of December, when I was at the dye doctor, I asked for a consultation to get laser eye surgery. The eye doctor recommended Dr. Blaylock at the Valley Laser Eye Centre in Abbotsford. Both my parents had their surgeries done by him and were happy with the result.

Now let me say something: I HATE eyeballs. They are gross. I can't look when someone pulls down their eyelids, and it disgusts me when they show anything to do with eyes on tv or in movies (think pencil through the eye, thanks Grey's Anatomy.) The only reason I could put in my own contacts was because of my own vanity, and I would do it looking away from the mirror. Having surgery on my eyeballs absolutely scared the crap out of me.

At my first consult I found out that my eyes were worse than I originally thought: they were between -8.00 to -9.00. They were too bad for regular Lasik, so the nurse told me I'd probably need Intra-Lazik, or I-Lasik, which is similar to Lasik in healing time, but cut-free. I also had to have some yellow drops that numb your eyeball to check for glaucoma. At this point I literally began to feel faint and had to sit back and ask the nurse for a glass of water.

At my next pre-surgery appointment I had to have the eyedrops that make your eyes dilate. It was such a weird sensation. The brightness didn't really bother me, but I could see things farther away better than close up. It was like being an old person. I was sitting in the chair waiting for my dopctor, having to hold my magazine at arm's length to try to read it.

When I finally met Dr Blaylock he told me that due to my bad eyesight that Intra-Lasik wasn't even an option, and I might have to consider lens replacement. I almost started to cry. To me that's major, a "real" surgery. He then said that I could do PRK, but just barely. PRK is also a no-touch surgery, but it's a little more invasive than I-Lasik. It goes in and actually re-shapes the cornea of the eye, so it's a more painful, slower heal. However because it's no-cut it's better later on if you play sports etc... because you won't get hit in the face and have a piece of your eye come off. Lovely.

The day of the surgery in early February, I was a bit of a wreck. My blood pressure was way up. Thank God they eventually sat me down and gave me an Attivan. (They wouldn't give me anything stronger, believe me, I asked.) The whole office is super organized, people are in and out of the surgery room like a factory line.They wiped down my face with iodine and gave me some numbing drops.

Once I got into the operatory I laid down on the chair of the machine, which was actually really comfy, and the covered one eye with a cardboard mask. They did one eye at a time, and it was about 2-3 minutes an eye.

The first thing they did is clamp my eyelid open so I couldn't blink. (Not that I didn't keep trying.) Then they scraped off the outer layer of my eye. What they use to do it looks like a mini-fan that you see people with at ball games. Then they started up the laser. They told me to look directly at it. This was the best part. It didn't hurt, I just saw some lights and then a bit of a shadow. There was the smell of burning hair in the room, which they told me was the machine. Bullshit! Now I know what a burning eyeball smells like. When that part was over they washed my eyes with water. Not fun. Pretty much it was laser, rinse repeat ;) Then they put on some protective bandage-contact lenses to help heal the eye.

Dr Blaylock was really reassuring through the whole thing. He kept telling me to keep my eye still and stare at the middle of the laser and that I was doing great.

Ten or so minutes later I walked out of the operatory and I could see... kind of! I could read the clock, but it was still kind of blury.

That night my eyes were sore, so I took a Tylenol 3 and went to bed. I was thinking that it wasn't too bad, but the next night my eyes were crazy sensitive to light and it killed just to have them open. I sat in the dark by myself, listening to a movie.

A few days later I had to go back in to get the bandage-contacts off, which was a relief. With the PRK surgery it's more of a gradual increase in sight, but I was seeing things I hadn't for years without glasses... like my clock radio beside my bed.

As of now my vision is 20/20. Amazing, I know. When I look at a bright light I get a bit of a "starshine" going on, and this is due to a bit of astigmatism caused by the swelling from the surgery. This too is beginning to decrease as time goes by. In a few weeks I'm due for my 9 month check-up where we'll decide whether there's still enough astigmatism for a touch-up surgery of if we can leave it be.

Please, please let us leave it be! I'm 100% glad I had the surgery, but it's a once in a lifetime thing, not a twice.

No comments: