Sunday, June 28, 2015

Non-teaching post: LASIK

Three days ago, I had LASIK surgery. Minus pictures, here's the gist!

Before Surgery

In fifth grade, my teacher noticed I was squinting at the board.  Eye appointments and glasses ensued.  In middle school, I got contacts because my mother was understanding that I didn't want glasses and braces at the same time.  Fifteen years of contacts, glasses, and endless bottles of solution followed until one day I decided that I'd had enough.  I wanted to pursue LASIK.

In February of this year, I brought it up with my eye doctor.  He did preliminary measurements and said I was a good candidate.  I scheduled a follow up visit in May, since I'd planned LASIK for June.  You know, typical teacher, doing all my appointments over the summer.  

My last day in contacts was April 26th.  My eye doctor said I needed to be out of contact for at least four weeks before surgery to let my eye return to its normal shape.

I had my follow up appointment at my eye doctor in May and my measurements were still within normal limits.

From there, I scheduled my consultation with the surgeon (Dr. Wellish at Wellish Vision Institute).  I went in for my consultation and redid many eye exams just to make sure I was within the appropriate limits.  All my measurements were within the desired categories and I appreciated the thoroughness of the doctors.  I set my pre-op appointment and surgery date for the end of June.  In order to prepare for surgery, I was given biotears capsules to boost my tear production.  I was also given eye drops to take several times a day to overly lubricate my eyes.

The night before surgery I had trouble sleeping.  I know it's a routine procedure and my doctor is one of the best in the country.  I still was scared because it's a major, life changing surgery.

I headed to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription.  I had anti-inflammatory drops, antibiotics, and vials of lubricating drops.  My insurance (teacher's health trust) paid for half of one of the bottles and not a dime of the actual procedure. 

Disclaimer: The next section does include details about LASIK surgery.  There are no pictures but I do explain what happened to my eyes on the operating table.

Surgery Day

The day of my surgery I arrived at Wellish Vision Institute at 9:15 for a 9:30 appointment.  I had quite the checklist of pre-op instructions.  I could not wear any make up or earrings.  I couldn't put on lotion or any scented body products.  The surgical room tends to be cold, so I had to make sure I had a sweater...which felt quite weird considering it's upwards of 110 degrees outside. I had to eat a light breakfast, take my bio tears and extra strength Tylenol, and ensure I had a driver to take me home.  B took the day off of work to take care of me.

They said to plan on being there for a few hours, so B headed out to get a smog check and register his truck.  He had the option of watching the surgery from the gallery window, but chose not to because he was squeamish about the operation.  I had another check up just to make sure everything was still within appropriate limits.  There was no change, which was to be expected.  From there, they re-explained the procedure and shared some of the sensations I would be feeling.  

A suction machine would keep my eye open during the procedure so I couldn't blink.  There was pressure, like someone was pushing on my eye.  During the process, I would hear various noises from the machine and for a brief moment, everything would go black.  This was normal and I didn't go blind.  I'm glad they told me this before I was on the operating table because I would have freaked out. 

From there, I headed downstairs to the surgical suite.  I got two Valium to calm my nerves and had a blue surgical cap to wear.  I forgot a hair tie, so it was a bit frustrating with the surgical cap.  Ladies, if you have LASIK, make sure your long hair is in a braid, bun, or pony tail to make the cap situation a bit easier. I also had gauze taped to cover my ears to ensure no drops dripped in.  I had blue booties over my flip flops.  I was given a final eye exam and then asked to sit in a dim room to calm down while the Valium kicked in.  I was still nervous, so I asked for another Valium.  At that point, I was calm and my hands had stopped shaking.  I headed to the operating room.

I laid down on the table and was given numbing eye drops. From there, the suction machine held open my eyes and the laser cut a flap on my eye.  After flaps were created on both eyes, the laser corrected the imperfections on my corneas.  I had to hold incredibly still and stare at a red light.  The surgeon counted down and the actual laser correction took less than thirty seconds per eye.  My first round of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drops were applied at the office.

Once the flaps were placed back down (to immediately start healing), I was taken back to the exam room.  My flaps had been placed correctly and there were no bubbles (because that would have been awful.

From there, my surgical cap was removed and I was given goggles and sunglasses.  B walked me to the truck and apparently I was delightful in my super medicated state.  I was asleep before we got home, which was quite the feat considering it's a fifteen minute drive.

I had medical tape over my eyes and had to wear goggles for the rest of the day.  We left at eleven and I slept until three.  From there, I woke up, had a sandwich, put in more drops, and retaped my eyes shut.  Honestly, removing the tape was one of the hardest parts of the day.  I apparently listened to Mulan on Netflix, but had no recollection of this.  I slept again until six, then woke up again to eat and listen to HIMYM.  At eight, I decided I was ready to go back to bed and slept until four the next day (Waffles the pup was whining to go outside).


Friday was day one of post-op care.  For the next seven days, I had to wear the goggles at night or whenever I was sleeping.  I continued with four bio tears pills a day.  I use the antibiotics and the anti-inflammatory drops three times a day and the OTC lubricant drops every hour or two.

These have been my best friend, especially in the Las Vegas heat:

I had an appointment at Wellish Vision Institute at eight am and with my regular eye doctor at 9:30.  While I could have been fine to drive myself, I had my friend M take me.  As a thank you, we went out to breakfast afterward.

After I took the medical tape off, I could see.  Perfectly!  There was some haloing around certain objects, but they said that was to be expected for up to a month after surgery.  I did have a slight headache, which continued for a few days, but that was a normal occurrence as well. 

Both eye doctor appointments went well.  I do have some slight inflammation, which hopefully will be gone at my next check up.  One of the eye drops I take three times daily is a white goopy substance, so it looks like glue is leaking out of my eyeballs.  This also means my eyelashes are matted together and I can't touch them, which is the most frustrating part of the recovery process.  I also have gel drops for at night and have to turn off the ceiling fans.

I can wash my face with a wash cloth, but have to avoid my eyes.  I can shower, but have to face away from the shower head.  For the next ten days, I have to avoid dusty, dirty, smoky environments.  I need to wear sunglasses whenever I'm outside.  Yesterday we had our niece's 6th birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, so I chose to wear the glasses inside as well because of all the blinking lights.  I have to avoid sweating, exercise, and running outside for the next two weeks.  I can't go swimming for a month, and no sky diving, scuba diving, or martial arts for three months.  

I have another appointment at Wellish on Monday as well as with my regular eye doctor on Friday.  I appreciate that there are so many appointments and they make sure everything is healing correctly.  

I'm three days into recovery and feeling good.  I do plan to spend the rest of my Sunday alternating between napping and working on finishing a book.

Overall, LASIK was a very positive experience and I'm glad I did it.  While it was very expensive, I'm just trying to think of all the money I'll save by not having to buy prescription glasses, contacts, or contact solutions anymore.  Plus I can lay in bed and watch Netflix without squinting!  I'm glad I went through with surgery, even if it means my eyelashes are super crusty for the next week.  If that's the price I have to pay for clear vision, it's worth it.

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