Tuesday, May 17, 2011

LasikPlus, The Experience

The surgeon took me to the back where he explained how the surgery was going to happen. Since my procedure is iLasik, I needed to be operated by him using two different machines: The first would create the flap, the second would perform the laser correction. Each machine was in a separate room. The following is an account of what I felt/experienced two months ago, minute-by-minute. Hopefully I’ve successfully expressed my feelings in detail every step of the way, so you can have a crystal clear depiction of what it feels like to go through it!

I lay down on my back, on a bed directly in front of the surgeon with my legs pointing away from him. He looks down to me upside down and continues to discuss the procedure while preparing his tools and covering one of my eyes. The bed was comfortable, but the room was absolutely frigid! The surgeon assistant offered me a blanket. Supposedly, the low temperature was to keep the machine at optimum performance or something. Of course, it didn’t bother me much because I would rather freeze for 10 minutes than accidentally get my eye burned off or something…

Although only the flap is created here, there are two machines that the surgeon uses: The flap-creator, and the microscope. Obviously, this is not your average Petri dish microscope from high school biology so just imagine two huge machines: one to the right, the other to the left. Since the bed was actually on a swivel, he would swing me to my left, take a look at my eye to make sure everything’s ok, swing me to the right and actually perform the incision. Then of course, swing me back to the left to make sure my eye is still there… Here we go…

All of this time, he has been putting tons of drops in my eyes to ensure that I didn’t feel anything. How does he know that I’m not feeling anything though? Will it be during the surgery as I scream because of excruciating pain? Will he poke me with his finger as a test? Or perhaps stab me with one of the instruments on that lovely-looking metal tray? If you like horror surgeon movies… this is sooo much better!

He looks into my eye, places a plastic ring around it, and swings me to the right. “You are now going to feel some pressure.” So, now my eye feels like it’s going to get pushed in my brain! Interesting though that I felt the pressure on the eye socket, but not on the actual eye… The reason for this pressure I think is so that the machine can make a horizontal incision on the cornea without cutting something unwanted as well. My eye was basically being flattened a little bit.

“30 seconds left,” give or take a few… The pressure is constant, and bothersome but I didn’t want to move for obvious reasons. As the incision proceeds, he continues to count down and also says, “everything will go black now.” I was blind. How bizarre to think that the little blue lights surrounding the flap-creator was the last thing I would ever see... “Vision starting to come back now.” I slowly began to see the objects around me, from my peripherals, inward. Of course, my vision wasn’t corrected but at least I’m not blind!
He swivels me to the left again to check the flap and pokes me with this sharp metal instrument. My vision shifts a little as he moves the flap slightly to make sure that it can come off later. The ring is removed and he does the same thing to my other eye.

The flaps are created but not lifted. He swivels me to the center so I can get up and walk to the other room. I suppose my vision was slightly hazy, but not really much different than not wearing any glasses. We walk into the second, not-so-cold room as I wipe the sweat off my hands and prepare myself for what is supposed to be not uncomfortable at all.

No swivel bed here. Instead, there is a large glass facing the hallway that contains the next Lasik victim. There is also a TV screen facing the audience so they can see my eyes get burnt to a crisp! Lindsey actually got a video of one of my eyes and I posted it on youtube:

After lying down, the surgeon secures my eye again in a less uncomfortable way and applies drops galore. He takes another small metal instrument and begins to poke my cornea to see if it’s still moveable. My vision of course moves as he pokes at it but I didn’t feel anything. In fact, it was kind of interesting to watch all of the swipes, drops, and lights… Since I was near-sighted, I could see all of the little lights in and around the machine. The middle green blinking light is what I was supposed to focus on.

“Don’t move.” This is it. He peels back my precious cornea, which looks like my contacts were removed. The green light went completely blurry and metal tapping commenced. I smelled burnt flesh as he counted down… When it was finished, he replaced the flap, applied more drops, and moved on to the next eye. Piece of cake!

The actual vision correction was more of a spectacle than before. Even more amazing were the immediate results! I stood up and could see the clock from across the room. Sure, it looked like I was under water and living in a dream but the haziness would go away slowly within a week or two.

They gave me tons of drops to apply as instructed, very frequently within the first week. Although this is generally an ok concept, what bothered me the most was the first DAY. If you recall from the surgery, they actually burned my eyes from the inside so when the special drops wore off, my eyes felt like they were literally burning! The ride home wasn’t excruciating, but I really didn’t want to open my eyes. Lots of tearing too… Think: Freshly chopped onions rubbed manually directly in your eyes for an hour or so.

They told me to go directly so sleep so that my eyes could rest, but how the heck was I supposed to sleep with this pain?! Then… I remembered the “emergency” drops that the surgeon gave me. I suppose this is an emergency? I really didn’t want to open my eyes because of the burning but I forced a little peephole in my eyelids and put a drop in each eye. Within 5 seconds, my eyes were numb! UG, if only I had known before the ride home! The numbness caused heavy-eye-ness, which caused sleepiness…

I woke up 4 hours later with zero burning sensation. Blinking was kind of annoying because it felt like I had in eyelash in my contacts or something. Everything was still hazy, dreamy, underwater-y. Over time, lights at night lost its temporary halo effect as well. Within two weeks, I could see as far as anyone could ever see with perfect clarity.

I remember specifically driving down the highway being able to see every leaf’s detail, a quarter of a mile away (seemed like a very far-off distance). Everything was HD: The dirt off my opponent’s cleats on the other side of the soccer field, the splinters and grooves along the fence, even the church singer’s pimple on stage. Everything was fantastically awesome!

To those of you who are wondering if this is something you should do: I would highly recommend it! Despite the discomfort (no pain though) I felt, I would also do it again, in a heartbeat. This was easily one of the best investments I have made in my life. I was excited to donate my last pair of glasses.

1 comment:

  1. OH MY GOSH!!! glad it was you and not me. :)