No lotion or face cream. No make-up. No hairspray or mousse. No jewelry. No perfume.
So, let’s get this straight. You want me to not only leave the mo-partment in this condition, but to actually venture out into public?!? As if enduring five weeks of my geek-tastic glasses wasn’t torture enough, the last set of preparations for LASIK included a long list things to not do or wear. (The no jewelry is obvious to me, as it could get in the way during the procedure, but I had to ask about the lotion/hairspray/perfume edict. Apparently, the smells can somehow affect the way the laser works (??). A few days ago I would have written this off as medical drivel, but after inadvertently discovering that several of my required eye drops taste badly enough that I want to drink mouthwash, even though they’ve never touched my tongue, I am willing to believe nearly anything when it comes to this process.)
LASIK day started early, with a fresh-faced exit out the door by a little after 6AM. We were in Rockville within the hour. Upon check-in, I had to provide my date of birth and in turn I was given a name tag that was to be prominently displayed at all times. While I sat fidgeting nervously in the waiting room, Thad took the opportunity to check out the snack basket and inspect the mini-fridge for goodies, while at the same time pointing out the appropriateness of the commercial for blinds (as in curtains) that played several times on the TV.
Soon enough my name was called. Thad and I went to a small exam room at the back of the office where I again had to give my date of birth. This time, rather than an official looking sticker to adorn my outfit, I was given something much better- Valium! (It seemed like a good idea, but I am not sure it kicked in until the ride home. Two might have been a better way to go.)
After a few more minutes of sitting around, the surgeon came in and promptly asked for my date of birth. Verifying that the chart in front of him and the person in his chair were one and the same, we then went over last minute details and walked through the steps of the procedure. I was given some classy blue covers to go over my shoes (making me feel like I was back in the Chengdu dentist’s office) and a lovely matching cap to cover my hair. (Just wait- these surgical accessories are going to be all the rage on the spring runway in Paris!)
With these various steps out of the way, Thad and I were taken to the waiting room right outside the surgical suite. (I like the way they refer to it as a suite. It sounds so soothing and comforting and not like somewhere I am going to meet my Final Destination demise.)
Soon enough, it was time to head in. Thad couldn’t come in with me, but instead was at the window to the surgical suite, watching all the juicy goodness as it took place. With little preamble (other than once again stating my date of birth), I laid down on a medical bed and things started happening all around me. My fashionable blue cap doubled as a tissue holder, being stuffed with Kleenex to soak up the massive amount of liquid that was soon to be squirted into my eyes. I spent the next few minutes looking at various green dots with my right eye, trying not to freak out as a speculum was placed around my eye and then attempting to keep my squawks of discomfort to a minimum as the surgeon put a suction cup on my eye and proceeded to cut a flap into the corneal tissue. Several times throughout this procedure the doctor asked if I was breathing. At one point I think I replied with a very polite “No thank you.” Breathing required movement and there was no way I was going to make the slightest twitch while a laser was pointed at my eyeball! As he released the speculum from my right eye, I felt my whole body relax for just a second and I had the chance to fill my lungs with oxygen briefly, until I realized we now go to go through the whole process again, this time on my left eye.
Having successfully survived the corneal flap cutting stage, I then stood up and walked/was walked a few feet away to a second bed in the suite. This was where the real sizzling action took place! Starting again with Ol’ Righty, I watched the pretty green, flickering light, as red ones danced around the edges of my vision. During the seventeen seconds of laser-ing, the room filled with a lovely scent that one of the nurses had told me to expect and which she chalked up to the gasses used by the machine, but I am pretty sure it was the scent of my eye being seared by the laser! This laser reshaping of my eye was much less uncomfortable than the flap-cutting portion of the day, so with a bit more breathing, I made it through the fifteen seconds needed to then correct my left eye.
With the laser put away, the surgeon placed the flaps back over my eyes with what appeared to be a Q-tip, gushed my eyes with liquid once more and it was over! As I stood up, ready to be led into the recovery room, not in pain, but a little disoriented, I was greeted with a camera! Apparently, the staff at the medical clinic think that directly post-procedure is the best time for a photo op with the surgeon. ( I was promised a copy of this picture via email, so if/when it comes, I will add it here. I am terrified to imagine what it looks like, as I was on Valium, just had my eyes repaired via laser and was more than a bit disoriented at the moment.)
Thad met me in the recovery room, where we spent a total of about five minutes. I downed a couple Tylenol PMs, took my goodie bag of eye drops and bedtime eye covers and we were done.
(Here is a video, not of my surgery, but of one very much like mine. It is a bit juicy and not for those with weak stomachs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoH0VHrOM9A )
Leaving the building, I felt pretty good, but it didn’t take long for the burning to emerge. By the time we got home, my eyes felt like a Thailand sunburn after months of overcast Chengxian skies. Thad filled my eyes with “comfort drops” (I have no idea what was in them, possibly puppy tears, but they were liquid bliss, instantly relieving the burning sensation in my eyes.) With my ridiculously dorky eye covers taped to my face, I gently hit the pillow, only waking to re-“comfort drop” a couple of times, until mid-afternoon.
With a reading ban in place, (only once did I try to get away with it, tempted by a catalog that came in the mail, for which Thad promptly reprimanded me) I spent my waking hours watching a marathon of Cops on TV and blinking my way through my assigned regimen of eye drops.
Twenty-four hours post-op, I tested at nearly 20/20 vision, with my left eye just a bit behind my right in the healing process. My crazy eye drop schedule will continue for a few more weeks, I have to tape the plastic goggles to my head each night for the next five days and the eye make-up prohibition continues to be in place for another week, which may kill me since I start Chinese classes on Monday (eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, oh my!) but otherwise, I am pretty good to go.
No contacts. No saline solution. No glasses. No more four-eyed blindness!
The eyes of a hawk have finally become mine. Success!