…and surviving LASIK.

This is part 3 of my journey through LASIK. To read part’s 1 & 2 please click the links! 🙂

So I was done. I put my black-out shades on and walked cautiously out the facility door clinging to Mike’s arm. I was so excited to look at everything but the light was so bright that I had to eventually walk with my eyes closed as he directed me back to the car. Once inside, we made a quick stop at Whole Foods to pick up some things he could make me for dinner and then we headed home for my post-surgical slumber.

After surgery they give you a Tylenol PM so that you *ideally* sleep for the next 4 hours and wake up feeling marvelous. I’m not going to lie, that did NOT happen.

LASIK Goggles

First of all, my new nightly fashion accessory was a pair of sexy goggles. I was required to wear these goggles for the first week while my eyes were healing so that I did not cause any accidental damage. I threw them on, hopped into bed, and let the sleepiness wash over my body.

Suddenly, I awoke from my nap in blinding pain. I mean literally blinding because my eyes were on fire. For some reason, the Tylenol PM hadn’t kept me asleep for very long and I was feeling all of the joys of coming off numbing drops. Was the laser IN MY EYE right now? Jesus, it felt like it.

I cried for Mike to come help me but there was literally nothing he could do. He tried everything he could to comfort me but I couldn’t get away from this damn pain in my face. The only thing to do was to try to go back to sleep. I sobbed silently and wondered how long this would last. Did something go wrong? In that irrational moment I was convinced this was my new normal.

Somehow I fell back asleep, tear stains all over my face. And then I woke up again. And… I felt fine.

I FELT FINE.

I mean not fine like I just gave my eyeballs a bath in coconut water and aloe juice. But pretty freaking great.

The under-water filter I had been looking through was seemingly gone and I was starving. Thankfully Mike had been slaving away in the kitchen, making me chicken soup and grilled cheese. MY. HERO. I ate some food and prepped for the first round of eye drops. After LASIK you have to put 2 different types of drops in your eyes 3 times a day for about 2 weeks. They help to make sure you don’t get an infection and that everything heals well.

There was not a chance that I was going to do this myself and I would highly suggest having someone help you with these. I wanted nothing to do with anything being remotely close to my eyes so Mike took charge and carefully put the drops in for me for the first few days until I finally became comfortable with it. Now I feel like a pro and I’m pretty sure I could accurately and safely get eye drops into my eyes upside down on a roller coaster. Gravity aside.

The following day I went to my first post-op appointment and the office was eerily quiet. They only open their offices on Saturdays for post-op patients so there is actually no one in the building except for the Fellows that do your exam. They ushered us right into the exam room and checked my vision. I had easily read the 20/20 line with the first eye and one of the Fellows said, “Let’s try 20/15!” After checking both of my eyes they determined that I had 20/15 vision in both eyes. I could see everything. And it was AWESOME.

The worst part about life immediately after LASIK was that you can’t wear make-up anywhere near your eyes. No filling in eyebrows, no highlighter. I couldn’t even sweep a light BB cream over my skin because I looked undone without putting it on my skin around my eye area. I know, life is tough. The minimum they tell you to wait is 2 weeks, but the longer  you wait, the less chance you have of infection. And dammit, I was NOT getting an infection.

3 weeks went by quicker than I expected and it was almost time for my one month follow up. When I visited the doctor again I saw one of the Fellows who indicated that overall my eyes were healing very well and that I had a few dry spots. She recommended I continue using lubricating drops very frequently throughout the day. I was surprised by this because I had been feeling so great and was toying around with how many drops I could last on each day.

And then it happened. Dry eye. I should have been more diligent with the drops because dry eye came on like a fire ripping through a water-stricken mountainside. There wasn’t a slow onset or even a rippling current to warn me – it just started. Once again, my eyes were itching, swollen, and red. And they weren’t tolerating make-up. At first I didn’t realize it was dry eye and I thought perhaps I had gone through all of this for nothing – that I was allergic to something that I just couldn’t put my finger on. After much debate and google searching (don’t do this, just call your doctor), I realized that these were all symptoms of what the Fellow had told me I had and that I needed to just buckle down and make sure I was keeping my eyes hydrated.

LASIK Refresh Drops

I bought a humidifier, gel eye drops, wore minimal make-up, and inserted lubricating drops all day long. It took a little while, but just like it came on, suddenly it just stopped. I experimented with increased amounts of eye make-up and found that it wasn’t making me itch anymore. A few weeks later I went to my 3 month follow-up visit and found out that my eyes looked completely fine and I had no sign of dry spots. YES.

So it’s been quite the journey. But I am so thrilled that I went through all of this to get to where I am now because I am finally feeling like myself again. Are my eyes a little dry when I wake up in the morning or after a long day? Sure. Did they feel like that or even worse when wearing contacts? Absolutely. Making the decision to get LASIK was the best thing I could have ever done for myself and I wouldn’t change things. I am obviously still going through this as I will have a few more follow up visits but in the meantime, here’s a few tips for anyone considering the procedure:

  1. Do your research and find a GREAT doctor. These are your eyes and there’s no reason to skimp out here just to save a few bucks. If you can’t afford the doctor you want right now, start saving up and wait a few months. I was very lucky to have had some money saved for a big expense like this so I was able to do it but it is important to live within your means if this is not the case for you.
  2. That said, you are going to need a little extra money each month after for all of the drops you’re going to buy. This sounds a little silly but I seriously have gone through so many boxes that I was shocked at how much I had spent on little vials of sterile, preservative-free liquid.
  3. Start taking vitamin C 1 week before your procedure. They say this is a trick that helps speed up the healing process  after and I’m convinced this is what helped me (the Fellows were shocked at how much I had healed overnight on the day after surgery).
  4. Follow your doctor’s orders. If they tell you to put your eye drops in 3x a day, do it. If they say to wear the goggles for a week, do it. No questions, no push back, just listen.
  5. Don’t get frustrated with the healing process. Just like any other surgery, healing takes time and you need to have some patience and let your body do its thing.
  6. Get a caretaker for the first day to do things like make you food, tell you you’re going to be okay, and give you hugs when you need it.
  7. Enjoy it! You are getting BRAND NEW EYES. And they see everything…and it’s truly incredible.

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