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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Enjoy it! You are getting BRAND NEW EYES. And they see everything…and it’s truly incredible.