Welcome to Part 2 of my LASIK journey! If you haven’t read Part 1, please go check it out to start from the beginning!
LASIK. As in, laser beams shooting into your face strategically re-shaping your eye so that you can magically see again. Not. Terrifying. At all.
I have needed glasses ever since the 6th grade. I’ll never forget getting my first pair and dreading the inevitable ‘four-eyes’ name-calling. Kids are cruel.
For a while I slid by, wearing them for class so that I could take notes and then immediately taking them off whenever possible. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing them for my school photo and I never wore them for soccer practice. Eventually it came to the point where I was at-risk for disaster if they weren’t on my face and I succumbed to a life behind frames. I begged my doctor for a contact lens prescription but he insisted that I was too young to be responsible with them so I waited and waited until he finally felt I was ready.
Was I ready for this surgery?
When you’re an adult no one tells you when it’s time to do something – you have to decide it for yourself. After all of the despair I went through for nearly a year, I just knew I couldn’t wait any longer.
My appointment was set and before I knew it I was sitting in pre-op the day before surgery, filled with excitement and anxiety. I asked every question I could think of. Can I blow dry my hair after? Yes. But the heat from the dryer won’t pass across my eyes and cause permanent damage? No. Is it okay if an eyelash falls into my eye? Yes. Do you really like the doctor who’s going to do the surgery? He’s the best.
He was the best.
I met my surgeon after I had interrogated the counselor and I was completely smitten. Many people who have had surgery usually get the same impression from their doctors – as though whatever horrendous feat they are about to put their body through is going to be like a walk in the park on the sunniest day, ice cream cone in hand and a flood of puppies will come to meet you at the end. They’re so confident and relaxed about your surgery that you start to believe that it’s really no big deal. Whether it was just an act or truly authentic, he really put me at ease.
The day of the surgery was like any other day – except this was my day. I worked in the morning, trying to take my mind off of the fact that my eyes were about to be spliced open with red lights and that I apparently wouldn’t feel anything at all. That afternoon, Mike and I headed over to UCLA for the out-patient procedure. I popped the Valium they give you to calm your nerves before and we sat anxiously in the exam room for the nurse to come get me.
Side note – when I get anxious I have a LOT of adrenaline. So much, in fact, that things like Valium don’t tend to hit me after the first 20 minutes like they’re supposed to. That said, I’m pretty sure I was white as a ghost when they knocked on my door and said, “we’re ready for you”.
ALREADY?! Yeah, this was happening. 2:20 pm.
I said bye to Mike and followed the nurse into the operating room. There was a wall of doctors, all there to watch my glorious moment so that they could learn how to perform this procedure themselves. I was a star! Or so the Valium said once I finally started to feel it mid-way through…
The procedure takes place in 2 different locations in the room. Please excuse the squeamish details. The first table is where they make the flap. Yes. A flap. Like – a thin little piece of your eye that they flip up so they can shoot the laser beams inside. I’m getting nauseous just thinking about this again. In all honesty, actually going through this wasn’t as weird as it sounds…
So I laid down on the table and they asked me if I wanted to hold a football or a teddy bear. I think it was a teddy bear at least. Either way – I went with the football because the purpose of this object is to try to keep you still and I felt like I would move more with a softer object. Obviously that can’t be the case or it wouldn’t be an option to people but your brain tells you all sorts of rational things when you’re laying on an operating table.
Now, let me be totally clear about this: the eye-opener is the worst part.
Not the lasers, not the transportation from one table to another without being able to see. Nope, the eye-opener.
This is a little device they use to hold your eyelids open so that you do not blink. Prior to using this device they numb your eyes with a few rounds of eye drops. Totally painless. You know what isn’t numbed when you’re doing this procedure? Your eyelids. It’s not that it’s painful – it’s more so just extremely uncomfortable when they put this thing in your eye. I imagined it looking like a big eyelash curler that opens outward instead of clamping down which I’m sure is completely inaccurate. Once the eye opener is in they have you look at this light while the laser makes the flap. This is also completely painless but you do feel a little pressure – basically like the machine is making out with your eye, PG style. The important part they tell you here is not to squeeze your eye at all which they said I did a good job of but who knows. I’m sure they tell everyone that.
They did the second eye and since I knew it wouldn’t hurt I felt a little more relaxed for this. Or was that the Valium? Once the flaps are made they pull the eyelid opener out – ugh – and you have to move to the second table. I was so freaked out about this because I thought my eye-flaps must be hanging out of my eyes and flapping in the wind by now so how can I possibly walk two feet away to another area. Not the case but super rational at the time. The only weird thing about this is that since there is a flap, your vision is strangely cloudy. But they have people holding you on either side so there’s no need to worry about accidentally bumping into a wall. Plus I had an audience and this was my catwalk, errrr. Valium?
Safely laying on the second table, football back in hand, I was ready for the final act. Another insertion of the eye-opener and lots more numbing drops. My surgeon lightly lifted the flap back so that they could aim those beaming red lights at my eyes and re-shape my corneas. All you have to do is stare at the lights. This is kind of fun. What? Definitely the Valium.
After the second eye was complete, both flaps were back in place and I was finished. One of the doctors gently sat me up on the table and asked me to look at the clock and tell them what time it was….how am I supposed to OMG I CAN SEE. It’s 3:40!!!
If you’re paying attention then no, this procedure does not take over an hour. It takes 20 minutes start to finish and it was definitely 2:40. I was so focused on the fact that I could see that one of the hands was close to the 3 that I just blurted it out in all my excitement. Ugh, sorry, it’s 2:40. It’s 2:40 pm. Everyone laughed a little uncomfortably and I felt like a complete idiot. I swear I know how to tell time. I didn’t grow up on digital clocks.
Someone walked me back to the room Mike was waiting in and sat me down in the exam chair. “How did it go? Can you see?” Oh, I could see. Immediately after the procedure you kind of see like when you’re underwater. Things are visible, but a little watery looking. But I was amazed at how well I could see so quickly. At this point I have no idea what they did in the exam room after. I think maybe they had me read the vision board but I was fully relaaaaaxed by now and I couldn’t tell you what exactly went down.
But the important part was that I did it and it was over. I could go home now.
Have you ever had LASIK? Comment below about how your procedure went! I would love to hear stories 🙂