Saturday, 22 April 2017

Bucket List Challenge #74 Get Lasik Eye Surgery



As far as I can remember I've worn glasses. In grade seven, when I could no longer see the chalkboard in class anymore, my mother took me in to the optometrist to get my eyes tested. I needed glasses. I wore bulky, bottle cap like glasses to see distance, and from then on I've either worn glasses or contacts to be able to see, drive, or pretty much leave the house. The first thing I normally do when I get up in the morning, is roll over to my bedside table and grab my glasses to see. Summertime, was often a pain because I like to wear sunglasses, and do fun activities, but often wearing glasses would get in the way. If I opted to wear my contacts, I would have to be extra careful as to not put heavy makeup on, could only wear them for the up to eight or nine hours at a time, and have to carry around eye drops around with me in my purse in case my eyes got too dry including the odd time I left my contacts in overnight.

Being at work proved difficult as I could not wear contacts staring at a computer screen all day long. I found my eyes would get irritated, red, and dry and sometimes my contacts would even try and pop out of my eyes from them being open for so long staring at the screen. For the last five or so years, I have had to wear glasses every single day at work often leaving me self conscious and awkward, until today.

Today, I did what I have been wanting to do for a very long time. I received Lasik eye surgery. For the longest time I was not sure if I was even a candidate for it. I also have two small children ages seven and four and because your eyes change when you are pregnant, I  had to wait until one year after I had my last child to have laser surgery. My husband and I decided we didn't want any more children and so I went for my first consultation a month ago to see if I was a candidate. They did several tests on my eyes including putting numbing drops in my eyes and measuring my corneas with a metal tool (I didn't feel it). After concluding that I was a great candidate for Lasik we went over the cost of the procedure to see if it would be affordable.

The cost for the more advance Lasik was over $4000 (In Canada) but I found out my work would cover about half of it. The rest I could pay on a monthly payment plan over the course of five years would made it very affordable (approx. $83 per month). That was less than a car payment so I decided to bite the bullet and book my appointment for the surgery. I booked my appointment in one months time from the day of my consultation. It all happened so fast, and I didn't realize that when I went for my consultation I would be leaving by booking an appointment. I thought that perhaps I would think about it for awhile with the options I was presented with at my consultation and book the surgery date after I had some time to think. I didn't want to rush into anything.

As much as I wanted this surgery, I was very nervous about the procedure. I do not like being poked and prodded at the best of times especially when it comes to my eyes. I asked as many questions as possible and asked around to any friends that had previously had it done before. I wanted to know exactly what I was getting myself into. My mom had had the procedure done about 13 years prior and never had any complications. Of course since she had had it 13 years ago, the procedure has been modified and improved with new technology.

Everyone I talked to raved about how having the procedure done, changed their lives. How the procedure was quick, painless, resulting in great results being able to see with 20/20 vision. I was convinced I wanted the procedure but still nervous about the possibility of becoming blind (in rare cases).
Surgery day, pre-op before I went in. Wearing glasses for the last time along with several old pairs I've worn throughout my lifetime. I would be donating all of my glasses after the procedure to poor countries that can't afford glasses.
 
Surgery day came and I arrived at the clinic still very apprehensive. I received a ride to and from the clinic as you cannot drive after the procedure. The first thing they do is check your eyes again to make sure there have been no changes since your consultation appointment. They also take payment in advance as well as give you an Atavan to calm your nerves (an anti-anxiety pill). I opted for the pill as I was still nervous and later found out I was the first patient of the day which made me even more nervous. I was happy to get it over and done with, but nervous that no one would truly be able to tell me what to expect (I like to know what is happening/how it's going to feel/what to expect/etc.).

At least the man that was prepping me for my procedure had had it done five years prior and tried to explain exactly what to expect. By that time, the Atavan had kicked in making me feel like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was also given numbing drops in both eyes to numb the pain.  I was then given a blue cotton head piece to wear and was lead into the operating room. There were two large machines set up, one for cutting into your cornea, and the other one was the laser to actually do the procedure. I was told to lay down at the first machine and placed my head into the head rest. The nurses placed tape over one eye and taped my other eye open. The lights were extremely bright and I had a hard time focussing on the blinking red light in the middle that I was supposed to focus on. I made mention of this and they dimmed the light a little so it was easier. As I lay there focused on the blinking red light, the doctor cut into the cornea of my one eye and created a flap that lifted up, and immediately did the second eye. All I felt was pressure, no pain, but I knew I wanted to get out of there as fast as I could. After both eyes were completed, I was helped up to my feet and guided over to the other machine. I could barely see anything. It was dark and blurry, and I could feel my flapping corneas rub against my eye lids as I walked. It was the weirdest feeling.

The nurses lay me down at the next machine to do the second procedure. They taped the first eye shut and clamped the other open with a speculum. They then suctioned something on my eye ball that left my eye bruised and red after the fact. I had to stare up at a blinking green light this time trying not to move at all with the doctor quietly saying "don't move, don't blink, don't move, don't blink" in the background. The fear of going blind was real so I didn't dare move an inch. I saw the laser beam coming at my open eye and as the beam hit I began to smell the distinct smell of burning flesh (Not something I can really explain because I have never really smelled burning flesh but I think this is what it would smell like). I was told it would take about 10 seconds so I quietly counted to ten Mississippi's wishing it would go faster. After the laser did it's job the doctor came at me with a metal tool with a hook at the end of it and began readjusting my cornea back overtop of the section that had been lasered. My eye was still frozen, so technically it didn't hurt but it was the weirdest feeling seeing someone come at you with a hook shape tool and adjusting your eyeball. The exact same thing happened for the second eye but this time I knew what to expect, which made it worse I think. I just wanted it to be done.

With that it was over, the whole procedure lasting about ten or so minutes. They checked my eyes quickly and then I had to sit and wait in the recovery room for about an hour with my eyes closed. They discharged me after about four hours in total (a lot of waiting at the beginning), and my ride then came to pick me up. I rested at home for the rest of the day wearing wrap around sun glasses they gave me to wear, as my eyes were very sensitive to light. I had to put four kinds of eye drops in my eyes every hour after I got home until I went to sleep and had to wear the sunglasses to bed sleeping on my back.  The drops were for lubrication, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and for pain, if I needed it.

When I first got home I had a nap and couldn't really open my eyes for my first set of eye drops. I managed to get them in and it became much easier moving forward throughout the day as a napped off and on. The following morning, I woke up and could see fairly clear. It was still a bit fuzzy but I could read my alarm clock, and street signs without squinting. I had to go for my 24 hour post op checkup and got the all clear. They checked my eyes and told me I now had 20/20 vision. I couldn't remember the last time I had 20/20 vision.

I am beyond ecstatic, and very happy to not have to wear glasses again hopefully for the rest of my life. If I was to recommend this procedure I would say absolutely. It was quick and painless, and for ten or so minutes it was awful and uncomfortable but worth every penny and worth being uncomfortable for such a short time. It's day two and my eyes are still a bit sensitive to light, but I can now take off the sunglasses and can even have a bit of screen time (writing this article). I still have to wear the sun glasses at night time for the next four or five days while laying on my back, and keep up with the eye drop regime but I can return to work as of Monday (Today is Saturday). The recovery time is very quick.

Me post-op wearing my cool wrap around sun glasses they gave me to wear home

My poor beat up eyes mostly from the suction thing they placed on my eyeball. There is bruising and could take up to a couple weeks to completely disappear. My pupils are still very dilated
 

So, I crossed off another one on my bucket list and feel amazing doing it. It's something I've wanted to do for a very long time and finally had the drive and guts to do it. If you are thinking about having Laser eye surgery all I can say is DO IT! You won't regret it.


Thanks for listening!

Brie