Home > Life Experiments > I can see clearly now! (My experience getting LASIK Eye Surgery)

I can see clearly now! (My experience getting LASIK Eye Surgery)

When I was in the fourth grade, my father took a day off of work and took the whole family to NYC where he liked to get his eyes checked (it took him years to stop this tradition as it was a pain).  What made that trip different from all the other times we had to go up there before was that it was the first time I needed glasses.  Figures, right?  The nerdy little girl needed glasses, probably from reading books all day.  Because I was the little nerd child that stereotypes told me to be, I was slightly excited.  I thought I was being inducted into some group of smart people as every member in my family had glasses so therefore, I would be smart like them.  Except, then the unthinkable happened…

That (a**hole) optometrist had the bright idea of recommending BIFOCALS.  To an EIGHT YEAR OLD.

Are you freaking kidding me?

I was not lucky enough to get progressives, so instead of being called four eyes, I was called six eyes mercilessly for years.  Eventually my parents settled with an optometrist closer to home who quickly called that previous eye doctor an idiot and I got normal glasses from that point.  Eventually, I moved to contact lenses (in fact, I had to if I wanted to carry out any experiment that required a microscope for longer than five minutes), and just dealt with being someone who needed some type of corrected vision.  I remember reading in my six eyed years about a new procedure called LASIK and told myself: “when I grow up, I’m going to get LASIK.”  Even as a child, I knew I wanted to wait until the technology had to be truly tested (this was the early 90s after all), and I waited patiently.  For almost the past five years, my optometrists told me that I was a perfect candidate for LASIK and when I could afford it, I should go for the plunge.

Plunge, I have.

So, the most surreal thing about this whole experience is that I won something.  When I can and afford it, I love to see Megan at the Elude Med Spa.  She’s awesome, their service is phenomenal, they are absolutely dog friendly…basically, if you’re near the location and you haven’t gone there, GO!  Anyway, while I was there, I filled out my info for a 50% off raffle for LASIK eye surgery.  I had been saving up for this procedure and thought, why the hell not?  I scribbled my name down with my info and didn’t think about it ever again until about two weeks ago.

One day, after having an epic fail of experiments, I was sitting at my desk and watched my mobile phone ring.  I looked at the number and didn’t recognize it.  In a bad and convinced it was someone trying to sell me something, I picked it up with every intention of making the person on the other end cry.  As I very tensely and politely answered the phone, I was told that I was the 50% off winner at LASIK Today.  Say, wha?  Are you punking me?  Because I wish sh*t.  I’m the same person who dragged my husband to a spa raffle because I thought he was more likely to win than I was (and big surprised, he won and I was one of four women who didn’t).    She was in fact not punking me, and it was all legit.  Still, to ensure everything, I sent Megan at Elude a quick email and she confirmed that indeed it was legit and that I should revel in the excitement.

A couple days later, I went in for my consult.  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t impressed.  They had overbooked completely, botched all their appointments, and I had to wait almost an hour in the waiting room and another hour after “starting” my appointment.  Everyone I spoke to was very, VERY nice, but hey, you just screwed up my schedule big time for the whole day.  I didn’t think a 30 minute appointment was going to kill more than 2 hrs of my Saturday (and I work on Saturdays so it really does affect me).  I did schedule a LASIK procedure at the end of the day despite being seriously annoyed with their inability to right a tight ship.  I made the decision based on the fact that their facility had some of the newest equipment and the doctor performing the procedure had an excellent track record.  And the price…I was going to get All Laser LASIK for $2200 for both of my eyes at a facility less than three miles from my home.  It seemed almost like a dream that this was happening so quickly, but I just dove in.

In between the time of my consult, I had to pick up absurdly expensive (but necessary) antibiotic eye drops from my pharmacy.  It was actually covered by my plan, though I hadn’t reached my deductible so a bit of a Pyrrhic victory on the saving side.  I got confirmation appointments, and yet again time changes to my appointment.  I was (am) beginning to think that the company, though staffed with wonderful people, was incapable of managing their schedule with their patients.  My appointment was moved from 9 to 8a which did make me have to change a couple things, but I complied.

The morning came and it didn’t start out so great.  There were only two people there at the place before me, and I WATCHED the technician who was supposed to pre-op come into the office after I had already been waiting.  Sorry, but I can’t stand that ever especially if it isn’t followed with excessive apologies.  She did the pre-op work which was painless and took all but ten minutes.  They finally took my payment — no pressure for their in-house financing and some people may have complained, but the lack of sales pressure could be from the way I talk (my husband says I tend to answer people with such “certainty” that they won’t dare question it).  I paid with my CC because I will be filing later with my husband’s FSA as LASIK procedures are considered health savings account eligible expenses.  And then I waited…

And waited….

And waited some more…

My doctor hadn’t arrived yet because she was “running late.”  Yeah, sure.  Why did I have to come an hour earlier if she wasn’t going to show up before 9:20a?

Clearly annoyed, I sat in my special chair for the doctor.  Once she came, I could see why she was praised so well.  She did a great job explaining everything, asking questions, reassuring me, and just showing some great bedside manner.  I was feeling much better about my experience and my annoyance was beginning to subside.  They took me to a second waiting room where they were prepping the operating room.  They put on Alvin and the Chimpmunks as the movie.  I’m not kidding you.  That’s what they put on.  This was on top of the very loud Kenny G music.  I thought I was going to kill people.  Trying to control my inner “redrum,” a tech came by to give me my Zanax where I would soon be taken to laser.

Now, what I’m about the describe is not what happens to normal people.  NORMAL people are affected by Zanax and are calm throughout the entire procedure.  I am not normal.  If Zanax had worked, I would be writing something entirely different.  But the Zanax didn’t and this is what happened:

I was taken into the operating room where there were two laser set ups.  One set up was for the laser where the cut the flap (the femtosecond laser) and the other laser was where they shoot beams into your cornea (the excimer laser) to change its topography so you can see.  It was freaking cold in there so they got me a blanket.  They put some numbing drops in my eyes where everything sort of went downhill from there.  The Xanax didn’t work and as they tried to place the ring over my eye to keep it in place.  Well, I wasn’t calm, I felt every damn part of it and I freaked.  So they started pouring my eyes with numbing drops and would place a speculum until I finally said I didn’t feel it/it didn’t hurt.  When that happened, they placed the ring on my eye which actually hurt because there was a fair bit of pressure put on your face.  The had to adjust the height of the bed a lot which was very jerky, and it didn’t come with fair warning so MORE freaking.  Again, this probably doesn’t bug anyway doped up on Zanax, but at this point I was now hyperaware of everything instead of being very calm.  They did the right eye first, and the left eye was a lot easier.  (Unfortunately, from this part of the procedure, some of my vessels broke so I look like I have super bloody eyes right now.  It doesn’t hurt and the doctor assured me it would go away in about 2-3 weeks.)

After they were done making the flap, I actually had to talk to the second bed/laser.  It was about three feet away from the current bed, and they helped me walk to it.  However, I was really scared about everything at the moment.  At this point, they put you under the next laser and you have to focus on some lights.  There is one array of red lights with a green light in the middle but then there was like a red light thumbprint that kept on moving in my vision.  It feels warm, and the weirdest part is how you can smell burning hair.  I knew it was coming and it still freaked me out.  At this point, fully freaked out, I had held my hands together, the doctor held my face stll, and the rest of my body was totally shaking.  They moved to the left eye next which was a lot shorter, it seemed (perhaps because the vision wasn’t that bad in that eye).  Then, the doctor closed the flap, and I was done.  We walked to the examination room to just check how I was doing, and three minutes after the surgery I was 20/60.  For reference, I was 20/300 before the surgery.

They called my husband who picked me up, and I tried to go to bed.  Since the Zanax wasn’t working, it was hurting pretty badly.  My husband had a couple pills of Ambien left which I downed and fell asleep for five hours.  I woke up and watched a little TV to find that my vision had already improved dramatically.  The right eye was amazing, but my left eye was very blurry.  They had put a contact lens bandage on it because I had a small scratch on the cornea which seemed to be the cause of the blurriness.  The next day for my post-op appointment went smoothly (and on time!); the doctor removed the contact lens and my vision was judged to be 20/20.

For all the pain the previous day, it seems worth it.

I still have to take lots of drops and take it easy to ensure the healing process, but I’m pretty happy with the vision and the scary part is done.  I know I gave a scary representation of what can happen during LASIK (and it was scary), but I came out of it OK with fantastic vision.  I was happy that my doctor ended up being as good as she is and just thrilled with the price.  LASIK Today is running a $1000 off special through Yelp so anyone can walk out with perfect vision for a little over $3K.  Not bad, not bad at all.

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