Friday, September 11, 2009

Only 20 years later...

Aproximately 20 years ago I started wearing glasses. Initially it was just for reading the blackboard, but my vision degraded over a year or so until I needed to wear them permanently. I always hated it, but I hated contacts more (couldn't stand poking my finger in my eye - odd, I know). As of Thursday 10/9/2009, it is no longer an issue!

Here is a pic of me on Tuesday (Beth had declared it Pirate Day):

and now this morning:

hmmm, not the most flattering photo, but I direct your attention to the fact that I am NOT gazing vaguely into the distance... It may not seem like much, but it is significant to me!

I have been eagerly waiting for my prescription to stabilise so that I could look into getting lasered. I had my eyes checked last week, and it had now been 3.5 years since my prescription changed (and then not by much). I had not intended to have the lasering done quite so soon, but I lined up a couple of consultations and went to the first Thursday morning. 2 uncomfortable hours later, I was advised I was a suitable candidate for bladeless LASIK. They asked "How soon would you like to have the surgery?", I responded "As soon as possible", they said "How is 2.30pm?"

A few harried phone calls later to check in with my boss and arrange a lift home with my sister and I confirmed the operation. Whipped home, had a bite to eat, looked at my family just in case it was the last time (!) and caught the train back to Parramatta.

I would describe the procedure as "uncomfortable" - as mentioned I hate putting in contacts, and this was significantly worse :) They start by giving you some valium and pre-emptive panadol, give you a few minutes to have the drugs kick in, then take you in to the theatre. I lay down on the rotating bed, and the nurse handed me a couple of stress balls - these came in handy! First my right eye. My eyelids were taped open, and the speculum was inserted to keep my eyelids apart. I had asked earlier what happens if I blink, the response was "well, you can try!" This first part was probably the most uncomfortable. They cut a flap on the surface of the eye in order to expose the cornea. In my case this cut was performed with a laser as well. They attach the cutting head to your eyeball via suction, and the flap takes 30 seconds to cut. The nurse was sounding off every 5 seconds, and it seemed like an enternity. I was supposed to keep both eyes open, and keep looking straight ahead. I found this very difficult and kept closing my other eye, and it would wander a bit - I suspect this was the cause of my discomfort. During this phase, I could not see anything out of the eye being worked on as the device was sitting right on top of my eyeball.

Anyhow, the flap was cut and the device detached from my eye. Next bit was kind of nice in comparisson. A small tool that I have been describing as somewhat like a shepherds crook for a Lego man was used to lift the flap on my eye. This was accompanied by beautiful, cool, flowing water (? - presumably saline or somesuch). Quite weird though - blurry vision... stick thing moving about... flap rolls back... clear-ish yet obviously not quite right vision as my cornea is exposed. The LASIK part of the procedure then commenced. After working for a few years around fibre optics, this just seemed crazy! The laser was very pretty though :) This phase of the procedure was super quick - something like 5 seconds all up, with 3 bursts of the laser. They say it is a "cold laser" and does not cook you, but I swear I could smell something...

Lasering complete, the Lego shepherds crook + cool, cool water is used to replace the flap. The stick comes over your eye again an carefully places the flap back down. Kinda like if you were really anal and applying your rego sticker to your car windscreen... After the shepherds crook, a little thing that looks like a squeegy is used to smooth over the surface of the flap, presumably to remove any bubbles, again, just like your rego sticker. This bit was all kind of nice - no pressure on the eye, no one saying "look at the red light", nice and cool water flowing.

End of procedure for that eye, remove the speculum, remove the tape, tentitavely blink a few times... is that it? They moved on to the left eye, and I think I was slightly more anxious by now. I had been squeezing away at the stress balls like a man possessed. Even trying to come up with funky squeeze patterns to keep myself distracted, but I think I really could have done with a bit more valium ;) Anyway, they kinda had to jam the cutting tool onto my face, squishing my nose. Not really a problem because once it has hold of your eyeball, you ain't going anywhere!

One thing that certainly doesn't make the procedure any more comfortable is the blinding theatre lights that are shining straight in to your eyes. How inconsiderate! I guess the surgen needs some good lighting to see properly, but I thought it was all computer guided these days - maybe some nice candle lighting (and soft music) would be more appropriate!

Anyway, they finished the left eye and I was guided to the chair to have the doctor examine the results. Another bright light shined in your eye - this time through a magnifying glass so the Doc can have a good look. My eyes were feeling quite abused by this stage, so I spent as much time as possible with them shut. The nurse put some protective perspex shells over my eyes, and then some VERY attractive sun shields:

(note this photo was taken just now. I was not in any fit state to consider documenting what had happened at the time, plus if you had tried to use a flash anywhere near my I would have flailed ineffectually, and then sobbed in the corner)

The whole thing from popping the pills to being sat back down in the waiting room took maybe 40 minutes. I rang Tara to check where she was. As luck would have it, she was armed with a disabled sticker due to Millies broken leg, and was able to park immediately out the front. She came up and escorted me down stairs. My eyes were watering like crazy, and I still just wanted to keep my eyes shut. The trip home passed in a blur. We sent the kids out the back to run around, Tara poured me a glass of wine (that's ok with Valium, right?). Very nice wine I might add - I instructed her on where the boxes of wine were kept, and expected her to come back with a Cab Sav. She happened to find my stash of good stuff, and we had an extremely nice limited release Tulloch Hector - an event certainly worth the celebration! Mind you, I only discovered this the next morning when I was able to read the label.

I was feeling kinda drowsy, and was very sensitive to light, so I had a lay down while dinner was sourced from the local fish and chip shop. I thought I had only been in the bedroom for a minute, but it must have been about half an hour and Loz said she had to shake me awake. Ate some food and another glass of very nice wine, and I was cactus. I gave my apologies, and toddled off to bed. I took some pain killers and a sleeping tablet (not affected by alcohol, I am sure!) and passed out. I woke a few times through the night, but was not feeling terribly uncomfortable and was able to drift off again.

As this was all arranged last minute, I had not actually organised time off work. I had to go back out to Parramatta for an 8am checkup, and it was just going to be too difficult to public-transport out there... so I drove. The eyes were still feeling a bit "grainy", and I was still sensitive to light, but it wasn't too bad. I barely had enough time to make use of the coffee facilities in the time it took to have my checkup, and I even made it to work just after 9am!

A slightly eye-weary day at work, but felt no worse than times I have worn contacts (noting my ham-fisted method of insertion). The "eye lubricant" drops are the bomb, and I can't recommend them enough!

So that's about it for the eye story. They feel better day by day. Still a slight blurryness, still a bit sensitive to light, and still a bit of "starbursting", but becoming less and less, and it has only been 2 days after all!

To mix it up a little, here a few pics of the munchkin:

(at Muchos de Mexican with the family. Tara went to town on Beth's hair)

(Beth thought the hair was worthy of a cheesy grin - check out those chompers! Only the eye teeth to go)
(Beth is quite enamoured of Little Puss, and Little Puss no longer seems quite so distressed by Beth!)


Vron said...

DUDE that's wacky. It is going to take so long to get used to the sight of you driving without your glasses. I can't believe you drove the next day!

(They have free internet at the international terminal - yay!)

Fickle Cattle said...

Lasering scares me a little bit. Good thing I actually like wearing glasses.

I am Fickle Cattle.

inertia said...

timely comment :)

I had my 1 year checkup today. All is perfect, and I have better than 20/20 vision.apparently I could now not only qualify to be a pilot, but also an astronaut.

I had a minor amount of "dry eye" in the first couple of months - more what I would describe as an awareness of my eyes when I was dehydrated, but has all cleared now.