Laser Eyes, Days One and Two

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Laser Eyes!

For the record (and because I'm terrible at remembering this sort of thing) my prescription was right eye -4.5, left eye -3.5. I went to the Northwestern Laser Vision Center and my doctor is Dr. Basti. I've been telling people that I went to Northwestern because of their "world class reputation," but a big part of going there was that it's a few blocks away from my work (I'm laaaazy). I chose to do IntraLase (meaning that they cut the flap in the cornea with a laser instead of a tiny blade) and Custom LASIK (which means, as far as I can tell, that you pay them to do a more complete job. Seriously.). Your mileage, as always, may vary.

Yesterday morning, Erica and I got up and had breakfast and took the train down to Northwestern. (When they were telling me how I should prepare for the surgery they said, "Eat what you normally eat for breakfast, because we want you to have something in your stomach for the valium." "I normally have a cup of coffee for breakfast," I said, "so I'll make sure to eat something.") There was some paperwork to fill out including, oops, the consent forms listing all the possible hideous side effects. They had given me copies of those months ago during the initial consult and, really, you don't want to be reading those for the first time minutes before your procedure. I also had to pony up several thousands of dollars. I've put the money away in my Medical Flexible Spending Account at work (pre-tax! taken out of my pay check in manageable chunks!) but I have to pay upfront and then get reimbursed from my FSA, so I had signed up for financing (12 months interest free!).

So once I'd signed my life away, they gave me a valium and then, after we'd waited in the lobby for just a little while longer, they brought us into an exam room and then things started happening pretty quickly. I had just sat down in the exam chair when they popped me back out and took me into the procedure room. They laid me down on a special chair and gave me a teddy bear to hold onto (and that teddy bear got squoze, I tell you). Numbing drops in the eyes, and then Dr. Basti put a disk right onto each eye in turn and cut the flap with the IntraLase. (It's the pressure from that disk that caused the pretty noticeable clot in my right eye, not any of the lasers.) Interestingly at this step, I'm not sure if it was from the pressure or the laser, but everything was black and I could see little tiny dots of color, almost like static. It was, in the midst of all this somewhat frightening procedure, pretty cool.

Then, for each eye again, Dr. Basti put an ocular speculum (as Kenner pointed out tonight, wouldn't it be fun to hear Sean Connery say that? Ocularrr Speculuuum.) in the eye (think, though much nicer than this, A Clockwork Orange) carefully pulled back the flap and then let the laser pop-pop-pop away part of my eye to (customly) shape it. Then he gently laid the flap back down and went on to the other eye. And then I was out of there. In all, I was in the procedure room less than 20 minutes.

We took a cab home and I went right to bed. ("I just got up, I don't know if I'm going to be able to... zzzzzz.") I got up an hour later to have a quick panic attack and then slept for most of the day. Erica gave me a little blue dog to hold onto that she had used when she had her major life-changing elective surgery, and she stayed home from work all day to bring me glasses of water whenever I woke up and answer people's email all day about how I was doing. My sweet Florence Nightingale. Last night she watched A Prairie Home Companion and I lay on the couch facing the wrong way and listened to it -- it was much like listening to the radio show. ("I don't know if I'll be able to get to sleep tonight, I mean I was asleep all day and... zzzzzz.")

Today I slept late and then went in for my 24-hour checkup. "Looks fine," was the official prognosis. My right eye is seeing much clearer than my left, which makes everything a bit blurry and disorienting, but I went to work afterwards and I was able to get some stuff done. And I can see well enough to type all this. And lights at night have nice big halos around them. Hmm... I'm sure there's more, but it's time to rest my eyes. Gotta let them heal.

1. No, it never hurt. It was freaky, but there was never pain.
2. That white stuff in the corners of my eye is from the steroid eyedrop I'm using and I can't wipe it away because I can't touch my eyes for a week.