[The next two posts have nothing to do with being an autodidact--unless you consider eye surgery to be a benefit for reading. These two posts were Googled regularly on my previous blog so I'm putting them up again.]
November 8th, 2007
I had LASIK surgery at 2pm EST today (Thursday, Nov 8). Currently, I’m wearing my protective goggles and am on a little Percoset to help with the discomfort, but that’s all it is–discomfort. I can see fine, but my vision is a little foggy (it’s now 5.5 hours since the surgery.) My husband watched on the TV just outside the laser suite and after I awoke from my post -surgery-sleep-through-the-worst nap we compared notes.
What I Saw
I took a Valium thirty minutes prior to my appt (they told me to do that, I wasn’t personally medicating) but I wasn’t feeling anything by the time I got there so they had me take another. [It was at this time I saw the warning on the prescription bottle that said to avoid eating grapefruit while taking Valium. I must look into that. Does it make LSD or something?] A nurse brought me a bag with sunglasses and goggles in and I would have to wear one of them at all times until my follow up appointment tomorrow morning. A paper cap was put over my hair and several drops were put in my eyes to numb them.
The doctor came out (Dr Tunis at Doctor’s Vision Center) and asked if I had any further questions–my only one was when I could take a shower and he said the next morning. He also said that there’d be a point during the procedure where I wouldn’t be able to see anything–it would go black. He’d tell me when that was about to happen and it was normal so not to freak out.
As we were walking up the hall to the laser suite the Valium kicked in. Nice. I chose to leave my glasses with my husband outside the laser suite. It’s chilly in there (65 F/18 C) so they’d told me to dress warmly and also gave me a blanket. That was also to help me not reach up to wipe away tears.
I got on a chair similar to the ones in a dentist’s office, but it was lying perfectly flat. The chair was turned so my head was under the machine. All I could see was a white circle of light with a blinking red dot in the middle not unlike HAL in 2001. Fortunately, the machine didn’t talk to me. Dr Tunis sat above my head and told me everything I was going to see–not what he was actually doing, which, as you’ll see in Karl’s section, was a good thing.
A piece of gauze was placed over my right eye and the doctor told me to keep both eyes open. Then there were drops to be sure I was comfortably numb and then it was time for the Clockwork Orange eyelid restraints. “You’re going to feel a little pinch.” That was an overstatement, as I didn’t feel anything other than my eyelid being urged open.
I was instructed to keep looking at the blinking red dot. Something circular and white came into view but it was so close it was blurry (that was a huge relief, as I thought I’d only be able to see the instruments once they were super close.) The white piece was clicked onto the eyelid restraint and another, smaller circular bit came into view. “You’re going to hear a whirring by your ear, try not to jump.” I heard the whirring and didn’t jump.
Then the circular bits were removed. “The light’s going to go away now,” and it did. It was surreal to know my eye was open but everything was dark. “And the light should be coming back.” The red, blinking light slowly came back into view. “The laser is lining up with your eye…” Then the correction began, which was a rapid, pinging-type sound. An assistant counted down, which I appreciated. My eyes took 60 seconds each.
“The light is going to get clearer now.” And something came into view while the light clarified and wavered a bit, similar to being underwater. The light was moved around a bit more and I could tell Dr Tunis was wiping some sort of sponge/swab type thing over my eye.
The same procedure was repeated on my right eye, which was just as easy and painless. I stood up and could a sign on the wall. It was like looking through Vaseline, but still legible. Considering that prior to the procedure I couldn’t see the hands on a clock without glasses, that seemed like a miracle.
We went into an examination room and I was given more instructions and read a few letters projected on the wall. Dr Tunis gave my husband two lenses to see the world the way I used to. My prescription was -10 so he gave Karl +10 lenses (or vice versa, I can’t recall, I was on Percoset by that time, as well.)
I went home, put on my goggles and went to sleep for the worst part of the recovery process.
What He Saw
In the waiting room next to the operating room they had thoughtfully provided a monitor upon which you could, if so desired, watch the LASIK procedure take place in glorious super-close-up.
I took a seat on the sofa provided and looked up just in time to see drops of some kind being administered to my wife’s incredibly dilated left eye, accompanied by much blinking. Drops were added several times until the blinking stopped, and then I saw some kind of torture device made of wire being wedged into place under her eyelids. The device was then expanded, forcing the eyelids apart so that no more blinking could take place.
Now a white plastic object with a circular hole in its center was placed on the exposed eye. It seemed to clip into the wire torture device somehow and the hole was centered directly over the cornea. Another tool was introduced on the edge of the monitor. It dropped what looked like a very delicate circular piece of clear plastic onto the assembly. Before I’d had much of a chance to wonder what this was all leading up to, another piece of equipment entered the view, guided carefully into the white device currently anchored in place over the eye. Then the whirring sound began.
It sounded like someone was using a circular saw. And then the newest piece of equipment in the scene began to move deliberately across the screen and I realized that someone probably was using a circular saw, albeit a very small, razor-thin one. Aha! So that plastic white thing was some kind of cutting guide! The sound ceased, the miniature power-tool was retracted, and the cutting guide removed. It looked as if nothing had been done to my wife’s eye until a new implement entered the fray and unceremoniously flipped back the newly cut corneal flap, exposing what looked like a circular sheet of frosted glass beneath. My jaw hit the floor and I found myself perched on the edge of my seat in amazement. I began to wonder just what, if anything, my wife was seeing during all of this.
At that point, the nurse who had prepped her for the procedure appeared next to me, saw the look on my face, and said something like, ‘Oh, so you saw him do the first flap, then?’ Yes. Yes I most certainly did. Thanks for the warning.
Next, the view on the monitor switched to an even closer view of the cornea, upon which a circular crosshair was superimposed in shades of purple and red. Time for the laser, then. What followed was the sight of the crosshair jumping around rapidly within a tiny area of the cornea accompanied by the sound of hundreds of steel tacks being dropped into a can, one-by-one, in rapid succession. This went on for about a minute, and I could here one of the assistants in the operating room counting down the seconds. Then the monitor switched back to its original viewpoint, sans crosshairs, and the thin metal implement which had been used to open the flap returned once more to close it. But it hung around this time, inserting itself underneath the flap and moving back and forth for a while beneath the gelatinous tissue for several seconds before being withdrawn.
Now a new, and much friendlier-looking tool arrived on the scene. It resembled one of those applicators that you now get in a Tippex bottle instead of a brush – a thin stick with a wedge of sponge on the end. This was used to smooth the flap back into its rightful place and remove any air bubbles. Finally, the wire device that was holding my wife’s eyelids apart was removed and more drops were applied to the somewhat bloodshot eyeball, followed by much blinking. Then some kind of fabric, which seemed to be woven from rope from my extreme close-up view, obscured the eye from site and the camera panned across her face, ready for round two with her right eye. I took the opportunity during this brief interlude to help myself to a cup of coffee from the dispenser provided on the table behind me and then, suitably refreshed and prepared for what was going to happen, watched the whole procedure take place once more.