Friday, January 25, 2013

My New Eyeballs

     The dark deed is done! The LASIK is now behind me. Let's talk about how it went. Two warnings though: one, this is probably going to be a very long post, and two, if you're easily squicked out by eyeball things, this maybe isn't for you. I'll try not to get too graphic or anything, but I know some people just can't stand hearing about eye stuff.

     The actual procedure took less than ten minutes and is basically just a bunch of staring at various lights. First I got numbing drops in each eye, which makes your eyes feel like they're slightly more solid than they ought to be. Like they're normally a gelatin texture, and the drops make them feel like bouncy balls. Weird. Then, after the doctor gave me a few standard-issue disclaimers, I was led into the laaaaaser room, which is very cold and drafty and oddly lit, giving the impression that I was walking into the lab of a spaceship. Probably because when they reverse engineered LASIK technology from a crashed spaceship they weren't sure how important the decor was so they decided not to risk it by changing anything (come on, like you'd even be surprised to learn that's what happened. It's easier to believe than the story that an actual human woke up one day and said "I bet if I shaved part of my corneas off with a laser I could see better. Let's try it out!"). 

     Then I settled in for step one of the process, where they cut the flap that goes over the part that gets its shape changed. This is supposed to be the uncomfortable part, because it involves putting suction on your eye. Apparently this really bothers some people. They put eyelid holders in (which I obviously didn't feel, but I get grossed out if I think about what that must have looked like) and told me to stare at a light until my vision went black in the eye they were working on, and then the suction part happened. It felt like when you press the heels of your hands into your eyes, so I told my brain that's what we were doing. "Nothing to see here, brain, just pushin' on the ol' eyeballs. Makin' sure they're the appropriate squishitude."

     When step one was done, I had to relocate to another reclining chair for step two, which was difficult because after step one, my vision was even worse than when I started (which is normal, they assured me). Then I had to stare at another light while the doctor opened the flap, which, for me, was the worst part. I didn't feel a thing, but seeing everything get blurry and weird and knowing what was going on was just squicky. It wasn't like step one, where I could tell my brain something else was going on, so without an alternate explanation, my brain just screamed "MY FLAAAAPS! EYEBALLS MELTING! TURNING TO JELLY! WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!" But it didn't last long, and I was able to get through it by focusing on my breathing and promising myself that if I sat still until this was over, I could have a nice long freakout later. Then there was a buzzing sound and a god-awful smell, like the odor of burning hair if it had personified into a noxious cloud capable of farting in a person's face (are you imagining that smell now? I hope you are, I need my misery to be shared). Fortunately this part was only 10 seconds long, and the nurse counted it down, so I held my breath after getting the initial first whiff and deciding it was not something I could feasibly breathe without gagging. Also, smells are particulate based, and the idea of getting eyeball particles in my lungs is just freaking messed up.  Then the doctor put my eye-flaps back in place, put some drops in my eyes, and it was all done!

    Then, on doctor's orders, I went home and immediately tried to go to sleep. It's supposed to jump-start the healing process and help you avoid being miserable while your eyeballs figure out what just happened and throw a tantrum. It was hard to fall asleep at first because the numbing drops wear off after about fifteen minutes, and it took at least twenty to get home. So my eyes felt kind of like I was staring at a bright light and they wanted to water and close, only they were already closed and watering. A LOT. The protective eye mask they gave me kept filling up with tears.

Go ahead and admit it: you're jealous of the new hotness that is these goggles.

But I managed to get to sleep before too long, and when I woke up a few hours later, I could see!

     Now I just have to put a boatload of drops in them every day for a week to help them heal, then keep using wetting drops for a month, since screwing around with concentrated light-waves in your eyes apparently makes them a bit dry. Go figure. At my follow-up appointment on Thursday, I learned that my vision is already 20/20, but it's still a bit hazy because my corneas are swollen. That seems justified, given what they've been through, so I ain't mad. I only notice the haziness in my right eye, and it's no worse than having a cloudy spot on a contact lens. Once the swelling goes down and my eyes do some more healing, my vision should be perfect. I also have to be very careful to not touch my eyes at all. I have the protective eye mask to wear while I sleep, lest I accidentally rub them in the middle of the night, but the thought of rubbing my eyes and displacing the corneal flaps is so incredibly disturbing to me that I'm anxious about it literally 100% of the time. I've been sitting on my hands a lot, in case I fall asleep or stop paying attention to what I'm doing or develop alien hand syndrome and rub my eyes against my own consent. I'll probably never rub my eyes again as long as I live, so powerful is the imagery of displacing one's corneal flaps.

     The unfortunate part is that -- and please, if you are one of the people who is sensitive about eye stuff, please skip this paragraph -- the suction part of step one of the procedure bruised my eyes, and my right eye in particular looks like it's bleeding. It is EASILY the grossest thing I have ever seen. Ick, ick, ick. It's a common thing, and it should go away within a week or two, but that doesn't make it any less disgusting. It looks like I have the rage virus and am halfway through turning into a zombie, which has it's advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is that I am twice as scared as normal that I'll get pulled over while driving, because I think if a cop thought I was driving poorly to begin with, then saw my terrifying bloody eye, he'd shoot me on sight, convinced that the zombie apocalypse had begun. The advantage is that nobody even thought about reaching rudely in front of me in the grocery store. Not once I swiveled my freak eye around at them with a dangerous look on my face. Am I the scariest vampire in all the land, out to pick up some vampire-nummies? Did a gypsy spell gone wrong give me the power to see into your soul, but disfigure me terribly in the process? You'll never know, so don't even think of reaching in front of me like you're afraid I'm gonna buy ALL the Nutella and you just have to grab one first.

     Overall, it wasn't as bad as I had thought it would be, and it was definitely worth it. It was amazing to wake up and not have to immediately reach for my glasses this morning. The experience was a lot like taking Polyjuice Potion with the hair of someone with perfect eyesight in it. Both in terms of how quickly I could see, and because parts of it smelled bad and were really unappealing.

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