Friday, January 21, 2011

the long-awaited LASIK post, of course. (Part 3)

once i realized that i was seeing and walking around without my glasses on, it was pretty exciting. my vision wasn't perfect, and the eye drops clouded things a bit, but i could see! it was then that i realized that my eye discomfort was gone, and that the excessive tearing had stopped. for those of you scared to death now because of my account here, know that things only get better after this. i expected lots of discomfort; i was told it was possible to experience extreme dryness, swelling, scratchy feelings or sandy sensations for a couple of weeks. turns out one night of tearing and melodramatic flopping around is the worst that it gets!

when i went in to the doctor for my post-op visit that morning, the doctor explained that i was seeing 20/25 in my right eye and was slightly farsighted in my left eye, which for some reason he said was a good thing. eventually, he said, everything would even out. the doctor signed my form confirming that i was safe to drive without any glasses or contacts and sent me on my way!

some celebratory pancakes were definitely in order.

and order them we did! the doctor had previously said that patients can usually see well enough to drive themselves to their post-op appointments, but they strongly suggest having a driver, as they expect you might still be "kind of loopy" from the previous day's regimen of sleeping pills and pain meds. i spent most of our trip to Perkins fixated on the fact that not only could the people sitting around us see me, but i could see them. still a little slow from the prior day's drugs, i was probably a pretty boring pancake mate for poor old Hubs. plus, i had made him wake up early to take me to my post-op appointment, which i don't think he was very happy about.

the rest of the weekend was pretty low key. for the first few days, aftercare includes putting one or another type of eye drop in your eyes about once every hour while you're awake, so i spent most of my time doing that. had you stopped by that weekend, you would have found me clutching several obsessive-compulsively folded tissues, with a sticky, slimy face. after surgery, you're not allowed to wipe your eyes for at least 2 weeks, which means if the eye drops run out, you sort of have to leave them there. the grandma nurse in the staging area explained that i was supposed to only blot extra tears at cheekbone level. i, of course, stared at her like she was crazy. "just let the tears come down to you," she insisted.

thus began a long week of trying not to touch my eyes. i'm a perpetual eye digger, always in there fishing out bits of makeup and other debris. the worst part about this was that my eyes felt so normal i kept forgetting that they were still healing and that i couldn't touch them. but the doctor had explained at the meeting the week before the surgery that if you rub your eyes, you could dislodge the flap, since it's not 100% healed back in place yet. the thought of this made me so woozy i wasn't about to take any chances. so blot at cheekbone level i did, for at least a few days. until the cloudy anti-inflammatory drops left so much white crud in the corners of my eyes that my OCD took over and forced me to dig it out. carefully! with the corner of a tissue! don't tell Dr. Hale. and while you're at it, leave out the part about how i wore mascara to my company holiday party a week later.

... oh, did i mention? you're not allowed to wear any eye makeup for TWO WEEKS after surgery. i naturally had scheduled my surgery before i knew it was exactly one week before our company holiday party. i spent the large part of my time in the staging area suppressing the desire to shout WHAT DO YOU MEAN TWO WEEKS. THIS IS SO UNREASONABLE. i knew if i brought it up they would only be suspicious of me, and maybe send spies to make sure i wasn't breaking the post-op rules. so i kept my trap shut. and then dragged my beady-eyed, sticky-faced self to work for a week, with much grumbling and complaining.

"but no makeup for two weeks? that's not such a big deal. seems like a small price to pay for the gift of fuss-free vision for the rest of your life!" you're definitely right about that. but that did not stop my grumbling or complaining. especially once i realized that the tape they gave me to put on my eye shields at night left glue on my face that was impossible to remove. (you might recall a string of twitter and/or facebook posts in which i ranted on and on about the agony of face glue.)

i actually vaguely remembered, in the midst of all my grumbling, that the doctor was telling us at the pre-op meeting about other patients' recollections of the worst part of the surgery. he mentioned the suction cup eyeball holder thingy, and then said that lots of people hated the tape for the eye shields. he and i simultaneously scoffed at what babies those people must be. tape? on your face? what a small price to pay for visual freedom! ... NOW I KNOW. here's a magic tip i didn't manage to scrounge up until more than a week after surgery: olive oil. it's your best friggin' friend. (gotta give credit where credit is due. mucho thanks to homegirl Alison for that face-saving tip!)

they say you only have to wear the shields while sleeping for a week or so, but if you're worried about poking yourself in the eye, that you can continue to wear them. two weeks later, i still wear them at night like the overachieving valedictorian of LASIK surgery. "but didn't you wear makeup only one week after surgery?" okay, first of all: SHHH. second of all, i live with Hubs, The Mightiest Sleep Flopper Of All Time. for his peace of mind and mine, i wear the shields. (also, i found some athletic tape to use that doesn't leave so much extra glue. it's not as sticky, but it gets the job done.)

all in all, that's pretty much the worst of it, folks. i mean, the eye drops give you a bad chemical taste in your mouth, and they cling to your eyelashes and leave a sticky residue. but i was stunned at how petty my complaints about post-op life quickly became. shouldn't i be in pain? writhing in agony because my eyes feel sandy and i cannot rub them? but i most definitely wasn't uncomfortable in the least. at their worst, my eyes only ever felt sort-of like i had contacts in. after only a few days, the drops taper off, and after a week you only need regular tears. i still have moments where my eyes feel a little dry and i drop a couple tears in, but only every few hours. and my vision is getting better by the day. sometimes my eyes feel tired in the afternoon, after work. but by morning they're good as new again. and i can read the alarm clock!

that's the most incredible part—seeing clearly (well, mostly) and yet forgetting constantly that you had just had surgery. like, basically yesterday. while awake! biggest trip of life, folks. i'm tellin' ya, this LASIK nonsense might actually live up to the hype. (hint: IT TOTALLY DOES.) this, coming from the world's biggest scaredy cat. no joke, folks. ♥

read Part 1 here
read Part 2 here.

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