On Thursday, two hours before my LASIK surgery was about to begin I was started to feel a little more nervous than I had all day. I had tried to remain as normal as possible so that I wouldn't work myself into a tizzy over the thought of the surgery to come. I went to class in the morning and came into work for a typical afternoon, not breaking my normal daily routine. However, let me tell you that may have been the longest afternoon ever! I was trying to keep as busy as I possibly could, but it felt like the clock just moved in slow motion. Clearly, I was getting nervous, which I came to be told is totally normal...if I wasn't nervous, then I wasn't normal! So, to calm my nerves I asked Dr. Shovlin to re-check my refraction just to be sure I wasn't accommodating during my initial evaluation. Come to find out your refraction is checked again after your are dilated, prior to your surgery; but to ease my mind Dr. Shovlin confirmed that my initial measurements were right on the money! That reassurance that my measurements were at the very best they could be really helped to calm my nerves. Also, because of the accuracy of my measurements it really shows that the evaluation done by Dr. Jordan prior to surgery is very thorough and close attention is paid to every detail in calculating the most precise and accurate measurements for the surgeries.
About one hour before the surgery the nurses began to prep me for the procedure. My LASIK procedure was done at Northeastern Eye Institute's Ambulatory Surgery Center, which is an outpatient center for procedures. Donna, a refractive surgery coordinator, went over my post surgery instructions while my vitals were being checked and numbing eye drops were administered. I also opted to be given a small dose of Valium prior to the surgery to help me relax, which it did. Ideally, I would have liked to have been asleep for the entire surgery but, you must be awake the entire time since your participation is very important when staring at the laser during surgery. When the Valium kicked in it was easy sailing from there on. I wasn't nervous (or focused) on the surgery taking place in a little under a half hour. Now I realize why it is so important to have someone drive you home from the surgery, due to taking the pre-procedure Valium, combined with the post-procedure blurriness.
As I was sitting in the pre-op room with my parents and friend, Theresa (for what seemed like eternity!), Dr. Jordan came in to explain to myself and my family what was going to take place throughout the procedure. "We'll bring you into the operating room and get your situated comfortably, then the procedure will begin. I'll do one eye at a time and your other eye will be covered. First, I'll cut the flap, laser it, then flip the flap back over onto your cornea, and then move onto the other eye. While this is going on your vision is going to go completely blurry, which it completely normal and it will come back. All you have to do is look at the red light (or red blur) and continue to look at it until I tell you to stop. I will be there talking you through each step, so don't worry"
Next I was brought into the operating room, and was laying on a hospital bed as nurses inflated a pillow around the back and sides of my head to hold it stationary during the procedure....and then it began! First, a flap was cut into each of my corneas and I was told to look at the red light and not to squeeze my eyes (even though I wanted to!). Honestly, I didn't feel any pain, just an uncomfortable pressure around my eye from the retractors holding them open. Have you ever worn goggles in a pool or protective goggles in a tanning bed, the kind that sit right around the orbit of your eye? Well, I don't recommend doing this, but if you push them against your face a little too much you can feel a pressure, not a pain-that is the feeling that you will experience. This pressure was the worst part of the entire procedure and it was nothing more than uncomfortable, I promise you. My vision did get cloudy and blurry like Dr. Jordan said it would, and i remember they put water in my eyes throughout the procedure to keep them lubricated since they are held open the whole time...Boooooo, those retractors!
After the flap was cut into each eye the laser ablation took place, which means that the laser reshaped my cornea area underneath the flap. Again, all I had to do was look at the red light! During this part I did hear a zapping/flickering noise, which was just from the laser. Next, Dr. Jordan placed the flap back over my newly shaped cornea and my vision instantly came back!! Awesome! I thought this was the neatest part of the procedure because when he flipped the flap back into position on my eye, my vision was no longer clouded but almost rippled, as if you were looking through a glass. He then took a flat instrument across the surface of my eye and I could see as he gently smoothed it over the surface of my eye, pushing out excess water (and ripples) from underneath the cornea flap...and VOILA, I COULD SEE AS CLEAR AS DAY!!!! =) =) No exaggeration! He did the same procedure on my other eye and the same exact effects occurred. Oh my gosh, I was so unimaginably thrilled! I could see! That clear as day vision only lasted a few minutes, which I was told in my pre-op was totally normal. After I walked into the seminar room to let the attendees know how everything went, my vision became blurry, but not even close to as blurry as it would have been had I been standing there two hours prior without glasses or contact lenses! AMAZING!! Dr. Jordan had told me that this blurriness afterward again, is normal and will go away depending on how quickly my eyes heal. The most important thing for the healing process was to follow my post-op instructions, DO NOT TOUCH MY EYES, and to use the artificial tears as frequently as possible to help with dryness and clarity with my vision. I waited in an exam room for about 45 minutes as the nurses and Dr. came in to check on me, and administer eye drops and after a final look by Dr. Jordan, he said "everything looked great," and I was on my way home. Overall the surgery lasted less than 30 minutes, but the whole process takes about 2 1/2 hours with zero pain during and after.
The day after the surgery I went for my 1 day post surgery exam. As soon as I got into the building, since I do work there, I went to the first exam room that was open and checked my vision....20/20 +2...even better than 20/20!!!!! Yippy, I couldn't believe it! I was able to drive that same day and on my travels I found that my eyes were a little sensitive to the light, but it was nothing a pair of sunglasses couldn't fix. I also noticed that lights on cars seemed to be larger and "halo-ish", but didn't cause any visual disturbance. It is truly an indescribably awesome feeling to just wake up without worrying about tripping over my dogs toys or being able to see when putting on my make-up or being able to see my TV's captioning without having to squint and strain, but mostly to know that my vision is now safe guarded. I don't have to worry that I may one night fall asleep with my contact lenses in and wake up with a terrible ulcer that may forever impair my vision. That was my biggest fear ever since I started working with patients who have had this happen to them. I'm truly overjoyed to have the anxiety from the thought of losing my vision relieved from my life through the LASIK surgery.
I would like to show my sincere appreciation to Dr. Jordan and everyone at Northeastern Eye Institute who made this surgery possible. Allowing me the ability to see without glasses or contact lenses is an amazing gift. Thank you, all of you completely ROCK!! Although I do work at NEI, the staff really makes you feel comfortable with your decision to go there for your eye care needs. They provide the highest quality care while being some of the friendliest, caring, and helpful people I know. =)
Now, 4 days later and I have yet to experience any pain, my eyes do get a dry feeling every few hours which subsides once I use the artificial tears. I can still see great while driving and I found out that the "halo-symptom" with the lights will go away as I heal. I have been sleeping will eye shields on and will continue to do so for the remainder of the week to ensure that I don't rub my eyes while I'm asleep. Showering and washing my face are a little more difficult during this healing process because I want to avoid getting shampoo or shower gel in my eyes. I'm being extra cautious not to do so or to rub the water away from them. As far as the post-op instructions go they are pretty lenient compared to other types eye surgery post-op instructions. I posted them below for you to look over. The only one that I questioned was regarding exercise. Dr. Jordan said this "one week restriction on exercise" was to avoid getting any sweat into your eyes or any injuries to the eyes in the first week of healing. Overall, it was a truly fantastic experience to wake up the very next morning, open my eyes, and see the TV Guide menu clearly from my bed when the day before I had to squint, even with my glasses, to try to decipher the words.
Instructions for after surgery:
- The 1st 2 hours after surgery, rest with eyes closed and use artificial tears every 30 minutes.
- Do not read or do computer work on the day of procedure, to prevent eyes of drying out.
- No alcoholic beverages for 24 hours.
- No strenuous exercise, swimming, or contact sports for 1 week.
- No eye make-up for 1 week.
- Wear eye shields at bedtime for 1 week.
- DO NOT RUB YOUR EYES FOR AT LEAST 3 MONTHS AFTER SURGERY.
I was instructed to use 4 different eyes drops after the surgery, which I will be using for 1 month. Each week after surgery, the frequency at which you use them decreases until you no longer need to use them anymore. They are an antibiotic, steroid, anti-inflammatory, and lubricant. I was also advised to use tylenol or advil for any pain, and given a prescription for percocet if needed for the pain. The night after the surgery, I had a slight headache and took some advil before bed and was completely fine in the morning.