Friday, January 26, 2018
Lasik - Eye Surgery
Disclaimer: I will be sharing my experience with Lasik eye surgery and may be a trigger for those who are sensitive to medical descriptions.
I've dealt with nearsightedness for years. I required eyeglasses by the time I was in high school so that I could see the blackboard and once I started driving. It seemed as though with each annual eye exam, my nearsightedness worsened but I hate wearing eyeglasses or contacts on a regular basis. I feel as though I can't complete everyday activities outside of driving with my eyeglasses and wearing contacts was more effort than I found worth it on a daily basis except for special circumstances. Also, with contacts I had to be mindful of late activities as the longer I wore contacts in a day, the more bothersome they would become and of course I couldn't fall asleep wearing contacts.
As an additional benefit, my employer offers a discount on Lasik procedures to correct vision. With my health stabilizing once again and no scheduled medical procedures for the year, I decided this was the year to finally undergo Lasik.
With any type of procedure, my PTSD becomes triggered and I experience severe anxiety. I spoke with several individuals who previously underwent Lasik and each person reassured me that the procedure is not painful at all. I was informed that the eyes are numbed with drops and the laser surgery itself takes mere seconds.
After completing a qualifying exam, I scheduled my Lasik. I was provided a single Valium to take upon the completion of paperwork the day of the surgery to help ease my nerves. The last time I took Valium for a procedure was in 2009 when I underwent a 6 month follow up procedure to ensure that the Essure procedure I had underwent was successful. At this time, my anxiety was so severe that even with two doses of Valium, my nerves wouldn't allow the Valium to take effect until after the procedure was completed. I feared this would be the case again now but I repeatedly reminded myself that Lasik would be a painless procedure.
Lasik is completed with the use of a laser to reshape the cornea after a flap of corneal tissue is created. Lasik is an outpatient surgery that takes about 15 minutes to complete. It is such a quick procedure, that Lasik centers are able to schedule several patients in a short amount of time. There are risks to any procedure that can be serious and should be thoroughly discussed with the surgeon.
After completing paperwork, I was directed to a waiting area to join other patients awaiting eye surgery. When it was my turn, I entered the room with my toy kitty that I take with me to medical procedures for added comfort. The surgeon joked with me and notified me that they actually keep a stuffed toy in the operating room for patients to hold on to if they so wish. I was provided a blanket for extra comfort and situated myself upon the operating table. A nurse stood next to me the entire time and walked me through every step of the surgery. She notified me that an instrument would be used to create a flap in my cornea and she turned on the instrument so that I could hear what it sounded like so that I wouldn't be caught off guard. This particular instrument sounded like a drill used by a dentist. It was a terrifying sound when considering that this would be used on my eyes. Drops were inserted in my eyes to numb my eyes. Tape was used to pull my eyelids back to open my eyelids enough for an eye speculum to be inserted to keep my eyelids open. I had no ability to close my eyelids even if I had tried. This was not painful at all although it sounds as though it might. My eye was cleaned with a swab and I was told that a device would be placed on my eye to create suction, I would notice some pressure but no pain. This device was placed on my eye and pushed down - I felt the pressure, but no real pain. This suction ring stabilizes the eye and lifts and flattens the cornea. She told the surgeon it was "building, building, stabilized" and the pressure stopped as the suction was completed. The nurse notified me the drill sound would be starting. Even with this alert, the drill sound startled me and I couldn't help but slightly move my head backwards more into the table. I couldn't see the drill or anything unusual, I could just hear it. I didn't feel anything...the sound was just unnerving as it sounds as though I should see and feel something, but I didn't. My vision remained clear until the surgeon did a swiping motion to move the cornea flap and my vision became extremely blurry and hazy. I was told to stare at a green light that was previously concentrated but now was a blur. I stared at this light for a few seconds, maybe 5 seconds, and then the flap was placed back in the correct position and my blurry vision returned to normal. Several drops of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory eyedrops were placed in my eye. It was time for the next eye and the same procedure was completed. And it was over. During the procedure, in order to calm myself I had to repeatedly remind myself that I wasn't experiencing any pain, this would be over soon, and to think of it as looking through a camera - not through my actual eye itself.
I was taken to another room and another doctor examined my eyes to ensure the cornea flaps had sealed and my eyes looked appropriate. As I waited for the doctor to start his exam, I noticed that I could clearly see letters on the opposite wall that I wouldn't have been able to clearly see previously. The doctor reviewed the instructions for prescription eyedrops for the week and all the dos and don'ts to follow and answer any remaining questions I had. I was provided ice packs, sunglasses, and three boxes of preservative free eyedrops for moisture and told to try to sleep for 4-5 hours and to keep my eyes closed for that period.
The numbing drops were starting to wear off on the ride home. Even with the sunglasses, I was finding any amount of light to be extremely painful upon my closed eyes. My eyes were beginning to feel dry, like sandpaper but I couldn't rub my eyes as this would cause damage to my eyes and risk regression of my improved vision. Once home, I tried to sleep but the Valium had worn off and I was so bothered by the sandpaper feel that I was barely able to sleep. I could barely open my eyes, the sandpaper sensation was so intense. When I did manage to slightly open my eyes, they would immediately tear up and tears streamed down my face. This actually provided some comfort as it moistened my eyes. I had set my alarm to insert the eyedrops as directed and found this extremely challenging on account of the difficulty to open my eyes enough to insert drops. I began to question why I had decided to undergo Lasik. If I could just sleep until this passed, I would have been much more comfortable. I was only able to doze for brief periods through the sandpaper sensation. Finally, over the course of time the sensation began to lessen and my comfort increased. After about 5 hours, the sensation had ceased and I was able to comfortably open my eyes and clearly see things that were previously blurry to me.
I was instructed to use the prescription eyedrops four times a day for a week and to use preservative free artificial tears every 1-2 hours for the next two weeks. I wasn't allowed to wear make up for a week and no eye make up for two weeks. Aerobic exercise was prohibited for a few weeks. I was advised to not rub my eyes ever again, to take Omega 3 fatty acids, drink 5 glasses a water a day to help protect my vision from regression.
Two weeks later and my vision is 20/15! Extremely close objects in front of my eyes are blurry whereas they weren't previously but it isn't enough to interfere with anything and I normally don't have anything extremely close to my eyes anyway. I'm told that my vision should continue to improve over the next 6 months as my eyes continue to heal. I haven't driven at night yet to know how my vision is affected by lights at night. I'm told to expect halos and glare at night from lights for a few months although every individual is different. A second follow up occurs after 2-3 months and a final follow up around 6 months.
I'm pleased with my present outcome of the Lasik eye surgery. At times, I'm not certain if I would elect to undergo Lasik again but I am enjoying no longer requiring eyeglasses or contacts and the ability to see long distance for a change.
This is my life with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis and Short Bowel Syndrome. I was diagnosed with FAP as a child, underwent total colectomy at age 9. I experienced life threatening complications resulting in 4 more surgeries that year and developing medical PTSD. I had an ileostomy for 6 years before having it reversed into a straight pull-thru that also resulted in life threatening complications requiring an additional surgery the following year. In 2021, I required my 8th surgery to remove my gall bladder due to gall stones and FAP. This surgery exacerbated my, at the time undiagnosed, Abdominal Migraine which is now being treated.