Sunday, December 05, 2010

In the triathlon world, we give "race reports" but I thought we should start this in other facets of life too, so this is my Lasik Eye Surgery report since many of you have been asking for specifics.

I have worn glasses since 4th grade and got contacts in 7th grade. As an adult, I barely have ever worn my glasses, sleeping for months at a time in my contacts, which I knew wasn't good for my eyes and posed risks for infection and other complications, so I started looking at laser eye surgery. I got a few recommendations for who to see here in Jacksonville and decided to go with Dr. Bowden (off of Philips Hwy and JTB). He is the Jaguars team doctor for all their eye surgeries, etc, so he has to be good, right? He was also covered on my insurance for routine visits, but lasik is not covered by insurance. I was told on my initial appointment (where they did many tests and figured out that I have different size pupils, high pressure, and astigmatism) that it would be somewhere between $2100-$2900 PER EYE minus the $150 fee for the consultation. Because of my abnormalness (is that a word?), of course I would have to do the custom procedure which was $2900 per eye. An 8% discount was offered if you put it on a debit card. Also because of my abnormalities (yeah, that sounds better), I would have to do 4 different drops 3x/day, along with warm compresses, eye massage, and this scrub on my eyelids. All of this information was pretty overwhelming and I was very frustrated when I left their office, even though everyone was very polite, professional, and answered all of my questions.

At first, I decided I had wasted $150 and I didn't want to do was just so much effort before and after to get the desired results. Then, while drinking wine one night with Dustin, we started comparing it to preparing for an Ironman many hours do we spend preparing for ONE day? How many things do we buy to help us get in better shape? This was no different, except for I wasn't preparing for ONE day, I was preparing for great vision for the rest of my life (of course this doesn't stop the need for reading glasses in your forties!) So, after that conversation, we decided to go for it! I diligiently did all of the above mentioned routine 3 times per day up until surgery, but I had to make a spreadsheet in order to keep up with it!

I had to go in for another pre op appointment where they gave me two more drops to do and then they only perform the laser surgeries on 1 day out of the month, the first Wednesday, so my date was set as December 1st (which I hated to miss the triathlon club holiday party that night!). I was told I wouldn't be able to sweat, or swim, or get any water in my eyes for two weeks afterwards. I was also told that I might have significant red spots on the whites of my eyes for up to a week much for wearing red at Dustin's ship's holiday party.

Thankfully, Dustin was able to take me in for the surgery. I could eat and drink normally the morning of, so I ate a big breakfast, because they told me they would be giving me Valuum, and I really don't respond well to drugs, so I figured I needed some calories in me. I got there at 7:15 and I was told it would be about 2 hour total process, but the lasers only take a few seconds. Dustin waited patiently outside for me. I was taken back to a big room with about 6 other people and we all sat in these uncomfortable chairs that were extremely upright as the nurse came around and put tons of eye drops in all of our eyes and gave us Valuum. I think I was the only one getting the custom lasik so they did me last. People kept coming out of the first room, being led by the nurses, with iodine all over their faces, squinting and walking really slow. It looked like a death march and I just had to keep watching it over and over! They took me across the hall to do some more tests on me. The girl was really nice and kept me calm by telling me about her lasik. She said that Dr. Bowden was a perfectionist and he wanted things done right the first time, so that's why they had to keep repeating these tests on me. Apparently, all of the screwed up surgeries end up being fixed by Dr. Bowden, so I was feeling confident about his abilities, but still a little nervous.

I insisted they only give me one 5 mg Valuum, even though everyone else around me was getting 10-20 mg. She kept asking me if I was relaxed and I really wasn't so I conceded to a second 5 mg Valuum that helped me relax a little bit more. I really never felt completely groggy like I thought I would though. I found it funny that they were explaining to a bunch of drugged up people all of the eye drops and how many times we had to do them. Thankfully they provided us written instructions too. They finally took me into the first room where they reclined me back and held one eye at a time open with these forcep thingies. This is where they were creating the flap, cutting into the just felt like extreme pressure, like a suction cup pulling on my eyeball. The second one hurt a bit more than the first, but it was only for about 10 seconds or so, then they led me back to the main room and said that I could open my eyes if I wanted to, which scared me! I have a freakin cut open cornea here people! I sat there and waited for a long time and the nurse put more eye drops in my eyes. Then I was taken to the second room where Dr. Bowden pulled the flap open and that was weird. I had to keep staring at a red light and he kept pulling and pulling on it and then my vision went gray for a bit, then the laser lasted about 18 seconds, with little pulsations I could barely feel. Then he pulled the flap back into place, and smoothed it out and moved on to the left one. This one was a bit more stubborn, but practically the same thing. I came out of there and they said I could open the eyes if I wanted to, but I just tried to rest. Dr. Bowden came out one more time to look at my eyes through one of those machines to make sure the flap was back in place and then I could leave with these REALLY stylish goggles that I had to wear until I came back the next day for my follow up (and then continue to wear while sleeping for two weeks!). Something else they told me that day was that I couldn't wear eye make up for two weeks and I had to throw away all of my old eye make up and buy new stuff. Again, lovely for the upcoming holiday parties!

I was told to go home and sleep, not to watch TV, not to get on the computer and to avoid doing those things for very long in one sitting.....therefore why it has taken me this long to write this Lasik report! I had some pretty intense pressure behind my right eye at first in recovery and then the left and asked for some Tylenol, which they gave me and I think I took some more once I got home too. Dustin brought me home and I went to bed and he went back to work. I pretty much slept all day with no problem thanks to the Valuum. Dustin can fill in any blanks that I'm missing here.

The next morning, I woke up and I could see pretty well! I was impressed, but it was still a bit blurry, which was expected. I drove myself to my follow up appointment and they told me I was 20/20 in my right and 20/25 in my left, but that I had an extreme case of dryness and they gave me MORE drops to use. They said the bluriness and halos around the lights would go away eventually, but that I had to keep my eyes saturated at all times! Then when Dr. Bowden came in, he prescribed tear duct plugs...what!!? The girl said, "10 day plugs?" and he said, "no, she needs the 90 day plugs" then another guy proceeded to insert these little itsy bitsy cylindrical objects into my bottom eye lids where my tear ducts are. He said it wouldn't hurt and the first one I could feel it, but he was right, it didn't hurt. The second one (my lovely problem left eye) did hurt! He said, "this one's being stubborn, " and I was like NO SHIT....get it over with! No anesthesia or no numbing drops or anything, just another thing that sucked. But, they will dissolve in 90 days and keep it so that the moisture stays on my eyeball instead of draining out of the eye. Weird, I know. So, since Wednesday, this has been my routine: Refresh drops 1x/EVERY HOUR, Sooth XP drops 4-6x/day, Durezol drops 3x/day (steroid), Azasite drops 1x/day (antibiotic), Vigamox drops 3x/day (anti inflammatory), Nevanac drops 3x/day, and Restasis drops 2x/day, plus 1000mg flaxseed oil pill, and to not have any fans or wind blowing on me at all. Hmmmm, I sleep with a fan, I own a boat, a bicycle, I love to drive with the windows down and my AC blowing right in my face.....could this all have contributed to my dry eyes in the past!????

So, I will admit, I am very frustrated that I am not seeing perfectly already. I am an impatient person and I want it to be perfect right away, but from what I have heard from others, it will take a few weeks for the bluriness to go away. It always feels like what it used to at the end of a long day outside with the contacts, dry and a like a little buildup over the contacts, except for I don't have contacts now! I'm happy about that, and I'm sure I will eventually be happy with my eyes, but for now I am a bit frustrated that every single Christmas light I see is blurry! Hopefully by the 25th, they will be clear!