Glasses (and contacts) have been a part of my life for the past 22 years… yes you read that right TWENTY TWO years! I first got glasses in third grade (glasses and braces in the same year, it was pretty momentous). Then, fast forward 3 years to the sixth grade when I got my first pair of contacts (whoohoo) and my first perm (ahhhh – loved it then though!). The main reason I had to get glasses is because I used to play a lot of online videogames and get elo boost service.
Nearly 8000 nights I plucked my contacts out and donned my glasses to make it from bathroom to bedside and nearly 8000 mornings I reached over to the bedside to feel around for my glasses first thing before even setting foot out of bed. Why? Because not only were my eyes in need of correction they were pretty much useless without it.
You know that big ‘E’ on the top of every eye chart… the one where the doc says ‘if you didn’t already know what it was can you read it’ … ha, doc not only can I not read it (even though I do know what it is) I can’t even tell you there’s a chart on that wall! No joke. I’m happy to say some fellow facebook friends have put my bad vision into perspective (yes that’s a sight pun!) and I now don’t have the WORST vision I’d ever heard of but besides these few ladies I’m holding steady in 3rd place… that is until last Friday!
Yup… last Friday I took the plunge and had Lasik surgery at Gailey Eye Clinic in Bloomington and I’m AMAZED! I’m amazed guys that I can SEE… 20/20 just 24 hours after surgery. (ok total transparency 20/20 together 20/20-2 left and 20/25-2 right if you must know). Like not only can I see the chart on the wall I can see the letters… the little bitty tinsy winsy letters! And you know what’s way better than those letters?!?! I woke up this morning and gazed at my little baby girl’s eyelashes as she snuggled next to me. I snuggled into her instead of rolling away to reach/search for my glasses before I could kiss her good morning…. It was blissful and beautiful and utterly amazing.
So why now? Why after having bad vision for-like-ever did I decide to take the plunge… and what was it like (ahhh – gorey details at the end for all those inquiring minds). When B was about 8 months old, still breastfeeding so in bed with me one night I was jolted awake to the sound of her vomiting. Pitch black, silent and abruptly awakened to the sound of my baby in distress and you know what I had to do? Search for my glasses. Not hold my child, not turn on the light (I couldn’t even see the freaking lamp)… I had to go against every maternal instinct and jump away from my baby to find my glasses. Why? Because I would have been useless to her without them. I couldn’t have seen her or what the issue was. I couldn’t have helped her. My daughter, my infant who relied on me for her care and safety was left (for seconds yes) while I frantically called out to Ryan and searched for my glasses. That was unacceptable to me. What if it had been a fire? A tornado? What if in the panic I’d knocked my glasses off the table, under the bed? It was a scary thought. So it was that night I decided and that night that any fear of the surgery was inconsequential to me.
So how was it?!? Wierd! First, I’d never had my eyes dilated (that I can remember anyways) so even that first eye exam was trippy. My lovely friend Stephanie took me to that appointment and as a fellow photographer I chatted with her while waiting and likened it to looking through a f1.4 lens and we laughed that my aperture really was wide open! Things would look fine far away but focusing on anything rapidly or close was tough and then if I did focus closely everything around that item was completely blurry thus essentially invisible. So that was odd… so were the measurement tests. Thank God for numbing drops because as they measured my cornea (I believe) with what basically looks like a pen device I could actually see the light bend ever so slightly where she touched it to my eye so I KNEW what was happening (she was poking me in the eye) but I didn’t feel a darn thing (whew!). Other than that the first exam was pretty standard… OH except they decided to put some tear plugs (obviously that’s the official technical term – insert eye roll here) in which basically feels like them poking you in the eye with what looks like a 47in needle (ok only like 2 inches) but luckily this is FAST, like just a few seconds so I didn’t even have time to panic before he was done. Ok, now fast forward FOUR DAYS (fast huh) to surgery day….
I arrived in their lovely pre-op waiting room (beautifully decorated to the point that I even snapped a few photos so we can hopefully do our basement like this – nerd alert haha) and was welcomed with cookies and coffee and Voss water (and I thought my Fiji client water was fancy but they one-upped me). Though I didn’t touch a thing for the sole reason that I didn’t want anything soaking up one ounce of the Valium I was about to get, no joke… I wanted to be as relaxed as that stuff could get me. First time for Valium for me too and while I didn’t really think it was doing much (until the walk to the car when I had to lean on Ryan to not be a little sway-y when walking) it did at least prevent extreme panic.
Surgery prep kicked off with some eye drops (numb numb it up!) and a quick physical marking on my eyes where again I could see the slight bend of the light each time he touched the pen to my eye which is just so trippy. Then they walk you down to the op room sans glasses (I literally, out of habit, tried to put them on to walk to the room and doc said ‘no no, you’re done with those forever.’ AHH is this for real!?!?). So get up on op table in between two huge machines, shoulders actually have to be guided back to squeeze down between them so even though you’re really in a wide open room I could see claustrophobia being an issue here if you’re prone to that fear… but you’re in luck they give you a nice plush puppy dog to squeeze onto. And I giggled at this at first but OMG he was my BFF by the time we were done!
By far the WORST part for me was the application of this suction cup thingy (again 100% correct technical medical terms only here) to your actual eye ball… not eye lid, nope, eye BALL. I’m not sure what I expected and I did wonder a bit about how they’d prevent me from blinking and screwing up this whole deal but obviously they’d figured that part out with an eye ball suction cup. So it’s really just a bit uncomfortable to apply, done quickly so not so bad but the worst part is once it’s applied that eye goes completely black. WHY!?!?! I have no freaking idea and it doesn’t make sense to my non-doc brain as to why a suction cup would make my vision go black but it does (and they warn you it will – so no panic attacks here) but when someone is working on your eye balls and it goes completely black it’s just a bit nerve racking. At this point, my entire mission was to stare at a blinking red ‘dot’ … ya super easy to do when that ‘dot’ is actually a dim splotch of light (remember I can’t even see the eye chart let alone the big E so this tiny pin prick of light isn’t exactly a neat little dot for me). So at this point through the rest of the procedure my mission continues to be staring at this red dot… and reciting the Lord’s prayer in random pieces over and over again in my head. I’m not sure if it was the Valium or the fact that it’s pretty hard to not get distracted by someone drilling (ok that’s dramatic but still) into your eyeball but I could not, for the life of me, get that whole prayer said in one piece straight through but I sure as hell wanted to be sure the big guy upstairs was with us in that room! Ok, ok so first step (15 seconds) is to drill… uh laser… the corneal flap. Again eyes are numb so no biggie BUT you can still feel the pressure as it goes around in a circle and just the shear fact that you KNOW what’s happening is what made that worse for me. I basically envisioned a box cutter carving through cardboard at this point but I assure you it was much more high tech than all that. Here I for some odd reason also found it almost impossible not to grin like an idiot, looking back that Valium might have had more pop than I thought. But I just kept thinking, I’m going to SEE… like with my own eye balls for the first time in over TWO decades, that’s pretty freaking cool.
So next, the lifting of the corneal flap, here comes trippy again… At this point the doc takes what looks like a dental instrument and starts to peal back the flap they just cut. And the worst part, YOU SEE IT. Remember I’m still trying desperately to look at that blinking red dot/haze (like my sight depends on it) and now I have to not get distracted by this big ice pick coming in toward my eye and grabbing a part of it and peeling it off… and it sticks – like a window cling! And it’s sort of a clear fibrous material which as he peels back starts to move your vision. So, that dot, that I’m supposed to be watching MOVES – %@#%$% where do I look!?!? Ok only momentary panic then the flap is lifted and the dot stabilizes into an even more blurry splotch.
Ok now onto the actual shaping of the lens of my eye to my prescription. 50 seconds each eye for me… here is where the procedure turned into more of a coaching session. With my doctor counting it down and cheering me on. The laser starts, basically just a clicking sound and the constant focusing on that red dot/haze (and this point very nervous that I’ll look away and ruin it all). In this moment Autumn Calabrese‘s voice was in my head telling me you can do anything for 60 seconds. (My Beachbody friends might get a chuckle out of that). But it’s true, in just 50 seconds on each eye the laser was done and I was fixed! Slight repeat and reversal of that flap lifting described earlier and guess what… there was a blinking red DOT, not a haze, not a fuzzy clump of red ‘cells’ but a freaking pin point red light tiny D.O.T.!!!! Valium in full force I sat up grinning ear to ear. Things were fuzzy sure, but with grins on their faces doc and assistants congratulated me like I’d run a marathon, patted me on the back and pointed to the clock on the wall to ask if I could see it. Now, it wasn’t a ‘tiny’ clock as the doc joked but was probably like 3 feet tall but guys I SAW IT and the numbers and the fact that it was a clock. How flipping cool is it that we have figured out a way, with LASER BEAMS, to fix something that hasn’t worked right for me for 22 YEARS. Sure we as humans do a lot of dumb stuff but we also do some pretty amazing s&%t like this.
If you’ve hung in there through what might be the longest blog post of my life, thanks! This was life changing for me and after doing it I can 100% say that most of my fear was gone after my first consultation with Gailey (thanks Ray) and I would recommend this to any/everyone. Ryan’s already talking about his turn next year. Headed back up today for my second followup and excited to hear how things are and if I’m up to 20/20 in that right eye (stubborn one).
I looked and looked for a photo of me from those early glasses years but turns out 3-6th grade are not highly photographed years (awkward). My BFF may come through with some for me to add but in the meantime here’s a run of the mill kiddo photo pre-glasses for your entertainment: