Saturday, October 10, 2015

Child of Vision

I've been wearing glasses since about third grade. That's twenty years. Two thirds of my life. So, for my 30th birthday, I decided to get LASIK surgery.

For those who are unfamiliar with the process, here's the basic idea. The doctor uses a laser to cut a flap of your eyeball and then folds it over to get it out of the way. Then another laser "shaves" down the cornea, sort of the way you'd shave the lens of a telescope, to correct your vision. Then the flap gets laid back over, and it "seals" itself instantly. (The flap is never FULLY re-sealed, but enough to keep you from like, losing it through activity.) It's kind of like "tattooing your glasses onto your eyes." From start to finish, the whole thing takes about 20 minutes. There is a lot of other time outside of the operating room, doing tests, prepping, etc, but still, you walk out of the front doors about two hours after you walk in.

So, I don't know if you know this about me, but medical stuff kinda freaks me out. I'm working on getting over it, but I still get pretty nervous. The week leading up to the surgery, I tried not to think about it. Or if I did think about it, I'd think of it in terms of "a special eye appointment." There are a handful of things at regular eye appointments that are uncomfortable, but you just do them and move on (like that irritating glaucoma test). Here I am on the morning of the surgery, nervous, but ready to just get my "special eye appointment" over with:

And here I am, about half an hour later, laying on the floor with a pillow under my head because I almost passed out before entering the operating room:

It was easy to pretend that I was just going to a "special eye appointment" until they gave me the "YOU'RE BEING OPERATED ON" shower cap thing and put iodine on my eyes. And then my brain was all, "THIS ISN'T A SPECIAL EYE APPOINTMENT YOU ARE BEING OPERATED ON AND YOU WILL PROBABLY DIE OR PASS OUT AND THE LASERS WILL DESTROY YOUR WHOLE FACE." So I got a little panicky.  But one Jacob pep talk, half an hour of funny Twitter highlights, and two doses of Valium later, I felt good enough to step into the operating room and lay down.

The most uncomfortable part was cutting the flap. They give you numbing eyedrops, so you can't feel anything actually ON your eye. But they do have to hold your eye open with a little speculum* thing (a la "Clockwork Orange"), and then hold it in place with a little cylinder thing. It felt like something was...squeezing my eye. I guess something was. They did my right eye and between the pressure and the fact that everything went terrifyingly BLACK for a second, I started getting a little light-headed again, so the doctor/nurses let me pause and get my breath. We chatted for a little while about "Oklahoma" at the Hale, and then when I felt okay again, they did the left eye. This time I knew what was coming, so it wasn't so bad. I mean, it was still UNCOMFORTABLE, but not as terrifying.

Step two was folding the flap over, which didn't feel like anything (numbing drops) but looked weird. I could see the little tool coming at my eye, but everything just looked blurry. HOWEVER, this is also the moment that Jacob happened to capture on video. He could see into the operating room, and there was a screen showing my eye. I was going to share it here, but it was too small and blurry, so you'll just have to google similar images.

Anyway, then it was under the second laser for the actual re-shaping. All I had to do was lay there and stay focused on the green light above me while I tried to ignore the smell of my eyes burning for about 9 seconds. I distracted myself by thinking about how much the light array surrounding the green light looked like something from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Then they laid the flap back over my eye, which was extra weird because the doctor used this almost seemed like a paint brush? To brush my eyeball flap back into place? I could see it but not feel it, and it was weird.

And then it was done! Here I am in the car, post-op, with protective shields and sunglasses to keep my eyes safe while they heal:

(My post "YOU'RE BEING OPERATED ON" shower cap hair is hot, right?!) And then I went home and took a nap, while trying to ignore the BURNING, STINGING, WATERING DISCOMFORT OF MY EYES. I mean, a couple of Ibuprofen took the edge off, but I was pretty uncomfortable. It felt best to just keep my eyes closed, which is why I think they recommend just taking a nap after the surgery. Anytime I did have to open my eyes (like at my post-op appointment later that afternoon), I looked like this:

But as of this morning, my eyes are non-stinging and WORKING PERFECTLY. I keep reaching up to take my glasses off when I get into bed, do my hair, change my clothes, put eyedrops in. It's the weirdest thing.

And I'm putting a LOT of eyedrops in. Steroids and antibiotics every 3 hours, and artificial tears as needed, which is like, every fifteen minutes because my eyes are the SAHARA right now. I'm pounding that Refresh like it's going out of style.

So happy birthday to me!

I know a lot of you like my glasses, but here's my logic. A) While I appreciate the compliment, my appearance is my own, and I don't always like my glasses. B) If I do want to wear glasses as a fashion statement, I CAN JUST WEAR FAKE ONES.

The only downsides to this business (besides desert-eyes) is that I haven't been able to wear eye makeup for a week, and still won't be able to for another week. Which, because I work in entertainment, sort of affects my audition and filming abilities. The other downside is that I've been working hard on my fitness goals, BECAUSE MY FITBIT IS MY FAVORITE THING, and the downtime from yesterday and today cut in to my momentum. But I'll talk about my FitBit another time.

Anyway, I'm now glasses and contacts free and I love it. If you've been thinking about LASIK, I highly recommend it. And I'm a wuss. So if I can handle it, so can you.

*Can we just agree that "speculum" is the grossest word in medical usage? 

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