My LASIK Experience – Appointment by Appointment

I got glasses at age 7. Young enough to not realize that my vision was terrible, old enough to know what that change meant for me as a 2nd grader developing her own identity.

My mom said I could only identify the big letter at the top and the two underneath. Thank goodness for those tests in school who notified my parents. I don’t ever remember thinking at all, “I can’t actually read this,” and probably just went for it with my best guess. *Shrug.*

Fast forward somewhere between 22 and 23 years.

Happy face at the beach
Pre-surgery beach adventure on a most beautiful day!

But now, here I am. I don’t wear prescription glasses anymore, and traded them for sunglasses and lightweight goggles (for a bit).

I had LASIK 13 days ago.

By chance, family and social media, I was given a very trusted referral to Orange Coast Eye Center in Fountain Valley, CA for LASIK. It’s something I’d more fantasized about doing, but never really took the idea seriously, for a number of reasons, until the beginning of this year. Once I realized it was actually feasible (bless my late grandmother for her gifts that led to this) I decided to fully jump in and go for it!

I live in Seattle, so I knew the traveling was going to make things a wee bit more complicated. I am so very lucky to have the support of my friends, family and the staff at Orange Coast for working with my very strategically planned schedule.

Consultation

Avantasia, a band I really really really reeeeeally wanted to see and only had three North American tour dates was playing in Anaheim, on a Monday night. I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and schedule my consultation. Three birds if you count getting to hang out at Disneyland with two fantastic friends I don’t see often enough. I don’t count this trip in my expenses since I was going to the show anyway.

The LASIK consultation was my first time discussing the concept and the procedure itself with a doctor. I had read a bunch so there wasn’t too much new information. I still have never watched a video of it (as I was warned by a number of parties not to do so before having it done myself. I still haven’t.)

There was a bunch of painless tests to check for a handful of different things to determine my eligibility. These included questions about past prescription and when it had last changed, the size and shape of my cornea, current prescription (of myopia, I’m nearsighted), amount of astigmatism, eyeball pressure, etc. I don’t remember all of them or what they did, but I guarantee they included fun lights shining in my eyes, the letters tests and temporarily numb eyeballs. I giggle at how funny numb eyeballs feel!

I was told right then and there that I was a perfect candidate for iLASIK, the most advanced kind!

I didn’t have a date yet in mind, but was told this was okay. I was also instructed that I’d need both pre- and post-op visits. The scheduling would definitely have to be strategic.

Pre-Op – The day before surgery

Unhappy with disposable sunglasses
What is this nonsense

These were both short, straightforward visits. We did most, if not all, of the same tests in pre-op as we did in consultation. This was to make sure that nothing had changed.

This time, however, they did opt to dilate my eyes. Despite being nearsighted for 23+ years, this was the first time I’ve ever had that done. The plastic/paper disposable sunglasses they gave me me for afterwards were oh so stylish. And extremely necessary.

But all was well and surgery was set for the next day.

The Big Day – Surgery Day!

No more real tests today. Just a more detailed briefing by the assistant, including my post-surgery care.

I felt I had read enough about the procedure itself and wanted to turn down the .5% Xanex they offered for relaxation. However, the assistant had explained more of what I would be actually experiencing as the procedure went on.

I changed my mind about the Xanex, was given that and some eyeball numbing drops before heading into the surgery room.

There are two steps for the patient.. Creating the flap, like a little door in your cornea, and the laser correction itself that happens through the little cornea door.

Creating The Flap

From the patient’s point of view!

This was the weirdest part of it and its description is what changed my mind about the Xanex. It all happened as it was explained to me.

I was lying on my back, given a blanket and a teddy bear to hold. That was pretty adorable :)

I was given some more numbing drops, I didn’t feel any pain at all. There was, however, pressure for this part, A tube-like thing was placed around my eyeball, and I could feel a little bit of pressure going straight down. Supposedly, it was like a little vacuum, holding my eyeball in place while the laser-cut flap was being made, and pressure was confirmed.

There were little lights, and my vision slowly went gray…. This is due to the seal created from the suction and the temporary loss of blood right there. ZERO PAIN, but a really, REALLY odd psychological feeling that oh wow, my eye doesn’t do seeing anymore. As soon as the assistant’s countdown finished, the apparatus was removed and I could see light and blurry everything again.

Each eye took like 20 seconds max.

I then had to sit up and move to the other bed for the correcting laser, and lie back down.

Laser Correction

The eye not undergoing correction at the time had a piece of gauze taped over it to keep me from opening it.

For my operating eye, my eyelashes were gently taped back and an apparatus was placed onto my eye and slightly under my eyelids to keep them from opening.

For this part, I was told that I’d see a couple of red dots forming a circle with a green one in the center. I was to stare at the green one.. Just keep looking at it!

I was a little worried that I’d stray my sight from the green light and it would get messed up, so I felt like I tried really hard to look at it. But at the same time, was just kinda letting my eye zone out on it.

I could feel myself try to instinctively blink a few times throughout, but the thingy they used worked, and no one said I was doing anything wrong. So yay!

When that one was done, I closed the finished eye, and the gauze+tape switched to make sure I kept that one closed. Repeat process for my left eye.

I don’t think each eye took more than a minute or two. It’s hard to say, and I wasn’t really counting or anything. It seemed so fast!

When both were finished, I stood up, slowly, as directed. It was only now that actually realized I felt the Xanex. I had never used any sort of heavy medications before, so I didn’t know what to expect. It was a little dizzying for the first 3 seconds.. Whooooaaa. But then I was good to go.

I went back to the regular room and we tested each of my eyes on the letter chart.

It was blurry, but I could make out almost all the letters at the 20/30 row. WOW. Kind of a huge improvement, no?!

Post-Surgery (not an appointment, except an appointment with the hotel bed and In n Out Burger)

After heading back to the hotel, I put on the eye shield goggle things and went to sleep.

I remember waking up a few times and my eyes finally hurt since the numbing wore off. It was really dry and scratchy feeling, and I could tell they were tearing and watering like crazy! It wasn’t like OMG I’m dying, but it was really uncomfortable, so I just rolled over and went back to closing them and sleeping.

I started the eye drops regimen that the doctor had given me, and carefully went about my night, including some celebratory In n Out Burger feasting!

Justin and I at In n Out Burger
First post-LASIK photo!

I admit that we went to Downtown Disney in the evening to wander around. I even got to see a few of the fireworks.. First ones without glasses! (As an adult.. I’d, of course, seen them as a kid, but I don’t even know if they were blurry or not!)

Next Day Follow-Up

I was told that everything looked great, and that I would heal quickly. LOVED the sound of that! Only the next day, and I missed just one on the 20/20 line!

It’s been just about two weeks now, and I still have some of the normal side effects, which I will post my experiences with later. But here I am, 13 days later, and my eyes work!!

Also… I STILL haven’t watched a video of the procedure yet!

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