I met Diana seven years ago at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. I was heading to India with my aunt, Denise, who was going for a work trip and wanted to bring her 10-year-old. Though I had no experience even being around children, she asked if I wanted to watch him while she worked/go on a three week Indian adventure.
Diana was Denise's co-worker, and she was going to India, too.
We hit it off right away.
In the years since, we've stayed friends. Recently, she told me she'd been considering Lasik eye surgery for years, and finally mustered up the courage to go through with it. Since she's so hilarious and a great storyteller, I asked her to share what happened. Here's what it's like to have lasers pointed at your eyeballs.
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When did you start wearing glasses?
I got glasses when I was about 8. I hated the feeling of them on my face, and I got teased for it. So basically...this was not great for me. I started wearing contacts as soon as my parents would let me, going into high school.
What do you love about glasses? What annoyed you?
I have no love for glasses. My favorite thing about contacts was that they weren't glasses. They really didn't bother me until the last year or so, when I kept feeling like there was something in my eye - BESIDES the contact lens.
Why did you decide to try Lasik?
I had been wanting to do Lasik for years, but I was really scared that I would move my eyeball at a crucial moment and really screw it up. My optometrist said the laser can tell (weird) and would turn off if I moved. I had a major career change earlier this year that pushed me outside my comfort zone, and I've noticed I've been willing to try more things that I wasn't willing to try before, like riding my bike in traffic, or Lasik.
How’d you pick your doctor?
I literally just looked on Yelp, and started looking at ratings. The one I chose was the highest ranked in my area. All the reviews were amazing, except for one person who was bitter that they weren't a Lasik candidate. And they do Lasik for the Minnesota Wild, and I figured, pro athletes 1) really need their eyes and 2) could go wherever they want for eyeball surgery.
What I've heard from everyone is that it's a mature process and technology now, so just don't go to a bargain place and you'll be fine. I meant to shop around more, but I had a good vibe at this place and wanted to just jump in before I chickened out.
Walk me through the day-of surgery. How did you prepare? What was the process like?
I had a consult a few weeks before where they mapped my eyeball and measured my cornea thickness. I wore glasses and no eye makeup for 2 weeks leading up to the surgery. I had an early morning appointment, so my husband drove me in. I was definitely nervous...so they gave me a Valium. And some ibuprofen. And chocolate. They went through the drops regimen I'd be on for the next week, and reviewed post-op to dos and don't dos. The actual procedure was very quick...maybe a grand total of 3 minutes.
Freakiest thing about the experience? Any aspect of it that was way easier/less scary than you anticipated?
The freakiest thing was the pressure. I had been warned about it, but basically, they tape your eyelids open and then this piece of the machine comes down and presses AROUND your eyeball. The rational, kind of geeky part of me was thinking "oh it's probably so they can get better access to my eyeball to cut a flap off the front, that makes sense." The other part of me was like "STOP THINKING ABOUT IT! WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!?!" It actually unnerved me so much that I randomly started humming. Luckily, it was pretty quick. I was surprised that the smell of my own burning eyeball flesh wasn't that strong or gross. I barely noticed it.
What was the recovery like?
I tried to keep my eyes closed on the way home, but I did keep sneaking peeks at road signs which I could totally see (!). I took some Benadryl and turned on one of my favorite movies to listen to, and slept for about 5 hours.
I could actually see pretty well, but I kept testing my vision (can I read the microwave clock from the dining room yet?), so I had a little bit of a headache. I tried to log in and do some work in the afternoon, but the Valium apparently has a really long half-life and I basically couldn't mentally focus, so I just went back and binged on some Netflix.
So… did it work? Are you happy you did it?
It totally worked! I was seeing 20/15 the next day, and at my 3 week check up I was up to 20/20 vision. It's been a month, and I rarely feel like I need eyedrops anymore. I am happy I did it! I still think I need to take out my contacts some nights...even though I don't. It's crazy that they could fix my extreme near sightedness in a couple minutes...I totally should have done this years ago.
Advice for someone considering Lasik?
Get consultations until you find a place that makes you feel comfortable. Ask them every weird question you have, even if you think it's dumb. They will be able to answer them and get you feeling more comfortable about the procedure. Stay on top of your drops regimen. Take whatever drugs they offer you that you think you might want. I felt like everything I heard was about how amazing it would be - like you can instantly see 20/60! Have realistic expectations - you won't need lenses anymore, and that's what matters.
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Big thanks to Diana for sharing her Lasik story. Stuff that involves eyeballs = squeamish city!
PS This isn't my first medical story that involves an eyeball... click here if you dare! (<<< it's really not that bad.)
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