My other half, Rich, captured in the gorgeous snap above by Little Beanies, has recently had his eyes lasered. As someone who cannot stand the thought of any medical intervention unless strictly necessary (I don’t even really like taking paracetamol), this intrigued me and I thought I’d recount Rich’s experience in case anyone is considering the same treatment.
Read the following in your best Brummy accent.
I have always been the ‘experimental’ type – I’m always up for trying something new. (Lisa calls these my ‘fads’). For example, when we travelled the east coast of Australia I bought myself a surfboard and a wetsuit and was convinced that by the end of our six months I’d be winning surf competitions (I’d never surfed before in my life). It only took one terrifying attempt at surfing in Tamarama bay where I swear I nearly died and that put paid to my surfing career. The there was the time I had the grand idea of setting up a gym in our garage. The punchbag has turned dusty (it’s been used once) and Lisa swears under her breath at me every time she goes in there. Anyway, you get the picture. So I was open to trying laser surgery.
The idea of having my eyes lasered has been at the back of my mind for a while. But as my contact lenses became increasingly uncomfortable over the last year I thought I’d take the plunge and book a consultation with a specialist about the prospect of having surgery to correct my vision.
At the initial meeting the consultant told me I would need LASEK surgery (as opposed to LASIK which is the more common and apparently painless procedure). This was due to me having an astigmatism (where the cornea of your eye is rugby-ball shaped) and my eyes being dry. I was told that I would only be able to go ahead with surgery if the dryness of my eyes improved, and was advised to follow a new eye washing routine involving special eyelid wipes.
It’s clear the wipes have done their job because I’m told at this consultation that the dryness of my eyes has improved. It’s all systems go and I book myself in for surgery on the Friday before the May Day bank holiday.
My appointment has been brought forward from 10am to 8.30am, which I’m secretly glad about (less time to get nervous)!
When I turn up at 8.30am for my appointment I have to confirm my name, age, DOB and which eyes I’m having lasered – I’m having both – unnerving because I feel like they should know this information! But I guess it’s to double check that I’m the right person and that they are carrying out the correct procedure.
It’s only when I walk into the operating theatre, and see the medical team in their scrubs, that it truly dawns on me what I’m putting myself up to.
The consultant starts drawing on the skin above my eyes and I feel like I’m in an episode of Nip Tuck. Then they lay me down and I’m wheeled backwards under a machine where the professor who’s going to carry out the procedure is standing behind me. My right eye is clamped open, anaesthetic drops are applied, and my adrenaline is through the roof. The atmosphere in the room changes from relaxed and jovial to serious and sedate (one of the members of the medical team starts counting) as the professor starts working away on my eye. I can’t feel anything but I can see everything, but it’s as if I’m under a swimming pool. My jaw is rigid and my fists are clenched.
After about 30 seconds the professor announces that he’s going to start the laser. I’m told to look straight into the machine and the counting man starts counting again. Another 30 or so seconds later and it’s all over, and a ‘bandage’ contact lens is applied.
Exactly the same procedure is carried out to my left eye and the feeling in the room returns to one of relaxedness, thank goodness. I’m walked back to the waiting room where Lisa is waiting for me.
We go via B&Q on the way home: the bank holiday is set to be a scorcher and we need a new BBQ. BAD idea. The painkillers start to wear off and the pain rushes in. When we get home I go straight up to bed and shut the curtains and leave Lisa working out a schedule of when to take all of the antibiotics, eye drops, eye gels, painkillers, anaesthetics and sleeping tablets I’ve been sent home with. Today’s drugs take up half an A4 sheet. I spend the rest of the day in bed in a fair bit of pain, despite the medication.
Much of the same as surgery day, except the pain is wearing off, and being replaced by a gritty and dry sensation in my eyes. I can’t see much and I’m developing cabin fever because it’s the hottest Bank Holiday weekend on record and all I can hear is people frolicking in the park outside our house whilst I’m holed up in a dark room! Finding it frustrating because I can’t sit outside/watch TV/read.
Lisa’s family arrive – they’ve come for a BBQ and are staying over tonight. I’m properly out of bed for the first time in two days and am ok pottering about, but when it comes to sitting down and trying to focus on and talk to people, my eyes feel uncomfortable to the point that I take myself off to bed for an early night. (This is unheard of when we have people over – I’m usually the last man standing).
Awful ‘popping’ sensation in my eye at one point today when I was sitting outside reading the paper (which is just about manageable now). I was worried I’d burst a blood vessel but the pain gradually eased.
It’s the Tuesday after the Bank Holiday, my first day back at work (the consultant had advised me to have a week off but I naively thought I’d have recovered by now so didn’t book it off), it’s also my birthday. I’ve got to say it’s my worst birthday ever! I’m at work, I’ve not arranged a birthday night out, and even if I had done I would probably be cancelling because my eyes are still uncomfortable.
It’s the day of the follow up appointment at the eye clinic. I’m desperate to have the bandage contact lenses taken out as my eyes are so gritty and dry. You know the feeling when you’ve had your contacts in for too long? It’s that sensation but a hundred times worse. The bandages are taken off at the clinic but as soon as I arrive back at work I experience that popping sensation again and this time it’s so painful that I go back to the clinic. They explain that the bandage needs to be reapplied to my right eye for a few days.
The bandage contact lens is taken off my right eye and this time it’s ok. Hooray!
Lisa’s managed to turn my worst birthday ever into the best birthday ever by surprising me with a night’s stay at Hampton Manor hotel. My parents are looking after the kids and I spend three hours in our hotel room with the football on and a glass of wine in hand: Heaven on earth.
I announce that I’m fine to drive us home from the hotel (the consultant advised that it can take 1-2 weeks for driving vision to return), only for Lisa to shoot me down by asking me to read a number plate 20m away (I can’t). My vision is DEFINITELY getting better though.
I finally pass Lisa’s number plate test and can drive myself to work again. This is a massive relief: I’ve hated being reliant on other people for lifts.
It’s now over two weeks since the operation and I’m pretty much back to normal. There is a real novelty of not having to put contact lenses in every morning/take them out every night, and I’m finding it intriguing to see how much I can see without the aid of glasses or contacts. I’ve also worked out that in eight years’ time the surgery will have paid for itself (it cost £3,600 and I’d have spent that amount on glasses and contact lenses). I’m not allowed to swim or play squash for a couple more weeks but this may have been a blessing in disguise as it’s encouraged me to get back on my bike. When I can squeeze it past the punchbag.
Have you had your eyes lasered or are you as much of a scaredy cat as me, or are you considering it? What have your experiences been like?