Like so many things Jacqui and I have to repeat lately, it would seem my eye surgery is no exception. Before embarking on our first attempt to drive to Chile, I had decided I wanted to be liberated from the tyranny of glasses.
From age twelve i've been using those little corrective lenses to see the distant chalkboard in the classroom and things had only worsened with time. However, after having committed to such an amazing voyage, I realized how much I'd miss out on with the glasses. I wanted to see the sights every time I went out in the water, whether snorkeling or kiting. I didn't want to be kiting in some foreign place and be unable to spot Jacqui if she was in trouble, or see the safe place to land on the beach. Being unwilling to cut into the trip budget I'd accrued through working and selling nearly everything I owned, I made the hard decision to sell my baby.
Before you start filling out paperwork to try and foster my abandoned child, I'll clarify that I'm talking about a car. Not just any car, the nicest car I've ever owned, the car I'd gotten free from my uncle when the engine had blown, the car that had taught me more about being a mechanic than any amount of time I'd spent in a classroom, and the very car in which I took Jacqui on our first date. After 6 years, hundreds of hours of work, thousands of dollars spent and 294,000 miles on the odometer, I let my beloved BMW Sonia go. I had planned on storing her with a relative for the day when Jacqui and I returned, but in a rare act of maturity, I decided to invest my money in health and life experiences rather than material possessions.
With Sonia gone to a good home, I finally had the capital I needed. A personal recommendation for a doctor came from one of my customers that had outstanding results on his eye surgery. I visited Dr. Bui, located right here in Alameda, where I had my eye cut open in pursuit of life without glasses. I won't write a detailed account of what happened during the surgery because, well...I already have. So I hope you forgive me for using the copy and paste feature to simply quote myself at the end of this post.
So here I am on round two. I've fallen into a very small category of people who have vision regression. In other words, my vision has partially returned to nearsightedness during healing. According to my doctor, the national average for this is around 10 percent, and his personal statistic is 5 percent. Regardless, I picked an excellent, extremely professional doctor, and my surgery has been redone at no cost to me. It would seem my eye is under warranty. This of course makes me wonder if other medical procedures will someday come with these guarantees I generally associate with car parts. (Oh ya, this new heart of mine comes with a 5 year 100,000 beat warranty. Best in the industry!).
After three days it already seems that this surgery is going much better than the last. My doctor slightly over-corrected my vision this time with the knowledge it will regress, and I'm taking much higher precaution with using sunglasses. UV rays are known to cause regression of laser corrective surgery, especially during the healing process.
For those of you considering having corrective eye surgery, I still definitely recommend Dr. Bui in Alameda, California. Be warned, he will turn you away if he thinks you're a bad candidate for correction. (He told my old boss 'no'). I of course take that as a sign of a good doctor.
For those of you interested, here's the day-by-day breakdown of my original experience with laser eye corrective surgery that I wrote last October.
For those of you considering laser eye surgery, here is my experience. First off, I had LASEK, not LASIK. LASIK is an extremely quick, painless procedure that yields near perfect vision within hours. This is done by cutting a flap into your eye, using a laser on your eye’s lens, then closing the flap. However, for people with thin eye linings like myself, or those of you that participate in contact sports, your doctor may recommend you have LASEK.
LASEK is also an extremely fast, painless procedure. It yields the same visual enhancement results, but instead of seeing clearly in hours, it takes about a week. This is because there is no flap created like in LASIK. Instead a very small amount of the surface of the eye is removed and thrown away, the lens of the eye is again adjusted with a laser, and the eye then grows back the surface tissue that was removed. This makes the healing process uncomfortable/painful since you essentially have a giant scratch on your eye. I'll let you do further research on the differences in the procedures now that you know the acronyms and fundamentals.
Day 1 - I went in for a noon surgery appointment. Upon being called from the waiting room I was sat in a chair and given every type of eye drop known to mankind. A drop for numbness, a drop to sterilize, a drop for happiness, a drop for sorrow, a drop to make unicorns visit me in my sleep. They then used some sort of sterilizing wipe to thoroughly clean the area around the eye receiving surgery. After a couple minutes sitting with my now sterilized face, that I’m not aloud to touch, they bring me in...the room! (Dun, dun, DUN!!).
In the room I’m laid back into a chair that might remind you of something you’d see in a dentist office. It reclines me onto my back, and I’m slid under the large machine that is clearly responsible for all the magic to come. As my stress levels begin to rise due to the abusive use of my imagination, the doctor hands me a teddy bear to keep my hands busy. They then begin to tape back my eyelashes and use a spreader tool on my eyelids. They cover my opposite eye to help me concentrate while instructing me to keep staring at the blinking red light inside the machine. In my peripheral vision I can make out a plastic tube coming within a few inches of my eye. My first thought was that this must be some sort of vacuum or cleaning device…it wasn't.
Bzzt, Bzzt, bzzt, bzzt. Based on the Taser-like sound, I speculate that this tube must be the actual laser. I smell the faint essence of burnt hair and can only assume they're BBQing my eye. Within seconds the laser goes silent and moves away. My vision has now gone completely useless, but I can faintly make out the blinking red light, and like a good soldier, I refuse to give up on my soul mission, to stare straight at that light! At this point if teddy was ever alive, I would have killed him with how tightly my hands were wrapped around his neck. Through the fog I can see the doctor’s hand moving in and using some sort of tool to slide across my eye. I assume he’s removing the bit of flesh the laser has cut off. His hand moves away, the laser comes back to make a couple more zaps and moves away again. My vision sharpened a bit with the last laser round, the doctor’s hands return and I can see him applying something to my eye. I later learned this was a bandage contact. The tape and spreaders are removed, the chair swings out from under the large machine and my doctor announces, "We're done!"
I was probably in and out in twenty minutes, five of which were the actual procedure. The process was stressful, but quick and painless. My doctor gave me some antibiotic eye drops and a prescription for painkillers. My vision was useless for the entirety of day one, but my pain/discomfort was little to none.
Day 2 - This one sucked (technical term). I woke up immediately looking for my pain pills. It felt like having a very bad scratch on your eye. Laying down, sitting up, walking around, closing your eyes or opening them.....nothing helped. It wasn't unbearably painful, but it was unrelenting. I did have noticeable vision improvement overnight, but it was still far worse than my original pre-surgery vision. I had my 24hr post-op exam where my doctor said I was healing fast, and that he’d remove the bandage contact in a few days. Regardless, it was a rough and very long day.
Day 3 - No pain and I didn't need a single pain killer! When I went for a walk I started being able to make out the letters on license plates from a distance.
Day 4 - No noticeable difference in vision since day 2. My doctor removed the bandage contact and informed me that the eye heals inwards. In other words, the tissue grows from the outside in, so even though it was mostly healed, the last remaining part to heal is the center of my eye, which also happens to be the part that I need to look through. There was a minor scratchy sensation after the contact was removed since my eyelid was now able to come in contact with the healing surface of my eye, but it didn't seem particularly painful.
1 Week and beyond – I woke up on day 7 (6 days after surgery) with an obvious improvement in vision. Definitely not perfect, but becoming very clear. Each day after sharper and sharper. Each morning came with a little more clarity, and the ability to see a little further. So LASEK is definitely a procedure of patience. From what I have read, about a month after surgery is when you have "perfect vision," and it can continue to sharpen for up to 3 months. However, within a week you can definitely return to 'life as normal.'