Eye Can Do It

Several people have asked me to jot down my LASIK eye experience so I thought it would be useful to document it on here!

Growing up here in Alaska means dealing with contacts on the day to day can be irritating for a number of reasons. For one, it is very dry up here and while I’m pretty used to it, combining that and cold conditions, especially when you want to be outside, can create irritations. Wearing them while camping, fishing and exploring the great outdoors sometimes prompts issues or a concern if you lose a contact while you are out and about. None of these reasons require corrective eye surgery, but it sure would be nice to roll out of bed in the middle of the night for the kid and be able to see everything!

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a fear of anything near my eyes, happening to them or seeing someone else (real or on tv!) have a major eye injury. This irrational phobia, if you will, has been in my mind for so long that I don’t recall its origination. It could be the chicken pox I had in my eyelids as a young kiddo, since I vaguely recall being held down for the drops that helped take them away, or it could just be a weird quirk in my lovely personality.

The phobia presents itself in different ways on occasion; from increased heartbeat panic to actual nausea from time to time. It survived through getting glasses as a pre-teen, where I spent a year or two purposely not able to see because I didn’t want to wear them, to a frustrating few weeks of getting used to wearing contacts every day, to adulthood’s avoidance of the eye doctor until I HAD to go and get more contacts. Sitting in the waiting room of an eye doctor is right up there with birthing triplets. I mean seriously, no one needs to see a 3D eyeball sitting on a shelf and I certainly don’t need to see the inside of my own!

In junior high my best friend slipped in the parking lot, resulting in a pretty decent cut on her forehead. When she looked up at me from the ground, my first instinct was “oh no eyes” and running away from her as the blood dripped down her face. It would be great to say that I helped her up like a good friend; but no, I ran! Calm down, friends, at least I went for help! That and stayed far away from the eye in question. (Love you friend!)

So not surprisingly the concept of LASIK eye surgery scares the ever living hell out of me. My emotions scream no while the rational side of my brain tries to calmly explain (in my head) that my quality of life will greatly improve with a simple and very quick procedure, that yes, cuts my cornea but will be over in a flash (a laser flash!).

Having kids taught me two things that helped me decide to take my main fear in life and meet it eye to eye (get it!?). One, with my littlest triplet having a significant eye issue, it was something we had to address and could not avoid dealing with. Being a parent means you have to trudge on through, even when inside you are completely panicking. You can’t tell a one-year-old that you can’t handle their situation…it just doesn’t work. I would say I’ve gained great perspective in that area and managed to retrain my brain to handle it.

Secondly, having an instant family taught me to take the easy way if it’s a possibility. My life is hard, stressful, and so busy and the outcome of one stressful morning will improve it and make it easier. How could I not consider it?

The morning of the procedure I woke up from a decent night sleep, which of course involved all sorts of crazy dreams and images relating to the upcoming event. That being said, I focused on the positives, the fact that it will be over pretty quickly and be worth it in the end. It almost feels like the same mental conversation I had with myself the day of my c-section; that mirrors this concept as I worked to process my internal fear, excitement and realistic anticipation of the day.

This corrective surgery has a pretty quick recovery, with documentation noting I should be feeling pretty back to normal after a week or so, with fluctuations in my vision for up to three months. It also notes I shouldn’t play with kiddos OR drink caffeine for the first three days, so that will definitely be interesting.

I have to say, the overall almost two-hour process was not nearly as terrifying as the images in my head. The only “oh hell no” portion of the morning happened while I sat in the waiting room, after reading all of the what-ifs and signing consent, when I was sure my nervousness made me imagine an earthquake. Suffice to say, it was not my imagination and ended with the ceiling lights swaying across the room and a few comments from the front desk ladies. I commented this was definitely something in my previous nightmares, and the quake ended up being a 5.7 jolt from up north. NOT OKAY.

Harper modeling my safety glasses

The Valium I was promptly handed back in the pre-check room greatly helped with the jitters. I don’t recall if I’ve ever had it before and it definitely smoothed out my nervousness. The whole procedure took about 15 minutes and I still can’t believe it. The whirring of the laser machine and the minor burning smell accompanied only lasted a few seconds on each eye. The scariest moment for me was likely when you go from the normal blurry vision to complete grey. After the laser part, which I might add was kind of cool since it highlighted all the colors across the spectrum against the grey, vision-less backdrop of my eye. This was comparable to my vision changes when a migraine hits and I can see crazy, sparkly colors for a time. My vision then reappeared as if I was flying through a big, cumulus cloud without the ability to see very definitively. Repeat with the next eye and I was done.

My largest surprise through this whole experience was the lack of pain. Other than taking an Advil once on my way home, my eyes didn’t feel painful or in need of pain medication, just somewhat dry. A good nap away from the kids that afternoon and lounging a bit in the evening while Craig and Grandma Sue kept them fed and entertained helped a lot. By the next morning my vision was definitely not crystal clear yet, but distance was doable. The post-procedure visit that morning noted one eye was 20/15 and the other 20/20, even through the semi-cloudy haze. Each day my vision has changed a bit, with outside and distance easier to see than close up inside and computer screens.

While I’m still nervous that it isn’t perfectly clear yet, the fluctuations are expected and just something to get through one day at a time. It is odd to have a harder time reading the computer screen than seeing down the street; I’m holding out that the close up will continue to improve and eventually I won’t even notice it being off. It also feels very strange to not put contacts in each morning or take them out each night, since that process has lasted over the past two decades and the majority of my life.

I’ll also add the girls kept noting mommy has an owie in her eye and were very interested in my daytime construction safety glasses. So far I managed to keep them from headbutting, smacking or bumping my eyes as they heal, with only one minor foot to the face on day three. Not only am I excited to see additional improvement and very thankful this is all over with, but I’m also proud that I tackled something that gives me major anxiety and came out the other side even better.