Friday, March 25, 2011

They Unblinded Me With Science

I remember sitting in a Saturday morning editing and proofreading class at George Washington University in D.C. in 1998 the first time someone told me that they had surgery to fix their nearsightedness. I'd been wearing classes since I was 16. I didn't mind them so much. So I only nodded as I heard the story. That, and the idea of willingly going under the knife for something contacts and glasses could fix seemed totally out of my reach.

Fast Forward 10 years when my two year old is repeatedly ripping glasses off my head (and my husband's) and smashing them into oblivion. Hmmm. I thought. It would be nice if these suckers weren't on my head. Before I got pregnant, I'd switched to wearing my contacts most of the time. Then, afterwards, there didn't seem to be enough minutes in the morning for that step. Over the years, more and more of my friends have had the procedure done. All of them were quite happy with the results. The only person I'd met that was unhappy was on a flight. And, from what I could garner, he was quite an unhappy person all around. Let alone the fact that he was mad that he didn't achieve 20/20 eyesight.

So, this year, before open enrollment ended at Apple, I investigated getting Lasik surgery through Eye Surgical Associates. They have an office in Champaign, but the surgeries are done in Bloomington.

As it turns out, my nearsighted prescription, the shape of my eye and my pupil size (which was borderline large) made me an excellent candidate. Then I got to watch a video that was kind of an introduction to corrective eye surgery over the last 30 years. It went over real expectations about the results, and some of the side effects of the procedure. It kept reiterating the fact that this surgery will not prevent you from needing reading glasses as you age, because reading glasses is the deterioration of another part of the eye entirely... (I guess people don't quite get this.) Then I got a price quote good for 30 days, but explained that I had been saving, but wouldn't be able to do the surgery until the last part of March.

I made a pre-surgical appointment for March 16th, and they gave me the lesser price when it came time to pay. There was a large discount for paying the entire amount up front, so I was happy that I'd been keeping the surgery as a financial goal in the back of my mind. Again on the 16th, the nurse measured my eyes and ran a bunch more tests. I watched a second movie. This one was longer and had a quiz about the dangers and side effects of surgery. I call it the "Scary Movie."

Quigs was uber nice and drove me to my pre-surgical appointment that day, so the nurse could dilate my eyes (which meant I couldn't drive for 24 hours). Special K's husband was also very generous and picked up X-man from school that day.

Then on Thursday, March 24th, MacTroll drove me to Bloomington, where I spent about 30 minutes in a chair getting remeasured again and then 12 minutes in a surgical chair while a machine and a surgeon spent 39 seconds on each eye cutting a flap into my lenses and reshaping my corneas with computerized lasers. And now, one day later, my eyes are 20/15. Crazy, isn't it? Science that's not science fiction.

After the surgery, I felt like I was in a dream sequence for a while. The vision was a little blurry and cloudy. They gave me these cool safety goggles to wear until my first follow up appointment this a.m. Aren't they sexy?

I had to sleep in them. They said I'd need to shower in them, too. But, um, since my appointment was at 10:10 a.m. today, I just ponytailed it and put on some deodorant and showered later in the day after I got cleared to drive and work out. (Although it's another two weeks before I can get in a pool or wear eye make up and another month before I can try out for the U of I hockey team, i.e. contact sports).

I felt no real discomfort after surgery past some mild scratchiness. I'm keeping up with my eyedrops, as indicated by the surgeon and am really enjoying the fact that I can just slide on normal sunglasses. I am experiencing a bit of the starburst around lightbulbs and headlights at night, but that should go away with time, and doesn't bother me too much as it is.

That said, if anyone wants to go visit Dr. Brownstone in Champaign (or Bloomington for that matter), I've got a referral card for a free examination to determine if you're a candidate that I can give you. The nurses are WONDERFUL, by the way. The going price is $2,300 per eye, if you get it financed. There's around a $700 discount if you pay it all at once, and yes, they take VSP, if your company has it.

I'd never had elective surgery before. And it's very different from getting your gall bladder out. 1) I had virtually no pain or discomfort during the whole thing. 2) They tell you congratulations when you're done. 3) They don't starve you and ignore you in a hospital bed for 58 hours. 4) They give you a free travel mug with a gift card for coffee in it when you're done, in hopes that you'll do what I did above (which is refer people to them for doing an awesome job).  But it did make me wonder, if you get a boob job, do they give you a coffee cup with a Victoria's Secret gift card inside?

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