Thursday, June 5, 2008

Laser Eye Surgery - Part One

Many people have been kind enough to wish me well with the whole laser treatment thing on my eye, many have asked what's involved and a few have said that they were / are thinking about it but haven't done it for any number of reasons. So I thought I might interest a few if I wrote a bit about what happens and what was involved. I'll try to jot down my thoughts and retain the sparkling wit that you've become used to, but frankly that might be a struggle. Laser surgery isn't high up on the list of funny topics, unlike the penis reduction I had some time ago.

I was about ten when I first got glasses and have had to wear them, or contact lenses, full time ever since. I've met people who wear glasses and are fond of them, they feel attached to them and enjoy the whole thing. That was never me. I always though that they were a hindrance and wanted contact lenses as soon as I could have them. From about sixteen I wore contacts and went through every type you can imagine. I started with the small hard type and, a couple of years ago I was wearing daily disposable ones the were as trouble free, comfortable and easy on the eye as a good Barefoot sarong.

So a couple of years ago I decided to have laser surgery to try and fix the eyes once and for all. If you're quite shortsighted maybe you'll know how annoying it gets to have to put on your glasses even if you want to pee in the night. Swimming was always a problem for me too. Without lenses I would struggle to locate the pool and with lenses I'd spend so much time concentrating on not getting water in my eyes that I couldn't enjoy it.

Another factor, unrelated to the eyes, was that I couldn't swim. Now that I've had a few lessons things are looking promising.

When you reach your, ahem, thirties, they tell you that being short sighted can correct the, ahem, old age thing of not being able to see close up things, like books and cars. They tell you that correcting shortsight by laser surgery means you are likely to need reading glasses straight away, "they" being the laser eye people. It's a bit of a bummer really. With all the technology and all the measurements taken by the most complicated looking machinery they can't predict exactly how the post op eyes will be. As Cerno would say, vut to do?

Well, in my case it was to go ahead and have the op. I reckoned that the opportunity to have perfect eyesight was something I couldn't turn down, that I might need reading glasses in a few years time anyway and that I should go for it. One of the few things I have believed and stuck to in my life is that I never want to look back and wonder "what if" and this was like some of Colombo's new traffic planning; a one way junction with many possible choices but only one correct one, but you're never quite sure if it's correct.

I paid my money and signed the forms. I was told that my eyes would be suitable for Lasik surgery, though this would be confirmed by the surgeon when he saw me. Lasik is the one where they cut a flap in the eye, whack the old laser on the bit underneath to do its correcting thing, then bung the flap back and let it all heal. It's supposed to be quick healing and many people have perfect sight within days if not hours of the op.

It was April 06, Dinidu was just hitting puberty, this blog was in its infancy and I was in the room where you go just before the operation being examined by the nice eye surgeon. I'd booked a week off work, cleared my diary and done my best impersonation of a proper manger by pretending to delegate things to other people while I'd be away. I expected to have my op and be on my way a few minutes later with eyes like Steve Austin, at a much lower cost. The surgeon looked at my eyes and casually said

"Oh no I can't do Lasik, it will have to be Lasek, your corneas aren't thick enough for Lasik."

I'd been examined in the previous months by everybody that I could remember in the clinic, all except the surgeon himself, and I was a little bit surprised and quite dejected by this. The Lasek process is just as promising in terms of potential results but involves scraping back the top layer of the eye and has a much longer recovery time. It usually takes a week at least for anything near normal vision to be restored and full healing can take up to a year after that.

The surgeon asked me if I'd like to go ahead with it. I know what these chaps on quiz shows must feel like when they get to that final question. It's an easy one but suddenly all sorts of other things enter your mind and you're unsure about the answer to give. I was a bit pissed off as I had it in the back of my mind that the "consultants" and people at the clinic may make it a habit of telling potential patients that their eyes were suitable for the quick and convenient instant results operation to get them in through the door. Then, whilst there was no thought or hint of any medical wrong doing, it was only the surgeon who could actually decide.

I would have preferred it if I had known beforehand which operation I would be suitable for. There was no difference in cost so that wasn't a factor for the clinic but I was suddenly faced with the prospect of a much longer and potentially awkward recovery than I had envisaged. Two, maybe more, weeks off work and up to a year for the eye to heal fully. The surgeon was relaxed and easy going about things, telling me that I could think about things and rebook it when I was happy, that I could decide not to proceed if I wanted without losing my money.

I thought about work. Could they manage without me? Of course they could. Did I have any gigs lined up in the next couple of weeks? Nope. Any holidays booked? Negative too.

After about thirty seconds of intensive thought, which is a lot for me, I said yes. After a thirty year wait the carrot of perfect eyesight, of no glasses and no contact lenses, was too attractive. I had to say yes, I had to do it.

Some minutes later I was lying on the operating table.

"Just focus on the red light Rhythmic" the surgeon said........

To be continued........

Next installment - how it feels, what you see and that burning smell.


indyana said...

Oh for god's sake...just when i was getting all Martin Yan-nish, thinking "If RD can do it-so can I" go saying scary things about burning smells and stuff...eeks!

themissingsandwich said...

Strangely enough - I get my eyes tested every year hoping "this will be the year I get to wear glasses" but alas its never happened. Been cursed with brilliant eyesight. ;-)

Also - I thought that you were done with the 2-part blog posts?

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Indyana - I think you'll be ok once I write the next bit.

TMS - I suppose you could always get some clear glasses if you really wanted to wear them. I think this had to be at least a two part post, just because it's so damn long. Sorry for that!

Scrumpulicious said...

Maybe when I get to your age, I'll consider it also..... ;-) :-P