Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Laser Eye Surgery - Part Two

continued from here

There I was, lying on an operating table, with the surgeon asking me to look at the red light. My head was held by something so it couldn't move, the eye that was being done first was clamped open somehow to stop me blinking and I was vaguely aware of a few people milling around in the background. All in all it didn't quite rank up there with having a drink while watching the sunset at Galle Face Hotel in my list of favourite things to do.

It's not an easy thing to find and focus on this bloody red light under the circumstances I tell you. I think that the machinery / surgeon can only actually do things when the patient is looking at the light so you do feel a bit under pressure to keep staring intently at it. Once I'd found it and fixed on it I saw the surgeon's hand, with something in it, descend towards my eye.

I'm sure that a blog reading eye surgeon will tell me differently but I then became aware of something in the way of a sharp instrument scraping the top of my eye. Because of the anaesthetic I couldn't feel much at all but I had enough sensation to know there was a bit of scraping going on. No pain, no discomfort, just mild bits.

In a matter of seconds the red light that I had been busting my bollocks to stare at went all blurry. It was as if I was looking through a sophisticated lens, one made up of many lenses, that had suddenly had one of its constituent lenses removed. Which is what had effectively happened. The scraping was the top layer of my cornea being scraped away so that the laser could do its burning thing on the bit underneath. Have a look here if you want to know a bit more.

"Now Rhythmic you're going to smell a bit of a burning smell in a second. It's just the laser and entirely normal, it will only last a few seconds." said the surgeon.

I had been told about this before and was ready, as ready as one would expect. The fact that the chap referred to me as "Rhythmic" was a surprise, I guess he must have been a reader.

He told me to keep looking at the red light, which I did, though it was more of a red fog than a light now. I heard some sort of clicking sounds, rather like a geiger counter, not that I've ever heard one of them, then I smelled a burning smell. It was a bit like burning hair, only it was burning eye, mine. Next he used some kind of tool to slide the top layer back over my cornea. Then they flushed the eye with cold water. This felt as if I was diving into a pool of ice blindfolded after being told that it would be nice and warm in the water.

The final thing was that he chucked a contact lens, a bandage lens of some sort, which would stay in for about a week to help the healing, over the eye. The whole procedure must have lasted no more than five minutes.

He moved on to repeat the process in the other eye. I shan't describe that in detail but if you want to know about it then perhaps read through the previous few paragraphs again. If you're a musician then just imagine a repeat sign at the end of this sentence and, well you know what I mean.

I was carted off and over the next few weeks and months went through a fairly regimented system of follow up appointments and recovery. The vision was blurry for some time but within a matter of days I was told, and saw for myself, that I had twenty twenty vision in both eyes. It was twenty twenty but through the haze.

As time went on the haze cleared and I was cock a hoop with my new found spangly eyes. I didn't need glasses, I could see things at a distance with crystal clarity and I could go to the toilet in the middle of the night without having to fumble for my glasses at the side of the bed. I wrote a post or two about it and generally felt lucky and happy.

But actually I did need glasses. I found that I had to wear glasses for reading, as I was warned might be the case by the clinic before it was done. This was a bit of a bummer. I spend much of my working day in front of a monitor and so I had to wear glasses more or less all of that day. It seemed rather twisted; the fact that I did the op to eliminate the need for contact lenses or glasses, yet I was wearing glasses more than I had before. To all others around me, who were used to seeing me in my contact lenses, I had had the op and was now wearing glasses most of the time.

Every time I went back to the clinic for a check they told me that the eyes can take up to a year to heal from this surgery and that I needed to wait until then to reach a conclusion about the outcome. I was a bit stuck. My distance vision, for the first time in several thousand years, was perfect.

Had I been in the army I could have been both the worst and the best chap to have around. I would have spotted the enemy approaching just after he'd left his front room, before anyone else had even thought about it. But I would have picked up the phone to call a fellow and warn him and wouldn't have been able to see the numbers to dial.

There was no other option but to wait for the year to finish. I carried on with life as normal during that time. I went to work, I joined and left bands, I split up with my wife and generally did all the usual stuff that we all do on a day to day basis. Then, when the year was up, I went back to the clinic for them to look at the situation.

They took a few looks, as clinics do, and told me that my eyes had indeed turned out a bit worse than expected, that they'd book me in to redo the operation if I wanted to. I was pleased that I'd chosen what I'd considered to be one of the more reputable establishments. Retreatment was free of charge and they were totally fine about it. I jumped at the opportunity too.

I'd have to go through it all again but I knew that I had to try, that I just didn't want to have to wear glasses all day.

I'll cut off here, sorry for the long windedness and the serialisation but you know how it is.

Next - the final part - I promise!

to be continued......


gutterflower said...

Scraping the cornea? Burning eyes?
Err.. I'm having second thoughts about having this thing done after all.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Gutterflower - wait for the next part before you decide, there's better bits to come.

Confab said...

there's worse than scraping at the eye? ugh!

why not sue em for a year's imperfect eye sight?

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Confab - It's not something I had considered to be honest, mostly because they covered themselves very well by telling me it was a possibility. Apparently the healing process is as long as a year and that can't be decreased. I think they advised me well, just that it didn't turn out exactly as I'd hoped.