My first appointment at the IEC in Kirksville was to see if I would qualify for LASIK. Some people will not. It turned out that I was a good candidate for LASIK. When asking about the price, they weren’t able to tell me anything specific. They said it would be between $1200-2500 per eye. That is a very large ball park when you are trying to set money aside in a Flexible Spending Account. What value do we pick between $2400 and $5000? My recommendation is to budget for the maximum amount and expect to pay that, because you very well may. My cost was $2099 per eye, from which an insurance discount of 15% was applied. We underestimated, and as a result, our FSA is already cashed out for the year with several more prescriptions to fill.
Then there is the scheduling. This was when I envied those that live in larger cities, that can have it done a little more conveniently. I was given one day for each month of 2014 from which to select. All of the days available I had something going on. I selected one and found subs and moved things around to make it work. And so it was that I would have LASIK done on March 19, 2014.
One week prior to your LASIK surgery, you are to have a pre-LASIK visit. One week prior to that, you are to stop wearing contacts so that your eyes get a break from them. For two weeks, I wore glasses, which was something I had gotten used to not doing. It made me appreciate the surgery more in the end. At the pre-Lasik visit, they map out your eye and get the information they will need to tell the laser. Something that they forgot to remind me to do was begin antibiotic eye drops a few days prior to the surgery. I received a reminder call of the surgery (as if I would forget) telling me I should already be on the eye drops I knew nothing about. I started them right away and got a day’s worth in. That was good enough.
On the day of the surgery, they instructed me to arrive a little before my appointment time of 10:30am. As in any doctor’s office, there is a long, long wait. They are always frustrating, these seemingly avoidable long waits. Even when they finally called me after almost 2 hours, they took me back to a room where they prepped me and had me wait another 20 minutes or so. It felt like forever until the doctor’s assistant came and asked if I was ready. Um. Yeah. I had been ready for 2 frickin’ hours.
Before I go into any more detail, you should be warned that this isn’t for the easily queasy. Although there was no pain, these details could potentially make one a little faint, and perhaps even decide against having such a rewarding procedure. OK. You’ve been warned.
They walked me into a cold room, and before lying me flat, gave me a little stuffed lion named Harry to hold onto with both hands and not let go. Upon lying down, they told me not to cross my legs for the whole procedure. I think these were simple distracting things that would take my concentration somewhere other than creating a flap on my eyeball. It worked in a small way.
Once I was positioned correctly, holding and petting my new friend Harry, staring up at some red and green lights, the doctor put several drops in my right eye after covering my left with a patch. My guess is that these drops were both for moisture and a local anesthetic. After a few moments, he taped my eyelids open.
With eyelids taped open, the doctor placed some sort of device around my eyeball. My guess is that this was the ‘structure’ or ‘base’ that was needed for what came next. A small dome was placed onto my eye (or the ‘base’ that was around my eye) and the doctor requested suction. I could feel the suction, but I could only imagine my eyeball lifting a little out of the socket because I couldn’t feel it. At this point the doctor told me that things would be going dark, which they were. He asked when there was total darkness. That was when it was time for the worst part.
Again, let me repeat, there is no pain. It was only the worst part because you know what is happening, you feel what is happening, you hear what is happening, and you smell what is happening. The sensation is a vibration of the eyeball. Since the device cutting a flap in your eye is right there by all of your sensory organs, the sound is like a jigsaw. Then the smell of burning flesh hits your nose. They say it is only the smell of the laser, but I question that. I’m not going to lie, this made me shiver slightly and get a little queasy. If you are prepared for a jigsaw sound, the smell, and the sensation you will be fine. I was prepared for everything but the sound, so that took me by surprise.
Once the flap was created, the rest is easy peasy. The suction went away, and my vision returned. A tiny instrument came in to view and opened up the flap, as if opening up a window into another universe. I was then instructed to look at the blinking red light, as this is where the laser would come from. The doctor centered the machine and I could hear his assistant say something like “first three sessions at 15 seconds.” Then the laser began doing its work. There is nothing awkward about the laser except the sound, which isn’t anywhere near as bad as the noise that cuts the flap. I saw the light flicker as the laser did its work. She may have then said something like “two sessions at 11 seconds” before another round of laser hit me. After each of these “sessions,” things were clearer. There may have been five of these such sessions, I can’t remember.
When the laser was over, the tool came back to close the flap. A tiny brush came in to apply what I imagine to be some sort of adhesive. The ‘structure’ thingy was taken out, I received eye drops, and then the tape was removed so my right eye could finally close. The patch was then removed from my left and placed on my right. The process was repeated for the left eye.
The whole process felt like it took 10 minutes, which probably means it took less. They had me sit up and open my eyes. It looked as if I were underwater, which I guess the adhesive was causing. The assistant asked me if I was OK because I looked pretty pale. I wasn’t going to get any paler, so I was fine.
I was walked back over to the room I waited in and given a pill. This pill helped me sleep on the entire drive home and for a few hours after arriving at home. I took a short walk that evening and wanted to sleep again. The eye drops are non-stop right now.
The next morning I was measured at 20/15, and told that my vision would only improve over the next month. I’m a happy camper. Except for having to give up Harry. That was tough.