30 June 2010

The Gift Of Sight: Part 01.

It's been almost three weeks since I went in to get my vision corrected via LASIK so I thought I'd write about the experience, in three parts, while it's still relatively fresh in my mind. This entry provides a bit of background on the day of the surgery.

I woke up early on the day of my surgery, 11 June, excited and slightly anxious. I'd started on an antibiotic eye-drop regimen the day before in order to prep my eyes for the procedure and I made sure to put a couple more drops in after getting up. My appointment wasn't until 2:40 that afternoon, which gave us a decent cushion of time to get to Kansas City from Hays. I wouldn't be able to drive immediately after the surgery, but luckily my mom had some business to attend to in Columbia, so she volunteered to accompany me to the clinic. We left at around 9:30 that morning and made the 4-hour trip east to KC without incident.

We got to the LasikPlus clinic on time that afternoon. At this point I was a bit more nervous but still doing pretty well. I checked in at the front desk, where I was given some paperwork to fill out and sign: consent forms, liability waivers and an acknowledgment of understanding of the procedure. After returning the forms, I was asked if I wanted a Valium tablet. You can probably guess my answer to that question ...

sweet surrender

I hung out in the waiting room watching HGTV for a few minutes, and was then ushered into an exam room to meet with Dr. Ellis, who I'd met with during my initial consultation two weeks prior. He'd be performing the surgery on me and wanted to know if I had any final questions or concerns. He was quite reassuring and confident -- which is what you really want the guy who'll be cutting up and reshaping your eyes to be. We chatted for a little bit, and then I found myself in another waiting room adjacent to the Eye-Slicing Room*, where the procedure would be taking place. Dr. Ellis then said he'd see me in a few minutes, then walked into the Room with the patient scheduled before me.

The Eye-Slicing Room had glass walls so I (along with other patients scheduled that day) could see the equipment and medical team as they worked. There were even monitors strategically placed so that I could watch the procedure itself if I wanted. Unsurprisingly I chose not to watch, but for some reason the lady who was scheduled to go after me did. So basically all I heard for ten minutes was "Omigod. OHHH! What's that. Oh God. Oh God what's --- OHHH!"

Valium or not, never in my life have I wanted to slap someone so badly.

Instead, I concentrated on the benefits of the procedure instead of psyching myself out, and did sneak glances inside the Room now and then to see a general view. Mostly it was just of the woman laying on her back with equipment over much of her face, and Dr. Ellis at the head of the operating table controlling the machines. Bright lights emanated from the equipment. Really not much going on from a bystander's point of view; and the patient seemed composed and calm. Which were good signs.

LASIK surgery only takes about 10-15 minutes total for both eyes, so it wasn't long before Dr. Ellis finished up. The staff swung the equipment away and helped the patient up to a sitting position, then led her over to sit at one more machine, presumably to check if the procedure had been successful. After a brief exam, she was walked out of the Room and joined by the person who accompanied her to the clinic. Dr. Ellis then walked out and ushered the patient scheduled after me into the small exam room I'd just been in, to give her the chance to ask final questions. Five minutes or so passed, then he re-emerged and called my name.

Into the Eye-Slicing Room I went.

Read Parts 02 and 03.

*Obviously not its real name, but holy CROW it just seemed so appropriate at the time.

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