In one word so far - spectacular!
I spent the week before preparing myself by staying up 1 hour later than normal every night. This sleep deprivation worked - by the night before, I was so exhausted I fell asleep completely involuntarily in the most awkwardly convoluted pose on the couch. I just wanted to be able to come home from the surgery and sleep most of the day away!
My nerves acted up a little bit, but overall I was fairly cheerful and optimistic about the results. I figured there would be some overall discomfort, pain, and trauma, but in the end it would be worth it to not have to struggle with glasses while I was running, or deal with the dry blurriness that contacts caused me. Plus, I was so busy at work, I didn't have much time to just sit around and dwell on the thought of a flap being cut into my eye with a laser.
I packed up the valium that they prescribed, dropped the dogs off at daycare so I could sleep all day without them trying to lick my eyeballs, and arrived at the surgery center at 7:30. Jamie had been planning to drop me off and pick me up since we live so close to the center, but of course, work has been pretty crazy for him this last month also, and he really needed to be in the office. So I just drove myself there, and my mom planned to pick me up after her Friday morning work.
Just a few minutes of waiting, and I paid the fee (the point of no return!) . Then I got shuffled into the back where one of the techs re-did the scans and tests they did on my initial visits. After that, she walked me back to the "on deck" circle where she had me take 1 of my valium pills along with some Benadryl to help me rest when I got home. She said I could take the 2nd of the valium pills when I got home if I needed more help sleeping. She swabbed my eyelids with some kind of iodine, and then pointed me to one of the massage chairs in that area. Let me tell you, massage chairs plus valium is a pretty awesome combination. I actually felt decently relaxed for the next 20 minutes or so while I waited. A few other people filed in for the same treatment, and we chatted about some of the things we were looking forward to doing without glasses/contacts, and it turns out 3 of the 4 of us all owned Harleys! Crazy. Honestly motorcycle riding has dropped far enough in my list of hobbies that I wasn't even thinking about that much. It's mostly those rainy days of running, or those late night volleyball games where I have to force contacts in and then end up with blurry vision anyway, or those days at the pool where I just go in with no vision correction and I just hope I don't see anybody I know, because I wouldn't recognize them anyway. Oh and now that I think about it, a triathlon would have been a real pain with contacts! Guess I won't have to find out.
I was the first up, so I was called into the first room for the procedure. The surgeon greeted me, was very nice, tried to soothe my nerves (which at this point thanks to the valium and massage, were no worse than when I had to get a tooth drilled at the dentist), and then explained what would happen. He also chatted a minute about my eye condition - Dwayne's syndrome, which is basically a muscle problem with the eyes where I can move one eye independently of the other. He asked if I ever saw double, and I said if I thought about it, I could force my eyes to move in a fashion that would make me see double, but it didn't just spontaneously happen. He asked if I ever saw double in my contacts, and I said no, so he said the laser correction would have the same effect on my vision as contacts.
Now on to the part where they cut the flap with the laser. First they put numbing drops in and let them sit for a minute or so. Then, he had to put a device over my eye, I felt a little bit of squeezing, I couldn't even really call it discomfort. Then I pretty much lost my vision, it was just a bunch of whiteness, maybe a few seconds, then the right eye is done, and they put the shield back over it. Repeat on the left eye, again, barely felt the squeeze, and when it was done, the surgeon said the worst part was over. What? That was nothing!
Now the flaps are cut, they had me walk to the next room that has the giant laser machine. I could still see, it was just blurry, and they pretty much hold your arm so you can walk easily. Again they explained what would be happening here, demonstrated the loud clicking sound the laser would be making, explained I might smell something burning (that would be my eyeball but I don't think they worded it like that). The surgeon took a minute it seemed to (I presume) lift the flap up, and otherwise prepare my eye for the laser correction, I saw eye drops, I could see things that looked like a little brush sweeping off my eye, but I felt absolutely nothing. Vision blurred in and out while he did this, but I could faintly see the red blinking light at all times. When time came for the actual laser, it seemed everything in my vision went dark except the red blinking light, and I stared at that sucker like my life depended on it. Clicking sound, burning smell, almost as soon as I registered all that in my brain, it was over. Then another minute to put the flap back on, more eye drops, more little brushy things. Repeat on the second eye.
Then I'm done. What? Done already? I cannot believe it is so easy to do something so complex and amazing. I have felt much more stress in the dentist chair with the novocaine needle, and all I get out of that is a filled cavity, not even anything that improves my quality of life. Well, I suppose having a bunch of decaying teeth isn't really a good thing, but still, I don't actively notice an improvement in my quality of life when I leave the dentist's office.
I go into the third room now, and surprisingly, things are a bit blurry, but I can definitely see. The techs put plastic shields over my eyes, go over the eye drop directions again, and send me off with a bag of goodies. Then they give me giant, very fashionable sunglasses for the ride home, and I go into the waiting area until my mom arrives. 10 minutes later they come back and get me and say she is here, and I can walk up front and spot her (and nabbed a cookie from their hospitality tray on the way).
I feel a bit drowsy and strange, and hungry, thankfully my mom brought me a bagel that I munched on with my eyes shut in the car. It is really fortunate to live so close, because within 10 minutes I was home. I gave a quick call to Jamie to tell him everything went fine, and then I plopped down in bed. The sleep deprivation plus the valium plus the Benadryl really worked. I slept for 5 hours. At 3 PM when I woke up, I opened my eyes and was surprised that I could see really well. Like almost up to what I see with my contacts! I was also surprised that I felt no pain. No burning, no stinging, no tiredness, nothing. Every once in a while (maybe 5 times during the day), when I blinked my eyes, it felt like I had something in the eye. That's it. Again, much better than what I expected.
I got up and had a quick snack, put my eye drops in (every 2 hours while you're awake the first day). I decided not to push my luck, plus I had several books on CD, so I just went back to bed and listened to a book for another couple hours with my eyes shut.
5 PM I got up again for dinner and to put more eye drops in, and my sight is even crisper. Now I would say it matches what I see with glasses, the only weird part is up close I have a harder time focusing. I don't know if this is the plastic eye shields, or just something that my eye muscles have to adjust to. I went back to the audio book, I was enjoying it, and I might as well spend as much time as possible with my eyes closed, since it helps healing. 6:45 PM I hear Jamie coming home with the dogs, and it's almost time for eye drops, so I get up for a little bit and have some of the cookies that he brought home for me. I stay awake with eyes open for maybe a half hour and then go back to the audio book, which in turn, makes me feel sleepy. So I slept again from 7:30 PM until close to midnight.
I got up around midnight for a few more snacks, and I am beginning to think my eyes are better than with glasses now. Already! I was not expecting this. Although my eyesight was not that bad before, and they do say people with worse vision take a longer time to recover. I listened again to the audio book until around 1 AM when I felt tired again, and then I slept until 6:30 AM.
The next day
Today I can take off the plastic eyeshields. I could tell from the second I woke up that my vision is even better than last night. Now things look better than they did even on my best day of contacts (which were very few and far between).
Wow. The backyard is amazing. Every little blade of grass is so crisp. The branches of all the trees are so well defined. This is better than I've ever seen, contacts, glasses, anything. I can see the computer screen - I've been typing all this up and no tiredness. I have tried reading things up close, and it doesn't feel weird. I still don't have any pain. I do have a couple red spots on my eyes, and my vision is so spectacular, otherwise I would almost feel as though they did nothing to me.
I'm going to go stare out the window, it's just so amazing. Ooh, I wonder what HD TV looks like now! This is so exciting.
The next day, continued
I went for my day after follow-up and the doctor said everything was looking good. I was encouraged to get back to my running, although I do have to wait 1 week for volleyball (which is okay because I believe our Wednesday work team is playing the team with one of the hardest hitters I have ever seen and I don't want him anywhere near my eyeballs), and 2 weeks for swimming. Two weeks sounds so soon for swimming, I don't know if I'll rush right back to that. I mean, I just need to be able to do a half mile by July, I think at the point I'm at now, that won't be too much of a struggle.
Around noon I put my usual eye drops in, two different medications, and then one thing of artificial tears. The tears stung a bit in my right eye, so I went to lie down for a little bit and promptly fell asleep (did the 18 hours of sleeping in the previous day not do anything?) .
I woke up and felt better, so continued on my normal every day things, we went out for pizza and Starbucks (mmm...) I can see a bit of the halos people talk about around street lamps and stoplights, but it's pretty mild and really nothing annoying. Overall my night vision is much more crisp than what glasses or contacts provided. At around 10:30, my eyes started to actually feel dry, they hadn't felt that yet, so I put in some of the tears. They stung again, this time a lot worse in the right eye. I am beginning to wonder, my right eye's prescription was worse than my left's, and it's the only one that's stinging, so I wonder if people with much worse eyesight than me have a more painful recovery time. Because really mine has had very little associated pain.
We went home shortly after the stinging, and after a car ride with my eyes shut (I was the passenger!), everything felt good again. I taped on the eye shields needed for 3 nights and went to sleep. I was glad for the eye shields because I woke up 2 hours later and my left eye was itching like crazy! My mostly asleep self could easily have just reached up and scratched it without thinking. Yikes that thought gives me the willies.
Two days later
I woke up around 7 AM and my eyes felt really really dry. Like my bad contact dryness. Slapped in all the standard drops and they feel better now. Will rest them a bit more than I did yesterday, but tomorrow staring at a computer at work all day will be a real test!
After that initial morning dryness, they were pretty comfortable all day.
Three days later
Today was my first day back at work. I woke up again to some serious dryness, but my usual eye drops and they were good to go. I was a bit worried about staring at a computer screen all day, but that turned out to be fine, no discomfort at all.
I came home, and got Stewey (custody for a week!) Stupid me, as soon as I see him, I pick up his little squirmy wiggly puggy self and hold his head up to my face. I am guessing everybody else who's ever met Stewey could see where this is going, except me of course. Yes, he sneezed directly in my face. I felt droplets on my eyes. Oh I bet that's gonna be good for me! Then I took him to the groomer for his nails, and the groomer found that the grinding tool worked much better than cutting. Of course, it also ground nail dust into my eyes (I am supposed to avoid dusty and dirty environments for 1 week - no jokes now, Jamie has been keeping up very nicely on the house cleaning). So let's hope I didn't do any damage to myself. Still feel fine! I have another check up on Thursday so I'll mention all the dog germs likely living inside my eye flap now.
One week later
Thursday's check up went fine, everything is looking good. I feel totally normal, although I am still paranoid about poking myself in the eye. My vision has remained as good as it was, and I am down to eye drops just twice a day, along with the Restasis to proactively help out with dry eye. I am still not used to seeing so well, I stepped in a few giant puddles while running, because I was looking around in amazement at all the fine details I see in the woods.
I went shopping for sunglasses, since I will be able to wear them so much more now!