Friday, May 16, 2014

My Real-Life Lasik Experience

Didja miss me? I missed you! I was out of the blogging circuit last week because....well.....because I was told to avoid computers. And sunlight. And water. And as I'm sure you guessed from my less-than-creative title, I didn't skip out on you guys last week because I was magically transformed into vampire or flaming phoenix.......nope.

I just had Lasik.

If you're looking for some honest, transparent feedback about the procedure, pricing, and results from a chick who basically just likes to spill her guts online with the hope someone will get even just a smidgen of help or happiness out of it, then this is the post for you!

The Background:
I started needing glasses when I was seven. In high school I transitioned into contacts - I was huge into dancing, and having bouncing, breakable things on my face was not exactly helping my technique. The benefits of contacts continued to haunt me throughout college. Glasses became a huge pain in the butt - wiping them in the rain, wiping them when they fog, wiping them when they fall off and I grab them the wrong way, pretty much just always wiping them. And the whole sunglasses thing. Man was I ever into sunglasses. And then of course my makeup would always get hidden by my glasses. I'm not going to lie to you. I was a vain lil-slutty-two-shoes for a while there.

By the time I joined the Army I hadn't worn glasses in years. Imagine my surprise when they stripped me of my contacts in Basic Training and handed me these huge, thick, brown-framed glasses, otherwise known as BCGs - Birth Control Glasses. I kid you not - they were called BCGs...meaning there was no way anyone would ever possibly get some action while wearing those suckers. Ever. And it was no joke. They were horrific. I remember standing in formation once, after graduating to my Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, secretly wearing my contacts. My drill sergeants knew I hated my BCGs. They knew I continually tried to sneak my contacts into my eyes. I even went as far as just going blind - no glasses, no contacts, no nuthin'. That's how much I hated the bulky, ill-fitting, thick-ass pieces of crap. I stood there one morning, absolutely wearing my contacts, when my drill sergeant came up and asked me where my glasses were. I lied right in his face. "No glasses today, Drill Sargent. Just rockin' the regular ol' eyes today." I remember him glaring at me, moving in closer, telling me to look him in the eye so he could check for contacts. I did my best "open but not open" eye bulge....prolly looked a little like Wile E. Coyote when he gets zapped by something. This drill sergeant had perfect vision, as did most of my drill sergeants, so he luckily had no idea what to look for and couldn't see the huge clear circle around my eye. I like to think the majority of this has to do with me being a Master Fake Eye Bulger. In the rare chance I did get caught with my contacts, they would make me do push ups and flutter kicks for a good 30 minutes.....and I should mention right now, in addition to being a Master Fake Eye Bulger, I am the Worst Push Upper in the nation. Yet I still risked it. I still wore my contacts at every opportunity. This, people, is how much I hated glasses. I vowed once I got out of training I would never, ever wear glasses again. Ever.

And reality check. Around the time I had my first kiddo, my body chemistry literally went to shit. I developed a weird sensitivity to most contacts...meaning they hurt like hell. There was really only one brand I could wear without constantly poking myself in the pupil to shift the contact around in my eye....and this brand cost about $100 a month. Yea. I'm no mathematician, but that's like $1,200 a year. Just for contacts. Not including the solutions. And the cases. And let's consider when I'd open one of these contact packages up and the contact would have some sort of manufacturing/packaging defect and would be all bent up and useless on my uber-sensitive eyes. The cost was getting out of control.

So I asked my optometrist about Lasik <que pharmecuticals commercial haha>. No but really. I trusted my optometrist - he knew how much I was struggling with contacts. He recommended a specific surgeon...explained he'd worked out a referral discount with the guy and trusted this surgeon would take good care of my eyes. After doing a little bit of research on my own, I found out this guy is ranked #1 in the state. Good enough for me!

The Price:
I went in for my consultation. I had a prescription of -3.75 in my left eye and -4.25 in my right. I also had astigmatism in my right eye. Basically the whole right eye just needed to go. I sat through a number of eyeball measuring tests and photos and at the end of the appointment, was asked whether or not I'd like to schedule the surgery. My immediate response was much is this going to cost?

Now I'm sure you've seen those Groupon deals for like $699 an eye, ya? Let me just tell you - this guy was not doing eyes for $699 a piece. PS: Read the fine print at the bottom of those "crazy good" deals. They're often based on old technology and the prescription of the patient. I recently saw a deal where some place offered both eyes for $1k...but only if your prescription was -1.50 or better. Who even needs Lasik with vision like that? Robbers!

I was given a price for IntraLase Lasik, which uses the newest technology to slice, dice, and reshape your cornea. Without the referral it would've cost me $6k. With the referral, my price was knocked down to $4,500 for both eyes. This included the pre-appointment and two post-op appointments with my regular optometrist.

I am not a rich man (said in the voice of Forrest Gump). And I'm also not much of an eye if you got your eyes done cheaper and are in love with the results, go you - no judgments here.

But these were my eyes. The phrase "you get what you pay for" was ringing in my head for weeks. I decided to go through with it. We saved some much-needed-and-allocated-elsewhere tax returns and, with the support of my hubby (who, frankly, was sick of me whining about my eyes every minute for years), we decided on a May surgery date.

The Prep:
I was out of contacts for a week before my surgery. No eye makeup for a few days prior. This was obviously a rough time in my life.

I also needed to bring two prescription eyedrops and a container of over-the-counter, preservative-free eyedrops with me to the surgery. I had an eye recheck two days prior, just to make sure nothing about my eye shape changed or something. Who knows what those weird eye machines really show. Prolly my soul.

So great news! My soul didn't change. I was a compliant patient and stayed out of my contacts. I'd saved the money and was ready to fork it over for better vision *fist pump*. I was go for launch.

The day of the surgery I was required to arrive with a driver. I had my mom stay with the kiddos (thanks mom!) and Aaron and I set off on the hour-long trip to the surgical center. I was freaking out the entire time.

Now I'm no sissy. I was trained to be a 91-W Series Combat Medic for the US Army. We had "desensitizing training." Yea. Just think about that for a minute.

I've also delivered two uber-huge babies (9lbs and almost 11lbs) completely unmedicated. Pain tolerance is kinda my thing.

And one last point in my anti-sissy defense, I really love the whole surgical process. I like talking to clinical staff and breaking them out of their normal, everyday, ho-hum, another-patient-is-here routine. I'm not afraid of drugs, needles, scalpels, you name it. Give it to me.

But for some reason, I. Cannot. Handle. Eyes. I was a mess. These were my eyes. My eyeballs. I've dissected enough eyeballs to know exactly how fast an eye can go from orb of bliss to puddle of squish with just a bit too much pressure.

Yea. Freaking out.

When I arrived, I was disappointed to hear I wasn't on their schedule. What. I had been prepping for over a week! Luckily, the drug nurse (more on her in a second) shifted a few things around and got me in. First. I was first. I was, like, about to go in. Early. Now.

She handed me some Valium. I told her I was very, very nervous. She handed me another Valium. Drug nurse = best person ever.

I had a few more pictures of my eye taken and then I got all prepped up. I'd used a sterilizing gel on my eyelids that morning, but they went over my eyes again with antiseptic and told me I couldn't touch them anymore. They shoved a cute little blue cap on my head and then I waited.

Aaron was with me the whole time, which was great because I was still freaking out (despite how cute I look, I know). The Valium takes a sec to kick in.  The surgeon came and checked my latest pics, said all looked great, and then walked away. A few minutes later I was called into the room by this nice, cute assistant dude. I left Aaron behind and walked on into the room marked "DANGER. DO NOT ENTER. LASER PROCEDURE IN PROGRESS."

The Procedure:
The room was a big table with two machines on each side. In the middle of the table was a brown puppy. This is not the Valium talking. This is real life. I laid down on the table and the nice dude gave me the stuffed puppy to hold onto and covered me with a blanket. Clean eyes, check. Valium kinda working, check. Puppy, check.

Someone taped down my left eye. Hey hey, Bad-Eye-Righty was first! The doctor came over and started moving my head around, aligning my eye with this red light. He told me to look at it. Then he started putting drops into my eyes. Now again, I'm no sissy. I do, however, have a strange tendency to head-jerk when drops of any kind are put in my eye. This was no exception. My head automatically jerked backward, without me even knowing it.

"You must relax, otherwise you will cause problems for both you and me," he said. Ok. Relax. So to avoid the jerking (because he was continuing to put fluids in my eye), I just tried to hold my head very still. I was literally flexing my neck like the hulk. He caught on to my tension when he tried to re-position my head at a better angle and again told me to relax. Sure, guy. I'm all noodles over here.

Eventually he was cool with the amount of fluid, made sure my eye was really numb, and then stuck this huge, and I mean huge, clamp in my eye. I was envisonioning something like the Matrix - little metal fingers pulling my eyelids up. No way. This was like a big plastic ice-cream scoop, surrounding my eyeball and forcing it out of the socket.

Don't get me wrong. I wasn't in pain. But holy crap, did I ever feel like my eye was going to pop right out. The pressure was something I'd never felt in my life. So weird. I have a really vivid imagination....and that imagination was on Valium, so....

I got over it quickly - they moved my table over to the machine on my left. The doctor told me I'd lose my sight for a minute but it would come back. Things went black. I heard one of the tech dudes countdown. I felt a smidge of pressure. This is, I'm assuming, when they cut the flap in my eye.

The doctor praised me for doing awesome and moved me over to the machine on the right side of the table. My vision came back. I saw a red light and he told me to stare at it. I tried, really I did. It was hard because the light was blurry - totally not staying where I needed it to. It was like jumping all over. Eventually I was able to lock on and he told me the laser was going to reshape my eye now. I heard a loud-ish noise, like when something metal gets stuck in the roller of a vacuum cleaner.....ditditditditditdit. My right eye needed the laser three times.

Now don't freak out, but because this blog is all about transparency, I have to tell you.

I could smell it. It smelled like burning hair. This was my eye, getting all lasered and reshaped. True story.

After about 2 minutes of laser time, I felt and saw this beautiful paintbrush-like thing on my eye, smoothing clear liquid over it in gentle strokes of bliss. It was awesome. I actually said out loud, "this is my favorite part." I have no idea if they laughed because, well, I was kinda in my own world at that point.

Then they taped Bad-Eye-Righty down and did the same thing to my left. The left only needed the laser twice, I'm assuming because they didn't need to correct any astigmatism.

The whole thing took about 20 minutes - maybe. Prolly closer to 15. It was fast.

I walked out and looked right at this dude who was set to get the procedure next. He looked at me with huge eyes and I just grinned like a drugged-up hoodlum. I was blinking like a crazy person and my eyes were watering all over the place. I was walking straight, but couldn't find Aaron, so I kinda walked one way for a step, then the other way, then back the other way. I remember just being happy I could see. I could actually see this guy's worried face looking right at me.

The Recovery:
The ride home was a living hell. We had an hour drive. The numbing drops wore off right away and me, being the Valium genius I was, really wanted to "use my new eyes." I was trying to look the mid-day sun. It was bright as heck. I kept going between "OHDEARHELL my eyes are burning out of my skull!" to " I CAN SEE THAT SIGN! I CAN SEE THAT SIGN!" Aaron tried to get me home as fast as he could but I was doomed. After about 30 minutes I was trying everything I could to keep the sun out of my eyes. I even tripled down on the sunglasses. Hott Jen, lookout.

By the time I got home I just wanted to sleep. I passed out in my bed for about an hour wearing these sweet goggles they make you rock when you sleep. They are absolutely a turn-on for anyone who likes googly-eyed, sci-fi chicks.

The eyedrops suck, I am not going to lie. The prescription drops are thick, milky, and need to be used three to four times a day. I also use those preservative-free drops every 30 minutes. I have no idea how long I need to do this. My one-week follow up appointment is tomorrow, so we shall see.

My eyes get real gooped up, but I can't rub them. This is perhaps my greatest frustration. I love to rub my eyes. I rubbed the crap out of them before. I would take out my crappy contacts and just rub the crap out of my eyes. It was awesome. I didn't appreciate it enough. For the past week it's felt like I have really, really old contacts in my eyes that I can't get out. The solution? More drops. Did I mention I can taste my eyedrops? Yea. Didn't even realize this was possible until Lasik. PS - they do not taste like cotton candy.

I also loved washing my face. This is also not possible right after Lasik. I can wash my cheeks, but when I try to wash off my forehead, the facewash gets right into my new eyes and I feel like they are just going to fall right out.

The combination of goop and no-wash leaves me with this ultra-hip "white eyeliner" look that just knocks the socks off everyone I see. I mean it's that fresh spring glow all the mags are writing about, ya dig?

I also have a little bruising (read = red blood spots) in my eyes. This has started to fade. I'm a little sad to see the bloodspots go, to be honest. They kinda made me look like a badass.

The Result:
Every day gets better. The discomfort lessens and I need to use the drops less and less. Nothing shocks me more than waking up in the morning.....I look around every day and see everything in HD. Everything is crystal clear - I mean crystal frickin clear. I had a follow-up appointment last Saturday and was told I have 15/20 vision - better than perfect! I have bionic superwoman eyes. I can see a cat crossing the street four blocks down the road. I can see little tree buds blooming. I can see your underwear. Ok maybe not the underwear part but all the other parts are true. It is by far the coolest, most transformative thing I've ever elected to do. Despite the craziness of it all, I am glad I did it. I can see, people. I can finally see.

Have any of you considered Lasik? Any of you gotten it done? What are you worried about? How was your experience with it? Tell me in the comments down below and as always, thank you so much for reading :)



  1. Hey glad you're doing OK! My bf had that done a few weeks ago and you described it right on point - the white eyeliner all of it haha... My bf said when they popped his eyeballs out was hte most uncomfortable part of the whole thing. He said it was like an alien, foreign experience. The doctor kept reiterating: patience. He said it several times - said people expect perfect vision right away and it takes time. The redness, the glare (although, this apparently doesn't always go away - at night it's the worst).. My bf is also an overanalytical person so he couldn't sleep - I'm not sure why but it seems the men have a hard time post-op, the women sleep right through it. He woudn't sleep kept worrying about the pain I had to drug him up ten-fold to get him to sleep, lol. Hope you're doing well and enjoy your improved vision!!! Have a great weekend Jennifer -Iva

    1. That is crazy!! Seriously, everyone I'd talked to said it was the best thing ever and they wouldn't change I thing - I think they all just forgot what happened! This is not easy, man. I'm glad I'm not the only one! Thanks for reading Iva :) Hope your weekend is wonderful :)

  2. I have friends and co-workers who've had lasik and love every minute of not wearing glasses - except for those reading glasses when they turn 40. I went in for a consultation once and was told I wasn't a good candidate because of my severe astigmatism. They said I would most likely need more than one surgery. I never went back, but sure would have enjoyed being contact free back in my camping days.

    Hope that grainy feeling goes away soon and you love every minute of your new vision.

    1. Hi Savvy! :) I've heard about the reading glasses thing - I'm hoping they will act as a nice little compromise between my librarian-sexy look and my no-glasses obsession. A little of both worlds! HAHA

      Multiple surgeries is a terrible diagnosis. I honestly do not want to do the procedure ever again - although I know there's a chance I'll need a touchup or whatever. But you know, the technology is changing almost every year. I bet you anything the brains behind the eye business are working right now on a laser surgery for people with severe astigmatism....if for no other reason than to get your money hahah! I wouldn't be super shocked if sometime down the road your options changed a little.

      Thanks for reading :)

  3. Oh Jen, I missed you! I am so glad you had such great results too! My hubby wears contacts and talks about doing this someday. After reading your experience I cannot ever see him doing this! The man played football up until 2 years ago and suffered many injuries but played through the pain however he is a big baby if he has to get a shot! I don't think he could do this because he would have to be awake.
    By the way you rock those goggles and I would have been sneaking my contacts in too!

    1. :) :) :) Thank you! I am such a goggle babe, aren't I??? Hahaha those things kill me - so funny. And YES, being awake is super freaky. Even with the drugs I was completely aware of what was happening!

  4. Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm glad that it made a positive impact on your sight and I hope the discomfort fades. I've been trying to talk my significant other into lasik but he's a big pansy. And we both work in healthcare so you'd think it would be no big deal!

    You not being able to wash your face or rub your eyes reminds me of when I had sinus surgery and wasn't permitted to blow my nose for a few weeks. I never knew how wonderful the simple act of blowing my nose was until that procedure.

    1. HAHAHA a big pansy. That is awesome. Ugh sinus surgery - isn't it crazy how fast we start to appreciate the little things, once they are taken away?? That's always the way it goes.....*sigh* Thanks so much for stopping by and reading! :)

  5. I loved reading this post because, unlike you, I am terrified of all of those things you listed. :) (Ok, maybe not all because I have tattoos.) While reading, I was freaking out with you. I even got nervous when you discussed lying down with the puppy and wished I had a valium. I have glasses and pretty crappy vision (I’m pretty sure both of mine are in the negative 3 or 4 range like yours, with astigmatism in both. Thanks Mom and Dad!). People talk to me about getting Lasik, but I’m chicken. I just can’t do it! I mean, it’s not like it’s a broken bone; they’re my eyes. I’m proud of you for facing the fears! Thanks for being completely honest and sharing this journey with us.

    1. Thanks Melanie!!! :) I was a huge sissy through the whole thing - and a little bit after the procedure, as well. It's all right! I think my surgeon expected it. He was very relaxed and spoke very kindly to me...despite the fact I was being a moron and freaking out. I think if I didn't hate glasses so much I woulda just rocked those for the rest of my life. I'm glad you liked the post :) Thanks for stopping by!!

  6. Hi Jen,

    I have definitely thought about it and would like to have it done one day. Thanks for sharing all the details. Sounds a bit scary...

    1. HAHA it was totally freaky. Nothing like I thought it would be....BUT it was worth it. Isn't that the way it always goes - the best things are often the hardest!

  7. I am very proud of you for stepping through your fear. Now you have conquered it and you see so well. Congratulations! Thank you for scaring me and making me extremely grateful I have great vision.

    1. Thanks so much :) :) :) HAHAHA and yes, I am glad you have perfect vision too. So nice to not need lasers!!! HAHA

  8. I went for a lasik consultation and they said I could have it....but oh man, I am not tough. They even had a hard time putting eyedrops in my eyes and making me keep them open to take pictures of them at the consultation appointment. In addition, I make not pretense of being tough. Medical stuff in general makes me very uncomfortable (and I'm married to a nurse, how fortunate!) I know in my head that the long term results would be worth it but even though I hate wearing glasses I'm not yet willing to survive that procedure....

    1. HAHAHA medical staff makes you squirmy and you're married to a nurse - made me spit out my water! You are a riot. I also struggles during the pre-surgical appointments. The lady was like "you wear contacts, how can you be so jumpy about me touching your eyes?" I wanted to grab her by the collar and tell her I was doing quite well considering I hate everything that has to do with eyeballs....but instead I sat there quietly and giggled like a creep. Thanks for reading and you know - I betcha the surgery will get better and better. Maybe just wait until it's progressed to the point where you just need to look at a light for 2 seconds HAHA *space eyes*

  9. A couple of my friends have had Lasik and absolutely love the results. Hope you heal up quickly. Love your pics -- those glasses are so sexy! LOL!

    1. HAHAHAHHA thanks Maurissa!! I gotta say, they added a little sci-fi spice into my life!

  10. Are follow up appointments important?

    1. Absolutely! I just had my one-month follow up appointment this past weekend and I am seeing better than I ever have before. My optometrist checks my vision but also makes sure my eye is healing properly each time I visit. The flap they cut is very fragile and there's always a chance it will shift - so important to catch it if something is wrong! Luckily for me, I was a compliant patient who didn't rub my eyes and everything is healing just like it's supposed to :) He even gave me some free eyedrops! :) SCORE!

  11. I had mono-vision lasik 2 weeks ago. Seemed like the 1st 2 days I could see almost perfect but I'm 2 weeks in and I don't think its gotten better, I even thing worse. They told me give it 3-4 weeks and my brain would workout the mono-vision and make me see "right".
    The procedure was simple and everyone was amazing. I am trying not to get discourged but I so am.

    1. How are you doing now? I'm considering doing Lasik, in fact my surgery is scheduled for Friday.

  12. A very extraordinary experience. I also really want to have Lasik surgery experience, because I'm starting to interfere with my eyes. I have vision impairment, this is just not being able to see long distances. I want to get more Lasik surgery information. Thanks