**(This post is based solely on my own personal experience and opinions)**
This last Friday I took the plunge and got LASIK eye surgery FINALLY, after wearing glasses since the 3rd grade and contacts every day since the 8th grade.
It's something that I've been planning on doing for years but just put it off. I mean, after all, messing with your eyeballs is a pretty big deal and, like my friend Danica, wearing contacts never really bothered me that much. I spent the better part of 15 years going to LensCrafters for no other reason besides I didn't know where else to go. Every time I had an appointment there I left swearing to myself I'd never go back. The service was horrible, and the prices pretty high. Finally, earlier this year, I talked with a friend of mine that I have known since grade school who I knew worked part time at an optometrist. She gave me the number and I, finally, after years of saying I would, scheduled an eye appointment NOT at LensCrafters. I set up an appointment with Dr.Takeda at Triangle Eye Care. She was wonderful and recommended I set up a free consultation at NVISION for LASIK eye surgery. She herself had had the surgery and recommended I go to the surgeon who preformed her surgery. I had thought about doing it for years and Dr.Takeda was so reassuring so I set up my appointment. It wasn't until I got the appointment confirmation phone call that it all sunk in. I could really be doing this. That's when the fear started. Of course, being me, and having my luck, my boyfriend and I decided to watch a scary movie days before my consultation appointment. We went with Final Destination 5. If you've seen it, I'm sure you're already shaking your head. If you haven't seen it, there is a scene where a girl dies during her laser eye surgery. The surgery itself isn't what killed her, if you've watched any of the previous movies you know that there are so many twists to each death but, nonetheless, it put more fear into me.
Consultation: January 19,2012
The day finally came for my consultation. The center was in a beautiful building in Newport Beach. If we were going to be judging books based on covers, this would be the book I'd grab. They called my name and took me back for a few tests to see if I was a good candidate. The girl was very nice and reassuring. She told me I was a perfect candidate and took me into her office and brought in a doctor to do one more test, she also told me that my eyes look great and ideal for LASIK. Then she cut to the chase to find out my level of seriousness for getting the surgery. "How soon would you want to do the surgery?" to which I replied "Do you mind if my mom comes back here?" Although it's minimally invasive this is a pretty serious procedure, one that both my mother and father have gotten and one that my parents would be gifting to me, so I definitely needed her input. She came into the office and then it became both of them asking me "are you ready for this?". It was in that moment that I remembered one of my very favorite memories. A few years ago my friend Haley and I took a trip to Australia. It was one of the best experiences of my life and one I'll never forget. The memory that I focused on though was the one where Haley and I went hiking through the rain forest, at the end of the hike was a gorgeous waterfall falling into a little natural swimming hole. There was a giant rock beside the swimming hole and our tour guide said, if anyone wants to jump in, feel free. Haley and I aren't real down and dirty girls but our motto on this trip was "Man up". We were probably only going to be here once and we had to make the most of it. As soon as the tour guide put it on the table we looked at each other, locked eyes, and knew it was time to "man up". We climbed our way onto the giant boulder, counted to three and jumped in. Somehow, sitting in that office that day I said to myself "it's time to man up" and I did. I made the appointment, I bought the pre-care drops and we were on our way.
Unfortunately once we got back and my mom checked her schedule she had a court appearance on the date we scheduled. This surgery requires having someone there to drive you home and, like most people, I couldn't imagine anyone there aside from my mother so, I rescheduled. If you know me you know that I have lots of weird quirks, one of which being that I believe in signs. I tried my best to brush this off and not think of it as a "sign" that I wasn't supposed to be getting the surgery.
February 2nd comes around (the day before what WOULD have been my surgery but was my moms scheduled court date instead) my mom receives a call that she won't be needing to show up in court. Seriously? Sign?
Week of February 6, 2012
A week before my surgery I had to stop wearing my contacts (which was a major pain) but it gave me an excuse to get one last wear out of all of the cute pairs of glasses I've purchased over the years (so long Ferragamo, Versace & Chanel). The center offered a credit payment option so I went on the site to take care of that before my surgery. Dr.Lusby, who was scheduled to do my appointment wasn't listed as a surgeon at the Newport Beach facility so I called over to my "patient counselor" to clarify. My call went straight to her voicemail box. She was on vacation until the 14th (my surgery was on the 17). I started to have a mini panic attack. She's gone? Why wasn't I told? *sign*
I took a deep breath and called the front desk to try to clear up the payment that way. The girl on the phone told me that my appointment was scheduled at the Fullerton location. What?! That's not what I had planned on and how was I ever going to know that if I hadn't called?? *sign*
I hung up the phone and told my mom that I was going to cancel my appointment. This is just too many blatant signs to overlook. My mom tried to talk me down and told me that everything is probably fine and I'm just overreacting. I e-mailed my patient counselor (yes, I know she was on vacation) to let her know how unsettling all of this was. She immediately responded and told me that the front desk was misinformed and that my appointment was in fact at the Newport Beach facility and that Dr. Lusby isn't listed but it's not a problem. I was a little reassured.
Pre-Op Appointment: February 14, 2012
I was told that the center was going to call my regular eye doctor to set up my pre-op appointment but, with all of this confusion I decided to just call and schedule myself. I went back to Dr.Takeda and she was actually a little concerned with how I had been treated and the fact that THEY didn't set up the appointment OR send over any paperwork *sign*.
Day of Surgery: February 17, 2012
I woke up the day of the surgery feeling good. I was so sick of wearing my glasses at this point that I just wanted to get the surgery over and done with. They told me that the surgery only took about 15 minutes in total but told me to expect to be in the office 2-3 hours. They test and re-test you to be certain that everything is perfect (which is reassuring). I sign in and the nerves set in. All I can think about is "when do I get the Xanax". A girl calls my name (incorrectly of course) and takes me to a desk with a man who deals with my payment. I go back out to the waiting area. Another guy comes out and calls my name (incorrectly of course) runs a couple of tests and puts me in a room and tells me the doctor will be right in. A doctor comes in (do I even need to say it... mispronounces my name) and retests my prescription. He leaves and ANOTHER girl (whom I will call the Xanax fairy) comes in, gives me my recovery kit which includes a lovely set of goggles. Her English is a little dicey and it takes everything in me to not yell "WHERES THE XANAX ALREADY?!" Finally, she walks me over to a dark room that I will refer to as "the Xanax lounge" where she (FINALLY) gave me the Xanax, put a surgery cap on me, put some drops and my eyes and left me to lay on the chaise lounge with the other two Xanax'ed patients. She asks if I want my mom to join me. I told her yes. She soon returns and tells me that my mom stepped out. I'm not too worried about it because I'm sure she'll be back in time. I can hear a "patient counselor" discussing the possibility of surgery to another girl. She takes her over to the glass window and explains in detail what is being done on the girl who is currently getting surgery. I keep telling myself to relax. While in the Xanax lounge I saw my "patient counselor" that I hadn't seen since the initial consultation and hadn't spoken to since the mix up. I thought it would have been nice of her to check on me, especially with my previous mix-up and concerns. Didn't happen though. Before long Dr. Lusby comes into the Xanax lounge and introduces himself, surprisingly enough, pronouncing my name correctly. He explains the surgery to me and before I know it, my name is being called. A young guy takes me into the surgery room. My mom still isn't there. It's surprisingly cold (they keep it temperature controlled for optimal results) He says "your last name is Maness?" (pronounced incorrectly) I correct him. "Your date of birth is 1-13-86" I respond with a "yes". "And we are preforming surgery on both eyes today" "Yes". He takes my glasses and puts a couple drops in each eye. I walk over to the surgery table. I lay down. He asks if I'd like a blanket. I reply "yes". My nerves are getting more and more intense. I ask if I can lay with my knees bent. They told me I can lay whatever what I want as long as I don't move from that position. Again he asks "your last name is Maness?" (pronouncing it incorrectly for the 2nd time) I correct him...again. "Your date of birth is 1-13-86" "Yes". "And we are preforming surgery on both eyes today" "Yes". A girl with a kind voice tells me "Shea, I'm going to be putting some drops in your eyes right now". Hearing someone not only use my name but pronounce it correctly was so comforting. The laser equipment gets lowered onto my head.
And then it happens...
I say "I feel like I'm going to cry". They hesitantly tell me "It's ok" and I just start crying. It is NOT common for me to cry, even my closest friends have only seen me cry a handful of times, most of which have involved alcohol and, I mean, does that really even count? I immediately was so embarrassed and started saying "I'm so sorry I don't usually cry". They tell me that its ok and just to stay still and take some deep breaths. I'm worried that I'm crying out all of the drops they just put in. I ask "Can I have someone hold my hand?" I can sense the hesitation in the room "uuuuh... yeah... can we get someone please. we have a hand holder". A reassuring hand takes hold of mine. I really don't care that it belongs to a stranger, just knowing someone is there calms my nerves and I stop crying. Dr.Lusby begins the surgery on the right eye. First, cutting open the flap, then the laser reshaping my retina. He is great about explaining to me step-by-step exactly what is happening and exactly what I should be seeing. "Keep looking at the green dot. The green dot should be getting fuzzy. The green dot should be coming back" The green dot should be moving up and down". It was a constant reminder that everything was going well. The smell of the laser was pretty disgusting and all I could think about was that smell was my eyeball being lasered. Gross. But he was done with the right eye and onto the left, and, after the longest 15 minutes of my life, we were done. They sit me up, I apologized for crying and for the hand holding. They take the tape off of my forehead, I yell out a nice classy "oh shit!" as they do it and told them that was the worst part. They all laughed. Then Dr. Lusby sits down next to me for a photo. Seriously?! My vision is foggy, I probably have tape residue on my face and I was just CRYING... perfect timing for a photo-op wouldn't you say? I asked "where's the person who held my hand?" A guy in the corner raises his hand. I ask if I can take a photo with him, after all, I don't think I could have done it without him. It turns out he's a med student. Hah. Poor guy. I come out of the surgery room and the Xanax fairy tells me "We still don't know where Sandy is". She takes me back to the Xanax lounge, gives me another Xanax and sits me down. I sit there for a good 15-20 minutes. I start to worry. What if something happened to my mom? I'm not supposed to even look at my phone. Should I call her? Where could she be? After making myself crazy with "what-ifs" I quickly call her from my phone "Mom, where are you?" "I'm in the waiting room" "WHAT?! They told me they couldn't find you, I'm done" "Ok I'll come get you". From the front door of that building to the front door of my house felt like an eternity. I don't know if it was the Xanax or the surgery but I couldn't hold my eyes open. I got home and took the one last Xanax that they gave me and put my goggles on and went to bed (at 4pm). I was startled awake a little before midnight by my parents sneaking into my house. My mom got worried because she hadn't heard from me. Apparently (I say apparently because I have no recollection) I called my boyfriend (per my moms request to let him know I was ok) and told him that I was so pissed at my parents for coming and waking me up because now I "couldn't go back to sleep". Pretty sure the second I hung up with him I immediately fell back asleep. Haha.
Post-Op Appointment: February 18, 2012
I woke up Saturday morning looking a hot mess. Seriously. I took a photo that will probably never see the light of day but I had literally never seen myself look so bad and had to document it. Haha. I began my eye drop regimen.The post-op appointments can be made with your normal doctor but mine was out of town so I went back to the NVISION center. My vision was much clearer than the day before but still a little hazy and my right eye was red and a little painful. I go back to the center, sign in with a different desk girl than the previous time, get called back by yet another different person mispronouncing my name. He runs a couple tests. Tells me I'm already seeing better than 20/20 which is reassuring and lets me know the doctor will be right in. The doctor comes in and takes a look at my eyes and immediately I feel like a schoolchild being scolded for talking out of turn. She says to me "Your eyes are REALLY dry. Have you been using your drops??" I respond "Well, I was told that I wasn't supposed to begin my drops until today and I started them today like I was supposed to". She wheels her little chair away from me and begins writing. "It appears your eyelid fused to your cornea and scraped it so I'm going to be putting a contact lens in to act like a barrier. I'm also going to be injecting collagen into your tear ducts to help with the dryness" and before I knew it, boom, injections in my eyes and contact in. She hands me yet another product that I am to apply "every night before bed" and tells me she'll need to see me back on Monday to remove the contact. I make an appointment and leave shaking my head. Why was I scolded for the condition of my eyes like it was something that I had the power over? Why have I been to this facility 3 times and have not been seen by the same person more than once?! I'm starting to get very negative. This whole process is starting to feel very, as I described it to my mom, assembly line. Each person handles you for a minute before handing you off to the next person and never seeing you again. They don't bother to learn your name because, well, lets be honest, they really don't need to. After all, they're never going to see you again, why bother? I will admit, having the contact in really helped with the irritation and redness that I was experiencing. Still, I went home with a sour taste in my mouth. This really wasn't the personal experience that I had hoped for. I spent the rest of Saturday relaxing and getting pampered by my roommate and my boyfriend who bought me more of the lubricating drops that I only received five of the day of surgery. They told me to use them as needed and that I could use them every 5 minutes if I wanted. Given that my eyes were "REALLY dry" I had them pick up two of the 30 packs at 14 bucks a piece. Kind of strange that I didn't receive more for my "really dry" eyes.
Two Days after Post-Op: February 20, 2012
I returned to the center to get my scratched cornea looked at and my contact removed. The girl behind the desk was one I recognized but of course, I was called back by a girl I had never been seen by before. She ran a couple of tests and again I was told that I was seeing better than 20/20 and that the doctor would be right in. After more than 20 minutes waiting the doctor finally came in, it was someone I recognized! It was the doctor who did my re-test on surgery day. He mispronounces my name. Fail. I explain to him why I'm back. As he looks through my charts he must have recognized his own handwriting in there because he realizes that he had seen me before while flipping through the pages. He tells me that it looks like my eye is healing well and that he is going to take my contact out. He putting a numbing drop in and it was surprisingly easy. He double checks that I'm taking all my drops which, of course, I am. And he informs me that he'd like me to up my dosage of Prednisolone, the milky drops that, once dissolved go through your sinuses and taste AWFUL. Lucky me. The best part is, he says he wants to see me back on Wednesday. I told him that I already have a post-op appointment with my normal doctor on Thursday. He says he'd still like to see me back on Wednesday. Five eye doctor appointments in less than a week. It's a good thing I work for my parents because I don't think most jobs would be too keen on the idea of me having so many "appointments". Haha.
Obviously, the gift of vision is something very precious and something that I am so thankful that it has been given to me, HOWEVER, I have not appreciated how assembly line this whole process has felt. I've felt like a faceless, nameless being, just another set of eyes, just another $5,000.
I can be very negative and I know that. It is a fault that I have but one that I know I have and try to curb. Maybe I have been choosing to see the negative but at this point I feel that the negative has outweighed the positive (in regards to this center as a whole, not necessarily the surgeon or surgery in general). I'm sure that weeks from now, possibly even days I'll have a different outlook but I wanted to share my raw, real emotions regarding the whole procedure while it was still fresh in my mind. In no way am I saying to not get LASIK eye surgery if you are, in fact, considering it. It has been great being able to go to bed without the hassle of taking out my contacts. It has been wonderful waking up without blurred vision, fumbling to find my glasses. The aim of this post was simply to document my own personal experience.
And with that, I will say that I am currently happy with my vision and glad the whole experience is behind me and I'd like to share with you the card that my best friend gave me... haha.