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No Lasik, but I can see!

March 5, 2009
by

I arrived back in Zurich last Friday and it was a whirlwind trip. Yes, I can see. But no, it’s not perfect yet.

I landed in Nashville late on Monday evening and my Mom and sister Lee Ann were there waiting for me. It was a nice surprise to see Lee Ann because I didn’t know she was coming!

Tuesday afternoon, Mom and I headed to Murray for my post-op appointments at Murray Ophthalmology which is where I worked while I was in college. It was so, so nice to see everyone! I just love them all.  From that appointment, we drove back to Nashville. I was pretty jet-lagged, so we didn’t really do much. We were staying next to Vanderbilt and it just so happened that Kentucky was playing at Vanderbilt that night, but I was too tired to get tickets. I didn’t even stay up long enough to watch the game.

On Wednesday, we were up bright and early morning and at Wang Vision Institute by 7:30 am. The started running some additional tests on me and discovered that I have thin corneas. Of all things on my body to be naturally thin – my corneas! So, I couldn’t have Lasik. But I could have another procedures called PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) which is also done by laser and corrects your vision. Many doctors think it is actually safer. So, why don’t people always get PRK? BECAUSE IT HURTS!

I think the actual procedure, which lasts only minutes, feels the same as Lasik. You feel some pressure and it’s uncomfortable, but it doesn’t hurt. The recovery is what is different. With Lasik, the doctor uses a laser to cut a flap into the cornea which is lifted so that the laser can do its work to fix your vision. Then the flap is replaced and it somehow reseals itself and most people can see immediately and only feel some scratchiness for a day while the flap is healing.

With PRK, instead of cutting a flap in the cornea, the laser removes (“abalates”) the top surface of the cornea. Then the laser does its work to fix your vision. After it’s over, you’re given bandage contact lenses to wear until the cornea heals. This usually takes several days or sometimes weeks.

It felt just like a cat scratched my eyeballs and I also had a bucket of sand poured into my eyes…for days.  And I am an eye drop-dropping machine. For the first week after surgery, I had to put in lubricating eye drops every 15 minutes (except when sleeping) and an antibiotic drop 6 times a day AND another drop to help with discomfort 2 times a day.

The day of the surgery, I was out of it because I took a pain pill and we just laid in the hotel room all day. Overnight, while wearing my protective goggles, my right bandage lens came out. It was unbearable. I couldn’t even open my eye. I had a one-day follow-up appointment, so we went to that and Dr. Wang numbed my eye and put a new bandage in. My vision that day was 20/70. I took another pain pill and then got sick in the doctor’s office, so that was enough of the pain medicine.

After the appointment, we drove back to Paducah with my 15-minute timer watch going off constantly (well, every 15 minutes) to keep up entertained. I was on the couch, in the dark with sunglasses and surrounded by drops. This is how the next few days went.

I was able to spend some time with my nieces and nephews a little, but I wasn’t much fun for anyone. On Friday, I stayed the night with Brendan & Preston. On Saturday, I went to their basketball game where they won and remained undefeated becoming the league champions. On Sunday, I went to church with the family and everyone came over to my mom’s for the best chili ever. This was the day that I saw the most improvement in my eyes and ability to keep them open longer with the sunglasses. On Monday, I stayed the night with Sidney & Ansley, where we played Hi-Ho Cherry-O and Monopoly Junior.

The next Tuesday, we drove to Murray again for a post-op appointment. I had the bandage lenses taken out and my vision had improved to 20/50 in the right and 20/30 in the left. The doctor thinks that they look good and as they continue to heal, my vision will improve. I no longer had to the take the antibiotic drop and was given a steroid drop to use 6 times a day to help my eyes heal. After the appointment, we drove back to Paducah and watched Sidney play 2 soccer games.

Wednesday was busy running all the errands that I hadn’t been able to do while my eyes were still recovering. I had a list of things to buy for our trip. All of these things are so much cheaper in the US, so I had to stock up. On Wednesday night, Mom and both of my sisters, Leslie & Lee Ann, and I went to see Friday the 13th at the movies. It’s a tradition for us girls to watch scary movies together and I love it!

On Thursday, Mom, Leslie & Lee Ann all took the day off work to drive me to Nashville for my flight back to Zurich. It was so great to spend that time together with them. Somehow, it was harder to leave than usual. I guess it’s because they were all there saying bye and I was all alone going through security.

After the long good-byes, I was waiting for my plane to board when I saw Leslie running toward me. I forgot my medicine bag (it only had some Vitamin C as I had to put all the eye drops in my liquids plastic bag) in the car and she brought it to me. Somehow, she got clearance to go through security and bring it to me. I still don’t know how that worked! It was so nice of her to bring it to me and to see her again. I still can’t believe that they let her through to the gate.

I am so lucky to have a mom who is willing AND able to drive me to all of these appointments and to take care of me. I think my vision has improved since I got back to Switzerland and it may even be 20/20 by now. My eyes are really dry which is amazing since I’m putting lubricating  drops in every 45 minutes plus I’m using the steroid drop 5 times a day now.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2009 3:31 pm

    wow, that sounds intense! I’m too much of a baby to have my eyes touched!

    p.s. I’ve been on steroid drops before and they really really dry out your eyes, that is probably why even with the lubricating they still feel dry. Once you stop those you’re eyes will probably be a bit more normal.

  2. Lori permalink*
    March 8, 2009 6:07 pm

    Thanks for the info. I have to do the steroid drops for 4 more weeks. 😦

  3. Holly permalink
    March 8, 2009 6:13 pm

    All I can say is WOW. You’re much braver than I am. I nearly fainted from reading this never mind having to go through it, ha ha! I hope the eyes heal quickly and things are exactly as you had hoped!

  4. Kate permalink
    March 8, 2009 7:53 pm

    Very graphic explanation – I can barely read this without starting to get sick! You are so brave to do this surgery – but I’m sure leaving the contact solution behind you forever is going to be wonderful!

  5. March 8, 2009 10:55 pm

    Ahh! My contacts have been driving me bonkers lately, but I think I will put up with them!

  6. Jessica Fortney permalink
    March 23, 2009 9:09 pm

    My gosh – This makes me think twice about eye surgery for sure. Glad you made it through…

    Have so much fun on your trip!! I’ll try to check this often for updates – maybe THIS will be a way to keep in touch. Can’t wait til you move to Cincy – you’ll be so close! 🙂

    Take good care of those eyeballs 🙂

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