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Fighting Pages

I decided early in the year (2001) that I would take the plunge and get my eye's done.  After 20 years of eyeglasses, I'd had enough.  Nomadics has what called a cafeteria plan, and if I used it, Uncle Sam would pay for about a quarter of the cost.


February 21, 2001

In case any of you were concerned :)

The surgery was very quick and fairly easy. I have just awakened from my doctor's recommended 2 hr nap (started at 5:30 bg). Vision is still a little blurry, but this is to be expected until tomorrow. TLC was very professional and an almost assembly line procedure. It was kind of reassuring.

Chris (Angus) and I arrived at TLC in OKC (right next to the Grandy's I spent a year working at, a fact I found amusingly ironic) a little bit early for my 2:30 appointment and signed in around 2:00 pm. After a whole Sports
Illustrated issue, I was starting to get a bit bored, but they finally called my name around 2:40. I went back and paid (OUCH). I think that was the part of the surgery that hurt the most. Once that was accomplished, the sent me back up front.

A few minutes later another technician came and got me and took me back to perform all the tests. There were no new ones, they just wanted to confirm and verify all the results previously obtained. Eye topography, corneal thickness, prescription were all tested, recorded, and noted. On a major side note, the machines in the eye doctors office are, IMHO, some of the coolest machines on the planet.

Tests all done, I was taken to the "Assembly Line". Picture about 6 amazingly comfortable couches in a row outside the laser room, each one holding a slightly nervous but expectant patient. The nurse/technician, sat us down, gave us our not-free T-shirt (she said that once she said "Free t-shirt" to one patient, and he'd gotten VERY indignant about how the short was not free, but cost around $3800 and that etc etc) and gave us our post-operative instructions. One of the doctors came out and asked if we wanted a valium. I wasn't really that nervous, but I got to admit that I was curious what a valium was like, so I said yes. :)

Dr. Briton emerged from the Laser Room, and gave us (what seemed like) the common spiel, and away went the first one. I was number three. The tech/nurse had us all move down one couch to make room for another new person on the assembly line. Then bout 15 minutes later, the second person went in. Angus and I were just chatting and generally filling up the time. 

And then it was my turn.


You go in, and sit down on a fairly typical hospital bed. They have you lay down, being EXTREMELY careful of the laser, and have you slide and scoot up till you can see the red light. They align your right eye under the laser, and then comes (to me) the uncomfortable part. They attach an eye patch to the eye not being worked on and the insert the speculum into the eye being worked on. This was the part that worried me the most, as I have trouble keeping my eyes open long enough to put in eye-drops, much less anything like the speculum.

But they attached the speculum and then the suction ring. The eye started to darken just as they'd said it would, and then suddenly the ring was released. The surgeon lifted the flap that he'd made while the suction was on, and the whole world dissolved into blur. I could still see the blinking red light that he wanted me to look at. The laser started up, and I began to smell the burnt hair/ozone smell that they described. Dr. Briton was talking me through each step. Believe it or not, one of the most reassuring thing about it was that the laser machine spoke in a pre-recorded voice giving the time-remaining and the percent completed. It was so very Star Trek, and that kind of amused/relaxed me a bit. 55 seconds after he turned on the laser, the right eye was done. The surgeon put the flap back one, smoothed it out, irrigated it a bit, and it was done.

They covered it up and started the left eye. It more or less proceeded as the right eye did, except for some reason I had more trouble not blinking on the left eye than I did on the right eye. However, 63 seconds of laser, and it was done. Same replacing of the flap, smoothing, and then I was done.

They helped me up, put me in front of the machine, the doctor looked at the flaps on both eyes, and pronounced that all looked good. I was given my kit of eye-drops, and walked out. I gave Angus the keys, and he drove me home. I went to sleep (as recommended). We got home to Stillwater and I pretty much went back to sleep. :)

Thoughts so far:
1. Went exactly as I had read and how described.
2. Small doses of valium make me VERY tired.
3. I have much bigger eyes than I had ever thought (not having seen them
without glasses in approximately 20 years)

Anyway, that's the update.



February 22, 2001

Had to sleep with the eye shields on last night. The "eye shields" are big disks about the size of the palm of my hand. Or more correctly the size of my balled up fist, which is what they are supposed to prevent you from putting in your eye while you sleep. They give you medical tape to use to attach them, and when you put it on, the medical tape does not seem to stick very well. However, when I woke up this morning and tried to removed the tape (which I had left long to get extra stick out of) the tape seemed to stick to my facial hair EXTREMELY well. I will be cutting the tape down tonight, I can assure you.

I went to my one day follow up appointment. Got an "after" topographic scan of my eyes to compare to the "before" scan. Dr. Stark checked with me that everything was good, and then checked out my eyes. I was 20/15 in the right eye, and 20/20 in the left eye. Only problem seems to be a slight scratchiness (akin to what you would feel if you'd been rubbing your eyes all day) in the left eye. He recommended just keeping it very well irrigated with the eye drops and resting.

Here's the pictures of the before and afters of my eye (click on the thumbnail to see the full size version)

  Left Eye (OS- Ocular Sinister) Right Eye (OD - Ocular Dexter)
Before OS_Before.jpg (826360 bytes) OD_Before.jpg (639057 bytes)
After os_after.jpg (830608 bytes) od_after.jpg (626090 bytes)

Thoughts so far:
1. Still on track
2. 20/15 - WOW!!!
3. Eye shields are wierd.
4. Medical Tape sticks to hair better than anything else.



February 26,2001

Well, this weekend was pretty good. I kept putting in the medicinal eye-drops 4 times a day and the moisturizing eye drops as necessary. Vision is doing very well. It seems like my eyes get a bit tired faster
than they did before, but I think that was because of practice. Not sure. The starbursting around lights at night-time is pretty minimal, and in truth, does not seem to be very much more than what was there before.
Focus sometimes goes in and out, but from what I have read this is pretty normal.So far I am extremely happy with the results. Tomorrow I'll probably go to eye crafters and get sunglasses lenses made for my old glasses.

A poscript. Those of you who have never worn glasses may not appreciate it, but to everyone else, the addictive nature of not wearing glasses is incredible. One week ago and I would have been willing to live out the rest of my life wearing glasses. Now, I'd probably hurt somebody if they tried to take my new vision away.



March 1, 2001

Went to the optometrist again today.  Vision has declined a bit to 20/20 in both eyes, and varies a lot from day to day.



March 22, 2001

Had the one month appointment today.  Vision is still really good, approximately 20/15 in right eye and 20/20 or so in the left.   Combine vision is 20/20, so all is well.  Dr. Stark is a little bit worried about epithelial ingrowth in the left eye.  It looks bigger than last time, and he is a bit concerned about it.  He schedules me an appointment with Dr. Burgoyne to check it out on the 4th of April after I return from Ireland.  


April 4, 2001

Went to see Dr. Burgoyne.  She looked at my left eye and was also concerned bout the ingrowth.  She decided that I should go see Dr. Briton (who did my eyes) as soon as possible.  We made an appointment to see him on Friday @ 12:30 pm.


April 5, 2001

Dr. Briton looked at my left eye and right, and decided that he was going to have to lift the flap.  and gently SCRAPE (don't know how people can say gently SCRAPE in reference to the eye) away the ingrowth, and that should make the problem go away.  He felt it was extremely important to take care of it quickly, so I set up an appointment for Monday after Med-fair so that I could fight over the weekend in the SCA's area.


April 9, 2001

You know, I have been watching the movie High Fidelity, with John Cusack, one of my favorite actors, and so in the spirit of that, I'd like to give my top five things I'd rather do besides have my corneal flap lifted On monday morning.

  1. Stomp on own foot
  2. 100 jumping jacks
  3. Slap self silly
  4. Dentist appointment
  5. Exercise.

Case, in point, I actually did do #5 this morning.  However, I don't want to give the impression that the procedure was painful, because it wasn't.  Nor was it particularly long, because it wasn't that either.  Its just it wasn't ... well pleasant.  No matter how necessary or required it was, the fact was that once again the Dr. was lifting the flap of cornea and mucking about in my eye.  I hope that like the first time, it will be worth it. I'll never know if the growth would have caused problems, so unlike the first time I don't have the immediate positive reinforcement that I had before.  

The procedure was fairly simple, and similar to the first.  They sanitized and numbed my eye, as before, and I was taken into the laser room.  They weren't actually going to use the laser, just the microscope (? right word?) from the laser to guide Dr. Briton.  They marked the outline of the flap on the eye (it was very strange) using a dye and then laid me down in the  bed of the older laser machine.  I did the stare up at the light trick with my left eye and Dr. Briton gently poked and lifted and pulled the flap up. 

He spend around 3 or 4 minutes playing around in my eye (well, thats all I could tell that he was doing).  He wasn't as talkative as before, but I think part of that was that all he could have probably have said was "Well, I'm cleaning up the cells.... yep still cleaning them up....just got some more cells to go..." basically, meaningless status reports.  Instead, he did the "Your doing great...everything's going excellent", which the bitter cynical part of me said that he'd say even if he'd accidentally scraped out my iris and it fell in the trash.

Regardless, the procedure was done in a reasonable amount of time, and then Dr. Briton replaced the flap.  He spent a LOT of time smoothing and positioning the flap, and I think he was trying to make sure it was firmly and truly in the correct place so that the epithelial ingrowth would not occur again.  Then they put in a contact lens bandage, got me up, looked over my eye, and sent me on my way.

Thoughts for the event:

  1. I really do NOT like contact lenses, I constantly feel the lens in my eye.
  2. I really do NOT like contact lenses.
  3. I should be able to fight this weekend :).