Back in March, I participated in a women’s expo near where I live, which is something I’ve done for a few years now. However, up until this recent one, I hadn’t been able to walk around and look at the other vendors. This year, I took a few minutes and walk up and down the aisles, scanning quickly, and that’s when I found Vermont Eye Laser. They weren’t new by any means, anyone in our region has heard of them, seen the commercials on TV, offering people with vision problems new sight. I don’t know what caused me to stop and ask questions, but I did.
A few years prior, I talked to my eye doc about LASIK. She told me I wasn’t a candidate, that my vision was too bad, and it would only last a year and therefore, not worth my time or money. I felt dejected and continued to put my contacts in every day with the addition of readers so I could work. Seems ridiculous right? To wear contacts and readers, every single day, just to function. I hated it. More so, I have allergies (mostly to the outdoors) and the only contacts that would work for me were expensive, and in my opinion, worth it.
Let’s get back to the women’s expo. I stopped at the table and told one of the women there what my contact prescription is (something I won’t mention here, but it was bad) and asked her if I would be a candidate, already expecting her to tell me no.
She handed me a flyer and her card, told me to read up on the newest eye mapping procedure and to give the office a call for a consultation. Before I could do that, I took to Facebook and asked who had the procedure and was it worth it. The results were astounding. Almost everyone had positive feedback, while a few of my friends had experienced the rare side effects. I was hopeful.
I called the next day, because why not. Consultations are free and either I’m going to have a definitive answer or a life-changing one.
Why life changing? Because I haven’t been able to see in the morning or dark since I was in the fifth grade. I remember everything so “clearly” back then. I had to sit in the front of the class. The teasing was relentless. “Dork, four eyes, stupid.” All words I heard on a daily basis. I couldn’t really participate during recess because if I broke my glasses I wouldn’t be able to see. Thus, began a life in the shadows. I played basketball, with my plastic, round-shaped, glasses on, with a band to help keep them on. Cue more teasing.
In the seventh grade, contacts! Everything is right in the world, until it wasn’t. My eyes produced too much protein and my contacts would go bad within months (this was long before disposables). And because I was so embarrassed in my glasses, I refused to take out my contacts. Even though they would float around, itch and give me eye infections. For years, I battled this. It wasn’t until the price of disposables came down, was I able to finally to curb the issues.
The day of my consultation, I was nervous. Almost on the verge of tears, afraid of what the answer may be. Then I met Hannah. She ran some tests. We laughed together because our parents live down the street from each other, in Vancouver Washington, and she told me I was a candidate. That’s right, I could have LASIK.
So now I’m thinking, it’ll be months before I can get it. Not the case. I could have the procedure as early as two weeks, and I would’ve if I didn’t have the Talk Books signing, so I had to wait, and in the day and age of instant gratification, waiting is torturous.
The day before my procedure, I had a pre-op appointment. Eye tests, which make me nervous. Eyes dilated, which freaks me out. Followed by more tests. However, the staff at Vermont Eye Laser are AMAZING! There really isn’t another way to describe them. They’re happy to be there, excited for each patient who is about to have the instant gratification of sight. Everyone I encountered, smiled. They took the time to put me at ease and answer any questions I had.
And this is where I meet Dr. Juli Larson, the woman who is going to change my life. I’m blind as a bat when she walks into the room until she puts that large eye exam thingy (because I have no idea what it’s called) in front of me and I can see her. We discuss my options. When she says this, my heart drops. I’m sitting there thinking, she can’t do this. My vision is too bad, and I’m stuck with contacts and glasses. But no. It’s my age, and I have to decide if I want monovision (where one eye sees near and the other far) or if I want to wear readers. I opt for readers. I’m used to them and with the amount of computer work and reading I do, it made sense.
As for questions, I didn’t have any. Not because I had done research prior, I hadn’t. But because the staff tells you everything. They leave nothing out. They’re so informative, there wasn’t a need for me to pepper them with questions. When I left the pre-op, I had to fill three prescriptions: one for the antibiotic, one for a steroid, and the last for Valium. The antibiotic and steroid had to be started immediately.
My procedure appointment wasn’t until 3:30 on a Friday, the day they do all the procedures. I had to wait all day. I wasn’t nervous, just ready to get it over with. I wanted to see without my contacts (which you have to stop wearing two weeks prior to your procedure) and glasses. When I arrived, the familiar face of Hannah was there, but today she’s dressed in scrubs. In fact, everyone was. I thought it was cute. It was like this elegant, comfortable eye doctor facility transformed overnight.
More tests, mostly to confirm everything we had done yesterday. Lots of eye drops. Take some Valium. A little bit of waiting. Game time.
I’m taken into a very sterile room. My hair is in a surgery cap and I have to wear those blue doctor booties over my shoes. I lay on a table and Dr. Larson says in ten minutes, I’ll be done.
Ten minutes and I’ll be able to see without any visual aids.
Dr. Larson told me everything, and I do mean everything that’s going on. The only pain I felt, which is really more of uncomfortable pressure, is the ring she put around my eye. She spoke to me the entire time, telling me how good I’m doing, reminding me to watch the light, giving me a countdown until each eye was done.
Now all the videos I’ve seen, show lasers penetrating your eyes, so that’s what I’m expecting, and can honestly say, you don’t see the lasers. In fact, you’re watching this light the entire time and steps are taken to make sure you don’t blink or turn your head.
Ten minutes and I’m done, standing up and walking down the hall without my glasses on. AND I CAN SEE! I wanted to cry. I wanted to jump up and down and cheer, but let’s be honest here, I had taken Valium and all I wanted to do was sleep.
Dr. Larson checks my eyes. Gives me a badass goggle type thing that I have to wear when I’m sleeping and resting for a week, and sends me home with instructions. Mostly lots of eye drops.
When I’m home, I sleep for about two hours. Once I’m up, it’s a rush of antibiotics and steroids, plus rewetting drops. Every hour, there’s something, until I go back to bed. I decided to take a sleeping pill so I wasn’t restless, which I do recommend.
Now here’s the test. There’s a possibility your eyes are sealed shut when you wake for the first time. So you open slowly, test them out. Luckily, for me, I didn’t have that problem and for the first time in years, I could see around my room.
My post-op appointment was at 8:10 the next day. I drove myself. Not even twenty-four hours later, I could drive. Amazing, right? When I walked in, Dr. Larson was sitting at the reception desk, by herself. In fact, there isn’t anyone there. I asked her why and she said, “Because the staff need a day off.” Again, Amazing!
Time for another eye test. I have to read those lines. This stresses me out. I’m nervous. Dr. Larson isn’t. She’s smiling. She’s cheering. And then she tells me I just read at 20/15 and gives me a hug.
The day after…
For the first half of the day, it felt like my contacts where in backward. My eyes are dry, but the drops help tremendously. I took another nap, and when I woke, the odd feeling was gone.
This is day two, post-op and I feel fine. I don’t feel like my contacts are in backward or a laser cut open my eyes and reshaped my corneas. I feel normal. Aside from needing the eye drops to clear away some haziness, everything is perfect.