I’m writing this 4 days after surgery and the process itself is already a blur (no pun intended).
I show up to check in at 12:50 and they don’t have me waiting long. A woman comes to get me wearing scrubs, covered head and paper booties, if I remember correctly. She explains in the 2nd waiting room that she will be giving me a few rounds of eye drops and go through the post-op info (same sheet of instructions they already gave me months ago). There is one other person waiting, a girl, maybe 25 years old. She was really excited and very outgoing. I mentioned to the nurse (not sure if she was a nurse, but that’s what I’ll call her) that the doctor said I could have Ativan. She asked if I was super nervous. I said more excited than nervous. I must have answered her question wrong because I got no Ativan. The 25-year-old was whisked off by the surgeon and they disappeared behind some frosted sliding doors. The nurse started up my drops and kept me talking, which was nice. An older lady appeared, a staff member, saying she was going to watch “the next one”, that the surgeon said it would be a good one for her to observe. They meant me!
The 25-year-old came out of the sliding doors with the surgeon. She was beaming and going on about how awesome it was, that she was throwing her glasses away in the garbage. It occurred to me then that they would do well to have a glasses recycling program to donate unneeded glasses. The surgeon left, then reappeared to take me through. As anticipated, I was there about 30 minutes doing drops and getting instructions, no actual downtime.
Past the sliding doors was an expanse of recovery rooms and operating rooms, it was not what I was expecting at all. We got to our operating room and his assistants were there getting ready and the older lady was there as well. They didn’t waste any time at all. That’s something that really struck me. Extremely efficient, but at the same time, everyone was having a great time. They had me lie down and positioned me under the machines just so. They put a pillow under my knees, gave me a blanket, and had me adjust the sloppy bun I put my hair in (since it was creating an unstable resting spot for my head). The surgeon gave me some more numbing drops and threw on the calipers to pry my left eye open. There were eye drops throughout the whole procedure… different kinds, different colours, constant. Again, wasting no time, he put what looked like a metal cylinder over my cornea and added some fluid. This would help loosen those epithelial cells. He kept talking me through the entire process, there wasn’t a time I didn’t hear his voice, which was so reassuring. This was the unnerving part though, and I was sure I was going to pass out. My vision went black with the exception of red lights everywhere, then what looked like a plain bagel. I just focused my vision on the center of that bagel. I am pretty sure the red was the laser light on standby or something. This is the best I can remember it looking like, it was just really wild is all I could remember. You can’t look away or close your eyes, you just have to relax and accept what your eyes are showing you.
He took the cylinder off and swabbed at my eye, I could tell the cells were coming off. My vision went super clear, he did some more swapping and drops, then came the laser. What felt like a big puff of air, which startled me, came out and I could hear the machine working away with that burning hair smell (which is gas coming from the machine). More drops, some super cold liquid. I had read one blog where the woman describes this freezing cold liquid being the coldest thing she ever felt in her life. My experience was different, I didn’t find it that cold. It was cold, but not uncomfortable in the least. I can’t remember if it was at this point he put something cold on my eye to rest, or if that came after the cross-linking. Yes, the cross-linking, I wasn’t done yet, whereas most people would be done at this point. Then came the stage where we seal the deal with some riboflavin. I was swiveled over to another machine, something to do with UV and I stared at another light, this time I saw a blue disco ball with a red or green dot in the middle. This time I had some peripheral vision and there was no noise indicating the machine was running, so I ended up accidentally looking to my side. The machine stopped humming and I was reminded to focus. Oops. More drops, then the contact lens bandage that comes out 5 days later. He did the second eye, this time holding my head when the laser came on since I jumped a bit on the left eye when it started (but this time I was ready and didn’t jump). I asked if people often cried in the operating room, and the answer was yes, that when it happens, they all tend to cry together. I wasn’t feeling super emotional at that point, but was so surprised at how good my vision was. When I sat up, the surgeon had me read the clock: 2:02 pm. I hadn’t tried reading the clock before surgery. If I had, the clock reading experience might have been more overwhelming (you know, from not being able to read the clock to 20 minutes later being able to).
The surgeon walked me back to the 2nd waiting room where the nurse took my paper cap and booties. I looked up to the TV and that’s when it hit me. I could see. The tears came fast and luckily the room wasn’t packed with people (2 dudes waiting. I was faced away from them so at least they were spared my ugly cry). The nurse was really sympathetic and sat with me as long as I needed. I just wanted to get out of there though. She gave me my little paper bag with goodies (gel eye mask, numbing eye drops, appointment cards, and to my surprise, a Toblerone!).
I walked down to the first waiting room where my husband waited for me. I started crying again as I walked towards him, unfortunately this waiting room was a bit more full than the last. I had to reassure him these were happy tears. I probably freaked everyone out. I walked to the car as quickly as possible and completely bawled my face off. I could read the display in the car and I could see Derek clearly. It was amazing.