Sunday, January 29, 2012

I'll Take A Double.


I have worn glasses or contacts since the fall of 1982. I wore my first pair (pictured here) with honor. At a time when my older siblings wore orthodontic gear and glasses or contacts, I was happy to have gear of my own. It felt grown up.

Playing football was always a challenge. In 6th, 7th, and some of 8th grade football, I just wore glasses inside my helmet. No special sports goggles, just regular plastic and metal-framed glasses. That led to a lot of unfortunate collision incidents, and eventually I broke a pair in half and played the rest of the season blind. I was not an effective pass-receiver.

Also, as you might guess from the picture, I did not receive much attention from the ladies.

I got contact lenses in the spring of 88, when I was in 8th grade. I was not immediately more successful in athletics or romance. In fact, one girl, who we will call Amy Plumlee, asked me pointedly, "are you prude?" when I had failed to pull the trigger on several kissing opportunities. Apparently, my lack of glasses gave the impression that I might know how to kiss a girl when, in fact, I did not.

I got used to wearing contacts eventually. A little too used to it: I slept in them and wore them much longer than you should. I abused my eyes. So for the last few years, I've worn glasses most of the time, and contacts when I played sports.

Sally and I finally decided to get Lasik surgery this year. We set aside the money in the flex spending account, and made our appointments. Sally did it two weeks ago, and I did it this morning. Here's my experience.

I arrived at 11:30, and the receptionist, Olga, took my name and handed me the customary paperwork. The warning page starts with "The long-term effects of Intra Lasik (TM) are unknown." Great. Then they describe a couple of possible infections that could lead to loss of your eyeball. Not just your vision, but your eyeball. Again, great.

I finished the paperwork and gave it back to Olga. She gave me a valium at 11:55. I settled in to read about the superbowl, and was not at all prepared when they called my name at 12:03. That was my first-ever valium, so I didn't know what to expect. Evidently, I should have ordered a double.

I went behind the glass (the operating room is set up like a fishbowl in full view of the waiting room). The doctor introduced himself and said, "why don't you let Alex (his assistant) borrow your glasses for a minute. I took them off, as I had done a million times before, and did not think about the significance of the moment. The doctor invited me to lay on the table, amidst the millions of dollars of equipment arrayed about it.

Someone put deadening drops in my eyes. The whole process was narrated by the doctor. He warned that I would feel some pressure when they attached a ring-shaped device that would hold my eyelids open (and my eyeball still?) while they used a laser to cut a flap in my corneas. The pressure is no joke, and made me wish that I had asked for a double valium. While the pressure was applied, my vision went completely black.

The doctor narrated all of this in a tone that you might expect from an elevator operator. Fifth floor: ladies' accessories, kitchen goods, temporary blindness.

After they got the flap flapped, they hit the exposed eyeball with pulses of laser that (I guess) reshape my eye into something that will work better. That's how I found out what my eyeballs smell like when they're burning. Not totally unpleasant, but unlikely to be a marketable fragrance.

Repeat with the left eye (a longer series of laser blasts were required because of more correction needed), and we were finished. They helped me sit up, took my hairnet off, and put me in a different exam chair. "Looks perfect," said the doc. Alex handed my glasses back to me, and I had a little catch in my throat as I folded them and put them in my pocket.

Sally drove me home. They tell you not do drive the first day. I am frankly amazed at how well I can see right now. This is like a miracle.

1 comment:

Jason Boyett said...

Love that photo, Matt. Apparently the camera adds six inches to the forehead. Congrats on your new eyeballs.