Tuesday, September 11, 2007

PRK Day - Blog #1

I know that today is a big day in the history of our country, of the world really. While I'm still saddened by the past events of this day, for me this anniversary was not so much about that. I've done my share of thinking about it, but I tend to do this frequently throughout the year. I must admit, this year I wasa distracted from those thoughts for the most part by the PRK I had done on my eyes.

Let me add the I-really-can't-see-great-yet disclaimer to remove myself from any blame on typographical errors. While I was doing my best to prevent them, if one or two sneak through you will have to forgive me.

Since we had to travel all the way over to Dallas, a little north of downtown, we took the TRE train over. That meant getting up at 4:15 am to catch the 5:53 train. I can live with that. I was, however, too nervous to even consider sleeping on the way over. So I didn't even try.

We got to the surgery center at 7:30 and the journey truly began. Shirell is part of the team there at the Vision Surgery Center and let me just say that she is wonderful. She really explains everything so well and is helpful...she's one of those people that when she says "If you have any questions you call me." you know that she totally means it and will go out of her way to respond to your call. I really liked her and she has that great ability to put people at ease who perhaps are ready to throw up all over her neck from nervousness. So she goes through my post-op care with me again, only this time she has my post-op kit there to show me the items as she's explaining it. I have about 6 different eye drops/rinses to use, a couple of different pills for pain and sleep, and some sexy plastic lenses that I have to tape to my face whenever I sleep. They are cool and I feel sure that Nick will see fit to take my photo in them at some point. When he does, I will share. While she's explaining everything Shirell begins the eye drop process and before she's done she has put 4 different drops in my eyes. Before I leave Shirell's desk I am invited to pick out one of 3 stress balls, so I choose the one shaped like a rubber ducky.

We wait a few minutes at Shirell's desk and then she gets us to take us into the pre-op room where a doctor administers yet another eye drop, this time a numbing drop that stings a little bit and makes my eyes feel like they're going to pop out of my head. He waits just a minute or two and then uses a bright light to look into each light and marks on my eyeball with some special eyeball marker that I'm pretty sure you can't find at Wal-Mart. He invites the guy-in-training to take a look at where he places the dots on each eye, which my the way is the only reason I found out what he did when he touched my eye with the pen. I thought it was just testing for feeling. Strange.

Then we wait.....they are getting the surgery suite ready and I am told it was just be a few minutes now. This leaves me plenty of time to sit in that chair and get a little more nervous, although Nick was in the room with me and he did his best to ease that nervousness. I squeezed on my new ducky friend and played with my sexy hair net that I have to wear during the procedure. Finally some new guy I've never seen opens the door and asks if I'm ready. Really, he should just not give me the option to say no and tell me to follow him.

I put on my cafeteria lady hairnet and someone takes Nick into a room next to mine, which is where he is going to sit and watch my procedure on TV. I think that is pretty cool - now he gets to be really ooked out and we can compare notes on how it looked to me versus his view.

They laid me down on a flattohair that is tilted just slightly back. I am still holding my duck so I assume no one is going ot take it away from me and I'm actually kind of glad. I don't have arm rests so I had my hands folded on my chest with the little duck squeezed tightly in my grasp. A nurse tells me she's about to put another deadening drop in my eye and it might sting a little - um, yeah, it stung a LOT. That was the most unpleasant of the eye drops. After that they swing my chair around until my right eye is directly under the laser machine.

They taped my left eye shut so I can't move it and proceed to prop my right eye open with some plastic thingy...it was not near as uncomfortable as I was expecting. At some point I have become aware that there are probably 4 or 5 people in the room with me but honestly I have no idea at what point in time they all came in. All I can now see is a redish-orange point of light directly above my right eye surrounded by a white ring of light. Now I'll probably mess up the order of things that happened next, but this is the gist of it.

Several times throughout the procedure they rinsed my eye with a cold rinse. When I say cold, I mean sub-zero ice cold. Going in one of the docs told me this was the worst part of the procedure, and I totally agree. It was so cold I felt it all the way to the back of my skull. It was not a pleasant experience. I would estimate they used it at least 4 times per eye, maybe as many as 6.

I can see everything he's doing, and while I am aware he's going it to my eye, and I can feel the slight pressure, it's almost like I'm watching it on a TV screen just right in front of my eye. It's a weird sensation. I saw a purple sponge at one point that swabbed around on my eye, I think to loosen up the cornea that they were going to remove. I saw the tiny spatula-like thing he used to scrap cells off my eye...as he was doing this I remember it looking like he was making a dust pile, if you will. I remember some kind of round thing that resembled a butterfly net being laid on my eye and also some sort of vibrating or spinning brush type thing, which to me looked like a round electric toothbrush. Nick said they put some kind of globular looking stuff on my eye and spread it around; I'm guessing this is what caused everything to look lime green for a little bit. But through all of this I can still see the orange dot and the white ring around it. They then moved a suction tube over next to the laser and begin the laser.

It made several clicking sounds and then I could actually smell the part of my eye they were burning off. It was not a pleasant scent. My after surgery report says they used over 400 laser shots to remove tissue. It literally took just a few seconds. After a little more rinse the bandage contact was placed in my eye and the immediately covered my right eye and switched to the left to start again. In all I'd say I spent maybe 10 minutes in the surgery suite. It was long and really, all things aside, it wasn't bad.

When I was totally finished they helped me walk into another room and covered my left eye after sitting me in a recliner and turned off the lights and let me lay there for 10 minutes or so. Nick sat with me so we began to compare what he saw to what it looked like to me. I am glad he got to watch. I think that is pretty cool.

They removed the tape from my eyes and he sat me down to test me to see if I could read any letters. I cold read some with my right eye but not my left eye yet. He was actually surprised I could read so many with my right so soon so I took that as a good sign.

So, can I see now? Isn't that what you are asking? Yes and no. I had a -7 prescription in each eye, which is pretty darn blind. So when I say yeah, I can see, it's no where near perfect yet but it's a heck of a lot better than it was. I'm pretty light sensitive right now (I even had to reduce the brightness on my monitor). When I got home we ate Whataburger (it has healing powers) and then I took a pain pill and sleeping pill and took a nap. I'd say when I first got up that things were not as blurry after my nap, although still blurry as I type this. It's a vast improvement from where I was, I'll tell you that. As my eyes heal, my vision will get better and better. It's a slower healing process than Lasik, but the long term benefits are better. I will keep you updated on my progress though.

Right now I am going to take my drops again and I think go back to sleep. I am feeling a bit worn out.


Kate said...

Congrats on the PRK! Eye surgery is totally worth it! I got lasik done on myeyes & would recommend it to anyone. Hopefully you're recovery time will be quick!

VexedAngel said...

Wow. That totally gives me the heebie jeebies. If I ever do that, I will need to be put out!!!

Congrats on getting through it, it sounds like it will be a wonderful payoff.

fuzzywhitedogs said...

Wow, I didn't know you were even considering having this done! It was so interesting reading your step-by-step description.

It sounds like it took quite a bit longer than lasik to do. You mentioned that it has long-term benefits that are better than lasik. What are they?

Hope your eyes are feeling even better now & that things are starting to look clear!

Dan said...

Great blog. We are starting to read from Day One and will go through all your progress. It's such a useful thing to have a first hand account from a laser eye surgery patient. It should be a real help to prospective future patients.