Wednesday, March 5, 2014

PRK (aka, I can see!)

I have worn glasses since I was 7 years old.  Almost 22 years.  That is A. LONG. TIME.  I started wearing contacts when I was 12, and that helped me feel less blind, but I still struggled with dry eyes, eye irritation from the contacts, and other issues.  Around the time I got contacts my dad had lasik surgery.  Not long after, my mom followed suit and had lasik as well.  To say I was jealous that they didn't need glasses or contacts any more was an understatement.  Even my middle school self wanted to get her eyes fixed!  I just kept it in my mind that I would indeed get lasik one day just like my mom and dad.

5th grade Alex.  Please note my big blue framed glasses matched my blue dress.

Sportin' those huge frames again.


Even though this pic is recent, I wanted to throw in there to point out that you cannot wear contacts during labor and delivery.  This suckedddddd.

Fast-forwarded to today: 28-year old Alex.  -8.0 vision in both eyes, and a slave to contacts and glasses seemingly 24/7.  I couldn't even fall asleep watching TV without remembering to take my contacts out or my glasses off so I wouldn't smash them in the middle of the night.  And I had NO idea what it would be like to just take an afternoon siesta on the couch without thinking about my eyes (i.e. taking my contacts out before, putting glasses on and remembering to take them off before I fell asleep)--and all of that prep work made the random, just dozing for a few minutes couch nap an impossibility.

I had finally had enough.  I had been wanting lasik forever, and I know I had talked to Mike about it quite frequently.  He kept telling me to go in for a consultation, but I would always say, "No, it's expensive and we could save that money for something else.  I want this, I don't need this."  He would always tell me that it was definitely a need and not a want: that eyes are vitally important and I should look into getting them fixed.  Well, this past January I had my annual eye exam, and of course, my doctor pitched lasik to me.  Duh.  You don't have to sell me on this dude. I WANT it.  Well, he also told me that they were running a lasik special: it was $800 off if you booked your surgery before March 31st.  Ooooh.  This was enticing.  I went home and told Mike, and he said I should go for it.  So I went ahead and booked a lasik consultation for a few weeks later.  The downside: you had to be contact free for at least 2 weeks prior to your consultation.  GREATTTT.  Glasses it was for 2+ weeks.




So last Thursday I had my consultation, and I was (borderline) approved for lasik.  YESSSS!  It was happening!  After what seemed like an endless 2 weeks in thick glasses, there was an end in sight!  Woo hoo!  And my eye surgery center only does laser surgery on Fridays, and they had an opening the next day due to a cancellation, so I jumped, took a sick day, and booked it.  I was so excited: I was going to be able to see WITHOUT help for the first time in 22 years!


I went in at noon on Friday for my surgery.  Well, there was good news and bad news: good news, my eyes were fixable, bad news, I didn't qualify for lasik, instead, they would have to do PRK (Photo refractive keratectomy).  The outcome for both procedures is totally the same: you have your vision restored.  The downside is that while in 24 hours you're 100% completely healed, good-to-go with lasik, with PRK it is a much longer--and more painful--healing process.  (I won't bore you will all of the lasik vs. PRK differences...but if you're interested, go here for a really easy to understand and short article about he difference)  Nothing is ever easy!  Haha.  So PRK it was.  

After a few quick scans, meetings with both docs, the entire PRK procedure lasted about 16 minutes total: 8 minutes for each eye.  And yes, I was awake and aware of what was going on the whole time.  I mean, it was a bit nerve-racking when the doc was like "You need to look directly at the blinking orange light and nothing else--don't look away or down, focus only on that and don't move your eye."  And then, of course, you're mind is racing about "Oh gosh, what if I do accidentally move and they destroy my vision?  Or the laser lazes something it shouldn't?!!"--yep.  A little nerve-racking and tensing.  But I was able to focus on that blinking orange light for 16 minutes and my procedure went swimmingly well.  Phew! 




It was crazy: as soon as they sat me up in the chair after surgery, I COULD SEE.  Incredible.  I could read the clock on the wall.  I could see Mike watching my surgery from the observation room.  It was awesome.  Then, I turned into a vampire.  Not kidding.  The next 4 days were a blur: very painful eyes (that, yes, prescription pain killers were needed for!), lots of eye drops, dark houses with sunglasses, and lots of sleeping.  They definitely weren't kidding about a longer recovery!  Sunday after surgery was the worst day: I'm not an over-reactor or anything, but Sunday was so bad I called the on-call doc to see what was up.  I literally couldn't keep my eyes open: they felt so dry, very "sandpapery" when they were opened, felt like something was in them when they were closed, and they were super sensitive to light.  It was awful (& a shout out to my awesome parents for coming over and watching the little man all afternoon and evening while I hibernated in my room).  Luckily what I was experiencing was normal and the "worst" of it.  Luckily by Monday morning I was feeling much better.  Still a little fuzzy, but the pain was gone and I was feeling much better.  Tuesday was even better--especially after I went to the eye doc and was given an "on target" healing report and my eye bandaid contacts were removed.  I was told I have 20/15 vision now.  WOO HOO!!  Today I'm feeling even better--things are still hazy and fuzzy here and there, and still a little dry, but things are getting better and better each day I know.  The doc said it could be several weeks before I have "crystal clear" vision--but that each day my eyes are continuing to heal and get better and better.  I have an eye drop regime I'll be doing for the next month or so.  And, side note, I have this oh-so-adorable little pouch made by the fabulous April at Marine Parents (or @marine_parents on instagram) to keep my eye drops in.



I really am so happy and excited that my eyes are seeing clear without correction for the first time in over 20 years.  It really is an incredible feeling and I am so thankful for modern technology and doctors who are able to offer up these procedures (albeit a tad bit pricey! :) for people to have done.  Yes, it definitely was a cosmetic surgery, but it is one I definitely recommend and would have again in a heartbeat for the same results.



Oh, and (sales pitch) I went to Crown Laser Center to have my laser surgery done (I go to their partner Crown Vision Center for my other eye stuff...or I guess I use to!  Bye-bye contacts and glasses!) and they were fantastic.  I definitely recommend looking into them if you are in STL and looking at lasik!  I'm sure I'll be writing a shining review for them soon too :)


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