PRK 2 1/2 week update


Feels like it's been much longer than 2 1/2 weeks, so it helps to remind myself it's been only a short time since the surgery. Patience. Patience.

I had a follow up appointment yesterday. My first follow up was the day after the procedure, my second follow up was the Monday after the procedure, and this was my third follow up.

I knew my vision had worsened over the past few days, but I was still discouraged at the results yesterday. My right eye had improved one line on the eye chart. My left eye, however, had declined one line. Apparently I have an astigmatism in the left eye at the moment. My doctor reassures me that this is normal, and that my vision will continue to fluctuate over the next couple of months. He said he won't know until 4 to 6 months after the surgery if they will have to do an adjustment, which is basically going through the whole process over again, to correct for what they were unable to get the first time.

The doc was quick to say that the adjustment was a possibility, but nothing at this time indicates I will need an adjustment. He told me, in a nutshell, to be patient. And to give my vision at least 2 months to settle down.

Patience. Patience. Patience. Not one of my virtues, but I'm working on it.

PRK: My experiences so far


Dammit!! I was almost through with surgery day and my computer re-started (stupid updates). Here we go again...

Thursday (Day of surgery):
My appointment was not until 1:20, so I worked that morning. I did not allow myself much downtime that day, so I did not have much time to dwell on what was in store for me this day. I arrived at the surgery suite a little early (of course), but they took me back to get prepped right away. They did not even give me time to sweat it out in the waiting room before they got started!
The nurse took my vitals, gave me a chewable Valium, and went through all the post-op instructions. She had me put on the beautiful blue surgical "shower cap" as well as the blue booties. She then swabbed my eyes with Betadine. And then I had to go back out to the waiting room, blue cap, blue booties, and yellow circles around my eyes!! It wasn't so bad, as it was the waiting room for the surgical suite, so everyone there looked just like me. Can you imagine a room full of blue shower cap, blue bootie wearing, yellow raccoon-eyed people? I can't. One of the first things the nurse did was take my glasses away, so I was blind for the whole waiting experience.
It was little weird, giving up my glasses. It was sort of like giving a part of myself away. A part that annoys the heck out of me and that I couldn't wait to get rid of, but a part of me nonetheless.
So, there I am, in the waiting room, worrying that the Valium would not kick in. I don't know how much time passed, but I know that when they called my name, I had spent so much time worrying about the Valium that I didn't even get around to getting scared about the surgery itself. But I guess the Valium was working, because instead of running screaming from the room, I allowed them to lead me back to the surgical suite.
The room was COLD, so they gave me a heated blanket. That was the best part of the whole experience. They had me lie down in the "dentist's chair," covered me with the blanket, handed me a stress squeezy ball, and swung the chair around underneath the laser contraption. It all happened that quickly!! (They also confirmed my date of birth--thank you Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goals). They patched my left eye, taped my right eyelashes to my face, and inserted the Clockwork-Orange-type contraption that would hold my eyes open during the procedure. That thing wasn't NEARLY as bad as I was expecting. I couldn't really distinguish what happened next, but from my research I knew that they were dissolving and scraping away the top layer of my cornea. That was pretty awful. Seriously. That was the WORST part of the whole experience. Truly truly awful. By the time the laser started, I was relieved because I knew it was almost over. But. Then. It was time for the left eye. Not fun at all. However, it did go quickly. My mom said I was in the surgical suite for about 15 minutes. That includes the time it took to lead me back there, get me situated on the chair, patch, tape, and insert the keep-the-eye-open contraption, dissolve cells, and laser each eye. My guess is that it took less than 5 minutes, start to finish, for each eye.
I came home, took a Tylenol 3, and went to bed. However, I couldn't really sleep--not the way I wanted to. I wanted to just pass out for three or four hours, but I just sorta cat-napped the afternoon away. Before I left the doctor's office, they taped clear, hard plastic shields over my eyes, and I was instructed to wear them until the next morning, and every night for the next five nights. I hated the shields. Probably, more specifically, I hated the industrial strength surgical tape used to hold the shields on. Anyway, I could tell that my vision was much improved, but I couldn't really judge how much because the eye shields distorted everything.

My first post-op appointment was this morning. At my pre-op on Wednesday, as well as at the procedure appointment, they warned me that I would feel okay Thursday and today, but Saturday would be the worst day as far as pain and light sensitivity, and that I would want to stay in bed in a dark room all day. The relevance of that statement will be clear shortly.
While in the waiting room my mom pointed out a lady who had her procedure just after me. She was flipping through a magazine. She must have had LASIK. At that point, I must admit I was little jealous of her, as my vision was still pretty poor (but better than before!!!).
The doctor was an hour late. During this time, I was growing increasingly t.i.r.e.d. and light sensitive. I was wearing my sunglasses indoors. The post-op exam went well, albeit late. I think my vision tested at about 20/60. I could squint and make out the 20/60 line on the eye chart, but functionally, I couldn't have read a darn thing on the eye chart. But still, before the surgery, I couldn't have made out the "E" on the top line, no matter how much I squinted and tried.
The light sensitivity continued to worsen, but I attributed it to becoming fatigued. Oh. No. Was I wrong. As we left the appointment, I got into the car and reclined my seat back so I could sleep on the way home. The sun hit me full in the face. My eyes watered. They HURT. I sat up and looked around for something to shield my face. All I could find was a black canvas bag from Wal-Mart. I draped it over my face, and rode home with a bag on my head. Dear mother was very supportive, though. Every time she looked over at me to check on me, she laughed at her dear daughter wearing a bag on her head!
I was in denial, as everyone said my bad day would be on Saturday. However, it soon became clear to me that I was in Hell. And my hell had started about 12 hours early. It was pretty bad. My eyes were dry, scratchy, burning, and stinging. The light sensitivity was so bad that my mom had to close all the blinds and curtains, AND put blankets over the curtains. I laid in bed with my sunglasses on and a light-colored shirt over my face, but the light coming in through the light-colored fabric was still too much. Mom finally got one of her navy blue t-shirts that I could put over my face, and that helped tremendously. I started taking the Tylenol 3 every two hours. It would take about 20 minutes to kick in, and would be in effect for about 40 minutes. Then I had a whole hour to wait before I could take another one. I kept telling myself that this was temporary, and hoped that because it all started a half day early, that it would end a half day early. I knew that if it was going to last no longer than a day and a half, that I could handle it.
Friday night I was up every two hours, putting lubricating drops in and taking more Tylenol 3. My eyes watered constantly the whole night, which was okay because the moisture helped ease the pain somewhat.

The Hell ended Saturday morning. I felt blessed, as I expected it to last much of the day. I was so relieved! Saturday was still uncomfortable, and I still needed the sunglasses indoors and blankets over the windows. My poor mom must have felt like she was living in a cave all weekend. I slept most of the day Saturday, and don't really remember too much about it. My vision is clearer, but not all that functional. And I've had a cloudy, milky haze since the procedure.

It's a whole new day!! No pain, some discomfort, but no pain. I didn't have to wear sunglasses indoors. I could have a light on. I even wrote down some notes for this blog entry. I watched about an hour of television, which consisted of looking at the screen for two minutes, and looking way for five minutes, and so on for about an hour. I took a shower this morning, first one since Thursday morning. I was so thrilled about being able to shower and wash my hair that I didn't even notice until I was almost done that I could SEE IN THE SHOWER! First time I can remember being able to see in the shower. Things are going so well today, that I'm a little anxious about having the bandage contacts removed tomorrow. From my research, vision tends to decline and some discomfort returns after the bandage contacts are removed.

My second post-op appointment, and the doctor is an hour late, AGAIN. Mom said now that they got all my money, they aren't as worried about customer service. :) My vision tested at about 20/30, and my doc said I could now get the corrective lens restriction removed from my driver's license. That was a little scary. Although I could squint and squint and focus and focus and make out some of the letters on the 20/30 line, my vision is still not even close to being good enough to drive. Mom and I ran a few errands, and I could be in the direct sunlight with sunglasses on without any problems. It felt good to be out in the world again.

I worked from home this morning, and was able to spend about three hours in front of the computer screen. Mom went back to work today. I was forbidden to drive anywhere, was stuck in the house for the fifth straight day, and was going absolutely out of my mind!! However, Lori came later that afternoon to rescue me, and took me to TJ Maxx and Target. I did sneak out and drive around the neighborhood for about an hour. My distance vision was blurry, but I did feel comfortable driving.

I returned to the office today. My vision today was worse than yesterday, and I actually felt less comfortable driving. I only stayed for a couple of hours before getting tired, and drove home around 11:00. I have to say at this point that I have been sleeping A LOT. Two to three hours at a time. But the body recovers and heals while it sleeps, so I'm cool with that.

Back to the office. I lasted until about 3:00 today, but definitely overdid things. Although the fiscal year is over, I was trying to get some billing entered before the final final deadline, and I think I pushed it too much. My vision has been relatively stable, but I did notice some ghosting on street lights and business signs. I hung out with Lori this evening and had a couple glasses of wine. I was nervous about driving home, as that was the first time I had tried to drive at night. But it went really well! The street lights and stop lights were fine--no ghosting, starbursts, or halos. At least no more so than with glasses or contacts.

Today is my last day of four sets of drops four times per day!! I have one steroid drop, two antibiotic drops, and the lubricating drop. I have to wait five minutes between each drop, so it takes me about half an hour, four times per day, to administer all the drops. Today is my last day of antibiotic drops, so after that I will have just the steroid drop, four times per day, and the lubricating drops as needed. I am also able to sleep through the night, waking up about once per night to put in lubricating drops.

Saturday and Sunday:
Everything is going well. I have small improvements day-to-day with my vision, but the improvements have slowed significantly from the drastic day to day improvements I had earlier in the week. I can read for very short periods of time, but I'm still sticking to the audiobooks for now. My distance vision is still not great, but I have faith that it will continue to improve. It has been quite the process, and the more traumatic parts are fading from my memory, even now. Getting my wisdom teeth out still tops the list of traumatic life events. I think I'm still in shock about being able to see without glasses or contacts. I think it will start to hit me as I'm able to resume normal activities. For example, this Thursday I get to wear eye makeup again, AND go to the pool.

If I had it to do over again, would I decide to get PRK? Absolutely. I never, for one minute, wished I hadn't done it. Not even during the hell day. I am blessed to be healing quicker than average, to have fewer than average "artifacts" (ghosting, starbursts, etc), and to have a positive experience overall. Getting vision correction surgery is a personal decision, and not one I would recommend across the board. However, if it is something that makes sense given your lifestyle and unique circumstances, I would definitely say "Find out what you are getting into, and then go for it!"

I can see!!


It's my one week anniversary! It's been quite a week, and most of the excitement happened in the first three or four days after my PRK procedure.

I have wanted to post an update before now, but have only been able to look at a computer screen for the past few days, and by the time I get done with my work duties on the computer, my eyes are too fatigued to do anything more.

I plan to post a more detailed update in the near future, hitting all the exciting highlights for those first few days after the surgery. However, I just wanted to let everyone know that I am doing suprisingly well, and have recuperated faster than I was expecting. I started driving and returned to the office yesterday, but I am still getting tired easily so am only working half days. (My nap schedule has gone from two three-hour naps daily, to two two-hour naps, to one two-hour nap). But I figure that much of the healing occurs while I sleep, so I'm okay with that.

I want to think everyone for the phone calls and the cards. Even though I may have been drugged up and drowsy when you called, I still appreciated the support.


Tomorrow is PRK - Day!!!


I am writing this on the evening of the 9th, Wednesday. It probably won't get posted until sometime on Thursday, and for that I apologize. I'm having technical difficulties with Blogger at the moment.

My PRK procedure is tomorrow!!! Although it is technically a "surgery," I feel a little odd calling it a surgery. It is, even more technically, an ambulatory outpatient surgery. That means I will walk in, have the surgery, and walk right back out. Here is how I'm expecting things to happen:

I'll be working Thursday morning, mostly to keep the anxiety at bay by keeping my mind off the surgery, and also to avoid an unnecessary PTO day. Then I will come home, pick up my dear mother, and we will drive to the eye doc's. I'm supposed to be there at 1:20, but will probably arrive a little early, because that's how I roll. There may be some last minute topography of my eyeballs taken, they will give me a valium, and then wait for the valium to kick in. The procedure is scheduled to happen at 2:20. That's a lot a waitin'.

After the valium has kicked in, they will take me back to "the room," where I will lie down on a dentist-type chair. I'll get lots of various eyedrops administered, one of which will numb my eyeball. The doc will then put a solution on my eye to dissolve the top layer of the cornea. The doc explained this part very well at my pre-op appointment this morning. The topmost layer of the cornea is about 5 cells thick, and is really more of a "skin" to the cornea. After the dissolving solution does its job, the doc will then scrape off the remaining cells, position the laser, and set the computer to do its work to re-shape my cornea. After the re-shaping, each eye will get a bandage contact. I expect that whole process to take less than 5 minutes per eye.

Dear mother will then drive me home, and the plan is for me to sleep the afternoon away. I was informed to expect things to go fairly smoothly Thursday after the surgery, as well as Friday, but to expect extreme light sensitivity and irritation/pain most of the day Saturday. The tech said I will probably just want to spend the day in a darkened room, sleeping. I can think of worse ways to spend my time. The doc also gave me a script for Tylenol-3, so hopefully the painful bits will be tolerable.

I have a follow up appointment Friday morning, and another one Monday morning (when they will remove the bandage contacts). I expect weekly, then monthly follow ups after that. My vision will be corrected immediately, but my vision will be wonky for a while (two weeks? two months?) while my cornea is healing. The process of the cells growing back is what causes the light sensitivity and vision problems (hazing, ghosting, starbursts), and my vision will fluctuate during the healing process. From my online research, I think the fluctuating vision should calm down significantly within two months, and the corneas should be completely healed by six months.

It sounds like a lot to go through, especially when people who get LASIK talk about their instantaneous vision correction and lack of healing time. To that, I say that PRK has been performed a LOT longer than LASIK, and I also say that the flap they cut for the LASIK procedure never fully heals. The PRK may have a more involved and more irritating/painful healing process, but when I'm healed...I'm healed.

Yes, I am very nervous. The emotional bit of the nervousness hasn't kicked in yet. Of course, I haven't really had a chance to stop and think about so far today. But intellectually, I'm nervous for the procedure, I'm nervous for any pain that comes after, I'm nervous that I'll be discouraged while my vision is still fluctuating, and I'm nervous--in a VERY good way--about no longer having "nearly blind" as part of my identity.

Keep me in your thoughts, prayers, vibes, what-have-you on Thursday, and through the weekend. Cheers!

One week from tomorrow!!


PRK--How will I love thee? Let me count the ways:

1. No more looking down when walking in the rain.
2. No more hand mirrors to apply eye makeup.
3. I can wear real eyeshadow instead of blush/bronzer on my lids.
4. I can wear mascara without worrying it will smudge my glasses.
5. Being able to see exactly what I am shaving in the shower.
6. Sunglasses!!!
7. Sinus headaches/migraines will last no longer than absolutely necessary.
8. No more disembodied voices at the pool.
9. Being able to be in the pool and see at the same time!
10. Garrisol can splash me in the face and I won't care.
11. I can take spontaneous naps.
12. No more trips to the eye doc office when little hands grab at my face (to get my glasses readjusted).
13. No more alarm clocks with ginormous digital numbers.
14. No more cramming my glasses on while wearing my headwrap when I get out of the shower.
15. Being able to see getting in the shower, while in the shower, and getting out of the shower.
16. Being able to see the mold in the shower and being able to clean it before getting the sneezing fits.
17. No more "dedicated" spots for my glasses in the bedroom and in the bathroom.
18. No more glasses sliding off my face when I'm sweaty. (Not that I sweat or anything...)

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