Last week I had laser beams shot into my eyeballs. One might want to say that’s not all fun ‘n’ games, but they would be wrong. Dead wrong. One might think I’m some sort of James Bond villain with that kind of point of view, but they would only be partially right. These laser beams were marvelous. If you’re thinking of getting LASIK surgery, do it. If you’re scared, get over it. Here’s how it goes and here’s why it’s a miracle.
Since the age of seven, I’ve worn glasses and/or contact lenses. My glasses have been through a lot: falling off my face, me purposely stepping on them; they’ve been scratched, snatched, bent, twisted, etc. Yes, even et cetera. But my contact lenses are no slouches. They’ve given me pink eye twice, been ripped into bits while on my eye, been tucked into my upper eyelid, been tucked into my lower eyelid and almost sent me to a hospital the night before a final in college. Suffice it to say, my eyes were trouble. Big trouble. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I needed a new way.
When I heard of LASIK surgery many moons ago, I was more than a little excited. It was as thought the future was here. It seemed like Logan’s Run was happening all around me. I thought I’d head into a silver sterilized room and Farrah Fawcett-Majors would assist Box the robot doctor in lasering my eyes into perfect sight. Here is my artist’s rendering of the operating room. I am being played by Michael York.
Afterwards, I’d have the vision of a robot eagle. I could spot a delicious robot mouse through a forest of robot trees at a robot mile away. But it wasn’t going to be robotic as all that. It was real. But it was still magical. Like all things magical, the journey was not easy. Well, it was pretty easy. Okay, so basically super easy but whatever.
It turns out they want your sight to be the same for about a year or two when you get the surgery. After hearing about the lasers and seeing my mother pass through their gaze successfully, I was ready to go. But it wasn’t to be for another ten years. I passed those ten years as anyone in my situation might have, by counting the days until my vision was as bad as it was going to get by marking them one by one on my wall with a piece of chalk the kind warden gave me. Then one day, I announced I was ready. The optometrist gods at my local Costco announced my prescription hadn’t changed since my visit the previous year. I was ready. I got eye surgery clearance and a delicious Costco hot dog.
Praise be to Costco!
I found the best surgeon in town. He had lasered all sorts of celebrities and athletes and what’s good enough for them is probably cool for me. When I went into his office for a consultation, they even played me a DVD where Henry Winkler talked about how great his LASIK had gone with this doctor. Henry Winkler! The Fonz! Barry Zuckerkorn! I knew I was in the right place.
They checked me out with some tests and I scheduled a surgery for the next day. I got there early, waking up at the crack of dawn to beat traffic and had managed to stunt my sweating and hyperventilating from nervous thoughts of lasers melting my eyeballs or going blind or having someone go berserk in the operating room and stealing my eyes,then running off with them like a deranged eyeball-stealing leprechaun. I managed to beat back all these thoughts, because I was going to finally see.
Then disaster struck. I was on the table, all set to go. Remember, I was still partially terrified of the procedure. I mean, they’re shooting lasers into your face for Jiminy Cricket’s sake! But I had steeled myself. I’d been given a Valium and what felt like four pounds of eye drops. I couldn’t feel my eyeballs. I can usually feel my eyeballs rolling around in head, they’re pretty heavy and jangle like those Chinese relaxation balls. But if not for their constant jingling sound, I would have thought my eyes had been stolen by that awful leprechaun. Anyway – I’m on the table, with the claw thing holding my eyeball open when the doctor goes, “Oh, dear,” and that’s just not something you want to hear. When you’re splayed on a table feeling like Alex from A Clockwork Orange you want it to be over with as quickly and oh-dearlessly as possible.
My peepers were safe though, as it turned out the machine just couldn’t calibrate. I got sent home.
But after working myself up over the whole thing, I was displeased to say the least. At least I got a free Ambien out of it, I guess. See, they want you to sleep for a few hours so you don’t claw out your eyes right after the surgery so you get an Ambien in your goodie bag. And they let me keep my goodie bag.
So I had to do the whole thing again the next week. This time, I show up like the coolest customer in town, since I’d already been through most of this. Though as the coolest customer I still manage to sweat excessively and need to practice idiotic yoga breathing since I’m still pretty anxious over the whole thing. But I take the Valium and do the eyedrops and I’m back on the table.
The eye claw doodads go in and a machine is brought over my eye. I don’t feel a thing other than a little pressure from the claw doodad. This machine makes the slit in each of my eyes so they can get the laser to where it needs to be to do it’s thing. Then another machine comes in and that’s the actual laser. They tell me to stare at the red dot and tell me my vision might go away temporarily. They also say it’s okay if my eye moves a little since the laser will follow my eye. It’s the smartest little robot in the world. The machine makes some clickity-clackity sounds and then I’m done! Apparently that eye will now see. They scoot over to my other eye and do the same thing. And I’m done! In a matter of minutes. The actual lasering can’t be more than a few seconds long.
Then I sit up and the doctor asks me to look at a clock on the opposite wall. He asks me what time it is. I say, “Nine thirty.” I can see. I can see without the help of lenses of any sort. (It should be noted my reading was after a slight pause as it took me longer than the usual kid to learn tell time. So, sue me. I can tell time now. I can tell time from clocks without glasses or contacts. So, suck it, 8-year-old Laura. Because now I can tell all the time.)
My vision just gets better and better each and every day. It’s crazy how this is something we can do to our bodies. It doesn’t even hurt. And now I can truly appreciate singing ‘A Whole New World’ – it gives the song a whole new meaning.
Because, you know what? The world really is a “dazzling place I never knew”. If you want to know what LASIK is like, just go listen to Aladdin and Jasmine belting out ‘A Whole New World’. Seriously. Maybe forget you even read this article, because that song basically sums up the whole darn thing.
PS For the love of all that is holy, do not Google LASIK. It can get real gross real fast.