I thought it might be useful to write a more detailed post on my laser eye surgery treatment in case anyone else out there is looking in to having it done. It's always handy to read/hear about other people's experiences, especially if it helps set minds at rest.
I've considered having laser treatment for quite some time (years, possibly even a decade), but things never came together - either I didn't have the money, or the time, or the inclination, or I couldn't find somewhere to have it done that I felt comfortable with. And then, bam at the beginning of this year everything came together and I was on an absolute mission to get those eyeballs laserized (that's the technical term...)
I didn't feel comfortable going to a 'high street' optician to get this done. Can't quite put my finger on why that is, perhaps feeling a bit like one of many on a conveyor belt, or perhaps like a walking £-sign, or wondering whether I would end up seeing different members of staff each time I went in for an appointment, or even that the company might go bust before my treatment was complete. So, I set to Googling and came up with LaserVision at the Bristol Eye Hospital. The fact that the clinic is located within the NHS hospital and is run by one of the hospital's own consultants instantly put my mind at rest; I figured that if anything went wrong I would be in the right place for it to be put right! There was also an extra sense of reassurance that an institution like the NHS wouldn't allow some fly-by-night company to set up on its premises. Can you imagine the outcry?
So, one evening in January I sent LaserVision an email requesting details and the next day they phoned me to make an initial appointment. As I mentioned in a previous post, there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing before I went for the appointment as the clinic wanted lots of information about my eyes, including previous prescriptions, opticians, etc. it took me a while to remember where I'd had my eyes tested before and to track down old prescriptions, but I finally got there. The appointment cost £40; I thought perhaps this would be taken off the overall total if I went ahead with treatment (especially since it cost nearly £4,000!), but no, it's an added extra. Just so you know.
Towards the end of January hubby and I drove up to Bristol and I had my appointment. Everyone at the clinic was lovely, very friendly, welcoming, reassuring, professional - everything you want when you are putting your eyeballs in their hands. My appointment lasted about three hours as there were some very extensive tests carried out, lots of standard 'trip to the optician' tests and several more that involved measuring, adding coloured dye, checking the cells at the back of my eyes. There were also tests that involved having drops put in that dilated my eyes - this meant I couldn't drive myself home so I'd been told to make sure someone was with me to take me home. I also met Mr Jaycock, the surgeon who would carry out the procedure if all the test results pointed to a good outcome. Luckily for me, they did; there was a little concern about the cells at the back of my eye (or was it the front?, already I'm forgetting the details), and this was one of the reasons that Mr Jaycock recommended LASEK surgery for me rather than the more common LASIK. There is a slight difference in the procedure which also means a difference in recovery time, but I wasn't going to argue with the expert. Mr Jaycock said he would take a few days to look over all the test results and confer with colleagues and then call me to confirm that all was well.
We came up with a date of 2 April for the surgery and I then spoke to the receptionist to book myself in and sort out the finances, assuming all went to plan. The clinic has several options for payment, including the one I went with whereby you spread the cost over two years with interest-free monthly installments. Why not keep the money in your own account as long as possible?!
Luckily Mr Jaycock soon called to say all was well with the test results. He asked me to make an appointment for about a week before surgery for more tests/checks. Another excuse to pop to Bristol and shop, oh ok then! At this appointment more tests were done to check my vision and the health of my eyes, luckily all was still ok.
It seemed to take ages for the date to come round, and then it happened to be right in the middle of the week when I was decorating the tea room in preparation for re-opening! I thought about rescheduling, but once the tea room was open I figured it would be ever more difficult to take the time out. I arrived at the clinic at 12.30pm and had more tests done to make sure nothing had changed with my eyes since the last visit. Then I saw Mr Jaycock again to go over things one last time and sign the 'if anything goes wrong it's not your fault and you told me, so bad luck' form. Then I was told I could either wait in the clinic or go out and have a wander round town. Obviously I wasn't going to miss the chance to look round the shops (for the last time in my glasses, no less!) so I went out for a bit.
The clinic phoned me when it was time to go back. I called in at reception, left all my bags there and one of the members of staff walked with me up to the theatre ante-room. I was then handed over to a theatre nurse who took my glasses (wouldn't be needing them again...) and popped them in a bag for later, put a lovely shower cap on my head and then dripped about 400 different drops into my eyes to numb them (thank goodness.) And then I was taken through into the theatre when Mr Jaycock was all gowned up and waiting for me (along with three nurses.) I lay down on the operating table and one of the nurses offered me a blanket as the theatre was quite cool; it was actually quite nice to have for the security aspect as much as the warmth! And then it was time for the procedure to begin. And this is where I'm going to finish this blog post before it gets unfeasibly long. I'll be back soon with the next installment.