Wednesday, 16 July 2014

LASEK Laser Eye Surgery in Detail: The Aftermath

In my last LASEK update I told you about the operation itself; now let's move on to what happened afterwards.

All was going well until we were about 30 minutes from home (this was about three hours after I'd gone down to theatre and, therefore, since I'd had the anaesthetic drops put in), when the pain really started to kick in. We pulled over and hubby put some more drops in my eyes (anaesthetic and HyLo synthetic tears) and I took some painkillers; I'm not going to lie, I was in a LOT of pain and it took a lot of effort for me to pry my eyes open so that hubby could administer the drops. The tablets and drops kicked in but things still didn't feel that great. I had been given VERY strict instructions not to touch my eyes, when really all I wanted to do was to rub the living daylights out of them in an attempt to make them feel better.

We got home and DC was very pleased to see us, but I could barely concentrate on him as I was still in a lot of pain. I was literally clinging on to the edge of the worksurface in the kitchen thinking 'What have I done?' The pain really was immense; I remember thinking that even childbirth hadn't felt so bad! I couldn't take my sunglasses off even indoors as everything felt so bright (when I was actually able to open my eyes) and I basically felt very sorry for myself. Hubby took DC off to bed and I slumped on the sofa, still in a lot of pain and still wondering what on earth I had put myself through. And worst of all, I couldn't even read or watch TV! Strict instructions to do neither for 24 hours. Thank goodness for Radio 2.

And then, miraculously, at about 9pm the pain eased off and I was finally able to relax. Although still with my sunglasses on and only R2 for company (hubby had gone out - probably to escape me and my moaning.)

I took a few selfies of my new eyeballs

 I think it's fair to say I wasn't looking my best...
 The sunglasses definitely helped.
I went to bed at the usual time and slept soundly; I was actually quite worried that I wouldn't be able to sleep because of having to wear these beauties; quite the lovely articles, aren't they?

But the sleeping tablet prescribed by the eye clinic clearly did the trick. As for the goggles, I had to wear them every night for two weeks to ensure that I didn't rub/touch my eyes in my sleep. I also wore them in the shower for the first few days as I'd been told not to get my eyes wet; the instructions were actually not to have a shower at all (to have a bath instead) and not to wash my hair for the first week. I bought some Batiste dry shampoo which worked really well, despite my reservations. And I ignored the instructions not to have a shower because I'm a rebel. Plus, since I was wearing the lovely goggles and only showering from the neck down I figured there wasn't much chance of getting my eyes wet.

After nine days I went back to the clinic for a check up. By this time my eyesight was a little better but I only knew this because I put my glasses on one evening and could tell they were too strong. In 'real life' I really couldn't have told you whether there was any improvement in my vision, everything was still very blurry. Disappointingly so. And at the same time as barely being able to see beyond the end of my nose, I was frantically trying to get everything ready to open the tea room! I relied on my mum and hubby to drive me everywhere; I couldn't do anything without wearing my sunglasses (including painting the walls and woodwork at the tea room); at least three nights after the op I still couldn't see the TV (waaaah!) To say I was concerned/disappointed/upset is putting it mildly. I took to the wonder that is the internet to see (ha, excuse the unintended pun) what other LASEK patients had experienced. That's not to say that the eye clinic hadn't warned me about the pain and the blurred vision, but they had suggested that after a week I would be seeing much better than I was. Turns out I needn't have worried. It's pretty much par for the course with LASEK, which is one of the ways in which it differs markedly to LASIK whose patients report near-perfect vision and little pain after about 24 hours. My check-up showed everything to be in order and an improvement in my vision already, even if I wasn't aware of it. Plus reassurances from the surgeon that all would be well very soon.

Two weeks on and my eyesight was still blurry; frustrated was my middle name. I would wake up in the morning to perfect vision; I could see the alarm clock, I could even see to the bottom of the garden from our bedroom window. I could happily make my way downstairs and start the morning routine (coffee, packed lunch, school uniform ready, bag packed), but within about 30-40 mins the blurriness would return and that was generally it for the day. I was serving customers in the tea room without being able to see properly and trips to the supermarket were a case of getting up close and personal with the shelves to make sure I was buying the right things. All this while still administering endless rounds of antibiotic, topical steroid and synthetic tears eye drops (at least I only had to use the fourth lot of eye drops and the anti-inflammatory tablets for the first three days.) But then there would be strange moments of clarity when I'd glance into the distance and realise I could read a car number plate or make out a road sign (be reassured, I still wasn't driving at this point.) However, these moments chose not to join together until about three weeks after the surgery when one day, mid-afternoon, I realised I could see and had been able to ALL DAY LONG! Finally, the moment I'd been waiting for had arrived, and not a moment too soon, thank you very much.

One month on and I had another check-up at the eye surgery; the sight tests showed that I now have better than 20/20 vision, I am indeed bionic. I'm not sure if there's any point in vision being better than 20/20, but it certainly feels good. And my three-month check-up showed my sight had improved even more (when they put dilating drops in my eyes and everything went blurry, it felt just like the old days.) By the time the six months rolls round I expect they'll be telling me I have X-ray vision. I still have moments when I go to push my glasses up my nose, or even to take them off when I'm getting in to bed. That feels good. It's also great not having to worry whether to put in contact lenses in case the sun decides to shine, so that I can wear sunglasses. All is good in the eyeball department. So, if you are considering laser surgery, or if you've recently had it (esp. LASEK) and are looking for reassurance, I hope the three posts I've written about my experience will go some way to helping.

One final warning, when you go for a pre- or post-op check-up and the surgeon puts dilating drops in your eyes, you will look CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY. So keep those sunglasses close at hand if you don't want to scare the children.

Edited to add: there is one thing I do have an issue with, eyeball-wise, and that's an increase in the number of floaters (not the toilet kind; get your minds out of the gutter.) You know, those weird things that sometimes pass across your field of vision, looking like little amoeba/worms/aliens? Well, either there are more of them since my op or I'm just able to see them better. It's not uncommon and, apparently, once my brain has got used to them it will stop 'seeing' them, even thought they'll still be there, but it's still a bit of a nuisance and definitely something to be aware of if you're considering laser eye surgery.

3 comments:

  1. I've so enjoyed this series of posts, it's so helpful to hear exactly what happens. If I could ever afford it I would definitely have it done, it would be SO nice not to have to wrestle with contact lenses and to be able to see clearly at night. Thanks for sharing your experiences, and I'm so glad it went so well for you. CJ xx

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  2. Thanks for sharing this Justine, you're a brave woman. I have lots of floaters anyway - the optician told me the shorter sighted you are the earlier you get them, but I only really notice them when it is really bright/sunny.

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  3. Oh my goodness you had such a different experience than I did, I must have been quite lucky - I do still have the goggles though, they're in our dressing up box! A couple of times the kids wandered into our bedroom at night and got the fright of their life seeing me sleeping in those!

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