Friday, October 06, 2006

Left Eye Laser

I'm home approximately three hours after having my left eye lasered. I'm sort of surprised my vision seems exactly the same and I'm not in any pain or discomfort.

I had my eye appointment earlier today, and went to work beforehand to get some stuff done since I figured I wouldn't be able to return. I'd gotten in early, dealt with a few of my staff as best I could, and had a conversation with another coworker at the water machine as I grabbed a drink.

"Oh, I thought you weren't in today," she said brightly.

"Well, I'm here now, but I'm out for most of the day after 10:30 or so," I said.

"That sounds... fun," she offered.

"Oh, it's not at all," I blurted. "I'm having laser eye surgery and I'm sort of freaked out by it."

Instead, the coworker's face lit up. "That's so cool! I've always wondered about that. Do you wear contacts?"


"No, my vision is fine, actually," I explained. "It's a whole diabetic story. Not that you want to hear all this, but the gist is that I'm having this thing today after being diabetic for 30 years so that the back of my eyes stop bleeding and ultimately, I don't lose any vision."

Nice buzzkill.

"That sounds like a heavy conversation for so early in the morning," quipped another coworker, who was getting water as well.

"Well, no, now I want to hear the story," pressed the first.

So I explained how it wasn't supposed to hurt, but that I had to have this laser stuff done today, on one eye, about the extra blood vessels and hemorrhages in the retina, in the back of the eye, and that I was nervous about losing peripheral vision.

"I keep holding my hand at the side of my face like this," I demonstrated, waving my hand near my ear, "and hoping I'll still be able to see this at the end of the day."

"Well, it doesn't hurt, right?"

"It doesn't, but I've had similar eye appointments like this and having these bright lights in your eyes is like being in an Iraqi prison," I pointed out.

The coworker told me she'd try to think of a better comparison to "bright light in the eyes" and "Iraqi prison" to help calm me down. We took our respective waters back to our respective desks.

After about an hour, I left to get to an endo appointment I'd had scheduled at 10:40, near the eye clinic. Not surprisingly, that doc was running late. At 11:15, I called the eye clinic, who told me I had to get in by 11:30, because the eye doctor was leaving the clinic for her own appointment shortly after my appointment.

I took charge, and told the receptionist that I didn't have much time and that, since I was now coming to the pregnancy clinic every two to three weeks, could I just skip this appointment or else come back for bloodwork, because I had to be across the street in 15 minutes for my first laser treatment, and by the way, I was freaking out about it?

(To make things easier, my blood sugar was testing at 55 about this time. A package of peanut butter crackers and 15 minutes later, I'm still 55. More crackers (which remind me charmingly of Clara Barton Camp, where I last ate peanut butter crackers about 20 years ago), and bing, bang, boom, suddenly I'm being whisked in to see the endo.

Endo gave me the quickest appointment ever, telling me my blood pressure seemed slightly elevated (no surprise) and that everything else looked fine. My blood sugars, which I'd faxed to her office that morning around 6, were nowhere to be found, but I wasn't concerned. I promised to come back across the street to her office as soon as the lasering was done to get my blood drawn.

"Will I be able to make it across the street here," I asked,

"Oh, sure," she said. "But sometimes the laser itself can be painful."


"I have Tylenol in my bag," I confided. "Should I take some?"

"Take 500 miligrams," she advised.

Reader, I took 1,000.

Mr. Lyrehca was waiting patiently for me in the eye clinic lobby across the street. I'd never gone to an eye appointment with anyone before, so it was odd to have a spectator.

The first part of the appointment was pretty typical: look across the room and read out the letters ("Even I can't see that line and I'm sitting right in front of the chart," Mr. L. remarked.), then lots of squirming to get several eyedrops in each eye, then a glaucoma check, which thankfully was fine.

Then we waited for the drops to dilate my eyes (even though I was only scheduled for one eye to be lasered, the tech had numbed both my eyes). I tried not to fidget. Mr. Lyrehca cleaned out his wallet.

Finally Eye Doc called me in and introduced herself to Mr. L. She put numbing drops in my eyes, chatted to the Mister about what she was doing (I'd already heard this speech many times before), and signed a form, just as I can barely read it, absolving the doc and the eye clinic of any wrongdoing should something horrible happen, like I lose my vision or have any night/peripheral vision loss.

Oy. It's not like I can decline to sign it.

"You've been doing these procedures for what, 10 or 15 years, right?"

"Oh, I do them all the time, but wow, I'm not that old," Eye Doc said. Then she paused.

"Actually, I started here in 1992, so that would be... "

"About 15 years," I countered.

It's not like I wanted to make her feel old, but honestly, I'd rather hear someone's been wielding the laser long enough to know what she's doing. Someone else can wave another laser on her face and maybe she'll feel younger.

She only did the left eye today. The idea is to see how the laser affects one eye and then you go back for another round in the second eye. I was adjusted to a machine that's similar to an eye apparatus you look through after your eyes are dilated and an eye doc shines light into them to see the back of your eye. I had to keep my forehead and chin pressed against the machine. Mr. L, who sat off to the side, got to wear red-tinted goggles to protect HIS vision throughout the procedure.


Then Eye Doc put some kind of cold gel on a hard contact lens that she essentially pushed into my eye. Thanks to the numbing drops, it didn't hurt, but I definitely felt *discomfort* and while it kept my eye open, it also made my legs squirm.

"Can I close my right eye?"

"You can, but don't squeeze it shut. The idea is not to move your head at all."

I managed to keep my right eye open and look at a small light on the right. Like an incandescent sort of light. I then looked straight ahead while Eye Doc flashed a vertical rectangle of bright white light about ten flashes at a time. She then moved on to another section of the left eye, staying around the periphery the entire time.

Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap.

Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap.

I counted the flashes. After about 80, I asked if we were halfway done.

"We're getting there."

Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap.

I didn't feel pain except for the occasional light eyestrain. It was very temporary and would disappear when Eye Doc moved to a different location.

I looked up. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap.

I looked down. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap.

I wasn't supposed to talk because it made my head move, so Mr. L. and Eye Doc chatted about the pregnancy ("Only the doctors and we know! Don't tell anyone!"), our possible vacation plans (Details forthcoming), and who can remember what else. I was told to keep breathing in through my nose, and out through my mouth, and not to hold my breath or hyperventilate.

"It's better than a speculum," Mr. L offered.

"I'm used to that already, there's been so many down there," I gritted.

Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap. Zap.

Legs still twitching.

Finally, Eye Doc spoke.

"The contact lens popped out, but I think we're good for today."

I leaned back and the lights were switched on. I saw a pink halo around the periphery of my left eye, and things were bright because of the pupil dilation.

The pink halo was normal, Eye Doc said, and would go away soon. The numbing drops would wear off in about a half hour. And no, I shouldn't suddenly feel pain once the drops wore off.

I was surprised to notice that my peripheral vision seemed fine. I held one hand to my right ear, and the other to my left ear, and could see my fingers waving out of the outer edges of both eyes at the same area. This pleased me.

I put on a pair of sunglasses, and said I felt ok. Eye Doc gave me the clearance to read if I wanted to, but that I shouldn't feel obligated to return to work, and to just take it easy today. Mr. L. held my arm as we left the clinic and pointed out stairs, but I could see them fine.

We went out for lunch, which was a delight, then headed home.

I actually emailed around, picked up some extra freelance work for the week, and surfed online the rest of the afternoon. I completely forgot to go back to the Endo's office to get the bloodwork but called and was told I could swing by on Tuesday to do it then.

Now it's evening, several hours later, and while my peripheral vision seems the same, I've walked around the house in dark rooms, closing my right eye and then my left to see if there's a difference in night vision. I do think I see a slight difference: I see slightly more light filtering in from the streetlamp outside, say, or the reflection of a white cabinet in a semi-dark room seems a bit brighter with my right eye than it does with my left. My vision in my right eye is also better than normal to compensate for my left eye, which has an astigmatism and is therefore slightly blurry all the time anyway, so I hope the laser won't make the night vision loss in my right eye as noticible.

Then again, I want to keep an eye on things, so to speak, over the next two weeks, to see if things change in my left eye as time passes.

But while the whole process was less excruciating than say, my HSG test, or abdominal surgery, I hope I don't need many more rounds of these.

Because while I can get used to a speculum, I suppose I could get used to these, too.

I just don't want to.


art-sweet said...

I hope this is the last time you ever have to do this. How scary, Lyrecha.

nicolep said...

L -

I also hope you won't need more.

I'm so creeped out by reading all of this - but I read so I know - and I appreciate your sharing it, it helps.


Minnesota Nice said...

Sister, you remain victorious!!
Now the other eye won't be so frightening.
May you heal well.

Lyrehca said...

Thanks, MN, and I asked again specifically--the eyeball injection is specificly for macular edema, not for non-proliferative retinopathy. May we all avoid vision treamtment for as long as possible.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Hey L,

Thinking of you, and hoping that you're continuing to feel pretty good overall.

Sounds like quite an experience, but you made it through Ok.

Take care!

Kerri. said...

I'm sorry you had to have this procedure, but I want you to know that I've read and re-read your post about six times now. Reading about someone who has experienced laser surgery successfully makes me feel a little more confident about facing my own future potential *Zap zap zap* sessions.

I hope you're feeling tip top today. :)

Kevin said...


Glad the procedure went well for you. Certainly sounds a little bit better than my experience. I'm glad to hear that you haven't noticed much vision differences, too.

Try not to drive yourself batty winking all the time and checking things out (easier said than done, I *completely* realize).

I certainly found that the fear of the unknown was the worst part, and so you're more than half-way home. I hope the next one goes smoothly too.

Anonymous said...

wow, very nice said. It doesn't sound like a pleasant experience. You are halfway done though! Good luck on your next laser surgery!


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