Yesterday I went “under the laser” to correct my screwed up vision. Dr. Tony Pham over at Omaha Eye & Laser Institute must have done one hell of a job because I could read the 20/15 line this morning with no glasses or contacts.
They’re pretty clear about the risks from the first consultation until the day of surgery. I could go blind or still have to wear corrective lenses, although the risks for those are pretty small. Moments before I was admitted, they presented me with one more form to sign. Once again, it lays out every possible risk, but there was more. At the bottom of the form, there’s this line:
I understand the information presented and am willing to accept the fact that I may need glasses or contact lenses or further surgery following LASIK to achieve my best possible level of vision.
Then there’s two blank lines underneath it. The instructions say:
To assure that you have understood the information presented, please copy the following statement in your own handwriting:
So I had to write out that line, then sign the form. My wife and I disagree on the meaning of this exercise. She thinks it’s a legal issue and the fact that I had written that line means more than a simple signature. I think from a legal point of view, a signature at the bottom of the form holds as much weight as the recopying. The recopying, in my view, is the last ditch effort to manage my expectations in case I still have to wear corrective lenses. Neither of us are attorneys, however.
I showed up around 3:00 PM for my surgery and was on my way home around 4:15. First, they took my vital signs (148 over 95 but I don’t know what that means). Then they gave me a Valium and a pain killer. I sat in a recliner for about 30 minutes waiting my turn. I could hear the laser working on other people while I waited. Everyone who went into the laser room came out smiling.
Once in the laser room, I got on some sort of table between two pretty big machines. They loaded my eyes up with anesthetic drops and we were off and rolling. The first laser cut a flap in my eye. Then they put what they called a pressure ring on my eye. It was a lot of pressure on my eyeball, but it wasn’t painful. They positioned me under the second laser which reshaped my eye. This laser makes a lot of noise and produces a smell that was reminiscent of having a cavity filled at the dentists office. When I was moved out from under the second laser, I could “see” the doctor putting the flap back. Actually it was blobs of dark moving around. Once the flap was back, I could see the ceiling and at that point I knew it worked. They did the same thing to left eye and that was it.
I wasn’t nervous before surgery. I wasn’t even nervous walking into the operatory, although the Valium may have had something to do with it. On the table, my hands were folded on my stomach. A few minutes into the procedure, I noticed that my hands had a death grip on each other. I consciously relaxed and a few minutes later I noticed the death grip was back. It was a little disconcerting having all that activity that close to my eyeball.
All-in-all, it was a very pleasant experience and I’m glad I did it.