I type to you from the usual place: a 6-foot office table in the back room of my house. I am looking at the usual thing: a 6-foot collage of musicians that’s waiting to have Beethoven painted on part of it. I am doing so without glasses on my face or contacts in my eyes.
No, I didn’t win the contest. I am referring to my mom as my “benefactor” on this because it makes me feel like Pip from Great Expectations. Well, it’s really mom and dad. Dad squirreled away the money; after he died, mom decided how to spend (part of) it. Thankfully, part of that includes shooting lasers at my head.
Mom and I awake at the crack of ass (roughly 7ish) to drive to Loden Vision’s Rivergate office. I’m ushered back to a dimly-lit suite where a Cars DVD is playing and a guy hands me a surgery hairnet and slips those funky surgical booties on my feet. They also taped two big pieces of gauze to either side of my face (“sideburns,” to catch any eye drop drippage), put numbing drops in my eyes and gave me a strong Tylenol and a valium. Shortly thereafter, the doc came in, sat me down and used some kind of pen to mark my corneas (sounds gross, but you can’t feel it). I sit down a while longer and then some lady asks me if I’m allergic to betadine, iodine, or shellfish.
“What? There’s lobster? Where?”
She takes this as a no, and uses betadine to clean the areas around my eyes. More numbing drops, then I get taken down the hall to the surgery room and laid down on a big gray chair between two machines.
Machine #1 is the “suction.” This basically translates to “we’re going to grab your eyeball real good to hold it in place and cut a flap in the surface of your eye.” Not particularly comfortable, but I guess it’s better than expecting me to be able to hold still. Too much pressure, you know. Take me out of the equation and just stick my eyeball in a vise.
Machine #2 is the infamous “focus on the red dot” machine that actually shapes the cornea. They put an “eye speculum” (the proper name for “that thing from Clockwork Orange that holds the guy’s eyes open”) and then the doctor takes a pokey thing and slides the cornea flap aside. It’s gross and you can see it happening, but I couldn’t feel it and was just so glad to no longer be in the suction machine that I didn’t really care. It’s the same “that’s disgusting, and I bet it would seriously hurt if I could feel it, but whatever” that you have when you see the dentist wiping chunks of your wisdom teeth on a paper towel.
Anyway, I stared at this little red dot for 30 seconds or so and watched it get less and less blurry while smelling something that smells like when they drill your teeth at the dentist (ew, but as the brochures say “This is NOT burning!”). When I sat up, everything was kind of halo-y and slightly double-y, but there it was. I could see the door from 20 feet away. SEE the door. Handle and everything. When I’d come into the room, I had to use my glasses to find the chair. The doctor said I had the highest prescription of the week. I did not get a t-shirt for the honor, though.
So, I went back into the dimly-lit room to listen to more Pixar movies and “let my flaps settle for 15 to 30 minutes” or until the doc could come in and clear me for takeoff. I was chauffered home by mom, who hurried me back to my blissfully darkened house. I popped a pain pill and a Lunesta and was pretty much out cold until a couple hours later when I woke up like Angry Elvis: “It feels like there’s an eyelash in there! Ow!! Drops! DROPS!”
Anyway, when I woke up the second time, I found mom in the kitchen surrounded by pasta, bread, wine and salad. There was also a dehumidifier in the hallway. Something about air conditioner condensation causing watery stigmata on my walls. Either that, or the house was crying. It’s kind of a drug haze. Did I mention the pasta?
The next morning, we got up even earlier to go back for a follow-up visit (“everything looks good…just takes time to see what the final result will be”). The follow-up was ended with a visit to Panera for cheese souffle and cheese danish. Everybody knows that these things don’t have calories on the weekend. Google it.
As of today, I’m still doing eyedrops every 4 hours, I can’t wear eye makeup for 5 more days, and I’ll be sleeping in those dorky Kareem Abdul-Jabbar glasses for some time, but make no mistake: this is completely kick-ass. I have no idea what to do with myself, just running around being able to SEE things. Running around with naked eyeballs, like some kind of crazy eye nudist. No glasses on the nightstand. No endless bottles of contact solution on the bathroom counter. No glasses case in my purse. I still keep catching myself reaching up to push up my glasses, only to find nothing there.
It’s like 1,000 Christmases all at the same time.
Sunday morning, I woke up in a house I love, with a mom I love, a cat I love and a phone bearing tweets and Facebook updates from people I love, not to mention text messages from people checking in on my eyeballs. I kind of wanted to cry for a second, but then thought maybe I’m not allowed to. My folder of instructions says nothing about being stupidly emo.