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LAser in-SItu Keratomileusis 9

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We may have reached the final chapter in my longer-than-expected LASIK saga (or at least the penultimate chapter).

This evening I traveled once more to Bergenfield for the follow-up appointment to my re-treatment surgery on January 22. Dr. Dello Russo’s office no longer does Saturday appointments for follow-ups (bleah), so I had to schedule for a Wednesday at 6:30 PM.

On January 22, I had to drive through the worst snowstorm of the season. Thankfully, it is now spring, and winter is a distant memory. Well, as the Russians say, “in the window” (bad Russian linguist joke).

Michael hates driving up to North Jersey. Michael hates driving in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic. Michael hates driving in zero visibility winter precipitation. Combine all three, and Michael is not happy.

It took me two hours to get up there (it’s normally an hour-long trip). Then I had to wait in the receptionist area for fifty-five minutes. Thankfully, I have a zenlike patience; but even my patience has limits. The doctor examined me for seven minutes, and then I went back out into the falling sleet, and ninety minutes later, I was home.

As for my eyes, they are healing up quite nicely. It seems that the reshaping was a success. I now have 20/15 vision in both eyes. Already, I am seeing much less nighttime glare, and that should subside even more over time.

I have always dreamed of having better than perfect vision. When I was a young child, I would sometimes stare intently at a lit flashlight held close to my eyes, imagining that its beam would somehow transform my eyes and endow me with super vision. Granted, these were the imaginings of a boy whose creative side…his passionate side…his hopeful side…often overwhelmed his rational side. (I suppose it still does.) Who would have thought, though, that decades later a light beam of a different sort would give some reality to a seemingly ridiculous wish.

LAser in-SItu Keratomileusis 8

When we last left our intrepid hero, he had just stumbled out into a blinding snowstorm. The pale light of the early afternoon sun barely pierced the frigid white torrent. He was more than ready to leave Bergenfield behind even though just little more than an hour ago, he had triumphantly faced the molecular disruptor laser of the skillful Doctor Dello Russo.

Although the snow piled high upon his trusty black Neon did not portend a swift journey home, little did our dashing protagonist know that he would not see the cozy interior of his humble abode until late that evening, despite the fact his destination was a scant fifty-six miles away.

Yup, driving home was a bitch.

Visibility was negligible, none of the roads were plowed, and traffic moved slower than an arthritic three-toed sloth. Further diminishing my ability to see the road, my freshly-lased eyes were extremely photo-sensitive, so removing my newly-issued UV-blocking sunglasses was not an option. One additional wrinkle—for the first two weeks after my surgery, it is necessary to keep my eyes moist with artificial tears; otherwise, a dry, stinging sensation builds to a painful intensity akin to molten glass on my eyeball. Just try applying eye drops while driving…actually, forget I said that; please don’t try it.

The doctor’s office had supplied me with a few packets of “happy pills,” but I would not be able to benefit from their wonderful numbing effects until I reached home.

LAser in-SItu Keratomileusis 7

So, finally, after deciding to go ahead with the LASIK retreatment, making my appointment for January 15, and then having that appointment delayed a week; the morning of my re-treat operation was finally here. The weather reports of the impending storm made me a little wary, but I hoped that the storm would either pass over us, or I would be indoors during the worst of it.

I arrived at the doctor’s office fifteen minutes early (per usual, darn military conditioning) and waited in the reception area for about an hour. It seems that everyone had moved their appointments earlier in the day to avoid the storm—not fair to those of us who already had 9 AM appointments, but “life” rarely shares the same sentence with “fair” without some negation.

The technician looked at my eyes, made measurements while I stared at the little farm scene that shifts in and out of focus, and then the doctor (Dr. Dello Russo, Jr.) came in for the eye chart reading. “Which is better? One? Or Two? One? Two? One?” “Uh, one I guess. I dunno.” “One or two? How about three? One? Two? Three?”

After the doctor left, I signed a consent form which was an addendum to the forms I signed last year. The technician also gave me my “goodie” bag, which provided my first bit of good news. They no longer required that patients go to the pharmacy to fill a prescription for the tremendously overpriced Lotemax and Vigamox ($120 saved, score!). Instead, they had switched to the cheaper Pred Forte (anti-inflammatory) and Zymar (antibiotic) drops and already had both bottles in the bag. Also, they replaced the adhesive bubble-shaped eye shields with an elastic-strapped clear plastic face shield (for use during the first two nights of sleep). Finally, the sunglasses, last worn by Diana in the mini-series V, were replaced by a slightly less ridiculous-looking pair.

Home safe and sound

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My operation seems to have been a success and was considerably less traumatic than the first time around. Unfortunately, the drive home yesterday was a nightmare; it took me close to five hours to drive 56 miles, probably the most frightening driving experience of my life.

My vision is still a little blurry, and my eyes are still rather photo-sensitive, so I will cut this post short.

More on how my operation went, surprising things about LASIK that I had not known, why I came home a day early, and my drive through a blustery hell should come in a day or so.

Under the laser, reprise reprise

Today’s post is a word-for-word rerun of last Saturday’s entry because the events of this morning feel like I’m starting at the beginning of a reset temporal loop thanks to last week’s scheduling mishap.

My LASIK re-treat operation is this morning. I cannot believe an entire year has passed since I did this the first time. The nervousness has not really struck me yet, but I am sure it will in a couple of hours.

The events of the coming weekend should closely mirror last time with the exception (I hope) of the scary-looking bloodshot eyes.

Soon after they do the “flap and zap,” I will make my way over to an overpriced inn in Tenafly, dope myself up, and try to sleep it off. Because the hotel restaurant was full of noxious cigarette smoke last time, this time around I am bringing my own dinner.

My follow-up appointment will be early Sunday morning. I will drive home from Bergenfield around noontime, and hopefully be back home that afternoon to blog an update about how my operation went.

Bad omen?

I’m back.

Even though my previous post said that I would not be back from my operation until Sunday, the best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray.

I drove up to Bergenfield, put my overnight bag and coat in the closet of the doctor’s office, signed in with the receptionist, and sat in the waiting room for fifteen minutes. The receptionist called out my name, and I walked over. As soon as she asked me, “When did you make your appointment?” I knew that something got screwed up.

It seems that all of the surgeons are in the Manhattan office this week. Whoever had scheduled my appointment back in November had made a massive blunder. “But,” I protested, “I even called to confirm my appointment yesterday afternoon?!?” I had even asked the woman on the phone if I would need to sign any additional consent forms for my surgery.

This receptionist was very apologetic, especially when she found out I live ninety minutes away and had made an overnight inn reservation. I was able to reschedule my reservation without penalty, but there is no way that I can recoup half a tank of gas and seven bucks in tolls, not to mention my time and anxiety.

I occasionally like to cling to the romantic notion that everything happens for a reason. (I’m really good at deluding myself.) Sometimes it helps me from bouncing off of the walls with livid frustration. Then again, is it a bad omen? No, I cannot think that; I have enough misgivings about this surgery as it is.

So tune in next week, Saturday, January 22, when I attempt to repeat this silly escapade once more. This is me on the phone next Friday, confirming my appointment—“Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure? Absotively, posilutely, one hundred percent sure?”

Under the laser, reprise

My LASIK retreat operation is this morning. I cannot believe an entire year has passed since I did this the first time. The nervousness has not really struck me yet, but I am sure it will in a couple of hours.

The events of the coming weekend should closely mirror last time with the exception (I hope) of the scary-looking bloodshot eyes.

Soon after they do the “flap and zap,” I will make my way over to an overpriced inn in Tenafly, dope myself up, and try to sleep it off. Because the hotel restaurant was full of noxious cigarette smoke last time, this time around I am bringing my own dinner.

My follow-up appointment will be early Sunday morning. I will drive home from Bergenfield around noontime, and hopefully be back home that afternoon to blog an update about how my operation went.

LAser in-SItu Keratomileusis 6

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Well, I made an appointment with Dr. Della Russo’s office today. On January 15 at 9:00 AM, I will go back under the laser. Deciding to make the retreatment appointment was not an easy decision; I put it off for months. Any surgery is inherently risky, and my fear is that rather than perfecting my vision, this operation may make it worse. This second operation will most likely be a tremendous success, but I will always remain a pessimist and a worrier at heart.

It has been a wonderful year free from the burden of glasses, and I can scarcely believe that it has almost been a year. I love opening my eyes in the morning and viewing my surroundings with 20/20 clarity. However, due to slight aberrations in the shape of my cornea, driving at night can be difficult because of my eyes’ over-sensitivity to light. Oncoming headlights and traffic lights blur my vision quite a bit. Occasionally, I also have trouble focusing on small words across a computer screen, and I must squint or close one eye to refocus.

If I don’t get this done now, I will most likely not get another chance. I have already paid for this operation the first time and will incur no further charges for the retreatment. I will, however, have to pay for an overnight stay at the inn again, and I will have to pay for the expensive eye drops prescription once more.

During the recovery time, I will not be able to lift weights for a few weeks, and I will have to repeat the extensive regimen of eye drops and artificial tears. This a small price to pay, though, if I can finally have perfect vision.

LAser in-SItu Keratomileusis 5

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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

It is finally time to bring the LASIK narrative to a close.

I continued to need the artificial tears for another four months, but stopped using them entirely after that. Soon after my surgery, my eyes had trouble focusing when I tried to read a computer monitor from a distance. Words would slowly come into focus if I stared at them or closed my left eye, but I don’t think that my brain fully figured out how to use my reshaped corneas until the fourth or fifth month.

A little over six months following my surgery, I returned to Dr. Dello Russo’s office for my appointment. Results from the vision chart were great—20/20 in my left eye, 20/15 in my right, and no astigmatism. Unfortunately, my eyes were still a bit sensitive to bright lights at night. Headlights and street lights could occasionally blur my vision, especially when my eyes were tired. I had really noticed this when I drove up and back from the Montreal Jazz Festival in July.

LAser in-SItu Keratomileusis 4

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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

When I arrived at my room at the inn, my eyes stung so badly I could barely keep them open. I fumbled through my belongings for the pain pills that the doctor had given me and quickly downed those. The really expensive eye drops were next. Lotamax is an anti-inflammatory drop that I had to apply four times daily for two weeks; Vigamox, an antibiotic, I applied four times daily for one week. Preservative free artificial tears had to be applied every fifteen minutes for two weeks, tapering down over the next three months.

Before settling into bed, I had to adhere a bug-like clear plastic shield over each eye. This was to prevent subconscious rubbing of the eyes while sleeping. When I awoke four hours later, my eyes felt much better; thank God for pain pills. I made my way to the downstairs restaurant to find dinner.

Unfortunately, the restaurant was adjacent to a smokers’ lounge. As I waited for my meal, the pain pills started to wear off. This, combined with the cigarette smoke wafting in from the lounge, made for a rather unpleasant meal. I understand the need for smokers to feed their addiction; what I don’t understand is the total disregard for others exhibited by those who smoke inside public buildings, but I digress. I was unable to keep my eyes open to eat my dinner, so I navigated my plate by touch. After wolfing down my food, I stumbled back to my room and tried to sleep until morning.

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