I was in my blue surgical cap, on the table, surrounded by instruments that could probably turn me into a superhero if something went wrong, when the nurse handed me a stuffed red alligator.
Wow. Really? I was already a little nervous. I didn't know this was going to be so bad that I was going to need a stuffed animal to calm me down.
But I was getting Lasik done. They mess with your eyes. Most people, including me, don't like that. If you tend to get freaked out at things like the scene in "A Clockwork Orange," then you might not want to keep reading. I wasn't even going to write about this, but LJ requested it, in exchange for a poker lesson (she doesn't know that yet, and I would imagine her lesson will be something like "get your panties out of a wad and shove shove shove shove shove, but whatever).
The nurse dropped a waterfall of numbing medicine in my eyes. Keep 'em coming, I thought, and she did, one after the other. Then she told me to lean back.
"Make sure you hold on to Jorge the alligator," she said as the doctor put a patch over my left eye. "You're going to need to keep your hands down."
OH, not worries. I was stroking his plush head. I wasn't really scared - I had wanted Lasik for years and finally found some extra cash through writing for Pokerworks and starting a Health Savings Account at work - but I needed the comfort anyway. I turned down Valium - I'm not a big fan of meds, and I worried that the red light you're supposed to stare at would get me into a Pink Floyd-like state that I would find hard to leave.
Doc slipped on some tiny steel bear traps over my eyelids to keep leftie open. Then he put a suction cup over my eye and said, after a few seconds, "pressure on." Everything went brown. Then I heard a buzzing and he said, "blade on." He was cutting a flap in my eye so the laser could do its work.
This was, by far, the most uncomfortable part of the procedure, and it's not pleasant. It hurts a little, and it's kind of spooky, as my 3-year-old likes to say in the dark. The good news is it takes less than a minute. I'll trade a minute for the chance to pitch my contacts, which have caused me far more pain than high school girlfriends.
The laser came next, and that's not so bad. You get to stare at a little red light, and that's pretty trippy. I highly recommend it. You'll smell a burning - that's your eye getting cooked. But I didn't feel any pain. I thought it was kinda cool, and again, it's less than a minute.
Still, Jorge got some good lovin' when I smelled my eye.
Now that I knew what was coming, I think I calmed down a bit more when it was time for leftie. Eyedrops, pressure, brownout, blade, a bit of pain, freaky red light, laser, then he sponges your eye for a while, then you're done. It took 10 minutes.
I had to wait in the lobby for a half-hour for my ride to get there because they fit me in early. That was the hardest part. My eyes hurt, even with the ibuprofen I took, and the glare from the sun, even with the shades drawn, felt like white daggers. When I finally got home from Wal-Mart after filling a prescription, I was relieved to hit the hay and sleep it off. When I woke up three hours later, the pain had subsided considerably.
Today it's like looking through a slight fog, but I can see, even now. And I have my doctors, Icon and a trippy laser to thank.
Oh, and Jorge.
• My procedure cost $1700. I have a pretty easy fix - my eyesight was about 20/100 - but I did have a little astigmatism.
• I chose a Lasik clinic because that's all those places do, and I figured it would be cheaper. I was right. I went with Icon Lasik, but I'm not sure if it operates anywhere but in Colorado. I thought they were careful and did a good job so far.
• I am already watching TV without my glasses or contacts for the first time since I was in the seventh grade. Amazing.