Walking into the doctor’s office that day, I felt numb. After having watched several YouTube videos of the procedure I felt confident of what I was walking into, or so I thought. Sitting in the waiting room, I waited and waited with my wife at my side. They were running an hour behind schedule, just long enough to let the excitement waiver and the dread set in. We talked about a life without glasses or contacts and my wife contemplated getting the procedure herself. Content with using me as a test subject, she agreed to sit in the viewing room during the procedure.
I eventually made my way into a smaller waiting room that was located next to the operating room. There the doctor asked me to sign my name onto yet another C.Y.A. (cover your ass) document and proceeded into the operating room to complete the procedure on the patient ahead of me. He lazily swung the door behind himself, but not hard enough to close it entirely. As the door swung open I could read a small sign in bold letters that stated, “Door MUST be closed at ALL times.” It was written on a shade of yellow and black that reminded me of those radioactive warning labels. I proceeded to listen to the entire procedure of the patient before me. Like some kind of flash forward I listened as the crackling laser burned into the mans retina and the nurse attempted to comfort him. Minutes later, they placed the man in a chair across from me and signaled for my entry. It was my turn.
Walking into the room, I felt an uneasy chill. It was strangely colder in the operating room than any other, even the waiting room that was only a few feet away. The nurse politely asked me to lay down on the chair, a surprisingly uncomfortable chair due to the pitch. My legs were slightly higher than my upper body and I could feel the blood rushing into my head. The nurse placed a few numbing drops into each eye and moved on to calibrate the laser. I did what I could to pass the time, rubbing my hands together in hopes to get the chill out. The clock on the wall felt like a lie, claiming that only a minute or two had passed; I could have sworn that it had been at least 10 minutes. It all felt very wrong. I was going against every natural instinct in my bones. “Don’t stare into lasers”, “Don’t touch your eye, you’ll go blind”, “Remember to blink”, these were all hard and fast rules of life that I was about to break.
After the calibrations on the laser were complete, it was time to begin. The doctor walked in with his hands coupled together like some mad scientist. He positioned my head one last time and immediately got to work. I felt him taping a plastic sheet over my eyes and could see him reaching for something. He soon pulled out a vice to keep my eyes from shutting. The metal was cold and unforgiving. I could feel him tugging at my eyelids to fit the device over my eyeball. He then asked me to look forward as I could see a plastic tube approaching. “Suction on”, he said in a lifeless voice. He continued to explain the procedure as he worked, “You may feel some pressure”. I could feel slightly more than pressure. I felt a pinching sensation, likely the blade that was cutting my Cornea. This is where things got interesting.
I did my best to hold still, but curiosity took the better of me. I struggled to focus on my peripheral vision, allowing the doctor to work while still auditing my own surgery. Just as I did however, I lost sight. I was blind for only a second or two as the blade completed it’s cut. I had never seen darkness like that before. The doctor shouted, “Stop… Reverse”, and my heart dropped. Had I done something wrong? Did I move at the wrong time? No, he was removing the suction device, but it was too late; my adrenaline was surged. Suddenly, my vision returned and I watched as the doctor and nurse both showered my eye with fluids, some yellow in color and others were more clear. One of them even had a shade of milky white. I could see the doctor pealing my cornea away like a page in a book. My vision was lost again, but this time it was different. I could see the light from the room but I couldn’t focus on the machine that was mere inches from my face. The doctor told me to hold still as the laser began to crackle and sputter like some kind of Tesla coil from Hell. I focused on the flashing red laser, as I was asked to do. I could see the color from the laser slowly desaturated until nothing was left but shades of gray and white. It took a few seconds for the color of the room to return, despite me still being blind.
A few moments later, they folded my cornea back and pressed it down with a tiny squeegee. Just when I could feel heart coming back into it’s chest I heard the doctor say those terrible words to me, “One more to go. Now, the left eye is going to hurt a little more than your right.” I think he enjoyed saying it. The nurse tried to bribe me with some additional numbing drops, but I can’t say that it helped much. I never did get to ask why the left eye hurt more than the right, but I am glad that it’s over.
My only fear is having to go back for another procedure if my vision does not return to 20/20. That said, I can see about as good now as I could with contacts and that is fine by me. I am told that my vision should stabilize over the next month or so. If I went back in time, I would do it again. I am writing this, just days after my surgery, and I can watch TV and read the clock on the wall without stumbling for glasses or contacts. I still have a long month of recovery and eye drops but I was up and driving the next day.