On my fifth birthday, I put on my first pair of a glasses – a large, dorky plastic frame that was too large my face. A few weeks ago, the Boyfriend Unit and I decided to proceed with implantable collamer lens for my eyes – an ultra-thin lens that is inserted into my eye, behind the iris.
Six o’clock in the morning
Wednesday morning saw us at the outpatient surgery center where my doctor (DK, for short) performs surgeries out of a few days each week. Six a.m. is way too early to be conscious, never mind arriving at a surgery center, preparing to have your eyes cut into.
We got there before the center even opened, along with a few other patients. Once the center opened, I was quickly checked in and brought to the pre-op “room,” which consisted of horribly-patterned room dividers and toe-chilling temperatures. I went through a few rounds of “What is your name? Why are you here? What is your birthday?” Questions to make sure I knew what I was getting into, patient identity check, all that jazz.
After I changed into the unflattering hospital gown, an I.V. was put into my right forearm, but not before my right hand was attempted. What can I say, I have odd veins. They checked my blood pressure and pulse (both near perfect!). My temperature was normal, too.
I met with the anesthesiologist, and he asked me the same round of questions, and let me know I wasn’t going to be completely knocked out, but I wouldn’t care either way what happened. I made a joke that I would prefer to be knocked out completely, and he said he would see what he could do.
After he left, the nurses brought Colby back to keep me company while I waited to go back (I was the first in “line,” woo!). We waited around until 7:15 a.m., my scheduled surgery time, and then they wheeled me back into the operating room. I remember seeing a large “LATEX ALLERGY” sign on my operating room door. Latex makes me itch.
7:15 in the morning
I don’t remember much of the surgery, I remember being wheeled in, talking with the nurses, DK coming in, and gunk being put into my eyes. I remember some pain in each eye, as DK cut into them, and me hissing in pain. I remember him telling someone I needed more anesthesia, then blissful nothingness.
8:30 in the morning
When I came to, there were a few nurses standing around, making sure I was okay, getting me some canned orange juice and crackers. They helped me get dressed, then I was hustled out the door in a wheelchair. The Boyfriend was waiting for me outside the surgery center, car all ready to go. He said I came out of recovery looking all lost and confused, aw.
My post-op instructions were simple – sleep with plastic protectors over my eyes, don’t lift anything over 5 pounds, don’t bend over, don’t get water in your eyes until OK’d by DK.
We left the center and went to grab some food, since crackers didn’t do much for my empty stomach. I-HOP was close-by and off we went. After we got a table and ordered food, I went off to the ladies’ room to cool down – their A/C was broken and their fans weren’t working. I remember standing in front of the mirror, then thoughts flashing in my mind like a vivid, psychotic dream. Awaking on the floor of the bathroom, staring up at the underside of the sink, I was confused as to why I was there.
I stumble back to the table, and a waitress, having seen me looking all pale and sweaty and hearing that I just had surgery, moved us to a cooler area. I manage to eat some eggs and pancakes, but bacon and hash browns were beyond me. We pay, and head on home.
The surgery center ordered me to sleep with these plastic shields on my face – they were circularish, and with gauze underneath and tape holding them in place, I had a fashionable mask on for my beauty sleep.
Four o’clock in the afternoon
When I awoke, we went in for my follow-up with the doctor. The pressure in my right eye was high – 54, compared to 15 in my left. I was given some drops to reduce the pressure, and some pills to take that night and the next morning.
Ten o’clock in the morning
The next day, I slept in, made some breakfast, and hung out while the Boyfriend worked from home. I went to go lie down because my eyes were starting to hurt, but I couldn’t sleep, the pain kept increasing. The Boyfriend called the doctor’s office while I stood around whimpering; we managed to get me dressed and out the door in record time.
When we arrived, we were quickly shown to a room and another doctor came in to check on me (DK was still in surgery). The pressure in my left eye was incredibly high, so they put in a couple rounds of drops every 30 minutes to bring it down, then let us leave for lunch once the pressure was temporarily stabilized.
Three o’clock in the afternoon
DK was back from surgery when we came back from lunch, and he looked at my eye as well. Apparently my left eye wasn’t draining properly, which was increasing the pressure. When they originally put in the ICLs, they had cut small drainage holes into my iris, since the ICL was blocking it. The drainage holes in my left eye hadn’t gone through all the way, like a stopped pipe.
The decision was made to create some more “pipes” in my eye inside the center – they had a laser machine that could do it in about 10 seconds. The room where the laser was housed was small, smaller than a closet – just a chair, a stool for the doctor, and the machine. I rested my chin in the laser machine, DK put some weird, big contact lens-type thing in my eye (to magnify it), and then looked at a green glowing light and SNAP, the laser was shot into my eye for a fraction of a second.
The first time he did it, I managed to move completely out of the way since the SNAP scared the daylights out of me (hey, I’m faster than a speeding laser!). I stayed put for the other 4 laser snaps, and DK applied pressure to my eye since there was some slight bleeding.
He gave me a few minutes to recover, and I started getting hot and nauseated. The Boyfriend went to go get me a cold rag, and that’s when everything went to shit. I remember staring off at a random point in the room, the desk light getting bright, everything else getting dark, then lucid images bombarded me. Next thing I know, the Boyfriend is nudging my arm, saying my name over and over. I look over at him, wondering why he was here, why I was in a chair, it felt so surreal. He asked me if I knew my name and his name, which I did.
I remember hearing people move around outside the room, someone ordering a call to 911, then DK came back in the room, requesting a stethoscope, as my pulse had dropped drastically.
When I blacked out, the poor Boyfriend unit was scared out of his mind. Apparently one of the office staff noticed I was sitting odd in the chair, and he tells me I was seizing/convulsing a bit, plus my face was blue (“interracial Smurf,” as he put it later) and the rest of me was white as ice.
I remember blacking out a couple more times, for only a couple seconds at a time, but the Boyfriend didn’t see those, he only saw me staring off into space like nothing existed.
That was the scariest time of my life. When they moved me into a wheelchair when I was a bit more myself, I remember wanting to move my legs, but I didn’t have any control over my body. When I spoke, my voice sounded odd, it didn’t sound like me speaking.
They wheeled me into another room, got me into an examining chair and leaned me back. DK sat by my side the entire time, along with the Boyfriend. I stayed there for about an hour, slowly coming back into my senses. One of the nurses brought me some Coke to bring up my sugar.
So what happened? We think it was a variety of things. Apparently, if you apply enough pressure to your eyeball, your blood pressure and pulse will drop (since your eye is connected to a heart nerve), and it will make you pass out. Combine that with the pills from the day prior which had severely dehydrated me, and the lack of food (breakfast and a cinnamon swirl coffee cake from Starbucks), it was a recipe for disaster.
Five o’clock in the afternoon
After I recovered, I went home, with instructions to call if anything came up – DK even gave us his cell phone number to call anytime. The evening passed peacefully, with the Boyfriend and I going to bed at 8 p.m.
Nine o’clock in the morning
Morning came and went, with my left eye starting to hurt. Since we had an early morning appointment, we headed to the doctor’s office, where we found out the pressure was up in my eye again.
DK wanted to do the laser treatment again, this time without the contact lens-thing, hoping that the lack of pressure would keep me from passing out. I immediately started to panic, badly, and DK and his staff brought me some food to eat so I could take a Xanax and relax.
When they brought me into the laser room again, I started to panic even more, even with the Xanax. DK did it as quickly as he possibly could and gave me some time to recover, but I started getting sweaty again, and nauseated. The Boyfriend grabbed my water and started applying it to the back of my neck, but it wasn’t enough. I emptied the contents of my stomach into a small wastebasket.
I hate throwing up, it is one of the most unpleasant things in the world, and it is even more humiliating to do it in front of your significant other and people you don’t know. The lack of control over your own body is scary.
I started to feel better after my stomach was emptied, though I was still sweating like a pig. DK was looking into some other options for me, and while he was doing that, his assistant K came in to see how I was doing. I have to give her credit, sitting in a small, dark room with a smelly trashcan, trying to calm someone down. She isn’t a nurse, she schedules all of his surgeries and takes care of the paperwork; that made it even more touching.
DK ended up making arrangements for me to go back to the surgery center to get prepped, while he finished up with some other patients. K has specific instructions for me – I only had Coke to drink; which was technically true, as I had thrown up everything else (Coke was brought to me while I was waiting on DK, to bring up my blood sugar).
We head on over to the surgery center, and I get checked in. All the nurses were wondering why I was coming back two days later, what happened, etc. They were all so sweet – one of them gave me a hug for good luck, and another told me I was her hero for getting the lasers in my eyes twice.
12:30 in the afternoon
After I was prepped, I.V.’d, everything, the Boyfriend was brought back and the waiting game began. DK came by after about half an hour to an hour later (the time is a little unclear to me, I fell asleep a few times). Then, surgery time!
A different set of nurses wheeled me back, a young woman and an older woman – the older nurse was mothering the younger nurse, as she was pregnant and couldn’t squeeze into tight spaces. The operating room was colder than Wednesday, even with four blankets on, my teeth were chattering.
One of the nurses put on the heart monitor sticky-things, a pulse monitor and taped my head to the table (I didn’t remember that from Wednesday…), and more goo was put into my eye. Then blissful nothingness again.
When I awoke, the Boyfriend was waiting for me. Apparently I kept asking him the same questions over and over again, like how long he had been there, was he waiting for me, etc.
This time, recovery was a bit different. Since I was the only eye surgery that day, I had more time to recover, and strangely enough, I couldn’t stop sneezing. One of the nurses gave me a Benadryl and two Vicodin, and off we went, back to the doctor’s office.
One o’clock in the afternoon
My left eye was draining well, it was still a bit fuzzy from the day before (leftover blood in my eye), but that would pass in time. We’re all hopeful that no more surprises pop up, knock on wood.
All in all, it’s been a very tiring few days – from the lasers to the emergency surgery, to not being able to wash my hair until Thursday night (after washing it on Tuesday), but I was extremely lucky to have DK and his staff there for me, they were truly wonderful, caring and compassionate.
And I was oh-so-fortunate to have the Boyfriend at my side, 24/7. He was my rock when I was panicking, my helper when I needed objects lifted, and my crying post when it was too much to bear.
Would I do it again? Most likely, it has been a joy to wake up in the mornings and not have to fumble around for my glasses, or worry about a cold A/C fogging up my glasses, and so much more.
The problems I experienced are rare, most people just have a bit of pressure increases, etc. I had some problems with my eyes beforehand, and that might have contributed to it. If you can’t get LASIK or PRK done, I would definitely suggest ICL, and if you are in the Raleigh, N.C., area, definitely use my doctor. Don’t skimp on the money for that type of procedure, because you get what you pay for. I paid a little bit more and got the best staff in the world.