I Can’t See Clearly Now

. . . without glasses.

I’ve had to wear glasses (or contacts) since I was eight years old.  When LASIK surgery first became available to the masses, I thought it was a great idea but I didn’t have insurance that would cover the procedure.  And by the time I did have said insurance, you could no longer pay for the surgery that way, and the cost was enough to keep me from getting it on my own.

So when I recently heard of some study where they’d offer a $1,500 discount to people who qualified for a certain type of LASIK, I jumped at the chance.  The eye exam showed that I was, indeed, a good candidate for this type of surgery, and I signed up to have the procedure done early last month.  They said my eyes would heal within 24 hours, and I could go back to work the next day, but I decided to do it on a Friday, to give myself extra healing time.

As the day of surgery neared, I began to freak out.  This was my eyes they were going to do surgery on.  I’m someone who needs nitrous oxide in order to get through more than a cleaning at the dentist for crying out loud, so the thought of having to stay awake while they sliced at my eyes was causing me no small amount of fear.  Craig tried to calm me down, since he’d had the surgery years ago (successfully), and went with me for emotional support, but when Friday came, the fear bubble grew.

I got through the preliminary exams with grace and poise–no one (other than Craig) would’ve known I was freaking out inside–and I didn’t even blink when they charged me for the surgery before I’d had the procedure.  Then came the legal paperwork; all the paperwork designed to cover their butts in case of any mishaps, complete with multiple descriptions of all the possible things that could go wrong, or complications that might arise from the surgery.

Had I researched the procedure (which I probably should have done), I might have known about these things, but because I’ve only ever heard the success stories (including Craig), I didn’t.  The more I read their paperwork, the more I began to lose my composure.  With each new page and paragraph of the possible issues (not to mention which hospital they might need to take me to, should things go wrong), I began to get angry.  I found it appalling that they waited to give me this information 10 minutes before I was supposed to go under the “blade!”  There were also pages for me to sign stating that I’d had everything explained to me by a nurse or the doctor, neither of which I’d seen yet.  By the 10th page of this type of verbiage, I decided I wasn’t signing anything else until I’d actually spoken to someone.  That’s when it got worse.

They first person I spoke to was the saleswoman who’d originally signed me up for this procedure.  Rather than dispel any qualms or fears I was having, she tried to turn the tables around on me saying that I had opted to do the preliminary paperwork on the same day as the surgery.  She was probably right, but I don’t remember any mention of possible side effects in said paperwork on the day she signed me up.  It didn’t help that her accent was very thick, or that she spoke rapidly, like any salesperson does when they think they’ve got you.  Since I wasn’t calming down any (and Craig was getting angry on my behalf now), she decided to push me off on the doctor when he arrived.

The doctor clearly had more on his mind than calming a nervous Nelly who was on the verge of backing out at the 11th hour.  It seemed clear that his attitude was “I’ve done tens of thousands of these.  This is just legal paperwork.  Why are you freaking out?  Just sign the damn forms.”  Not the kind of bedside manner to soothe my ruffled feathers.

The one good thing the doctor did is to tell me he recommended that I do another type of LASIK surgery.  He felt that my eyes would respond better to EPI LASIK rather than the one I was originally there for, because I have a slight issue with my corneas.  I appreciated his honesty, but still had some qualms, so he offered to have a nurse come in to answer them, stating that he had a full day of surgery and couldn’t take the extra time right now.

The nurse was WONDERFUL!  He was calm, understanding, he actually listened, and answered my questions well enough that I was finally ready to go under the laser.  The one setback was that the EPI surgery would take 5-7 days to heal, rather than the 24 hours of the other one.  I’d only counted on the one day off from work, and couldn’t financially afford to take more time off then.

That’s when the doctor found enough time in his busy schedule to come talk to me.  He tried all manner of tactics to keep me from cancelling my surgery, but after much deliberation, he finally understood that it just wasn’t going to happen that Friday.

So I’m sitting here now, back in my glasses.  I might get the surgery at some later date.  But now I at least know the possible complications, and can go under the “knife” with all the information . . . if I’m able to drive past the fear to make my way to seeing clearly without the aid of glasses.


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Craig
    Nov 16, 2012 @ 08:32:02

    For all of you out there reading this. Yes, I had the procedure done successfully to me in the past, and I don’t regret having it done at all. That having been said, the way that office (badly) handled the situation, and their laissez faire attitudes, I wouldn’t have had it done that day either.


  2. Dana Fredsti
    Nov 16, 2012 @ 09:01:10

    I had it done a few years back by the same guy who does the procedure for the Giants players and I have to say I was really happy with it too…


  3. Dana Fredsti
    Nov 16, 2012 @ 09:11:55

    Oops, hit “Post Comment” too soon! I was also pretty much terrified at the thought of having my eyes sliced open while awake, but the difference was a thorough briefing at my first appointment, weeks before the surgery, and the fact the staff there was just great from the receptionist to the nurses, etc. I concur with Craig!


    • Alyx Morgan
      Nov 16, 2012 @ 09:15:09

      That’s nice that you had such a thorough info session. Had I encountered the awesome nurse at first, I would’ve probably felt much more at ease. But then the longer recoup time was also a deterring factor. We’ll see what happens in the future.


  4. Cindy Sample
    Nov 16, 2012 @ 10:29:31

    HI Alyx. I can totally understand your concern. I have two friends whose vision has been permanently impacted because they should not have had Lasix – in both situations their eyesight was a minus 9 and a minus 10. I’m not sure where you stand in the “I can’t see you without my eyeglasses” spectrum. I’m a minus 11 and I’m perfectly happy with my contacts:-)

    You were wise not to be rushed by the doctors. Take your time, do the research, and then have the procedure when you are ready!


    • Alyx Morgan
      Nov 16, 2012 @ 10:32:59

      Thanks, Cindy. You’re actually the first person I’ve heard from who knows of “bad” instances. But yeah, -9 & -10? Wow. I think I’m -5.25, or in that vicinity, so I can see colors & blurry shapes & whatnot without my glasses, but I technically shouldn’t drive without them.

      Thanks for stopping by today.


  5. Bette Golden Lamb
    Nov 16, 2012 @ 10:33:11

    As a nurse I really understand the absolute horror of being given all the deadly “coulds” of a procedure, especially at the last minute. WHY WOULD THEY EVEN CONSIDER DOING THAT? All that info is frightening, and that paper work is not just to cover their asses if something goes wrong. All of it is all too real and possible. I so empathize with you. In fact, it’s the reason I’ve never had it done. Glasses are fine for me. At least I can still see.


    • Alyx Morgan
      Nov 16, 2012 @ 10:39:32

      Yeah, the last minute aspect is what bothered me most, though I can’t put all the blame on their shoulders; I could’ve researched it myself online.

      I’ve grown to be okay with my glasses, except for when it comes to sunglasses, which is why I think I was considering the LASIK. My eyes are SO light sensitive, that it bothers me to have the sun come through the gap between my glasses & my eyebrows. I’d tried contacts recently & bought some Oakley sunglasses (which I LOVE!), but the contacts didn’t work out for me, because I guess I’m getting close to bi-focal stage & the blurriness was not comfortable for me. My prescription is too strong for Oakley to make my sunglasses prescription, so, I thought it would be cool to get the LASIK, so I could use my Oakleys & be happy with them.

      Ah well, it was probably silly of me to want to pay $4,000 just to be able to use a $300 pair of Oakleys anyway.


  6. Maddy
    Nov 16, 2012 @ 21:10:41

    Having recently signed my son up for some complex eye procedure, I completely understand the trauma. No mention of side effects and what ‘might’ go wrong until I had to sign the release forms and pay the dosh. Pages and pages of possible disasters. I hated the switch between very, very, very busy surgeon and pushy, pushy sales people [ case managers!]. Better luck in the future.


    • Alyx Morgan
      Nov 17, 2012 @ 07:54:48

      Yikes, Maddy. I hope everything went well with his procedure. I just don’t understand why they would wait to give you that kind of information. Do they think it’s best to do it that close to the surgery because there’s less of a chance people would back out so close to it?


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