So I had my eye surgery last Friday. It went well, overall.
Jordan took me to Noon Eye Center in Daegu on Friday morning. I had my surgery at 1:30, the first of about six patients that day.
Maria, our lovely interpreter/liason, walked us through everything. I had a couple of eye tests again, mainly to check the pressure of my eyes. I signed a waiver, then they took me to a resting suite (complete with a hospital bed) to change into hospital clothes. I was given pills to keep blood pressure low, and then taken to the surgery suite.
Off went my glasses, and I was led by hand to the operating table. From there I followed directions and tried to keep my breathing even. I have to admit–I was really nervous.
After putting numbing drops in my eyes, a nurse marked my eyes with a blue marker to show the surgeon where to cut along my cornea. Then they lay me back, covered everything by my right eyes in sterile blankets, and taped my right eye open.
Staring at the bright light was at first, both painful and difficult. Imagine people telling you to stare at the sun for 15 minutes. But I did try.
The surgeon stuck a needle into my eye for more numbing medicine. I felt the pressure of the needle, but no pain. Then he did the same to my left eye.
Jordan time the whole procedure, from when I went back to when I came out, groggy: 24 minutes. I would guess actual surgery was about 10-15 minutes of it. Through the entire process a nurse dripped cold water/saline on my eyes, which kept them from getting too dry. That was definitely a godsend.
I was anxious but kept as still as possible, focusing on the bright light above me. When the surgeon cut into my cornea all I could see was static. Then everything went black. I could see him holding the contact in tweezers, and felt the pressure of it slipping under my cornea. The unfurling of the contact hurt a little, particularly when he had to drag it into place. It was sharp, and I couldn’t move my eye no matter what. I started singing my favorite hymn to myself, “Be Thou My Vision.” Which is ironic, really.
The second eye went exactly the same, except it was incredibly painful when the contact was wiggled into place. I whimpered, and the surgeon knew I was in a lot of pain. He promised it was almost over. Maria stuck her hand under the blanket and let me squeeze. This eye was easily six times more painful than the last. I’ve read otherp eople’s experiences online, and I can only guess that I wasn’t given enough topical pain medication. The dentist always has to give me extra if he’s going to drill on me. My nerves are extra sensitive, or my body cycles the medicine out faster than most people.
By the time the doctor was finished, my entire body was shaking. I was tired and in pain and worried. They had me close my eyes, guided me off the table and to a wheelchair (I could walk, but I guess this surgery is invasive enough they required a wheelchair). I was wheeled back to the resting suite, where a nurse arrived brandishing another needle.
“Antibiotics,” Maria said. “We’re going to see if you’re allergic. If you haven’t developed any bumps or red marks, we’ll give you the full medicine.”
After giving me the test bit, both the nurse and interpreter left.
“So how’s it going?” Jordan asked, making some joke about eyesight.
“I’m not sure,” I said, “But I think I’m about to cry.” And then I promptly burst into tears. Which probably wasn’t good for my eyes.
Jordan sat beside me and held me while I bawled. “I’m not sure why I’m crying,” I sobbed, still shaking all over. “I’m not in pain anymore. I’m not scared. I’m not angry. I don’t know why, but I can’t stop crying.” So he smoothed my hair and waited until I calmed down.
I got the real antibiotic shot just after I stopped crying, and they told me to rest for an hour before the post-surgery check up.
An hour later I was shuttled to a different doctor who peered into my eyes and proclaimed me “good” in about five minutes. My eyes were irritated, scratchy, and my vision was still blurry. All I wanted to do was sleep.
Jordan and I spent the night at the clinic (free of charge!). He walked to pizza hut and brought food back. I took my medicine, ibuprofen, and a benadryl, and went to bed at 8 pm.
Following are the main thoughts I had over the course of the next couple of days:
Day 0: What the hell have I done? What am I getting into? This hurts like hell. This had been be worth it.
Day 1: I swear, if they stick a bright light in my eyes I’m going to snap. I don’t know how I feel about this. My eyes hurt. I just want to sleep.
Day 2: I had better vision with contacts. Where the hell has my peripheral vision gone? When is it coming back?
Day 3: I guess this isn’t so bad. Still want my peripheral vision back, though.
Day 7: Okay, the clear things are really really clear. And seeing clearly right when I wake up is amazing. Still had better peripheral vision with contacts, though. I guess it was worth it. Still holding out for my periphery.
Day 10: I have great, normal peripheral vision in bright sunlight, when my pupils are small. In dim rooms, my pupils dilate (like normal) to the size of he contact behind my cornea. I don’t think it’s quite large enough, which is why my peripheral vision is blurry. We will see if things change.
And that’s pretty much where I am. Jordan says it takes about two weeks to really appreciate the surgery and be glad. I suppose I’m slowly being seduced.
Overall: Went to Noon Eye Center in Daegu. Cost 3,350,000 won. Had to spend the night there, and recovery took about two or three days (longer than LASIK). Everything’s good so far, besides my peripheral vision. I’ll be taking antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops for several more weeks.