What’s it like to get Lasik?

It all started when a dog bit me on the street in Chicago’s fancy Lincoln Park neighborhood a little over a year ago. I was minding my own business, walking to my postpartum doula job when a dog walker came toward me with three dogs on leashes, and as they passed me a big one suddenly grabbed my wrist in its jaws! It was pretty terrible. I had the presence of mind to get all of the owner’s information before I went to my client’s house, crying, and then to an urgent care. I was so afraid of getting a infection but thanks to excellent wound care from my dear husband I came out of it healthy and with minimal scarring. I ritualistically burned my favorite sweatshirt that was ruined, and (the good news) recently collected a settlement from the dog owner’s insurance company. 

That damn dog. I loved this hoody so much! And now I keep my distance from strange dogs.

Then last week someone on a local Facebook mom group asked about Lasik, and someone I know (a former doula client!) said she’d had hers done several years ago by a guy in Oakbrook and had been happy with it. A little more Facebook research yielded several friends who’d also had the procedure done, and yielded not one bad report.

So, money in the bank, summer vacation …. And then I realized I had been wearing contacts for forty years! Forty years of taking them in and out and cleaning them and sleeping in them when I forgot and constantly buying all the stuff and having to bring my glasses everywhere and thought ….

Enough already.

I booked an appointment online, went in on Thursday morning and got an exam and the go-ahead for the procedure. Everything was efficient and reassuring.

Although it did feel an awful lot like an eyeball factory. It reminded me of movies like Logan’s Run and The Hunger Games — what healthcare and/or cosmetic surgery looks like in the dystopian future when it is made into a true consumer product. You are smoothly moved from one area to another, from waiting room to office, to another waiting room and a video on the iPad explaining the procedure. Then another doctor and then the credit guy. Twelve months same as cash! Also a discount from our health insurance, which is really the first time that insurance has saved us money, a nice surprise.

Logan’s Run, 70s sci-fi shot in an actual California mall. Also featuring Farrah Fawcett. Must see.

I was sick to my stomach Friday morning. My appointment was at 8:00 am and it didn’t matter if I ate or not but I really couldn’t bear to. My husband laughed and said he was jealous! I took a Lyft there and back which they had assured me was common — but I didn’t see anyone else doing it, either.

The doctor does surgeries on Fridays so at 8:00 am the waiting room was filled with people looking both nervous and sick. 

Live on the scene

I was feeling so freaked out by this time that I maybe dissociated a little bit? I definitely became a docile and compliant patient. After two Tylenol PM pills (…dang it, why didn’t I ask for the Xanax?…), I went into a small pre-op/recovery room with a comfy chair and desk and hung out with a really sweet young woman who put numbing drops in my eyes. We chatted about how I’d had kefir for breakfast and how she had really pretty hair. I got a mesh surgical cap and wads of Kleenex over my ears and my glasses were put away (FOREVER). Then I was led into the big room (which was presumably sterile even though the office is in a big mall-looking place) and there were two giant machines that did I know not what. I met the doctor for the first time and he struck me very much like the kooky therapist in Twin Peaks — not something that instilled confidence. I couldn’t see at all with no glasses and numbing drops so they led me gently by the hands to the first table where I laid down. I closed my eyes and it seemed like the doctor slipped some kind of rubber thing between the lids of one eye to hold it open. I focused on a green light that turned into red — doc was talking me through it (I’ll bet he’s tempted to make a recording) — one eye, then another. Then they got me up and took me to the other machine where my head lay in like a little pit? And they did something else to my eyes — something that involved a BURNING SMELL. He says, “now you’re going to smell burning but you don’t need to worry because nothing is burning” and I thought, “….what does that mean exactly….?” And then I smelled burning! And was so freaked out it took everything I had to just be chill and get it over with.

Here is the picture they emailed me today — surprise! It seems an odd choice to me, from a marketing point of view. Still, here I am sharing it with you. Don’t I look relaxed? This was before the burning smell.

They led me out of the room, put my sunglasses on me, and that was it. I was like, “am I done?” And they said yep. And then I had to call my Lyft driver but I couldn’t see a blessed thing — my eyes were super blurry like I was under water. I had the front desk person call me a car and then wandered downstairs and stood on the corner in sunglasses like a literal blind person until my Lyft came to pick me up. I wonder what the guy thought (I used to drive for Lyft and I’m sure I would have been freaked out and nosy). 

Got myself home and I crashed, on my back and in sunglasses, as instructed. One of my eyes kind of hurt and just the thought of it was freaking me out so I dug up some old pain pills and took one and ate a cracker and put it out of my mind and passed out for a while longer. Had peppermint tea when I got up. I need to wear sunglasses for sleeping and showers for the next week!

I will mention here that I’m a very holistic-type person and I try to be careful about what I eat and what I put into my body. It certainly occurred to me last night while I was still all revved up with adrenaline that it’s probably disruptive to blast lasers into your eyes, no matter how good the final result. And honestly I wouldn’t be in a hurry to do it again.

I’m more than okay with it though.

Went back today with the hubs and got the all-clear. I’m sold, so glad I did it!


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