The day of my procedure had finally arrived, and I was filled with a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Will I feel still feel comfortable the same way that I did last time I was here? How will things go today? Will I get a good result or a great result? Did the doctor have a fight with his wife this morning? Will I chicken out and run out the door? Hey, these are my eyes! When I got to the laser center, I started to feel much better when I saw some familiar faces. Everyone was very professional and friendly and they were definitely able to put me at ease right away. They told me what was going to happen that day, and in what order, and how much time it would take – and they were right on the money. After I took care of the paperwork (and setting up my financing account which was a really good no-interest deal), it was off to the meeting with the surgeon, who wanted to check my prescription one more time – personally. This made me feel great, because these guys are really paying attention to all the details. I asked Dr. Rothman couple of questions just to make sure that I would get the same answers from him as I did from his staff – and I certainly did get just that. He also told me that he will would do a 10 minute discussion with me just before the procedure to let me know exactly what was going to happen during LASIK, what kind of things to expect, and also to answer any last-minute questions I might have. Oh, and he also told me I’d be getting a Valium before the procedure "just to take the edge off". I was feeling pretty comfortable right now but I certainly wasn’t going to refuse a Valium just in case I felt more nervous later. I feel better now.
But then I started wondering. So what, exactly, will happen to me during this procedure? Dr. Rothman gave me his "10 minute talk" just prior to the procedure (which was actually more like eight minutes, but seemed much shorter because of the great presentation) and this really was something special – probably the best part of the whole experience other than the results of the procedure itself. As I said, I was feeling pretty relaxed anyway, but somehow between the first time I saw the doctor and the time he did his talk, I did get a little bit antsy (okay, a little nervous too). So, this talk turned out to be better for me than the Valium – now I was feeling like I could really do this. I don’t remember everything he talked about, but he went over what to expect during the procedure, what I would be feeling, what I would be seeing during the procedure, what I should do with my eyes, what I should do with my hands and feet, what to do if I have a question during the procedure, what should I do if I need to sneeze or cough during the procedure, etc. This was really more like a conversation than a lecture, and for some reason I seem to remember laughing at a couple of jokes during this talk. I also remember Dr. Rothman warning me that he might make some bad jokes during this conversation, but to tell you the truth I don’t remember any. A few minutes after we were done talking, Debbie (yes, the same Debbie who was my counselor and the second person I met in the clinic a couple of weeks before) came to get me for the procedure. Seeing her was like running into a long-lost friend that you haven’t seen in a long time somewhere where you don’t expect to, and that person just so happens to be the person who’ll be part of the LASIK team that is doing your LASIK procedure. Now I really felt relaxed and comfortable and confident and also kind of excited to get my vision fixed. Then she took me into the operating room.
We were ready to go and then all of a sudden I had the passing thought that I forgot to take Debbie up on her offer to show me the lasers and the operating room on my last visit. Then I thought, maybe that’s a good thing – would it really change anything? Some of my friends watched a live LASIK procedure before having theirs done and others didn’t, but it really didn’t seem to make a difference either way. What would the lasers look like? I’d find that out in a few minutes. Would I start to feel different once I was actually in the room where my eyes actually would be lasered? Probably not. I guess I was just ready to go with the moment – so I did just that. I was a little surprised at the size of the procedure room – it was really kind of big. They had two or three large laser machines, and at least as many smaller, high-tech looking machines. Everything was really clean and shiny and professional looking – and the lights in the room were really very bright. There were three people in the room with me: Debbie, Dr. Rothman, and another assistant. All of them were wearing scrubs, surgical caps, masks, and shoe covers just like in a regular operating room. I also was wearing a surgical cap and shoe covers. They got me in position under the laser where I was lying down on my back looking straight up into a really cool light show. There were all these really bright green lights (LED’s, I think) in an interesting pattern with one bright green flashing light in the center. I felt like I was about to take off in a spaceship. O.K., ready for takeoff.
What would happen next? They had me lie down on my back on a flat padded table with a small round place where your head goes. This kind of reminded me of the "Tempur-pedic" astronaut foam pillows at Sharper Image – it was really comfortable. The next thing they did was tape my left eye closed and they explained that this was necessary so that I can focus all my attention on the flashing green light with only one eye at a time. Dr. Rothman had explained earlier where I was going to need to look and how this was going to work, but now that I was under the laser, it all began to make sense. The first thing they do after they put the tape on your other eye is put in an eyelid holder (nothing like "Clockwork Orange for you movie fans) around the eye that’s having the procedure done first. Did I mention that they give you lots of anesthesia drops before they did this? They certainly did, I was completely numb and didn’t feel a thing. Actually, it felt a little stretchy just like Dr. Rothman said it would, but it really didn’t hurt at all. The next thing they did happened so fast that I hardly remember it. Dr. Rothman said to me that they were about to do the part where the lights go out for a few seconds, and pretty much as soon as I noticed the light went out, Dr. Rothman said "Okay, we’re now done with the hardest part of the procedure". This was really a lot easier than I expected. I remember thinking, "if this was the hardest part of the procedure, then this thing is a piece of cake". By the time I finished that thought, Dr. Rothman was telling me that they were about to start the easiest part of the procedure, which was the laser treatment itself. He was right about that too. All you have to do is look at this green flashing light while you hear a really interesting buzzing sound. This part was really fast – and easy. While this was happening, I remembered that Dr. Rothman had told me that he had the fastest laser approved by the FDA in the United States, and boy, was it fast. It was pretty much over right after it started just like they had told me, and the next thing I remember is noticing things getting a lot clearer and Dr. Rothman telling me the procedure was successful – and then it was over in time to do the other eye. The other eye went exactly like the first, but for some reason seemed even faster and easier. After this, they sat me up (remember, I was still enjoying my Valium) and I looked across the room and saw Dr. Rothman’s face and it was really clear – amazingly clear. To tell you the truth, he was really more of a combination of clearer than I had ever seen before, but still a little bit fuzzy – almost like I was wearing my glasses on underwater. Dr. Rothman then examined my eyes at a microscope and told me that everything looked great. Now I was really ready for that nap…