My Four Eyes

Last night I went to bed with a pretty unrealistic wish in my head. In my defense, I've been reading a lot of fairy tales where unrealistic things happen if a girl is pretty and good enough.
For most of my life I've been a geek. It's pretty inescapable when your dad is a lasers physicist and your mother is a science librarian. But you get locked in that position when you've been wearing thick-as-a-malted-milkshake glasses for the last 17 years.
I've worn glasses since I was in elementary school. Getting them was, as I remember it, really quite exciting. I remember sitting in the waiting room of Pearl Vision with my mother and being quite nervous that he'd tell me I didn't actually need glasses. When I confessed this fear to my mother she looked at me and said, "oh, no. We know you need glasses."
They were a blue pair of Laura Ashley frames; round and large. They made me so happy, the price made my mother not so happy, but she acknowledged that I had a propensity to be drawn to the more expensive options. We drove home and I looked at myself in the side view mirror the whole way.
I've had a steady progression of prescriptions to correct my vision since then; the lenses getting thicker and thicker each time. During lunch period my friends and I would try on each other's glasses and I had to warn them that they'd feel pretty sick with mine. They'd open their eyes, which would be wildly distorted and then clutch their stomach while exclaiming how much my vision sucked (as if I didn't know).
I am very near sighted. At my last eye exam I was told that with my eye sight I wouldn't be able to join the military even with a waiver. My eyes are very long ("tall, thin people tend to have long eyes," Dr. Wolter once told me, but I think he was trying to cheer me up about being myopic).
Glasses are generally how people first identify me. When a client explains to a co-worker that they were speaking with me they'll say, "you know, the girl with the long hair and the glasses." If I went without them, you probably wouldn't recognise me. They've become as much a part of me as my fingers or my toes.
To this day when I wake up everything is a blur unless it is 2 inches away from my face. I cannot read a book without glasses. I cannot do anything without glasses. Once, a boyfriend accidentally knocked them out of my hand into the lake and I panicked because I was facing a lengthy period of time of essentially being blind. Not in the sense of everything being dark. Light and colour are still absorbed by my eyes, but it is really out of focus. He dove in and fetched them for me, but that was the moment when I realised how much I need assistance seeing.
It made me a little unhappy.

I hear you, Dear Reader. You're saying, "Contact lenses! Wear contacts!" I have problems with contacts. The big one is that I couldn't get them in. On three separate occasions I spent about an hour in Pearl Vision's little room poking myself in the eyes until my brain told me, in no uncertain terms, to cut it out. Tears were streaming down my cheeks, my eye was pretty much refusing to open for another try and my heart rate was pretty elevated because I get a little angry when I suck at something.
In high school I tried weaning myself off glasses by not wearing them between classes. I got wicked headaches and worried that my friends were getting pissed off at me for not waving to them in the hallway (a very significant and political act in high school, I assure you). Less importantly, I couldn't find my classes. So that was short lived.

My wish was to finally break free of nerd-dom, of geekhood and no longer have to wear glasses. I wished to just magically wake up in the morning with 20/40 vision (at the very least).

LASIK eye surgery has come into my awareness a few times, over the years. What it does is use a precisely calibrated laser to shave off  a layer as thick as a single hair from your cornea. This reshapes your cornea to focus light correctly. In my case, since my eye is so long, light can't reach far enough back. If you're far sighted, your eye is far shorter and light bends too much. So either the laser steepens the slope of your cornea, or it flattens it a little.
This is a very basic, general overview of what happens with laser eye surgery.

A few weeks ago, after researching for the past 6 months, on and off, I decided to actually talk to a doctor about corrective laser eye surgery.

There is a lot of literature out there about the subject. Everything from the FDA website scaring the bejesus out of me (take a look at that animated diagram slicing open the cornea and tell me if your jaw didn't drop a little), to websites telling me it's a miracle procedure.

After talking to the staff at Seeta Eye Care Centre I realised there is a gaping hole in a lot of the information. So that's why I'm writing this (incredibly long) blog:

You might go into the doctor's office, like I did, nervous at the possibility that this is the first step in living without glasses. They'll sit you down and take pictures measuring your corneas. It will look like a heat map of the Earth, and not much like your eyes. It will have a series of numbers that you might not understand. Then, they'll go over it with you. They'll tell you that for LASIK your cornea has to be this thick.
LASIK is the procedure involving slicing open the middle layer of the cornea to sculpt layers of it away. Therefore you need to have a certain amount of tissue for it to be safe.

In everything I've read, that's the part that's missing. LASIK has been touted as available for everyone who needs vision correction. They'll admit that there are risks and that it might not "cure" you completely. But I've yet to find a brochure that even hints at the fact that there are people out there who cannot even be considered candidates.

By my own example, LASIK is completely out. I do not have enough tissue to laser off with this method. It was a really disappointing moment, though Stacey commented that I seemed to be taking this news well. She went on to say that a procedure known as PRK (Photo Refractive Keratectomy) is still available, though she'd have to check with the surgeon himself.
PRK is the precursor to LASIK and generally uses the exact same laser and methodology. It differs from LASIK in that there is no slicing open the eye (which, in a way, I sort of prefer). This has advantages and disadvantages, like everything else on this Earth.
Because you're not cutting through a layer of cornea the integrity of the whole thing is more highly maintained. This is why people like boxers, tennis players, hockey players, carpenters (I'm reaching, here) go for that option. Less scarring inflicted means that if something flies at their eyes and hits it (a constant fear of mine), it won't be so catastrophic.
On the other hand, a plus of cutting that flap in the cornea is that it will serve as its own bandage. Healing time with LASIK is only a fraction of PRK. Stacey told me to invest in Tylenol PM and clear 3-5 days from my schedule to just hibernate. She also mentioned that some people get to their optimum vision 6 months after surgery.
"But otherwise, they're the exact same thing!" She chirped. Don't think that she was trying to make a sale, with me. Stacey, if anything, was tremendously cautious. "10% generally need a touch up in their procedure, and with your measurements I can tell you now, we can't offer that."
She said she wanted to show my measurements to the surgeon and get back to me.
I got into my car and immediately started trying to look on the bright side: She wasn't saying that I'm going to go blind; she wasn't saying that I absolutely could not receive surgery, just that I wasn't in the category where she would say with absolute certainty DO THIS!
Besides, my mind went on, what's wrong with wearing glasses?
That's when I started choking back tears.
Granted, I was sleep deprived and very grumpy from my job, but there are a few goal posts I have silly dreams of achieving:

-Room service breakfast at the Ritz Hotel in Paris.
-A family box at the Met Opera
-An iphone (yes, really)
-Being interviewed for a magazine (stop looking at me like that).
-Travelling business class on Cathay Pacific (again!)
-Sailing the Mediterranean in a friend's gorgeous yacht
-Renovating the Lady Washington Hose Company building to house my living space and bakery, and then being a feature in Dwell magazine for doing such a zany thing.
-Having my wedding pictures taken sans glasses.

A streak of vanity, perhaps? Everyone is prone to it. Most of the items on the list I feel capable of making happen. Or, at least, I know that if I really want these things to happen, they are not going to be handed to me; I have to make them happen. As talented and amazing as I am (just ask anyone who has sampled my rose petal jam doughnuts!), I am not capable of correcting my own vision with elbow grease. At this juncture, I may have to accept that, in fact, I can't do this. Ugh.
There was also a twinge of wounded pride. I may not be an expert at any one thing, but I pride myself on being healthy and capable, completely middle-of-the-road where I should be accepted for anything (chalk it up to insecurities from Elementary and Middle school where I was utterly rejected by my peers). Being told that my eyes suck so bad that they have no chance of improvement (or that's what I heard, anyway) hurt. Just a little.

So I went home, sniffled a little, burrowed under the covers for some much needed sleep and prayed to Saint Lucy and any benevolent deity that might hear me to make my mobile buzz, and have it be Stacey on the line saying "you know what? Totally read that information wrong. Get your butt in here and let's do this!"

As long as I'm dreaming, I'd also like a pony.


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