My Four Eyes Minus 2 (pt. 2)

Some favourite things about not having to wear glasses:
1) Going for a run is so much nicer. There's nothing to slip down my sweaty nose.
2) Being able to see myself in the mirror without glasses.
3) Perching my sunglasses on top of my head. This one is definitely my favourite. When I had prescription sunglasses I had to carry around my regular glasses for going indoors. I know this must seem so trivial, but I do giggle each time I'm able to just take them off.

May 24th I spent filled with incredible nervous energy. It felt like I had way too much coffee. I had taken the day off work and asked a friend if he could drive me to my appointment. It was at 3:00PM, so I had a day to sort of get things in order. I took the dog for a long walk, washed dishes, made lunch and took at stab at going to the gym. But the only thing I could really focus on was that these were the last few hours I would have to wear glasses.
Literally, I had to force myself to sit still until 2:45 when I was meeting my friend.
At the doctor's office I put on a gown, hairnet and little booties and then took two more antibiotic eye drops. Stacey asked me how I was feeling. "I've got a little nervous and  I've got big nervous,"  she said referring to the bottles of Valium. I took a little nervous and chased it with a migraine strength pain killer. Stacey explained they found it really helped with the pain.
Then the Wizard of Oz came in, similarly attired to me. It looked like I had interrupted his bath.
"Okay," he said and reached for a bottle. "We're going to put some numbing eye drops in and let them sit for a little while."
To pass the few seconds it took for the eye drops to take effect he grabbed a model of the human eye and told me how he was going to draw a line on the meridian of my eye.
"We do this for two reasons," he explained. "One is that when you lie down you eyes roll out of position and the other is to prove you won't feel anything."
Numbing eye drops are a very curious thing. I'm sure all 8 of my readers has had a dental procedure that required a portion of their mouth to be numb and unfeeling. You might not be able to feel any sensation in that tissue until the medication wears off; but, weirdly enough, you do feel something; a chilling sensation, maybe. Like someone put an ice pack on your face, and maybe your tongue is lolling about useless in your mouth, but it's there. You can still feel it resting against the muscles and tissue that hasn't been numbed.
But when your eyes are numb there's none of that. No icy sensation, no problem blinking, no odd feeling of something resting in your eye sockets that doesn't have feeling itself. So it's easy to be skeptical that whatever the Wizard gave me wasn't working.
He showed me the marker he was going to use (a sharpie) and asked me to lean forward. I couldn't actually see the tip of the marker coming towards my eye and I certainly didn't feel it.
We went, with three nurses, to the operating room. Stacey took my glasses saying, "you won't be needing these," with a big smile.
The operating room was dark; the only light coming from the hallway and the Wavelight Allegretto Wave® Eye-Q Excimer Laser System. 
Probably the longest part of the actual surgery was getting each eye into alignment, swabbing them, drying them, and forcing them wide open with a speculum. The speculum was the worst, not in terms of pain, just discomfort. They told me to squeeze the teddy bear they gave me instead of my eyes. 
The laser itself lasted for 19 seconds, counted out by one of the nurses.  That was probably the most Stanley Kubrick-esque part. There were white lights and then a flashing green light I was told to focus on. Then a grainy red filled my eye before it became somewhat cloudy and two blue patches appeared in my peripheral vision. An accompanying scent of burning hair (or burning corneal tissue) filled the room. Then everything would go white.
Despite the little Valium I was given, nervous energy was flowing like a silent, but strong underground river. I told myself not to scream because, after all, I had chosen to do this and everything was normal. This I said firmly in my mind, is normal. I think the Valium helped convince me it was so. 
What was happening was the Wizard was putting a medicated pad on my freshly singed eye to help it heal. But with the whiteness and the surreal nature of what just happened I was wondering if I had just fainted. It felt like I had fainted, and yet I was still aware of what was going on. By that I mean I could still hear everyone's voices. One nurse was giving a 5 second count down, another was telling me that I'd hear the laser warming up for the other eye.
There was some difficulty getting the speculum on the second eye and they reminded me to grip the bear and not my eye. I still have no idea what that means, but I tried very hard to feel every soft fiber of that bear with my fingers and relax. Knowing what was coming though, it was a little difficult.
When both eyes were shaved down by the laser, The Wizard himself helped me off the bench. We walked together back to the exam room and it was dream-like how I was able to open my eyes and see where I was going and not be wearing glasses (though I have to keep reminding myself that most of the dream time had to be due to the two medications I was on).
"Most people feel they can see better immediately after the surgery," Stacey told me at my first appointment. "But pretty much minutes later inflammation sets in and you do need a few days to catch up."
In the exam room they helped me peel off the hair net, the booties and the gown. Eye masks were taped to my forehead and Stacey gave Eric, my escort, instructions on which eye drops to take and when.
"Three times a day, one drop for each and wait about five minutes between each drop." She jotted down the instructions on a card. "Here's some soothing eye drops, and these ones," she handed Eric a blue drop bottle with an "X" on it, "are numbing eye drops. But use them only if you absolutely have to. They actually slow down the healing. Did you get Tylenol PM?" She asked me.
"Good, take it when you get home." She left the office to find The Wizard whom came in almost silently.
He gave me instructions to keep my eyes closed until Tuesday. "I know it's a long holiday, but that was a huge correction we made with your eyes so they need to heal quite a bit. I want to see you again tomorrow for a follow up. You'll need someone to drive you here."
I went home, took two Tylenol pms and collapsed into bed.
That was pretty much my routine until Monday evening: In the morning I would briefly, sort of wake up enough to kiss Dan farewell on his way to work; take my eye drops; and swallow two Tylenol pms. The dog would pad back into the bedroom and then gracefully leap onto the bed and curl up next to me. 
Around noon Dan would come back for lunch, take Chico for a short walk; and ask me if I'd had anything to eat. I would eat a little something; mostly moving fork to mouth, chew and swallow, as a mechanical exercise. I'd take three more eye drops, two more Tylenol pms and sink back asleep.
At dinner time Dan would come home; take Chico out; make a little supper, prod me to eat a little. I would sit up for a little bit in the evening, mostly listening to the Daily Show on tv. Then I'd take my three eye drops and maybe another 2 Tylenol pm.
My eyes felt gritty, as though I'd been in the hot, sunny desert for a few days and it wasn't difficult to keep the closed. I would only open them for brief stretches, like when trying to spear some food onto my fork or locating my water glass.
By Sunday evening I was pretty gross (the tape from the eye masks that I had to wear all the time left a persistent goo on my forehead), over-rested, and ready to join the world of the living.
By Monday I was having panic attacks about driving to my follow up appointment on Tuesday. The Wizard had told me I'd be alright to drive, but I wasn't completely convinced.
Tuesday was a balmy 90 degrees, nudge up to about 100 by the humidity. I put on a pair of sunglasses, half-believing them to be my security blanket, and resolutely drove the speed limit on route 9. When I arrived at the Wizard's Office in Fishkill what I needed most was a stiff drink and a towel to wipe off the rivulets of sweat.
The technician and I sat down in an exam room and she told me to read the letters I saw.
"A,B,Z, N," I said with confidence.
"Good," she replied, and flicked to smaller letters. They got smaller and smaller until I was half-guessing on the last line.
"O, N, T, M?" I hedged.
"That's the 20/20 line." She smiled at me, "and you got it."
"Yep. That's 20/20" She rolled up to wear the letters seemed huge. "That's the 20/40, what you have to have to legally be able to drive with glasses or contact lenses."
I was flabbergasted.
"And it's been less than a week," she added.


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