Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lasers and Razors and Koreans.. OH MY!

It's official!! I have better than 20/20 vision without my glasses OR contacts.. and it's only getting better at each check-up!!

I received my Custom-Q LASIK (Custom-Q is an add on that helped prevent me from seeing halos and starbursts at night time when looking at bright lights post-surgery) from EyeMedi Laser Center in Seoul, Korea. The Doctor's name was Dr. Kim Jong-Min.. he was very nice and the staff at EyeMedi are AMAZING!!! They were always helpful, kind and informative... awesome service and highly recommended!!

The surgery wasn't a walk in the park.. but I managed to not be blind.. or become an Alien, so all is well in Southern Korea!

After a few months of being super anxious about having to wait until December 17th to have my surgery, the day finally came! I was ecstatic.. I was so excited, I just wanted to get rid of my contacts and glasses forever! Although, in all honesty, I was a bit sad to say goodbye to my glasses when I recycled them at the eye center (Although I'm sure they'll be going to a great new home!! I've just had them for the past 8 years.. we became pretty close!)

So the day came.. December 17th.. I took a bus to Seoul with my co-worker, Rachel (we were both scheduled for the same day, just slightly different surgeries) and her friend that came to help her.. and Bruce met me at the eye center pre-surgery so he could be my seeing eye dog and take care of me for the day/night!! SO sweet of him, he did a great job! But he seriously almost made me pee my pants when he messaged me days beforehand and asked if he should make a shirt that says guide dog!!! I seriously about lost it, I realized that's probably what he would pretty much be!

When I arrived, we were given an orientation about how to take care of our eyes the 2 weeks following the surgery.. super important stuff.. and lots of details to remember, but luckily they had papers that described everything pretty thoroughly (we just had to be sure to pay attention at the time, because it was unsure how easy it would be for us to see post-surgery!). Then, we went back out to the waiting room for a little bit to wait for our turn at getting our eyes sliced!

The strange thing was that even though this was my first surgery.. I wasn't nervous at all really! I was just anxious to get it over with. But I had talked to a few friends about the surgery, and they went through the main steps without a lot of detail and all seemed super-duper simple!!

We were both taken back to a small room with comfy arm chairs and Rachel went first to the surgery room. The freaky thing, was that I could watch her surgery through a huge window, and I could watch video of her eye ball being fooled with... I decided I couldn't keep watching and went back to the little room where they put a bunch of eye drops in my eyes and asked me to close my eyes until Rachel was finished (less than 10 minutes).

As the nurse was putting the many drops in my eyes, it didn't seem like she had put some of them in my left eye very well.. and I didn't know whether to say anything or not.. I didn't know if having too many of something would be a bad thing.. so I didn't mention it. And I made myself forget about it... now I'm just sitting there tapping my toes waiting for my turn on the table!!!

*****Note: If you're about to get LASIK.. maybe you shouldn't read this! :) But maybe you should.. because I wish I had known these things before I was on the table, experiencing it first hand!******

The Surgery:
I was taken to the surgery room just minutes after Rachel was finished. I didn't have to change clothes or anything, but I did have a robe sort of thing on and no shoes on. Then, I was told to lay down on the table (dun dun duuun).. and they put a blanket thing over my head that only had a hole in it for one eye.. they used hook things to keep my eyes open (this was one of the most awkward parts).. that's when I started clutching the table.

...I was told before the surgery had begun to concentrate on looking straight the entire time, and if something happens and my eye moves then the lasers will follow it.. BUT it was very important for me to look straight when the razor is cutting the flap in my eye. HOWEVER, they kind of failed to really mention how blind we would be during this process (although, I suppose blind means blind, eh?!)...

I'm thinking at the moment (pre-flushing and razor) "WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING PAULA??!?! Your eyes were useful before this surgery, are you sure you don't want to back out and just go back to the comfort of your glasses?! ARE YOU CRAZY! What are you doing?!?" Deep breath. "Okay, no.. of course you can do this. You got this. You won't have to wear contacts ever again! K.. I'm ready." I just continued with a mix of holding my breath and deep breaths.. but of course, mainly holding my breath.

The first thing the surgeon did, was flush my eye out with some sort of water solution. Then he puts this round machine looking thing onto my eye.. this is when you go blind.. HOW THE HECK ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO KNOW IF YOU'RE STILL LOOKING STRAIGHT?!?!? My other eye was covered with a blanket, and after what felt like a couple of minutes (but it wasn't, it was less) I became unsure if I was still looking straight (sounds easier said than done).. so this is when I began to get super anxious and nervous that the wrong part of my eyeball was probably getting sliced open. Also, when it was cutting my eye, I felt a lot of pressure on my eye... thus clutching the table even harder, and trying to sink my head as far into the table as possible, without totally botching the surgery. The surgeon didn't say anything during it, so I guessed everything went well when the machine came off of my eye.

Then the lasers start.. they weren't bad at all.. super easy to be sure you look straight. Apparently some people can actually smell their eye burning.. I don't think I did, I was still in a bit of shock.

Now, it's time for the flap to be "squeegeed" (that's how my friend described it).. I thought a machine was going to be doing it.. boy was I wrong, I see my Doctor's hand holding some sort of squeegee instrument thing, and he himself is flattening my flap back onto my eye... all I could think .. was OMG, Faith didn't mention this, is the machine broken?! Am I in a redneck clinic?!.. and I guess it was my naivety in thinking that a machine did absolutely everything.. I was even wondering what the point of having 'a Doctor' was pre-surgery.. because anytime you talk about LASIK, you're always talking about the 'machine's' role.. not what the doctor does exactly.

But after, to my relief, my right eye was finished. ... Now, the left eye.. and I'm DONE! Thank God, I was so ready to run out of that room screaming.

The procedure was the exact same for the left eye. However, I SWEAR that I could feel the razor SO much more than the right eye (and of course.. I'm thinking, O M G this is going to be one of those surgeries where the patient can feel the entire process, ALL because the nurse didn't put my eye drops in the correct way) I was trying to practically sink my head through the table and onto the floor.. it wasn't super painful, but it wasn't painless either. Then for the laser, no problem, and the squeegee, no problem. They put a few drops in each eye. And I believe I'm done.

The nurses tell me I can get up, and they sort of help me. I'm able to see things with a bit of a haze. And they play the 'typical' Korean congratulations song (A.) I'm thinking, is this seriously happening?! B.) My kinder-gardeners sang this last year C.) In America, this would be deemed SO unprofessional D.) I hope my doctor REALLY knew what he was doing) and Cathy (the foreign liaison that has been with me through every step of the process and every appointment) says "Well... why aren't you ecstatic?! Can't you see?!"... and I kind of just shook my head yes, and said "Uhuh!" trying to make my voice sound positive. Even though I felt like I was part of a sci-fi movie and I was awake as they were turning my body into an alien.

I'm taken back to the tiny comfy room, and have to close my eyes for about 10-15 minutes without opening them. I'm just trying to concentrate on breathing at this point in time. When I was taken back to Bruce.. I was still in a bit of shock, but able to pose for pictures. I just couldn't really speak too much, without really thinking about it.

It was such a crazy experience!

Before going home, I was handed my glasses and they told me congratulations. I then had my photo-op and said farewell to my glasses into the recycling bin!! WeeHoo!! FREEDOM!!

I was told to go home immediately and take a nap for 4 hours so that I keep my eyes closed during prime healing time (and while I'm sleeping, I don't have to put the drops in). Bruce took me back to his place on the subway, it took 45 minutes I think .. we had to stop walking every 15 minutes to put eye drops in my eyes (every 15 minutes for normal eye drops, every half an hour for the other anti-inflammatory & antibiotic ones). He did a great job of guiding me when I decided to close my eyes for a bit while walking, since I'm pretty sure the doctor didn't have a 45 minute subway ride in mind when he knew I was headed to rest.

I had huge Britney Spears glasses and a hat on for the next week.. everywhere I went, even when I was inside most of the time to protect my eyes from the lights. Bruce was sure to make fun of me for my Britney-esque attire, it was pretty hilarious.

When we got back to his apartment, I rested for 4 hours, then we ordered some delivery McDonalds (AWESOME!).

The next day, I had to go for a check-up and have my protective plastic lenses removed out of my eyes (they help keep the flap protected during the first 24 hours)... I was fully able to see everything around me and I had about 20/20 vision the day after! Bruce and I decided to do a bit of gallivanting around the city and ended up at the huge Co-Ex Mall, and we visited an awesome temple that is in the middle of the city!! It was so exciting using my new eyes to see the gorgeous temple THE DAY AFTER SURGERY!!!

By then, the shock had worn off, but I still couldn't believe I did that... and I can't believe how startling it was for me!

I took the bus back to Jeonju that night and returned to Seoul 2 weeks later, then 1 month later. Now my eyes are off the charts amazing, and they have healed wonderfully the doctor said.
I rarely use eye drops now (some people end up having to use them every day of their lives because of dryness issues.. you never know what can happen during or post-surgery that can cause complications like that... the doctor/Cathy also REALLY stressed that the next few weeks of care and drops were crucial to the final product of my eyes), and I haven't experienced any difficulties or problems!

WOOOOOO!!!! The surgery only cost me about $1,100 and SO well worth it!!!

1 comment:

  1. Paula :-) It's Cathy from Eyemedi!!
    Thanks for posting the review about us. You're the best>3

    We opened new website for foreigners
    news address :

    we don't use this anymore :-) Thankssss!!