Journal entry: February 12, 2008 (age 38): LASIK surgery
Is there any surgical procedure that sounds, just in terms of the basic description, like a good idea? “First, we’re going to cut open your” is not the beginning of a sound-sounding plan. “Then we’re going to remove your” is not a soothing follow-up. With such violent descriptors out of the way, the final step of being “sewn and/or stapled back together” sounds relatively comforting. With these thoughts in mind, it took a while to convince myself that elective LASIK surgery was a good idea. For me, “laser” and “eye” didn’t co-exist comfortably in the same sentence, let alone with the word “elective.”
The price tag was another disincentive, especially after an in-office evaluation a few years ago. After being lured there by billboard and TV advertising that boasted a cost of “Only $399 per eye!,” my jaw dropped when I was told that the procedure (for both eyes) would cost me $3,600. When I asked an employee what had happened to the $399 per eye, the response made my jaw drop further. “Well, it’s like a clothing store that advertises a sale as ‘$9.99 and up.’ There might be one shirt in the corner that’s $9.99, but…” (The provider in question shall remain nameless, but by no means penniless.)
A few years passed before a friend’s recommendation led me to another practice that was slightly less expensive, and decidedly more honest. In the meantime, the technology of laser eye correction had improved. What was always a relatively low-risk procedure was now even safer and less invasive. One of my eye problems involves involuntary movement of the eyes, so I was especially impressed by the latest machinery’s ability to track and compensate for eye movements 4,000 times per second. At that rate, the Cookie Monster could be treated.
So in May of last year, I underwent the LASIK procedure. The “Hallelujah” moment I had hoped for did not materialize, however. My left eye had been slightly overcorrected, leaving it blurry. The problem was amplified by the fact that my left eye is my dominant eye. (My right eye, jubilant at the turn of the events, began to regard my left eye with the same malice and disdain it had labored under for years.) The overcorrection meant that I needed another procedure on the left eye. Waiting to heal from the first procedure took five months and, in the meantime, I had to buy temporary glasses for driving.
The second procedure went smoothly, and today was my final follow-up appointment. In the end, everything worked out well, and if I had to do it all over again, I would. For the first time since I was three, I don’t need a plastic apparatus on my face in order to see. No more fumbling for my glasses in the dark; no more fogged-up lenses when I come in from a winter’s day; no more red, kidney-shaped welts on either side of the bridge of my nose. But the best part is that my vision has actually been improved beyond what it was with glasses. I had always been 20/200 without glasses. Even with glasses, the best I had ever scored was 20/40. Now, after LASIK, I am 20/30. That’s pretty amazing. In fact, I feel a “Hallelujah” coming on!