2/21/11

The Lasik experience

Warning - long post ahead

Well I am now three days post Lasik. And I am SO glad I did this. My vision is already very good and it will only get better as time goes on. There could be some shifts and changes for the next three months actually, but for the most part, my vision is awesome and I'm loving life post-glasses.

I want to recap the whole experience because I know some people expressed some interest/curiosity when I first said I would be doing this. Many have told me that they think they could never do this, because you are awake for the procedure and it is unsettling to think about what they physically do to your eye - but let me tell you, it isn't that scary at all. And it is over so quickly.

So to start, really we go back to three weeks ago when I had my first consultation at the Whiting Clinic. Now I should put a disclaimer here right now that Whiting Clinic is in no way shape or form compensating me for my comments - but I am going to really talk them up because I want to. They are amazing. From the moment I walked in the door for the consultation I felt totally comfortable and at ease. At the consultation you receive a welcome packet that explains a number of things about Lasik. They have you fill out a health history and questionnaire. Then you are taken in for about a 90 minute exam/tour/meeting.

During the 90 minutes you are given a full eye exam and a number of non-invasive tests are performed to determine if you are indeed a candidate for Lasik. Then they have you watch a little five minute video, which is Dr. Whiting explaining a bit about what goes on during a Lasik procedure. While this is going on, your tests are analyzed and a treatment plan is put together for you. Then they give a little tour of the clinic, and we were lucky enough to see the Laser suite as no procedures were being done that day. Finally we met with Dr. Loomis, an associate of Dr. Whiting who went over the results with us and explained the procedure in a bit more detail. There is no pressure to schedule the Lasik procedure if you do not want to, but because it was apparent right away that I was a great candidate, it was kind of a no brainer. Especially because my wonderfully supportive husband said, if you want to do this, we'll find a way to make the money work.

The consultation is also 100% free - if you decide Lasik is not for you, you are not out any money. They have three ranges of cost for Lasik, depending on where you fall in needing correction. I fit into the middle category. We did get a 10% discount because Whiting Clinic is one of Nate's work clients. The total cost quoted to us was $2400, less the 10% and then we were lucky in that we had money in my Health Savings Account from work that I am fortunate enough to have carry over each year when it is not claimed (thank you Fairview!) so our cost was significantly lower in the end. That might not be the case for everyone, but don't let the expense scare you - they also have finance plans available - talk to them if you are worried about the cost and they will work with you to make it affordable.

So, the next step was scheduling my procedure. They can get you in as fast as you want to it seems. They are a new clinic though (Dr. Whiting branched off from another clinic, he has been doing this for years though) so they are still building their client base. Because of some schedule issues for us, I ended up scheduling it about two weeks after my consultation.

As you all know, this last Friday was the big day. I reported last week that I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing, but I won't lie, Friday morning I woke up way before my alarm feeling pretty nervous. I did my best to keep it in check, but it kind of hit me that it was a pretty big deal. I had opted for a very early appointment though so we didn't have much time to hang around at home for me to be sitting around panicking. And once we got to the clinic, again, the staff made me feel at ease instantly. We had a personal technician that worked with me the entire pre-op and she was soooo awesome. We (I say we because Nate came with of course to drive me home, but also had interest and wanted to see how everything worked) were brought into a pre-op room where I was given my sedative (you'd be crazy not to take it) and all my post-op instructions were gone over at this point. We were left alone for a bit then to wait until Dr. Whiting was ready, but he came in pretty fast actually. He talked to us before the procedure, explained some things one more time and then gave me my first dose of numbing drops.

After that, I was brought into the procedure room where they looked at my eyes in the microscope one more time and he actually made a little mark in each eye - already numb so I didn't feel it. Then the laser room was lit up with my favorite color light (purple) and they put on a Pandora music station set to whatever artist I wanted (I chose Neko Case). The technician came over and gave me the rest of my numbing drops and then led me over to the bed that is positioned under the laser.

They covered my left eye with a patch and started with my right. Dr. Whiting put a bunch of things around my eye to hold it open and steady - it was oddly comforting to know it was seriously not moving. I know that sounds weird. Now, I'm really not going to go into the very detailed things - but Dr. Whiting does explain everything that is going on and also how many seconds it lasts. There is a vacuum noise, I could feel vibration and a little bit of pressure. He warns that your vision will gray out for a second, but it's very short lived. Then there will be bright lights, beeping/buzzing and vibrations when he starts using the laser. Again, he counts down how many seconds. And when I say seconds, it seriously seconds - maybe ten or 15. There was an "odor" in the air at this point that fortunately is short lived, kind of made me a little nauseated, but doesn't linger. Then I could tell he rinsed my eye a bit and then we were on to the next one! It was over equally as fast and the next thing I knew, the technician was giving me my first set of antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops. I was led back over to the microscope where Dr. Whiting came over and said everything went perfectly, he looked at my eyes and sent me home to nap.

The entire thing is best described as "weird". Not painful, just weird. I could already see a little bit when we left the clinic. I had sunglasses to wear on the way home and did my best to rest my eyes in the car. When we got home I took Ibprofen to ward off any discomfort. There was some mild discomfort/scratchy feelings before I went to lay down. I had trouble sleeping - odd since I'd had the sedative, but I think I was on an adrenaline high from the experience. I did force myself to keep my eyes closed for awhile and dozed. They recommend about four hours. I got close to that point. Then I hung out in the basement with Nate and continued to dose off and on and watched him play video games and was amazed at how well my sight was already doing.

I returned to the clinic the next day for a post op and other than experiencing some dry eye - which is very normal and I have drops to help alleviate this - I'm healing well and my vision is already 20/20. I'll have some more appointments in the coming weeks and then I'll just go in once a year for checkups! Honestly this was one of the best things I have ever done for myself and I credit a lot to the Whiting Clinic - Dr. Whiting was named a Top Doctor in Mpls/St. Paul magazine and you can see why. I also credit a lot to my wonderful husband - he took great care of me and made it so easy to do this. He's thinking of going for a consultation and might get it done too and I will make certain to be as wonderful to him as he was to me.

So to make an extremely long story short - congrats if you actually read this far - I highly recommend Lasik if you are considering it. Do not let the concept scare you off. I survived, and I think it's a worthwhile investment!

6 comments:

Gina said...

I'm so glad that it went well for you!!! I was very curious to see how the actual procedure would go. It's always nice when the clinic and doctor are wonderful and put you at ease!

simplicity said...

So glad it was such a great experience Beth!

Jes said...

I'm glad it went so well!

Stefanie said...

Thanks girl I did make it to the end!! I am going to get it done someday when I am done having kids. It will be a mothers day gift (I already told Jim) :)

Melissa said...

I'm having my LASIK today with Whiting (note how I'm frantically googling things and reading to calm my nerves, LOL). I'm nervous but excited. I hope mine goes just as well!

Tara said...

How is everything going now that you're a few years in?