i am a good idea.

Lasers and Zombies

My chances of surviving the zombie apocalypse GREATLY increased last week when I paid a few thousand dollars to be shot by lasers.

I may need to rewind a bit.

I’ve needed glasses since I was seven years old, which was terrific because I had just skipped the second grade so I was already that weird smart kid and now I got to be that weird smart kid with giant dorky glasses which ensured I would be relentlessly mocked for the next five years. (The braces that were added to the equation two years later definitely helped, too.)

Some people “need” glasses, but can get away without wearing them, but that hasn’t been an option for me for almost 20 years. As of last week, my prescription was a staggering -7.50 in both eyes. Without glasses or contacts, I probably couldn’t identity my own mother from three feet away.

And that’s why, around age 10, I realized that in the event of a zombie apocalypse or some other world-shattering disaster that I would be absolutely screwed because at some point my glasses were going to get broken or I would run out of contacts AND THEN WHAT THE HELL WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO AS A FUNCTIONALLY BLIND PERSON? I’ll tell you what: unknowingly be used as zombie bait so that the people with normal vision could escape. CURSE YOU SEEING ASSHOLES OF MY IMAGINATION!

So about a week and a half ago I made the somewhat last minute decision to have LASIK eye surgery. I didn’t actually intend to HAVE the surgery so quickly, I just set up the consultation appointment to see if it was even an option for me and my terrible eyes, but shit happened fast and this is my LASIK experience. Disclaimer: All medical terminology used is definitely inaccurate and probably nonsense. Talk to your doctor blah blah blah.

Part 1: The Consult

At the recommendation of a few Twitter friends, I went to Bloomberg Eye Center for my LASIK. (No, they didn’t pay me to blog about the experience, but they did give me a free t-shirt, which was… actually really fucking awkward, but we’ll get back to that in Part 2.)

First, if you wear contacts, you need to take them out for at LEAST a week before the procedure. Apparently your contacts change the shape of your cornea so they can’t accurately test your eyes if you’ve worn contacts recently. I pretty much never wear my glasses, not because I mind the way I look in them — I pull off “sexy librarian” pretty well, I thank you — but because I hate how I can see the area out of focus outside the frame. Wearing glasses for nine days may have been the most uncomfortable part of the whole damn process. Here was my Obligatory Last Day (Hopefully) Wearing Glasses Selfie.

Cheryl Harrison glasses

The consultation itself took about an hour and was mostly a pretty standard eye examination except BETTER because they didn’t even do that awful test where they shoot a puff of air at your eye, and even though you know for a fact it’s not going to hurt it’s still extremely unnerving sitting there staring at the stupid house in the stupid field waiting for someone to shoot shit at your eyeball. They did dilate my eyes, after which I decided I would be fine to drive because I am not bright — ESPECIALLY NOT AS BRIGHT AS THE OUTSIDE WORLD IS WHEN YOUR EYES ARE DILATED. (I made it home, but, like, learn from my fail, guys.)

After the tests, the doctor informed me that I was in fact a good candidate for LASIK due in part to my thick corneas (hey girl hey). He then explained how the procedure works. Basically, they cut a small flap in the cornea — either with a scalpel or with a laser — and then use a laser to reshape the cornea. Because of how hefty my prescription was, he advised that it may take several months for my vision to be 20/20 or better, but that I should still be able to see fine after the procedure. He also explained the different between standard LASIK and “custom” LASIK, in which they use more precise measurements of your eye for the reshaping, and advised that for my extreme nearsightedness, I’d need to go with custom. He also explained the two options for cutting the flap, scalpel or laser, and that while the laser cut costs about $200 extra per eye, it creates a more precise cut that is easier to re-open down the road if additional corrective LASIK was necessary. I went with the laser cut, called I-LASIK, in part because I’m likely to need the surgery again years down the road (which, thanks to an additional $100-per-eye “insurance” they offer, will be COMPLETELY FREE FOR LIFE BITCHES!) and in part because I DON’T WANT ANYONE COMING NEAR MY EYEBALL WITH A KNIFE THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

After speaking with the doctor, one of the nurses took me back to answer any additional questions and set up the surgery if I was interested — the consultation itself was free and no obligation. It turned out they could do the procedure a mere two days later, so rather than scheduling it weeks away when my nerves might get the best of me, I scheduled the appointment. And then I drove home, which we’ve already discussed was A TERRIBLE IDEA I KNOW I KNOW.

Part 2: The Surgery

My friend Cassadi dropped me off two days later for the procedure, and then, like a good friend, she went to a nearby brewery to day drink until I was done. An employee collected my payment and then informed me that since I was getting LASIK that I got a free t-shirt and what color and size did I want?

Um, during what other medical procedure do you get a free gift with purchase?

“Congrats on your baby, here’s your ‘My vagina survived Hartford Medical!’ hoodie.”

“Sorry about your kidney failure, but here’s your ‘Dialysis Diva at Dr. Markson’s Office’ baseball cap!”

At that moment I questioned the credibility of the establishment that was currently holding the power of my vision in their hands but fortunately they gave me a Valium which kicked in before I had a chance to panic and run away. Pink, XL, thanks.

Bloomberg tshirt

After waiting in the lobby for about 20 minutes, a nurse came to get me for the procedure. They laid me down in a small room filled with a few big machines, tucked me in with a blanket (which I thought was adorable, which they thought was weird) and put some numbing drops in my eyes. I knew they would have to pry my eyeballs open somehow, and I envisioned some terrifying Clockwork Orange shit, but in reality they put a tiny little suction cup on my eye that I couldn’t even see or feel (my eyes were numb, afterall). Then doctor slid my left eye under the flap-slicing laser, which took about 5 seconds, maybe. He cautioned I might feel some pressure, but I didn’t. Then he swiveled my chair under the other laser, the cornea-reshaping one, and advised me to stare at the red light. He did not mention that AROUND the red light would be some crazy ass 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque lights, so that was a little trippy (made more so by the Valium, no doubt.) This laser also smelled like burnt hair and make a loud clicking sound, but I again didn’t actually FEEL anything. I was under this laser for maybe a minute total. Then onto the right eye, flap-laser, Space Odyssey laser. The whole thing took about five minutes.

Afterwards they taped something to my face and sat me up, and even though they were a bit bright and blurry I was amazed to realize I could actually SEE the faces of the nurses who were helping me up. I expressed my amazement but they seemed pretty unfazed, probably because they do this more than a dozen times a day and the miracle of RESTORING SOMEONE’S CHANCES OF ZOMBIE SURVIVAL AFTER 20 YEARS wears off after a while. I expected to be moved to some sort of recovery room, but they just led me out to the lobby. I called to interrupt Cassadi’s day drinking and she drove me home.

Part 3: Post Opp

While waiting in the lobby, I got my first look at the very attractive “eye shields” the nurses had taped to my face. Caution: Eye Shield Cheryl is the stuff of nightmares.

Eye shields

About 15 minutes after the procedure when the numbing drops worse off, my eyes started to burn. Not intolerably, and nowhere near as bad as, say, getting soap in your eyes burns, but a noticeable burn, and a lot of watering. This only lasted for about two hours. I was advised I should try to sleep after the procedure, or at the very least, to keep my eyes closed, so I laid in bed and listened to a few podcasts and fell asleep a few hours later.

I awoke and removed my eye shields, which was actually the most painful part of the whole thing — that’s some potent tape they use to adhere ol’ Nightmare Eyes. And I was once again amazed to discover that I could SEE. Sure, my vision was “pulling” a bit, things were occasionally slightly blurry, and light was kind of harsh to absorb, but I could SEE. Most important, I COULD SURE AS HELL SEE WELL ENOUGH TO RUN AWAY FROM THOSE GODDAMN ZOMBIES! Finally.

I had to go back to the doctor for a followup appointment that next morning, where they tested my vision. It’s not 20/20 yet, as I was warned in advance that it wouldn’t be for a while, but I’m street legal, as in I can drive, which is good, because I drove THERE, because I DON’T LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES. In reality, the drive this time was fine. Armed with sunglasses, my vision was great.

So now I have to put in three different kinds of eye drops four times a day for two weeks, and I have small bright red bruises on both of my eyes from the suction cups that will take a few more day to heal, and I’m not allowed to wear eye makeup for a few more days, but actually that one just gives me a good excuse to not give a damn what I look like in public so that’s more of a “win” than a “downside.”

Eye bruise lasik

It’s four days post-LASIK, and holy crap, I am still CONSTANTLY amazed that I can see! When I wake up in the middle of the night to pee, I don’t walk into a dresser because I CAN SEE! When I’m laying in bed thinking that there are murderers in the hallway (look I have a lot of anxiety issues ok) I CAN SEE that the murderer is just a bookshelf.

Basically, this is the greatest thing I’ve ever bought myself. Five stars, two thumbs up, 10/10 would LASIK again – though hopefully, I won’t have to anytime soon.

2 Responses to “Lasers and Zombies”

  1. Megan K says:

    Zombies are also the reason I have been thinking about lasik. I read an article that said I would probably last about 30 days (if not eaten first) in a zombie apocalypse before I got an eye infection from the lack of clean water and new contacts. Not sure how I feel about lasers in my eyes though.

  2. Cheryl says:

    IT’S A REAL PROBLEM! The lasers are WAY less scary than they sound. Do it!

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