Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I Have Been Assimilated


I had LASIK surgery this morning. Yes, that's right, I had surgery this morning and I am blogging this afternoon. I'm not staring directly at the computer screen, mind you, but I can still type and think. I wanted to give you the scoop on this modern miracle while the experience is still fresh.

I was, admittedly, quite nervous about having my eyeballs dissected. But I studied the statistics and decided I was about as likely to have my eyes gouged out in an industrial accident as I was to lose my sight in this surgery. My eyesight was 20/400, so I figured it was worth the minute risk. (That means what the average person could see at 400 feet, I had to be 20 feet away to identify.)

So I went in. They graciously gave me a 5mg Valium upon my arrival. I asked if they had anything bigger, but apparently they didn't. So, I contented myself with what looked like a crumb of a valium and waited my turn with sweaty palms. I imaginged what life would be like without sight. I'd have to learn Braille, I'd have to get a computer that would type as I talked. In the mean time, my wife would have to read all my commentaries and Scriptures to me. I cringed for her if this surgery was botched. There are only a select few that can read and enjoy F.F. Bruce and the scholarly guild. I'd probably have to pay someone to do it or she'd eventually leave me, no matter her level of sanctification.

At last, it was my turn. Less than 15 minutes after swallowing my relaxation pill, which basically means it wasn't working yet. I laid on my back under the laser gun and talked to God.

One of the things I dreaded most was the dreaded "spider clip" they put on your eyelids to prevent blinking. That's not what they call it; that's what I call it. It looks like metal spider legs clipped to your eyelids. In some warped part of my mind, I imagine them to be akin to some hideous arachnid that uses its legs to immobiize you so it can deliver a slow sting to your exposed flesh. Imagination can be a terrible thing.

The doctor comes in the room, and puts the spider clip in on my left eye. It takes him 10 seconds, and I hardly felt a thing. I was thankful that I could not see what he saw. Seeing my own eye in that freaky condition would have been too much for me to bear. They squirted some more drops on my eye, and told me that they would soon be putting something over my eye and everything would go black for a moment. Then, I would hear a whirring sound. In preparation for this, I was handed a teddy bear and told to relax. I left my pride at the door. I clutched my teddy and tried not to cry.

This thing was lowered on to my eye and my world went dark. I did indeed hear the whirring noise as the machine sliced my cornea and flipped back the flesh like a peeled onion. I felt nauseous. The worse was yet to come. I became aware of the monstrosity that they call the "Exomer Laser" for the first time. There were two lights, one green and one red. I was told by the doctor to concentrate on the red light. Immediately, I felt like Jean Luc Picard in the episode where he was captured by the Borg. This was no laser eye surgery; I was being assimilated.

The doctor told me that I would soon hear a popping sound and smell "something funny," but that it would be over in a few seconds. The popping quickly followed. It is the exact some sound a welding torch makes when it strikes metal. The funny smell is roasting flesh. I went as stiff as stone. You could have picked me up by the toe and waved me around like a magic wand. I looked at that light, and I imagined myself being drawn into it.

In a matter of seconds, the left eye was finished. The doctor congratulated me for doing so well. He didn't realize that I had cracked all my teeth and that I was in a state of semi-shock. I didn't say a word. He waited two minutes and put the spider over my right eye. I realized what a wonderful thing contact lenses were. I wanted to be fishing, running, anything. I felt faint. The cornea slicer was placed over my eye and everything went black again.

By the time the red light was over my eye again, I thought I might pass out. I fought the nausea again and realized that if I did black out, I would certainly be buying Braille books. Plus, I would never get to read the seventy-five dollars worth of books I had just ordered from Amazon. They were in route even as I lay there. I had really wanted to read Mark Dever's new books. My tears mixed with the saline. The popping began. I breathed through my mouth, hoping I couldn't taste what I had smelled. It was over in seconds.

Two minutes later, I was on my feet and headed for a quick check-up before being released. They shined a bright light in my eye. It hurt like mad. My eyes were very light-sensitive at first. Plus, my vision was smokey. I felt like I had walked into a windowless bar and everyone was smoking. I was deep in haze, similar to having your head submerged in a fishbowl and opening your eyes. I was told this was normal. I wanted to go home.

I did make it home, my eyes burned the whole trip home. I had to wear some funky goggles the whole way, and I have to wear them each night for a week. But when I awoke a couple hours ago, the difference was uncanny. I could see people. Like, I could and can really see. I could read my alarm clock. I can see the fire hydrant down the street. I can see how ugly I am in the mirror. It's incredible. I am still a tad hazy, but I can easily see ten times better than I could before surgery. I am in awe.

So, all in all, I expect that it will be worth it. No more contacts and near perfect sight will be quite a boon for me. It is, actually, a dream come true. I am thankful for LASIK technology. Oh....and from now on, you can just call me Lucretius Borg. And if you have been thinking of getting LASIK, go ahead and sign up. Resistance is futile.

3 comments:

Paul Schafer said...

Brad,

I came across your post through bloglines and I had to read it cause I felt nauseous in the little blurb, came here to read the whole post in how you turned into a borg that can see.

I still wear glasses and am poor so I can get LASIK anytime soon. I probably pass out if I did.

Paul Schafer

MColvin said...

Congrats man....my wife describes the event similar to yours, but not quite as humorous. Be sure and follow the goggle requirements, you don't want a wrinkle. It protects your eyes and is great birth control. But one correction about your blog, technically, you can see 20x better!

Sojourner said...

Matt,

Well, I'm not certain that I'm at 20/20 yet. I feeling more like 20/40, but I'll find out this morning. I don't think I'll completely "stabilize" for three days. We'll see.