Jason took me to the Casey Eye Clinic at OHSU early Wednesday morning. Surprisingly, we were able to get there from here considering how I got hopelessly lost the last time I tried to get there. For anyone who doesn’t live here, OHSU is on a place referred to as “The Hill” which you can see from any point in town but there are only two roads that go up the hill and no one knows where they are. In fact, they had to build an Aerial Tram to get people up the hill.
We got to the clinic, found the right floor, and I got checked in. I was a little nervous, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I was told they were running a little behind and there were three people in front of me. So Jason and I waited, he played Peggle and I tried not to fret.
Finally I was called into the office. Denny, who I began referring to as “The Nice Guy” sat me down to double check my prescription. I still felt okay at this point. Then he told me to take the one measly valium I had been prescribed and I started to get nervous. I was afraid It wouldn’t be enough since the last time I went to the dentist I managed to fight off all the nitrous they gave me and let’s face it, years of drinking has left me with quite a high tolerance for things.
The nice guy led me back into the lobby to sit with Jason for awhile to wait for the Valium to kick in. I didn’t know what I should feel like, I wanted to feel like I had had maybe one glass of wine too many. I just developed a feeling of “Hey I should be panicking, but I’m not… I don’t care either.” Jason kept me distracted talking about Andre Miller’s trade rumors (no!) and “what is Dexter going to do to get himself out of the mess he put himself in last night”
Finally the nice guy came back and asked if I was ready. Jason told me to go get it over with. The nice guy led me into the room where it would all happen. He had me sit in a chair much like a dentist’s chair and covered me with a warm blanket. He and Sally, the nurse, laid me down and started to move me under a machine with lots of lights on it and I started to cry. The “cutting my eye open” part of the procedure is what had been scaring me the most over the past three weeks of waiting. Sally asked me if I’d like her to get someone to come hold my hand. I said yes, so she got the receptionist to come be my friend.
The doctor came in and placed a pink eye shield over my left eye, then placed an eyelid speculum on my right eye. You’ve seen A Clockwork Orange, that’s what they used. I didn’t like it one bit. Then he had me look at his finger while he placed a clear rubber gasket over my right eye and everything went purple. I couldn’t see. I didn’t like it. I started to whimper a bit, and he told me to hold still and not make a sound as he moved me under the machine. I kept whimpering silently and squeezing the receptionist’s hand as I heard the nice guy counting down from twenty. Then it was over, they removed the ring & the speculum and my vision was all blobby. They repeated the process for the left eye. I remember sitting there saying “ I did it! That was the part I was most afraid of and I did it!”
I thanked the receptionist for holding my hand then took the nurse’s arm as she led me into the next room. I lay down on a bench and they put a bolster pillow under my knees. The doctor placed another eyelid speculum (ew!), flipped the flap they had just cut open (ew! Ew! Ew!) and navigated the laser into place. I was told to stare at a green dot while these two larger red dots circled around. It was very “Laser Floyd” – I guess the valium really did work.
I heard the nice guy say “Seven second treatment” and I was told to hold still. It took seven seconds to zap my eye. Then they moved the machine away, flooded my eye with some drops, and the doctor squeegeed the flap back into place. He put a temporary contact over my eye to act like a bandage and placed plugs in my tear ducts to make me cry and keep my eye moist.
Then, the repeated the process on the left eye. Seven seconds again. Drops, squeegee, contact, plugs and I was done! I sat up and the nurse put some sexy, sexy terminator sunglasses on me. I heard the doctor say “There’s a clock on the wall, it won’t be too clear, but you’ll be able to read it. You’re not nearsighted anymore!” And it was true, the time was 11:25.
I thanked everyone. I think I said something to the effect of “I did it! And I wasn’t the worst patient you’ve ever had!” (yay valium!) and went to the lobby. Jason hooked me up with one of the vicodin they told me to take and we went home.
We drove through for shitty cheeseburgers and when I got home I put on my jammies, crawled into bed, and ate. Then I tried to sleep. I didn’t sleep very well, just mostly drifted in and out of consciousness. At one point I opened my eyes and felt like someone had thrown a cup of water in my face. Those tear duct plugs really did the trick. I got to the point when I wanted to open my eyes that I knew I had to sit up, put a hanky over my face, lean forward, then open them so I wouldn’t drown in all the tears.
Jason brought me another vicodin sometime that afternoon and eventually I slept for a bit. Eventually he brought me some dinner and I looked at the clock and said “It’s Five Thirty” he said “Yes, and…?” I said “I can see the clock!”
I went back to the doctor the next day and they took off the sexy, sexy, terminator glasses. I have really ugly red rings around my irises from the rubber vacuum rings they used other than that, I look normal! My eyes are pretty dry and I’m using eye drops like they’re going out of style.
The best part is, I can see. I’m reading everything out loud, obnoxiously. We were in the grocery and I said “I don’t know if you can read that sign, but that’s the vitamin aisle” I’m kind of in a weird denial phase at the same time. I’ve worn contacts since I was 15, so I’m used to being able to see pretty well. Last night I was getting ready for bed and brushing my teeth. Something inside said “Ok, now take out your contacts” and I don’t have any contacts to take out! I went to bed feeling like I had skipped a step.
Oh! And I have the best husband in the world! Aside from taking care of me while I was blind and not being ornery while he was doing so, he got me a video game I had been wanting for awhile. He said I needed something to look at with my new eyes and a reward for doing something so scary.
And did I mention that I didn’t swear once during the entire procedure? I didn’t. Amazing.