Last Tuesday, I went through with a decision to get laser eye surgery. Whilst I would have preferred to undergo the more modern LASIK, my thin corneas meant that I could only safely have LASEK surgery done. Since then, I have spent a high percentage of my life in bed, in pain, with blurry vision. With each passing day, my vision and eye condition gets better, and my despondency with the surgery decreases a little. Here’s a brief picture into what the first week after LASEK looks like.
The day of the surgery
For the weeks leading up to the surgery, I was fairly content with my decision. I had read up on the possible consequences of LASEK, and although the recovery time was fairly long compared to the other options, I felt like I would be able to endure a couple of days of discomfort in order to have decades of perfect vision. I walked into BGN Eye Centre in Seoul a confident, slightly nervous, and excited customer. A number of my friends had already had surgery there before, and I myself had been there for my initial assessment. The staff are wonderful, and they have a dedicated member of staff to assist English speakers in the predominantly Korean office.
After some issues paying for the surgery itself (my credit card’s limit was not high enough to accommodate the whole cost of LASEK), I was carefully taken to the surgery area. My eyes were checked again to confirm the adjustments that I would need, I was given anaesthetic for my eyes, and led to the machine.
It was an intimidating machine to say the least. A seemingly random collection of metal, gears, and lights with just enough space under it for a person to stick their head. I had no idea where I was meant to look, so I just looked straight ahead as my eyes were washed and prepared for the lasers. The actual surgery took a grand total of no more than 10 minutes. I stood up with blurry vision but no pain (the anaesthetics were still working their magic) and met my friends that I had asked to help me around Seoul after the surgery. We then went together to the pharmacy in the buiding, got my swarm of eye drops, and were soon on our merry way.
Day After the Surgery -Day 5 Post-Surgery
Sunlight sucked. Sunlight sucked a lot. Room lights sucked. Loud noises sucked.
I spent this period of time almost entirely on my back in my bed, with my eyes closed and sunglasses on. At night, I had to sleep with special goggles that prevented me from rubbing my eyes. In addition, LASEK requires you to wear thin contact lenses for five days in order to protect your lasered eyes from the world. These both resulted in even more eye discomfort than normal.
That is not an easy task – my eyes were in a great deal of discomfort already. This fell on a spectrum of ‘oh, it feels like I have a speck of dust in my eye that I just can’t rub out’ to, and I quote, ‘THIS SHIT ISN’T WORTH THE PAIN’. I did not have a good Chuseok holiday. Kristen was a superb nurse during this time – without her constant love, attention, preparing meals, and generally being there for me, I would probably have had a breakdown of some kind.
I couldn’t see anything due to blurriness, my eyes were in pain, and my body began to ache from lying in bed all day. The only relief came from applying cooled metal d20’s (which would normally be used to chill drinks) to my forehead and cover my face with a dark scarf. In those moments of comfort, I enjoyed being able to just lie in the darkness, listening to an audiobook with Kris by my side. Those moments were peaceful. They were also very few and far between.
Day 6 Post-Surgery – Removal of Protective Contacts
As each day went by, my vision got slightly better and the discomfort decreased. After six days, my eyes were ready to have the protective contacts removed. I returned to BGN, where they checked my eyes to see their progress (apparently everything was going well!) before taking out the confounded pieces of plastic coating my eyes in irritation. I was relieved to have them out, and the rest of the day passed with minimal disomfort.
Day 7 post-surgery – now
These have definitely been the easiest days since the surgery. The day after the removal of the contacts, there were moments of incredible pain again, but they were short-lived. Now, I just have to deal with the annoyance of street lamps, indoor lighting, and projectors making my eyes more irritated than the average user of an Internet forum.
But I think I can deal with that in order to spend the majority of the rest of my life without glasses and with good vision. I can wear sunglasses. I can look at my fiancee after I’ve taken my glasses off to go to sleep and actually see how beautiful she is. I can play Ultimate without worrying that my glasses are going to fall off and break, or get covered in sweat and obstruct my vision. And hey, I might even look prettier without glasses. I don’t know. But now that I’ve done the surgery, I have a lifetime to explore the benefits that a pretty awful few days allowed me to have.