The preparation for my trail journey (which begins in just 76 days- in case you are counting :P), has been intense and seemingly endless. One of my trail concerns has been what to do about my contacts/glasses- I can’t imagine touching my eyeballs with my filthy amoeba-ridden trail fingers, and I can see myself going batty with fogged up glasses-Every DAY. For FIVE MONTHS. What happens if I break a contact? Or roll over onto my glasses? Every single ounce in my pack will feel like a pound on the trail, so bringing extra of everything isn’t ideal either. So, this week I took a huge leap and had LASIK vision correction surgery.
I first considered LASIK back in my 20’s. I slept in my contacts and wore them far beyond the recommended timeframe and truly didn’t think about taking care of my eyes. I HATED waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to see- probably as a result of living by myself in a bat and stinkbug infested cabin with super scary noises. I inquired about it at an annual eye exam and was told to wait until my 30’s due to natural shape changes that usually occur. Whelp, here I am in my 30’s with an HSA and my fear of not seeing at night replaced with an irrational fear of smelling my own eyeball burn… Which Michael described to me in detail when I first met him, which just happened to be right after he had just had LASIK. Between that and the description of the eyeball clamp forcing my eye open, I pictured Hostel Part VII level torture and decided contacts were actually pretty easy, and bumping into stuff in the middle of the night wasn’t really that big of a deal after all.
Then my trail buddy Shelley had LASIK. At all our AT2017 meetings she took every chance she could to rub in how amazing her vision is and how happy she is to not deal with contacts/glasses on the trail. I think she pushed me over the edge when she was giggling at a humorous sign that I couldn’t see- I asked what was so funny and she replied something along the lines of “Well you would know if you had sweet LASIK eyes”. Although, she also told me about how freaky it was when “Everything went black”…. Another check in the HELLL NO column.
So I made my consultation appointment, and I just about lost it over getting my pupils dilated. Clearly, having a laser slice them open was not going to be easy for me. The clinic was amazing and put a lot of effort into allowing customers to customize their experience- from the color of the welcome packet and of the room during the procedure, to the song that plays while your corneas are being reshaped. As I filled out my preference book on the eve of destruction, I had a really tough time deciding which song I wanted to go blind to. I decided on Adele, because she makes me feel calm. Except for the new Adele- that makes me feel a little riled up. So I requested very specifically “Old Adele”.
The day of my procedure was a mad rush to get my work completed in time for my appointment, and I had a few mishaps along the way. For starters, about 1/2 way through my work day I split open my pants – luckily for me I was wearing black pants and bright green underwear, so I don’t think anyone noticed…. I backed into a garbage can, and I had a mean spill on some nasty ice. I was starting to think it might not be the best day to have an elective eye surgery, but wasn’t quite ready to give up on the glasses-less trail dream.
During the procedure appointment they went over all of my last rites and offered me a light sedative if I felt anxious. (Hmmm- go ahead and guess if I took it… ) After, I sat in the room by myself for what seemed like hours, just so I could have plenty of time to freak myself out a little more and run through the list of all the horrible disclaimers a few more times to be sure I had them all memorized.
My sedative starting making my mouth taste like rotten meat so I helped myself to the bowl of chocolates they also left with me, and wondered if they were watching on a monitor somewhere because the Doctor appeared immediately after I popped a Hershey’s with Almonds in my mouth to mask the meat taste. He introduced himself and asked if I had any concerns. I started rambling about the medieval eyeball clamp, the blackness, fear of going blind, the enormous list of disclaimers, and ended of course with the smell of my own eyeball burning. He nodded along and told me in a nice calm voice that I was going to be fine and he was going to get the laser ready. He left me alone and I had just enough time to grab my phone and try to look at a picture of my dog so that I could see him just once more before I went blind- but I never had a chance the assistant popped in and said it was time.
The Doctor checked my eyeballs one last time and deemed them ready for torture clamping. The assistant led me to a bed and fixed some props to make me comfortable- which I am sure would be very effective on most sane people. She told me the Adele station was playing and asked if I liked it or would like her to change it- it was playing Pink or some other maniacal jarring pop song so I requested the “Meditation Station” to help me calm down. A circular contraption above my head moved a little closer to me and the colored lights came on- and I just about lost it. Truly, I was ready to run. I began stammering in an attempt to say “I think I changed my mind” but only muffled grunts noises came out. I fought back tears, felt my entire body tense and tried to decide quickly if I was sure I could go through with it. I suddenly remembered that they had already charged my credit card and figured I better get my shit under control.
I started some crazy combination of yoga/lamaze breathing with some insane blowing-through-the-straw exhales and focused on the lights above my head like a good girl. At some point during the start of my panic another assistant began petting my left shoulder and telling me how great I was doing. I heard the doctors voice at the top of my head and the first assistants voice off to my right. I had one self-conscious thought about how I was fiercly blowing stank Hershey’s with Almonds breath straight into a famous Doctor’s face and then pushed it out of my mind (Although I still feel pretty embarrassed about it!). The first assistant did some crazy 10-9-8 countdowns in a robot voice that made me feel with certainty that I wasn’t actually having LASIK but had instead admitted myself to an alien research facility and was going to be anally probed or lobotimized at any moment. Somehow I made it through- I focused on the light and my breath and not much else- I even realized afterward that I had no idea what song was playing, or if they had made the room blue for me. Most importantly though- I did NOT smell my eyeball burning!! Thank you, Yoga!
They shuffled me out of the surgery suite and I bumbled along into the lobby and waited for my AMAZING friend Cheyenne to pick me up (Thanks Cheyenne!!). As I sat down, an assistant came into the lobby and called my name. I stood and peered through my itchy eyes to find her and as she called it again and I said “Right Here!” just as another woman stepped forward and started walking back with the assistant. Another Trisha. Having LASIK. Today. Right NOW. My heart sunk as I became absolutely positive that somehow our prescriptions had been mixed up and I got the other Trisha’s laser eyes instead of mine. Seriously?! I can count on my fingers how many Trisha’s I have met- how in the world was there another one there at the same time as me??!
I was pretty impressed at my vision right after- blurry, but definitely better than my vision was without glasses, and my eyes didn’t feel too sore either. Scratchy and sensitive to light, but I could see my dog again! I started an audio book at home to prepare for the 4-6 hours that you must keep your eyes closed after surgery. It was SO boring and all I could think about were all of the things I could be doing other than laying down with my eyes closed. At some point, the pain did become pretty intense- I felt as if someone had rubbed my eyes out with sandpaper. They watered profusely and I was certain I had made an incredible mistake. The pain gradually faded into discomfort and after bribing Jordan to bring me a Hershey’s with Almonds bar (what? I had a taste for it!) I slept for the night.
I awoke in the morning with one eye bloody and the other eye blurry. Dammit! I got that other Trisha’s prescription for sure! I tried to keep myself from complete panic as I waited for the clinic to open, sure that I needed to get in ASAP- and freaking out because I also had to go to work and clearly couldn’t drive with a blurry eye! I tried squinting to see if I might be able to close one eye and drive with just the bloody eye open, but I was pretty sure that wasn’t gonna fly. I put my eye drops in and after a bit the blurriness cleared up. I had my followup and the Doctor reassured me that I was not turning into a zombie and that the bloody eye would go away. Although that does not explain my intense craving for brains, it was reassuring and has been pretty cool to take pictures of my creepy eye.
My vision has continued to get better over the last few days and it has been amazing to do things like read the shampoo bottle in the shower. I’ve also had “Aha” moments when lying in bed and thinking “Uggghhhh I have to get up and take my contacts out” and then realizing that Nope- I sure don’t! I am not sure if I could go through it again, but I am already seeing the perks of a life without glasses/contacts- I’ve emptied an entire drawer of vision stuff and I am really relieved to have one last worry on the trail. I haven’t figured out how to activate the laser beams that shoot out of my eyes yet, but I’m certain that its just a matter of time before I become a full blown X-Men.
The Lion’s Club collects donated eyeglasses to send to those in need of vision correction that cannot afford it- I’ll be taking mine to my next meeting and I’m happy to take any old ones you might have laying around. All joking aside, I know that I am truly fortunate and grateful to have this opportunity and you better believe that I’ll be paying it forward!
P.S. I listened to Old Adele while I wrote this. And I feel super calm.
Have you had LASIK? What was your experience like?