If you’re asking yourself if you should have corrective laser eye surgery, my answer is yes, yes, a million times yes. I was once so blind that the big “E” on the eye chart just did not exist for me; it was basically one big white blurry poster board. Now I just wake up and I can see the alarm clock! I can see the hair on my legs in the shower when I shave! (It’s a bitch when you have to shave your legs by “feel”. I missed a lot of spots that way.) My only regret was that I didn’t get the surgery ten years ago.
So now that you know it’s worth it, your next decision is where to go for your surgery. Now I know this is very confusing; you’ll hear a variety of different prices quoted, even though they are all using the same technology. And let’s assume that the doctors are all equally qualified and that you’re somewhat reasonable. In other words, you’re not going to go to Tijuana and choose Dr. Nick from The Simpsons just to save a few hundred bucks.
When I got my eyes done, I got a pretty good deal. There were other places that were more expensive, but I’m pretty sure the end result would have been the same. But from one I can deduce, there is one big difference you should consider.
It’s the drugs.
Okay, and maybe the ambience, too.
But mostly the drugs.
I know this because I did a simple compare and contrast of my own experience with my friend who had the same surgery. Her surgery experience pretty much went like this:
“It was so easy. I arrived early and sat in this cushy lounge area with nice calming music and chamomile tea. They gave me some calming drugs like a good 30 minutes beforehand, so by the time I got into the operating room I was all relaxed. The surgery was done in maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and by the time I got home my drugs had really kicked in, so I just went to sleep. When I woke up I had 20/20 vision!”
My friend probably paid a good $1000 more than I did. Here was my experience:
I arrived about an hour early and was ushered into an examining room for another last-minute look at my eyes. Up until this point I had never actually met the doctor who was doing my surgery, so right before my surgery he comes into the room. He tells me he is “Dr. C” and then starts looking at my chart.
“You know that you’ll likely need reading glasses in the fourth decade?”
“Uh…sure,” I say, somewhat confused. Fourth decade? Who talks like this? And why wasn’t he making idle chitchat with me or exchanging pleasantries? I was beginning to realize that I had chosen a laser eye surgery factory, as opposed to a swanky “center” or its illustrious brother, the “institute”. I was just another patient on the assembly line; thousands of bucks made within ten minutes.
“Yes,” I agree again. “I will be turning two score in about a year, my good man.”
I don’t think Dr. C. was amused.
I was then handed a small valium about thirty seconds before being escorted into the operating room. At least I was told it was valium. It could have been some placebo or St. Joseph aspirin. How else could they afford to charge me only $1300 per eye? They had to cut corners somewhere. Whatever it was, it wasn’t going to work fast enough; I was about to have thin membranes peeled back from my eyes, for God’s sake, and you choose to give me the drugs now?
When I got into the operating room I was handed a little stuffed animal to hold, which was a nice touch. (I bet that the stuffed animal at my friend’s place was brand new and cootie-free, and she probably got to take it home). But nonetheless I clung to the ratty stuffed animal that thousands of nearsighted people before me had probably held.
Okay so honestly the surgery itself was quick and painless. They put so many numbing drops in your eyes that you really can’t feel a thing, and even though your eyes are clamped open, you don’t feel any urge to blink. Trust me on this; even without the good drugs, ultra lounge, and soothing sounds of Enya, I was okay.
Immediately after the surgery I could almost read the entire eye chart – hey, that thing has actual letters on it! Who knew? I was told that within a few days I would be able to read the entire chart.
I then put on some huge goggles and sunglasses, and I my husband carefully led me to the car. I called my mom, all giddy with joy, much like Adam Kendall after he had that experimental surgery on his blindness. (Adam Kendall? Mary Ingalls’ husband? Anyone?)
Within about 10 minutes my joy quickly faded. The numbing drops were wearing off, and suddenly it felt like all of my eyelashes were sticking straight into my eyes. By the time I got home it was even worse. What was going on here? I thought that I was supposed to fall asleep and avoid all this unpleasantness. How in tarnation would I be able to fall asleep when my eyeballs were basically on fire with pain?
Lucky for me, I happened to have some other drugs at my disposal, namely some that I knew would make me sleepy (thank you, anxiety disorder!) I popped one of those babies and waited in agony for the sleepiness to overtake me. Thankfully, it did.
I am happy to report that I do have 20/20 vision; and despite being in my fourth decade, I am not wearing reading glasses – yet.