As some of you may already know (since I have moaned about it left, right and center) in April I finally went through with my laser eye treatment. Oh my, what an experience it was. One I can not just keep to myself.
I still remember the day I was to pick up my first pair of glasses. I was so excited. A bit like a small kid going to school for the first time. And like a small kid I soon realized that everything I was so keen about, well, wasn’t quite as peachy as people were making it seem.
I cannot even grasp what it was that I adored about the idea of wearing glasses. Maybe the fact they looked cute? Mind you, it was around the time that I also picked a school because they enforced wearing ties in their uniform… Fashion sense was not exactly my BFF back then. I’d wear my standard polo and blazer, and tie, and then my bright red Converses. Unfortunately, that is not a joke.
Not that glasses cannot be cute. They very much can. There are people who look great in a pair, and, well, perhaps I am just not one of them. Besides there are many many reasons one should wear glasses – and looking good is not one of them. Did I need a pair? Possibly. Did I need them that early, when my eyesight was only around -0.25? Possibly not, although who am I to judge, without any degree in medicine or the equivalent.
After the novelty wore off, before I realized what I truly signed myself up for, I was stuck. Literally stuck, as the thought of using contact lenses remains my worst nightmare to this day. I am extremely protective of my eyes. Like super duper protective. Putting stuff in them? Isn’t going to happen.
And that is how my journey to the glasses-free me of today started.
I think the first time I mentioned getting laser eye treatment I was around 16 years old.
I was still a teenager with a terrible sense of fashion, mind you, I changed school so there were no ties involved, but I moved on to wearing bright red Converses with green and violet dresses.
(if something wasn’t neon, it stood no chance of ending up in my closet)
This was more or less the time when I was hundred percent sure that I did not, in fact, like wearing glasses. And not just because they looked awful on me (finding ones that suited me even a little bit was still years ahead at that point), no, they were just getting in the way in all possible manners and since my ‘omg do not touch my eyes’ obsession wasn’t going anywhere, just getting stronger each year, every Phys Ed class was a struggle not to panic that a ball would hit me in the face and blind me forever.
I never claimed to be a rational being.
As far as I know, no one shoots lasers into the eyes of minors though, especially minors without the appropriate funds to their name, so the idea was always, well, hypothetical. And even when I ceased to be a minor, I was still a woman (there is an urban myth that women before pregnancy have it harder to get the surgery… which is half true, as pregnancy can ruin a perfectly good result and in general it is probably better to wait – no one has insisted on childless me not to do it though, I had to just sign a little piece of paper saying I knew about the possibility) and my eyesight was nowhere near stable enough. I had to wait.
The fact I finally got around to getting the laser eye treatment I was dreaming about for almost a decade came out of a… happy accident, I want to say, though the mental work behind it spanned far too long to justify the use of this phrase. I was talking to my dad about a gift for my 25th birthday, being all important and such, and I casually mentioned he could fund my new eyes. He offered half, which I accepted, completely ignoring the fact I could not really afford the other half and joking that I may just wear a monocle then.
And before I knew it, I had an appointment in a plastic surgery clinic to assess my eyes.
No kidding, if you need something sorted out, my dad is your man.
So what, was it all a whim? you may ask. And I do not blame you. For anyone not living in my head or listening to all the blabber I throw out of my mouth minute by minute, I really need to learn to talk less, this might have seemed a bit haphazard. Well, it was in terms of actual logistics. I went from the idea sometime in September, just before my birthday, to a consultation in December and surgery in April. That may sound like a long time, but oh my, it really wasn’t.
But the reasons why have build up over such a long time, it really really couldn’t be another way.
The main one is rather… silly, but I feel like it needs to be disclosed. After all if you are considering laser eye treatment, you may need to know some people do it for sillier reasons than yourself and it may give you some sort of comfort… right?
Laying down on your side with glasses on is virtually impossible and I am, I was short-sighted.
So silly. I know. But I do have an excuse, a faint one, true, yet very much real. Suffering from a chronic, autoimmune condition leaves me perpetually ill over long periods of time. I mean maybe not bed but definitely sofa-ridden ill. There are only that many books you can get through with a fever. Sleep is nice but sometimes you just cannot sleep. Watching stuff on a screen is often the last valid option and oh my, isn’t not being able to lay down just really, really annoying?
Not life threatening. Not inconvenient. Not stopping me from achieving my dreams. Just annoying. There is a reason why laser eye treatment can be considered plastic surgery; it doesn’t save lives as such, well, sometimes it does but that is rare. It just stops the annoyances.
Here, I said it. Judge all you want. But together with all the times I broke my glasses and ended up ‘blind’, or in general ended up ‘blind’ because I misplaced them, having to buy fancy and super expensive sunglasses to even see outside in the summer, struggling with swimming, 3D cinemas and lots of ‘normal’ activities that do not agree with a piece of glass and metal on your face… Laser eye treatment seemed like the best idea ever.
You wouldn’t believe how chilled I was about it till maybe a month before.
And I would have stayed this way if not for my mum. Blame my mum. She can push anyone into a state of panic in two seconds flat.
When the consultation time came, I was as chilled as one can be. I went to see my doctor with my dad – I made a decision to undergo my treatment in Poland and not in the UK, because of my extreme (very much justified though) prejudice towards the British healthcare system – but I would be fine going alone, really. Truth is, I didn’t know how I would take it. Laser eye treatment was such an abstract concept for me, something I dreamed about but never thought of as real, that when it finally came true, I had no clue what to think about it.
What reassured me was the waiting room full of people – welcome to Poland and queues, haha – out of which I was the only one actually wearing glasses. Now that is not something you can witness in your regular opticians. I think part of my brain thought it was all just a big scam, no way all of these people could see although a few weeks earlier they struggled with it. That is not how the world works!
There is something funny about these sort of check-ups that I feel I should warn you about. As soon as I was sitting on my comfy chair in the doctor’s office, filling up my medical history chart, the need to WIN started flowing through my veins. I am not kidding you. What possessed me was this sudden need to just pass this ‘test’, to get to my final destination at all costs.
Have you ever wondered why people would sleep outside of a shop to get a new iPhone? Or how come otherwise very well behaved people would beat each other up over a particular parking lot? That is the same feeling. The need to WIN. There is something deemed exclusive or lucrative enough and us, humans, I am very much not an exception, just have to put our eager paws on it.
I resisted, as I am a smart enough cookie to know no matter how badly I wanted this laser eye treatment, risking my eyes wasn’t worth it. Lying on your medical history questionnaire is amongst one of the dumbest things one can do, especially if one’s delicate organs are concerned. But I must admit, the urge to downplay all the things that could disqualify me was really really bad. I’m not proud of myself. Being a faulty human sucks sometimes, no?
I passed my questionnaire.
I passed the machine run tests and I passed the examination by my doctor. There was an awful lot of talk about my medical history and about the state of my eyes. It was all fine. Kind of. Then I was not aware of how many legal disclaimers I would have to sign. Partially it was my fault – I had too few question. I was unprepared. I was winging it. Can you even imagine being reckless enough to just wing it when it comes to your eyes?
I still remember the sudden cramping feeling in my stomach when the doctor said my cornea is very thin. Back then it sounded like a death sentence. What does he mean? Can I not get treatment? How do I make my cornea fatter? Can I pump it up with chickpea proteins? Are there antibiotics for thin corneas? Does it make me a freak? Will there be a support group? I was in a state of panic, my first panic about any of it. There was no way to cheat myself up some extra cornea, you know, I was stuck with what I had and it was way way way too late to hack into their fancy scanners and fake the results.
Turns out my cornea is very thin. Which may mean a great many things, like not being able to go through the fancy laser eye surgery ever again – no guarantee it has grown back to its full, already meagre, width. Or that making things painless and twenty first century may mean severe complications as the laser just doesn’t have enough, from the lack of better ways to put it, padding.
But I am a survivor, dammit. I persevere. No thin cornea will stop me from my dreams. Why can we not do things the painful way instead, right?
The doctor asked me twice, not once, twice, if I am aware that the method I was going for, although significantly safer for me, was very very painful. But I was winging it. I was ready for any pain, who cares, just give me my eyes already. I was ready to shake on it then and there but was still asked to give it a few days to think on it.
I waited a week and scheduled myself laser eye treatment for April.
The glasses featured in this post are not mine! I left my old glasses somewhere just after the surgery and still have no clue where they are. Turns out having good eyes does not improve one’s capability not to be silly…
If you enjoyed this part of my story, make sure to tune in to part 2 in two weeks! Or my laser-unrelated post next week, it is all up to you.