Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Lasik - Final Report?

I sincerely hope that these Lasik reports are helping somebody. I know that I would have liked to have had more info on the procedure and the aftermath than what was at my disposal. I didn't pour over the internet looking for such because, frankly, I didn't want to let negative reports scare me from doing this. Not exactly a balanced approach.

Things are going great. Nine days into this, I'm still getting improvement every day. My closeup vision is just fine now...and this is where I see the gain each day. Distance vision continues to be excellent. One thing I plan to ask about during my next post-op appointment (tomorrow) is whether the halo effect that night lights have will go away. If it doesn't, this will be the only negative I have from doing this. I kinda think the halos will go away in time.

For those of you considering this procedure and living in the Metroplex, I would shop around. I totally trust Dr. Boothe's expertise. I totally abhor his operation. Surely, the Key-Whitman clinic, Dr. Carter, or Dr. Tyloch can get the same results but in a civilized environment. Boothe's office is out of control, and that's putting it mildly.

In other news, I've painted our utility room over the past two days. Painted it barn red. I am so sore from painting the ceiling, squeezing behind the washing machine and dryer, and squatting to paint the baseboards...right now, clipping my nails would be a major challenge.

I am so glad I don't paint for a living...or hang wallpaper.

Postscript: Just returned from another post-op. Vision is 20/20 in both eyes. I asked about the halo effect. They said that this is being created by both eyes currently, but that my distance vision eye would gradually eliminate it. The near-vision eye won't. So, the halo stuff will improve but not go away. I can live with it.

I am very relieved to have this work out so well. It is a remarkable feeling to have something fixed that had bothered me for 57 years.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Lasik - Nearly 6 Days Into It

So far, so good...I think. Never having done this before, I'm plowing new ground. Distance vision remains great. Night vision is a little tough...all lights have the starburst effect. I'm gonna assume that will improve as the corneas continue to heal. Upclose vision seems to get slightly better each day. Letters tend to have a shadow effect - so I can read small print, but it isn't as sharp as it could be. Again, I'm gonna make the assumption that it will improve.

The docs and the techs keep saying my vision will fluctuate for two months. I'd rather not have to have an "enhancement" surgery to fine tune the vision, but I'd do it if necessary.

The eyes no longer have any rough feeling. My routine of 3 kinds of prescription eyedrops every three hours will end after the first week and I will have just one different prescription eyedrop to use for the subsequent four weeks. I'm supposed to be putting re-wetting drops in every 15 minutes and I've been trying to remember to do this. Sometimes I sense that I would see a little better if my eyes weren't constantly swimming in stuff they want me to put in.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Lasik - Day 3

Checking in on the 3rd day after Lasik. Continued progress. Distance and mid-range vision - tack sharp. Close-up vision continues to improve to the point that I haven't used reading glasses much today. If improvement on close=up vision stopped right here, I'd be disappointed, but there's no sign that the improvement trend has stopped.

My eyes have been sore the last two days even with all the drops I'm using. BTW, 3 of the medicines are from the pharmacy and come with little bitty droppers...and cost $65 total. And I have to refill them tomorrow. The soreness gets a little worse late in the day, but it's not really a problem. I know the corneas are still swollen and that's what hurts. Hey, it hurts to look in the mirror at my eyes. A lot of red around the irises.

I do have to wear plastic covers over my eyes at bedtime. No big deal. Just tape them over the eyes. After Sunday night, I won't have to do that anymore. One of my big fears is that I'll forget what happened Monday morning and start rubbing my eyes. That would be a serious no-no, akin to riding a pogo stick after reconstructive knee surgery.

So, all in all, I think I'm pleased. I have another post-op appointment tomorrow at 4:30. I plan to spend the day at the airport doing what I love until time to head to Dr. Boothe's.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Post-Op #1

I've just returned from my first post-op appointment. Here is where we stand: Distance vision is good; I had no problems driving home. Closeup vision still not so hot...I'm using reading glasses at the moment in order to get this typed. However, I'm less concerned than I was about this. They said my left eye (close-up) was pretty beat up and that I would see improvement as the cornea swelling went down. Also, it is rather common to do "touch-ups" in lasik, where they get a second chance to fix the problem. Someone in the waiting room mentioned to Carole that his brother went from 20/400 to 20/45 in the first procedure and then to 20/15 after the touchup.

My eyes are difficult to look at...lots of red where there should be white. They are sore today, noticeable when I blink, but not a big deal. I have to do the series of drops every 3 hours now instead of every 10 minutes (whew!). I have to wear plastic shields over my eyes whenever I sleep until a week has passed. I also have to wear swimmers' goggles when outside to shield my eyes from wind.

So I'd say I'm probably where I'm supposed to be, barely 24 hours after the procedure. Just a bit impatient to get the final product. I guess I'd heard too many stories about folks who got instant results...walking outdoors and immediately reading license plates a mile away.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Early Returns are In

Well, my body survived the Lasik procedure and now it's time toss out my first grade on the eyes. My distance vision is great. My upclose vision has room for improvement. I'm currently typing this with the help of Carole's reading glasses. But it is WAY too early to be making judgments. The first few hours indicate very little. I return early tomorrow morning for my first post-op appointment, and at that time a soft contact lens which was inserted today will be removed.

The procedure is nothing to fear, I found out. After they called me back, my eyes were deadened with a series of drops. Then a doctor proceded to draw on my eyeballs (yes, he did) with two sets of felt-tip pens. After many minutes of waiting, I made it to "The Room" where the action was. The first step was to slice open the flap which would expose the cornea. My eyes were bathed in some sort of solution and a soft vinyl suction device place over the orbit opening. I was directed to look at a light. Painlessly and imperceptibly, the flap was created. I knew what they were doing - otherwise I would have had no idea they were doing anything.

My eyes were bandaged and I was led like a blind man to a waiting area. I sat there wondering about the life of the blind...about how confused and frustrated I felt in a world of darkness. Eventually, I was called back into the room, a room by the way that is kept around 60 degrees. Well, I waited in the room a long time for part two. Machines were whirring and I could hear the sharp reports of lasers being fired off. I could also hear Dr. Boothe mumbling to his aides.

Finally, they called my name and I was lead to the machine again. They verified who I was and a couple of other facts. My eyes were again bathed in solution and again I looked toward a light. The laser fired off a few times for each eye and there was the faint odor of something burning. Again, I felt nothing and had little to do except keep my eye on the light. And that was easy.

So, as it stands now, I'm semi-pleased. I won't be happy until both distance and upclose vision are there and that could be as early as tomorrow. But at least I lived through the process itself and discovered it is nothing to fear.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Drop Everything

As part of my pre-op for this lasik business, I've started today with a schedule of putting in various kinds of eye-drops. There are 3 separate medicines, two administered every two hours, the other every four hours.

Post-op, the real fun begins with more of the above plus eye moistening drops that will have to be administered every ten minutes. That's every TEN minutes. That continues at least for 24 hours; further instructions will be given after my first post-op visit the day after surgery. In case you're wondering, I don't have to stay up all night. Drops aren't necessary if you're sleeping.

This better work.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Eye Yi Yi

As mentioned in yesterday's blog, I went for consultation to the offices of William "John Wilkes" Boothe, he of Boothe Eye Care and Laser Center. I had heard only two words to describe the process used by Dr. Boothe to prepare patients for LASIK surgery..."assembly line". As the queen of Sheba noted, "the half has not been told."

I should have known something was up when we arrived. I was expecting a medical building with perhaps two or three floors devoted to his practice. Instead, we found him to be in a strip shopping area with no parking spaces available. The reason none were available was because there must have been 50+ patients inside.

The waiting room reminded me of when I kick the top off a fire ant mound. Patients and technicians are everywhere, scrambling through doors, fighting for empty seats. We arrived at 3 PM sharp. They called my name at 3:40. For the next four hours, I was paraded from one cramped room to another, getting eyes measured and payment worked out. Often I would be escorted to a tiny room for still another measurement only to find three other techs in the same room conducting tests on other patients. I literally had to step over the legs of these patients to get to the stool where I would sit for my exam.

But most of the time was spent waiting. They would do a test and send me back to the waiting room (nee, anthill) for 25 minutes of claustrophobic amusement. In this room, I had expected to find, shall we say, "upscale" patients. Uh, just the opposite. At the risk of sounding elitist, let me just say that Boothe's patients were 50% Mexican, 25% Black, and 25% Anglo. There were two things that kept me from leaving the joint and dropping the whole idea: (1) the multitude of endorsements from famous people that line the walls of the waiting room...famous athletes, famous radio personalities, famous actresses. I figure if they were unhappy with their results, they wouldn't be allowing John Wilkes to display their glowing letters of praise. (2) I want the end result...clear vision without glasses or contacts. I made up my mind to tolerate this madhouse because the finished product was gonna be worth it.

Finally saw the man himself around 7:00. In all my years, I have never heard any human speak in such a monotone. It was as though he were an actor trying for a part that represented a dull, simple man who couldn't put inflection in his speech pattern. I thought for a second he must be putting us on, that any moment he would exclaim, "Just kidding!" in a jovial voice. He never raised his voice level until he started flirting with Carole, who was sitting attractively in the corner. He noticed she was toting around the South Beach Diet book and this led them to five minutes or so of diet talk. I wouldn't call his conversation animated, but it at least proved to me that he wasn't a robot.

He does his first LASIK procedure starting at six in the morning. He goes until nine at night. Six days a week. Many of the technicians there match his hours. I asked one guy why he did it. He said he got paid by the hour so the money was great.

I have to be there at 5:30 next Monday morning. The surgery is slated for 6:30. Please say a prayer for me. And him. I've got tickets to a show at Ford's Theatre that night and I don't want to miss it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Eyes Have It

This afternoon, I will have my eyes examined in preparation for a LASIK procedure. I'm wondering if there is anyone who hasn't had a little trepidation about this little surgery. I woke up with a start at 4 this morning - wide awake because I know what coming...someone is going to take a machete to my vision machines.

I've heard all the stories from folks who've had it. No pain, no problems, wake up the next day able to see a flea on the neighbor's poodle. But still, think about it. You only get two of these brilliant devices in your life. And I'm about to let a guy cut on them with a serrated butcher knife. What if he sneezes mid-cut? What if Plano is rocked with an 11.7 Richter scale earthquake just as he's pushing this samurai sword into my cornea? What if I sneeze?

I'll report back after this afternoon's examination (3 hours...15 minutes to measure your eye, 2 hrs. 45 minutes to explain finance options). I'm planning on having this orbital amputation done next Monday morning.

See ya, I hope.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Free Day!

Well, I had laid the laptop next to my bed last night with the browser showing a list of school closings. That way all I had to do was hit "Refresh" and I could quickly find out if DISD was indeed closed.

I checked it at some point during the night - I think it was 3 AM. No word at that point on Dallas ISD. Woke up at 5 and there it was...even thought it said only that were closed, it fairly shouted, "FREE DAY!" I rolled back over and fell asleep again with a grin on my face.

It's cool because it's so rare. A day without responsibilities - all due to an act of God. A gift-wrapped excuse to relax. I quickly launched into a Saturday mode, where I tend to do nothing before noon. We did get something accomplished: the Christmas tree got put up. Nothing convinces you more than this act that the holidays are coming.

Unfortunately, Carole spent too much time bending at the waist and her lower back is strained.

Also, the garage door wouldn't go down today, but a $69 service call fixed that.

All in all, a wonderful day. Tomorrow, it's back to reality - followed by another free day. Tee-hee!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Head or Heart?

We've got a winter storm warning going in the Metroplex. Such an announcement creates mass panic in our area, something Northerners look at side-splitting laughter. A few flurries is all it takes to make folks here head to the store for a month's worth of groceries...or to put chains on their tires. Local TV stations are positively drooling in anticipation of the city shutting down completely. Based upon years of watching situations like this, the generalization I can make is this: the more certain they are of the storm, the less likely it will produce a winter wonderland. And the converse is also true.

Being a teacher, I am faced with a dilemma when forecasts like this are issued. My heart gets excited at the prospect of getting a couple of days with school called off. My head responds with the cold, mathematical deduction that you shouldn't wish for snow just have to make them up in the spring when the weather will no doubt be beautiful.

Try as I might, I can't keep my heart in check. If the weather service says it might happen, I immediately start revelling in the idea of sleeping in, cuddling, and spending a Thursday doing things that don't even remotely resemble my normal routine. All of this while realizing those days will return to haunt me when the weather is wonderful.

So, let it sleet, let it sleet, let it sleet.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

In Search of Picture-Perfect

The above picture was taken by my good buddy Ryan Umphrey. Ryan is the maestro of photography at DFW Airport. The rest of us just beg for the crumbs from his table. This isn't one of his most breath-taking shots, just a normal excellent example of superior work.

There are two things that keep me heading back out to airports. First, I enjoy it immensely. I can spend time alone with just my gear to keep me company, and I find myself not thinking about work or any other cares...just about how much I love doing this. Pretty cool, eh?

But the other reason is the constant pursuit of perfection. I've taken 3 or 4 photographs out of tens of thousands that I'm happy with. Ironically, two of them were of Air Force One when G.W. dropped in on Love Field. Nice time to be perfect. I could probably increase my chances of nailing "the shot" by upgrading my camera, but that'll wait for another year, or decade. Instead, I endlessly experiment with settings, sunlight, angles, and subject matter.

Someday, maybe I can sit at the table with Ryan.