Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Valentine to Remember

"I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way..."

That's the song playing over and over in my head for the past month now. Why, you may ask. Because, after N years (where N is any one-digit number), I finally had something to look forward to this V-day of 2007. NO, I didn't have a date...unless you consider lying on the operating table with a doctor poking your eyeballs a date.Ü Yep, you read it right: for V-day 2007, para maiba naman, I asked my doctor to poke my eyeballs for 30 minutes. HAHA! Just joking. He just scraped it with a spatula (at least that's what I heard him saying to his assistant). The scraping is true though (the poking, a bit true).Ü Why-oh-why, do you ask? Well, because FINALLY, after 4 years of contemplating, I had my eyes lasered.

Believe it or not, most people ask me WHAT and WHY: WHAT is Laser Eye Surgery (or is it Eye Laser Surgery???Ü) and WHY did I have it done on both my eyes. So let me try to explain this to you the best that I can. Laser surgery for the eye is a process wherein the cornea is reshaped so that one's eye (or both eyes) can see clearer. At least that's how I understood it. Anyone with a better explanation, feel free to come forward and post a comment.Ü So...WHY did I have it done? Well, I've been thinking about this for years now (after having read Mark Nelson's article onLasik last November 2003) since I'm never really a fan of wearing my ever-dependable eyeglasses (as most of my friends would know). People would only see me wearing my glasses on these occasions: when driving; when watching TV, a show or a movie; when in a meeting; or when I have to look at something from afar. These are the only times you'd see me wearing my glasses. Of course my sunglasses are a different story (coz I LOVE wearing those!Ü). But it would be funny (and not to mention weird and impractical) if I wore my sunglasses all the time (even at night).

Let me just mention to you now that my plan is to actually have my eyes lasered this year...on the month of October, preferably on my birthday (which falls on a Friday this year Ü). But my schedule got messed up by one newspaper article which my dad saw last January. It's a promo offered by St. Luke's Vision Laser Center (VLC) for a 20% discount on Laser Eye Surgery to those who would be screened for the period of Jan.15 to 31. So we called and tried to schedule for an appointment only to find out that they're already jampacked! Good thing they extended the promo 'til Feb.16 for those who called during the month of January. So, to make the long story short, we got ourselves scheduled for screening last Feb.10, found out that both my mom and I are good candidates for laser surgery, and had ourselves scheduled for surgery on the only date left (for those who are trying to catch the promo): Feb.14.

The screening took almost 2 hours for both my mom and I (this includes the waiting time in between the tests) because there were a lot of other patients there (I guess they were all trying to catch the promo too Ü). And from what I remember, they did around 10 tests on both my eyes and I will try and enumerate all of these for you:
  1. The common eye test where there's a small house with a bit of red in it surrounded by a field full of green grass
  2. The red dot with yellow flashing circles test
  3. The common checking of the grade of the eye test where you read all these letters from afar wearing the funny glasses Ü. But this time they also checked the refraction (well, i'm not really sure kung refraction nga yun...Ü) of the eye by asking me to rotate the lens on the funny glasses and stop at the point where my vision is most clear.
  4. The triangle test where they doctor checks what your dominant eye is (mine's my left Ü)
  5. The spiderweb test which requires that all lights near the equipment be turned OFF
  6. The red dot with purple circles test, wherein your face is placed at an angle rather than straight ahead as with the other tests
  7. Then there's this other red dot test
  8. The tear see how much tears your eyes naturally produce
  9. The eye pressure test
  10. The eye refraction-pupil dilation test, which is quite nakakasilaw because the doctor tries to check your eyes using a flashlight (of course it's not your usual flashlight...I just don't know what to call it Ü)

As you can see, I'm very creative in naming all these tests for you guys (HAHA!). I didn't ask the person (who did all these tests on me) the exact names and purpose of all these tests lest she find me annoying so you'll just have to bear with what i've written above.Ü

Moving along...on the day my mom and I were screened, Doc Richie (our eye doctor) informed us that he can actually do either LASIK or LASEK surgery on our eyes. So, what's the difference, you may ask. Well, to give you a gist, with LASIK, the doctor cuts a flap then applies the laser on your eye, returns the flap, and you're good to go. This is actually the more popular choice. LASEK, on the other hand, does not involve any cutting but instead some scraping of the surface cells, moving to one side the thin film that results from the scraping, applying the laser, then returning the thin film around the eyeball and then placing a bandage contact lens to protect the eye. Wow! That was a mouthful. I'm sure i'm not the best person to explain all these Grey's Anatomy-like stuff to you so it would be better if you check out the VLC website of St. Luke's.

With our options laid out infront of us, I chose LASEK rather than LASIK basically because sigurista ako (with my mom though, the doctor recommended LASEK because her eyes do not produce enough tears as we found out in screening test #8).Ü With LASEK, since there's no flap that was cut, I can just go around doing my business like I never had laser surgery on my eyes. If I eventually wanted to get into any contact sport like Taekwondo and the likes, I wouldn't have to worry about my eye. The only catch is, my eyes would take longer to heal, as compared with LASIK where you can actually go back to work the day after your surgery. However, with LASIK, you would have to think twice if ever you want to get into any contact sports in the future...or if you get into a fight, then you'll just have to make sure that you'll be extra careful around the eye area. This is basically because there was a flap that was cut and kung minamalas ka talaga, at natamaan yung mata mo (even if it's years after the surgery) and the flap got opened,'ll have to go see your doctor ASAP. But the chance of this happening is very slim according to my doctor. The choice you make is basically dependent on your lifestyle. And eventhough I'm not really into any contact sport at the moment, I just chose the safer route (sigurista nga eh), just in case gusto ko makipag-jombagan with anyone in the future, at least I wouldn't have to worry about my eye.Ü

So, the day of the surgery came and I was both excited and nervous. Excited because FINALLY, I will have better vision, and nervous because of all these scary stuff my officemates (who previously had their eyes lasered) told me when I asked them what to expect during surgery (one even said, "Don't forget to breathe! Because I did!" HAHA!Ü).

Before the surgery, they put a lot of drops on both my eyes, mostly anesthesia, but i'm not sure if there are others that they put in. Then, they cleaned the eye area with a brown stuff that looked like Betadine (I'm not sure but baka Betadine nga yung nilagay nila), escorted me to the operating table, wrapped me in plastic (like a lumpia...I don't know why but i'm thankful that they did because the room was super cold) and asked me to relax, just focus on the red dot, and to just simply answer their questions with a YES, NO, or OK to avoid any unecessary head movements. Then the doctor put something like a plastic (with a hole in the middle) that adheres to the skin, around my eye, then put a lid retractor (at least that's what I heard Ü) to help keep my eye stay opened throughout the surgery. Then he started to poke my eye. He asked me if I felt it, and I said NO (Wow! The anesthesia worked! HAHA!). Then the doctor started doing what I assume are the preparatory steps prior to applying the laser. He placed some sort of washer on top of my eye, asked for a spatula, did some scraping, he kept on saying "Maganit." (HAHA! I'll explain more later...), and sprayed a lot of water on my eye (i'm not sure if there was a vacuum that sucks all the excess water as well...just like at the dentist!Ü). That's basically what I saw (from my point of view) and what was explained to me during the surgery (the doctor walks you throughout the entire procedure).

After all those, they applied the laser. They asked me to just focus on the red dot and avoid any movement of the eye (although their equipment tracks any eye movement during the application of the laser). During this time, I can smell something burning and I can hear the other doctor (I think he's the anesthesiologist) saying "50%"..."75%"...which, I guess, is the amount of laser application done on my eye (I am NOT sure of this). Anyway, after that, the doctor checked my eye once again, put the bandage contact lens, and said, "We're done."...with the left eye at least.Ü He then proceeded to prep my right eye and did the exact same routine (the other eye, the one NOT being prepped or lasered, is covered with a black, plastic eye patch with holes for the entire time).

When they were prepping my 2nd eye (the right one), my nervousness was all gone basically because I already knew what to expect. I was even thinking of things that I wanted (and can) do after the surgery (HAHA!). Contrary to what my officemates made me to believe, the surgery was not scary at all. You just really have to focus on the red dot...and that's super easy to do.Ü Anyway, after both my eyes were done, they escorted me back to the waiting area (I don't know what to call it Ü) and saw my mom getting prepped for her surgery. She immediately told me that she got to watch my eyes get poked, scraped, and lasered on the TV at the waiting area.Ü As it turns out, all surgeries done there are videotaped so when it was my mom's turn to have her surgery, I tried to watch as much as I can while constantly reminding myself to blink (since it's human nature to blink less when watching TV or anything similar...and remember that this was AFTER I had my laser surgery). I checked the time and noted that it only took 30 minutes for the doctor to finish the surgery for both my eyes. My mom's one eye was over in 10 minutes (she only had one eye done, as recommended by the doctor, so that one will be used for looking at far objects, the other, for reading).

After everything was done, I asked the doctor why he kept on saying maganit during my surgery. As it turns out, the surface cells of both my eyes were very much adherent to the eyeball such that rather than being able to preserve a thin film of the surface cells, he had to take everything off because he couldn't keep everything intact. This procedure is called PRK or Photo-Refractive Keratectomy which is actually the mother of LASEK. So, again, what's the difference? With LASEK, you get to preserve a thin film of the surface cells which you move to the side before applying the laser and return back on after. With PRK, you scrape everything off. That's basically the layman's way of explaining it.

Post-surgery, they gave us a kit containing the meds (mostly eyedrops) that we had to put on our eyes periodically (one had to be dropped every hour that we're awake). They explained to us the do's and don't's that we had to take note of after surgery, like DO put cold compress on our eyes to help lessen the discomfort (if there are any)...DON'T open your eyes when taking a bath (to avoid having water enter the eyes)...DO try to blink as much as you can...DON'T put make-up for several days after the surgery...etc, etc....Ü They provided us with detailed instructions printed on paper (click here) that lists down what i've mentioned above and a lot more.

After the surgery, I felt some discomfort in both my eyes that feels like there's a foreign object stuck in it. Also, both eyes were sensitive to light so it really was a MUST to wear the very dark sunglasses that was included in the kit (my mom and I fondly call it Luke-ley...a play on St. Luke's and the famous Oakley brand for sunglasses). We were instructed to go home and rest as much as we can, but seeing that there were errands that needed to be done on that day, we were stuck doing those errands with my dad (the designated driver since my mom and I both can't drive) driving from one place (Eng Bee Tin for buy tikoy) to another (my sister Bambi's drop off some of her stuff). We got home around 8pm and immediately rested with our ice packs on hand. I didn't watch TV (which is what I usually do) but listened instead to the CD propped on my player that night as the ice pack rested on both my newly-lasered eyes. My vision was still blurry at that time, but that was to be expected. I kept a vision diary and tried to document as much as possible what I felt on the days following the surgery. Here's a run-down of what i've written since Day One.Ü

Day 1: Vision is blurry, as to be expected. Eyes are sensitive to light...gotta wear those Luke-ley glasses while eating at Gloria Maris...I think the waiter thought my mom and I were both weirdos. HAHA! One of the eyedrop medicine stings! =( Ironically, it's a painkiller.

Day 2: Eyes still sensitive to light. Visited doc for the one day post-op checkup. Everything's OK according to him.Ü

Day 3: Super malabo both my eyes today especially when reading something's harder to see the PC monitor now as compared to yesterday (Oh yes! I logged on yesterday...but only for a short time.). According to doc, the blurry eyesight might be due to the surface cells healing & meeting up right smack at the center of my eye. Wow! What a nice place to meet up, huh?!Ü

Day 4: I can see and read better...even read the newspaper this morning.Ü

Day 5: Back to work today. Grabe, it's super hard to read anything on my monitor! But...I gotta I just did what I can with what I have.Ü Checkup with Doc Richie today (after office) to remove the bandage contact lens (YEY! It was getting a bit annoying already seeing as I have contact lens intolerance...i think.Ü). Eyesight still a bit blurry even after removing the lenses and according to Doc, this is due to the surface, although already covered up, is still healing & smoothening out. It usually takes around 1-3 weeks after surgery for eyesight to be OK...tagal pa! =(

Day 6: Vision same as yesterday but clears for a few seconds after putting Genteal eyedrops. Come afternoon, eyesight before surgery.Ü

Day 7: Eyesight is better...I no longer have to squint infront of the PC (which I've been doing since day 2)...but vision is still not clear as before PRK. Also, I think my bangs hit my right eye today (lagot!)...mas malabo tuloy tingin ko sa right eye as compared to the left. =( NOTE: I can easily read the plate number of the car directly infront of me (while driving)...2nd car infront - NOPE. Yipeee! I needed glasses to read those pre-surgery...

Day 8: Vision same as yesterday...still a bit blurry when looking at the PC.

Day 9: Had a briefing on RAPID Cargo System today and guess what? I can easily see and read the RAPID presentation even when I was seated at the back row!Ü

Day 10: Appointment with Doc Richie. Vision is 20/25 na raw...Ü Told Doc that eyesight is blurry when reading anything in my PC. According to him it's to be expected coz I can see far objects clearly now so when reading anything near, it won't be as sharp as it was before. Yikes! I didn't know that! =(

Day 11: Same vision as yesterday...nothing new to document today.

Day 12: Eyesight was quite uncomfy in the afternoon...a bit mahapdi en route home. I noticed my eyes were a bit dry at the office in the PM. Dunno if it's because of the aircon (it was super cold @ the office today). Blurry when looking at the PC...but there were moments it was clear.Ü

Days 13 to 18: Didn't write anything about my vision for these days...hehe...Ü

Day 19: Doc Richie said I can start putting on makeup now (HURRAY!Ü)...but stay away from eyeshadow.

Day 24: Appointment with Doc Richie today...according to him, I can put even eyeshadow makeup now! WEEEEE!Ü Just make sure that I don't sundot my eyes (As if i'll do that! Hehe!). Had the usual eye checkup and, lo and behold: my eyesight is now 20/20!!! here's the deal...i've nothing written for Day 25 onwards basically because since then, everything's been a-OK!Ü Remember what I said on Day 10? Well, everything's back to how it was before surgery...meaning, it's clear as well when I look at the PC and when looking at anything from afar! HURRAY!Ü That was P50,000 worth spent! HAHA!Ü No joke...Ü Now, I just feel like my eyes are a bit dry when at the office, something I've never noticed pre-surgery. I think it's because of the aircon since when i'm NOT at the office, I don't notice any dryness in my eyes. I've been meaning to ask Doc Richie about it (via text since our next appointment is scheduled the week after Holy Week), true Candy form...I haven't texted him as of writing this blog. Though I read in the Instructions provided that dryness is to be expected during the healing process. So now, i'm just wondering if i'm still in the healing phase? Oh well...I can always ask on our next appointment...or text him when I find the time.

WHEW! That was a lengthy one!Ü I hope you guys enjoyed reading this month's blog (though I posted it a bit late...sorry!). If you have any comments, questions, or violent reactions, just leave a message on the tag board or leave a comment as you please. Have a peaceful Holy Week everyone! I'll leave you with pictures of my mom and I, with Doc Richie, right after surgery. I'll ask Doc if I can have a copy of the video of our surgery to share with you guys as well (HAHA!). For now, I guess I'll just keep on singing I Can See Clearly Now over and over again!Ü 'Til next month's blog then.Ü Ciao!


Anonymous said...

I've been sitting here for almost an hour but words still don't come out. And If I spent another 15 hours, it would be just the same, for no words can describe her in a way she deserves :) She's more than special, she's magic!
Whatta great experience to have those eyes lasered!
..hope to also have that too someday..
Good day!
Happy Easter Sunday!

Anonymous said...

Hi Candy,

Happy Easter Sunday! Your blog is very interesting and also a good future reference future.

He he pansin ko lang isa lang ang posing sa picture ng eye doctor mo, praktisado ha ha ü

Take Care and enjoy your weekend!


Candy said...

Hi Louie and Jacky! Thanks for visiting my site! Hope you both found something useful here.Ü

Happy Easter!Ü

Anonymous said...

Hi, Candy,

I, too, wanted to have Laser Surgery, even before the technology arrived in the Philippines. Sabi ko, I'll just wait for the time I get old, when the eyes would reverse it's "curvature", and would become far-sighted. I hoped that the time will come when my being far-sightedness (because of old age) will cancel out my near-sightedness. That way, I'll have a 20-20 vision, without spending ü.

Kaso, now, I'm too near-sighted to see anything far, and too far-sighted to see anything near. Hindi sila nagkita. =(

'Though your article may be long, it is not boring. More power to you!!!


Candy said...

Sir Baltyyyyy!Ü

It's nice to know that at least someONE read that super long blog! (Tama kayo...dapat nag-Part 1 and Part 2 nlang ako...hihihi!)

So sad that your eyesight did not meet halfway...hehehe! It's not too late though...I can recommend you to my doctor...may promo ngayon ang St. Luke' Oakley sunglasses when you have your eyes lasered there. HAHAHA! True yan sir! Promise!

Candy Ü

jaybeecc said...

hi candy
thanks for your post
i had my checkups early this year but i have to wait and see if my eye grade doesn't fluctuate too much before i can get laser surgery done

it is worth it finally having better vision. i hope the prices go down :)

thanks, again, it was a nice read.

Candy said...

Hi jaybeecc!

Thanks for visiting!

Having laser surgery done on both my eyes was definitelly worthit! Hope you'll have yours done soon...Ü If you want, I can recommend you to my doctor, Doc Richie.Ü Just let me know thru here or email me atÜ

Doc Richie,

If you're reading this, you have a potential patient here...hehe!Ü


Candy said...

WOW! Time really does fly pretty fast! Can you believe it? It's been a year since mom and I's laser surgery! YIPPEEE!!! And i'm very much happy to say that I have no regrets whatsoever about it! It was definitely worth the many years of wait! HAHAHA! Thanks again Doc Richie!Ü You're the best (HAHA! Of course i'm biased here, but what the heck!)! Ü