Friday, January 28, 2011

Part 4: Recovery

We are now on Day 5 post-op from PRK/Lasik.

OK, so the folks at the Center for LASIK did not lie. Day 3 was the worst. Not for vision but for comfort. That was Wednesday. On and off all day, I experienced discomfort that ranged from mild to moderate in the morning and early day to uncomfortable in the evening to 'OK, I really hate this, give me a painkiller now' at night. I describe the pain in a couple of ways: 1) Like the stinging that accompanies cutting a fresh onion and 2) Like the burning that comes with holding a staring contest and refusing to blink. Overall, Day 3 was not nearly was bad as I thought it might be. Yes, it was uncomfortable, but most of the day was a 2-3 on a scale of 0-5, 5 being the worst. I took a painkiller and a sleeping pill on the night of Day 3. Day 4 was a new day.
Day 4 was notable for its absence of pain. I felt like everything about my health was normal except for the fact that my detail and long distance vision were mediocre. Toward the end of the day, I got that feeling I used to feel when I wore contacts, that end-of-the-day dryness. But using the fake tears helped that.
I was able to go to dinner at my boyfriend's grandparents on the night of Day 4. My boyfriend remarked that I was a different person (and I felt like it, too) compared to Day 3.
Now it's Day 5. I had my check-up with the doctor, and things are healing. Dr. Gailitis removed the 'bandage' contact lenses, which have been protecting me from debris and excruciating pain. My eyes individually measure 20/40, which is legal for driving. I did a test run driving my mom's car, and it went well. I can't read street signs, but I know where I need to go, anyway. I felt OK driving. Again, there is no pain today. But since the bandage lenses have been out, I feel the presence of foreign bodies but they are not overwhelming forces. :)
I plan to return to work tomorrow to see how things go.
My mom left today, so I'll be fending a bit more for myself. She has been invaluable, and I am so grateful so was able to be here for me. Plus, the office staff — Amy, Jeanie and Dr. Young — have been so kind and patient! Many thanks.

A note on meds, just to keep you up on details:
* 5 days before surgery, I started a regimen of 1000 MG of Vitamin C per day. This will last a total of 2 weeks.
* 3 days before surgery, I started a regimen of 1200 MG of ibuprofren. This started the Friday before the Monday surgery and ended on Wednesday,
* 1 day before surgery, I began 3 different drops 4 times a day (antibiotics and NSIDs of some sort). This continued till morning of Day 5, when drops dropped (tee hee) to 2 different kinds per day instead of 3 kinds.
* Post-op, I am taking Refresh preservative drops several times a day.
All meds cost me about $177 (not using insurance).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Part 2: The Surgery

Soon after arriving for my scheduled appointment on Jan. 24, Amy, the office manager sweetly asked if I would like a valium. "Yes, please," was my reply. I had begun to feel nervous — the palms of my hands were a little sweaty. My mom came with me to speak to the optometrist, Dr. Mary Beth Young (who is completely awesome), where she explained to me what would happen once I went into "the room."
Here's what happened:
First, I put on a little blue cap and little blue footies over my shoes. Then two nurses walked me into the surgery room, a large room with more nurses and a large machine in the middle of it. Two of the walls were large windows, for observers to watch the proceedings. My mom decided not to watch. I lay down on the low metal table and made sure my head was snug in the headrest. I was happy to have my sweater and wished I had a blanket on my legs.
The surgeon (Dr. Ray Gailitis, he of the steady hand) told me he would do one eye first, then the other. He covered my left eye with a black patch — "like a pirate," he joked — and then asked me to look up. When my eyelids were open like this, he used tape to hold the top lid high and the bottom lid low. Then he placed an oval piece of plastic to keep my eye open wide. I think they did something like this to Mel Gibson in 'Conspiracy Theory.'
Next came the eyedrops. That sounds like an innocuous sentence, I know. But when you can't blink and there are 10 drops shooting into your eye all at once, you kinda wish you were anywhere else but on that table. Finally, the drops were over. They were 'numbing drops.' Finally, the doctor used what appeared to be a kind of broom for the eye to sweep away the extra drops. They also ran down the sides of my face. Fortunately, the nurse had already put little cotton pieces under my blue cap to catch the drippings.
Next came another set of drops. Icky. Then, the doctor said he was going to give me some 2 percent alcohol drops. First, he placed a small cylinder onto my eye so that I really had tunnel vision. I felt like I was watching what was happening through a TV camera. I saw the alcohol drops fall onto my lid. The little green light above my head, at first just a green blur, turned into a solid green circle, like what you would see under a microscope. I watched the drops swirl within this green circle. I heard a countdown: 45 seconds to go ... 30 seconds ... 15 seconds. Then the doctor removed the tunnel-inducing cylinder and 'swept' the drops away.
Next came the hard part. This is what makes this type of Lasik different than most. The doctor had to scrape away parts of my eyeball. Don't ask me what it was called, because I asked the doctor not to tell me. All I know is that because my cornea is a little thin and oddly shaped, I had to get this sort of PRK Lasik. With a steady hand, the doctor used what looked from my vantage point to be a small black tool to scrape away the ... whatever it's called. Did it hurt? No. Did the idea of it hurt? Yes. My heart was thumping, and I was squeezing the nurse's hand. I concentrated on my breathing, filling my lungs, calming myself down.
Finally, the scrapey part was over and it was time for the Laser. "Just look at the green light," the doctor advised, "and keep as still as you can." I did. I gazed at the light while I smelled a nasty smell, which Dr. Young had told me earlier would NOT be my eye burning. "We're about halfway through," said the doctor. Then it was over. He told me I did great job, and asked me to look up so he could remove the tape from my lids. That felt like getting an eyebrow wax, but the good news was, as I said to the surgery crew, "I could see!"
The doctor repeated on my left eye what he did on my right. I sat up slowly off the metal table. The doctor asked me if I could read the clock. I said, as I looked out the window wall, "I can see my mom eating a cookie!" And I could also read the time: "It's 10 after two," I said. Next came a quick photograph of me, the surgeon and one of the nurses. The surgery was over.
Next: Part 3: I survived PRK and all I got was this stupid eye gear!

Part 1: Deciding to get Lasik

Twenty-six years of eyeglasses and contact lenses, countless bottles of Saline solution, many, many frames and $2,127 ($177 of it of RX not using insurance) later, I finally have vision without the help of contacts or glasses. I am — so far — a successful case of Laser surgery known as PRK. I like to describe it as the "scrapey, not the flappy" kind of Laser correction.

Back in March, I had gone for my regular eye ckeck-up. While I was at the optometrist’s office, I decided to get a preliminary Lasik consultation ... just to see if I qualified. I did. I liked the staff. I liked the office. Then they told me the price — $1,950 an eye — and I decided it could wait. So I waited. And waited. Then in November, I got an email from Living Social with the following subject line: 50% Off LASIK TREATMENT.
With the thought ‘It couldn’t hurt to look,” I opened up the email. Guess what? It was the same place I had gone for my initial consultation. After a couple of phone calls back and forth between the doctor’s office, I decided to buy it.
We set a date of Jan. 24 for a few reasons, one them being that my mom could be in town to help out.

For more, read Part 2: The Surgery

Part 3: I survived PRK and all I got was this stupid eye gear!

Mom helps me attach the protective eye gear for my Day 1 nap.

I will wear these for 7 nights to protect my new eyes.

I came home 30 minutes later on the day of PRK surgery and was still groggy from the valium. The doctor told me to try to keep my eyes closed for most of the day, opening them only to go to the bathroom, to eat, etc. My mom drove us home while I kept my eye closed, as the sun was too bright for me, despite my wraparound sunglasses. When I slept, I was told to wear special coverings to keep from disturbing my eyes. My mom helped me put on the plastic eye coverings using some medical tape. "I think freezer tape would work better," opined my mother. Still, we persevered with the medical tape, and the results are pictured here. (My boyfriend had come home from school and taken out his camera.) Then I napped for three hours. When I woke up, my mom had made some chicken and rice for me. Yum! I listened to some TV for a while then went back to bed. My doctor called around 9 p.m. to make sure everything was going all right. I told him I felt a little burny in my right eye, but it wasn't horrible, and that my eyes were very teary. He said it was all normal, and he would see me for my followup the next day.
After a long sleep — 12 or so hours — I woke around 9:30 and was able to see! The vision was still a bit blurry on details, but I could look at my phone to call people or text. I could see the TV channels but not read the news crawl. When I got to my appointment, the doctor said everything was looking good, that my eyes were healing. I had 20/20 vision (using both eyes, not individually). Dr. Gailities and the staff warned me that the next day, Day 3, would probably be more painful for me. Today, I am obviously on the computer. Today is Day 2, but I don't know what tomorrow will bring.
I am told my vision won't settle for three months, but that by Monday (one week after surgery), I can expect to be pretty good in terms of pain and vision.
So that's all for now. Getting through Day 2, hoping Days 3 and beyond will treat me well.
Part 4: The Recovery

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

David Gray in Miami ... and Joe's Stone Crabs in our bellies

A recent trip to Miami Beach pleased our senses in more ways than one. We first ate at the world-famous Joe's Stone Crabs, where we ordered lobster bisque (amazing), grilled tomatoes topped with cheese and spinach (decent), home fries (Mark loved them), stone crabs (so-so) and Key lime pie (divine). We also saw David Gray perform at the Jackie Gleason theater. Opening was a band we both digged: Phosphorescent (unwashed but mellow-sounding).

After dinner, Mark and I asked a passing couple if they would take our picture in front of the restaurant's neon sign.

Joe's Stone Crabs waiter Kevin (from Boston, not Long Island) ties a bib around Mark's neck as we prepare to dig in to our "large-size" stone crabs.

A plate of fresh stone crabs. (Note: We both decided we prefer snow or Alaskan king crab better, since they are warmer and sweeter.)

No seafood meal is complete without Key lime pie. This one had homemade whipped cream. It was delicious, but I was stuffed from the meal.

We had time for a quick walk on the beach before heading to the Jackie Gleason. We took off our shoes and headed out.

Winds, clouds and man-o-war on the Miami Beach coastline made for a pretty picture.

Mark had just spent a week in Phoenix wearing his strappy sandals. Can you tell?

Our main objective for driving down to Miami Beach was to see David Gray perform. It was good, not great (for me).

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Georgia Thanksgiving

Mark and I went to Georgia to spend the long Thanksgiving weekend with his family (brother Brian and wife Camille, parents Mark and Beth, nephew Ethan) there.

Brian prepares the propane tank to fry the turkeys. There were two, but we only broke into one.

Brian dips the second turkey as Alan watches.

Brian uses the meat thermometer to check the temperature of the turkey. We had driven to three stores on Thanksgiving morning before finding the thermometer at Walmart. It was almost a year without turkey.

Ehtan, Mark and Danielle enjoy the sunshine on a chilly November day in Georgia.

Danielle, Beth, Ethan and Mark chill out under the sun on a swing at the park. (Oh, yeah. There's Coco the dog, too.)

Mark takes a spin on the bicycle through the Waterford neighborhood.

Ethan and Alan (known to Ethan as Pa-Pa — pronounced paw-paw) ride along the road. Ethan just loves riding his Arctic Cat.

Mark embraces Ethan at the top of the slide in the treehouse.

Mark gets the idea to ride down the 5-foot slide while nephew Ethan watches. The opening is a little narrow, isn't it?

Mark emerges from the narrow frame to get onto the kiddie slide.

Mark finally reaches the bottom of the slide. Go, Mark, go!

Danielle and Mark take a self portrait.

One of the errands Mark was looking forward to most was his haircut at the Andy Griffith Show-themed Floyd's. Here, he flinches as the stylist at Floyd's cuts his hair. Notice the poker-themed cape.

Alan smiles during his haircut at Floyd's.

Post-haircut, Mark poses in front of the famous Floyd's of Cartersville, Ga.

Mark watches as Danielle tries out an ear candle for the first time. According to the directions on the package, the candles create a vortex that cleans out the ear canal and helps with congestion, migraines and more. As for me, all I noticed was the cool sound the candle made as the flame ate away at it.

Mark sits with Albert the alligator, UF's mascot, while Alan waits with the luggage on our last day in town.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Leonard Cohen, Sunrise, FL

I had the honor to see Leonard Cohen performing in Sunrise this weekend. This was the second time I've seen him, the first being at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland in May of this year. Although this show lacked the excitement I felt at the first show, it made up for it in another way: During the second set, my friend Keith and I snuck up to seats very close to the stage, about 8 or so rows back. I was delighted to be so close. Here are some photos:

"Bank Atlantic Welcomes You to the BankAtlantic Center." Keith and I had a *huge* giggle over this.

Keith, left, and his friend Mike were part of the thousands at the BankAtlantic Center.

The 10 performers silhouetted in purple. Besides Leonard Cohen, there were three female backup singers, a drummer, a sax/harmonica/woodwind player, a steel guitar man (Bob Metzger), a Spanish guitar player (Javiar Mas), a bass player, pianist, and another guitar. That might have been 11.

The man himself: Leonard Cohen, left, with Bob Metzger, an accomplished guitar player in his own right.

Cohen, right, with backup singers. The man with the guitar in the middle is the group's leader, I think Cohen said.

I like the way the spotlight shines down on the group. At far right is the amazingly talented Javiar Mas playing Spanish guitar.

Cohen under a spotlight.

Yours truly. I was hoping to get Cohen in the background on stage, but all you can see are the backup singers.

The performers leave the stage after the second encore.

I got a set list at the end of the show. Although Chelsea Hotel is listed, they did not play it. So sad.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Test of google calendar

I have a google calendar. I want to see what you see when I embed it here:

Can I get a volunteer to click one of these events and see if it allows you to edit event details?


Friday, August 14, 2009

I got hit by a car!

A cracked tailbone, fractured wrist, sprained rotator cuff, scrapes, sore muscles and ear infections. These are injuries I have sustained from sports. The culprits? Step class, volleyball, in-line skating, skiing and swimming. I have a new injury to report, garnered during a sport that is seemingly injury-proof: Walking. Yes, good ole equipment-free and teammate-less walking. No one to crash into me as we both dive for the ball. No step to trip over. No flying objects to hit me on the head. The one thing I did not expect to injure me was a side-view mirror.

It was an hour or so before sunset on a warm and breezy summer day. Perfect Florida weather for a walk. And what better place than near the water? So I parked my car on the west side of the Lake Worth Bridge and began to walk across it. I admired the beauty of the Intracoastal/Lake Worth as I walked eastward toward the ocean. At the traffic light at A1A, I headed south on the sidewalk that runs parallel to Lake Worth.

The sidewalk was under construction, with large chunks removed and barricades scattered every 30 feet or so. I decided to join the other people out for walks and jogs on the bicycle lane, a 3-foot wide stretch that shares the pavement of the road itself. A white strip of paint separates the bike lane from the car lane. State Road A1A is a two-lane road with not very much traffic at this time of year and day. I did not think twice about my choice to walk on this lane. Perhaps I should have.

I was energized from the current song on my iPod: Traffic and Weather by Fountains of Wayne. So energized was I that I was pumping my arms up near my chest. It's a good thing my arms weren't swinging down by my body, because next thing I knew, I felt something crack me in my left hip as a clean white sedan brushed past close to my body. My hip was smarting as I watched the car continue its path south on A1A, its side-view mirror tipped and in danger of falling off. Dazed, I pulled myself to the right onto the grass between the bike lane and the sidewalk. I had my eyes on the car as its left turn signal blinked and it slowed down but did not stop. I raised my arms in a "WTF" gesture, and I believe I verbalized it as well. The car continued. Momentum kept me walking as well. I was also shaking and starting feel a little headachy (from the adrenaline, friends later suggested).

I made a couple of phone calls to friends to report the news. I thought it was so bizarre that a car got that close to me, hit me with its mirror, and continued along its merry way. My friend Carol (an editor at the Palm Beach Daily News) persuaded me to call the police to report the crime. After all, a crime it was. She gave me the number for the town police, and I called about 10-15 minutes after I was struck. I gave the details to the dispatcher, and soon after, an officer arrived in his squad car.

Officer Pina took my name, my statement, my address, etc., and asked if I wanted Fire-Rescue to come and take a look at my injuries. I told him no. All that was hurting was my hip (actually, turns out to be my upper buttox, which is nicely padded, thank you very much), and a bruise seemed to be my only injury. As Pina and I were talking, a patrol car from South Palm Beach pulled up to tell us that he had no luck spotting the car with the broken side-view mirror. "He's long gone," said the SPB officer. Hearing this, I wish I'd been more vigilant about noticing the plate number or calling the cops sooner. I was convinced, though, that the driver was going to stop.

Officer Pina did not fault me for not noticing the license plate. He "just wanted to make sure I was all right," he told me. He asked if I knew anyone who could come and pick me up and bring me to my car. He was concerned I'd feel all right for part of my return trip over the bridge but then fall over halfway there. So I called my roommate, who arrived about 15 minutes later to return me to my car.

I drove home, took a shower, and iced my hip. I kept checking the full-length mirror for signs of a bruise but have not seen one so far. When I touch the spot, it feels sore. So far, I've had no other ill effects. Well, maybe one. I'm a little gun-shy about taking another walk soon on A1A.