Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick
Rip her to shreds
Like most glasses wearers, I'd thought long and hard about laser eye surgery. I read lots of testimonies, researched the techniques, calculated how much glasses and contact lenses were going to cost me over the next 40 years. And finally decided to go ahead and do the deed. In London. Look, it may well be cheaper in Brussels or Prague, but I want to be able to swear in my native tongue, and also understand what the surgeon is doing to my important visual faculties! I booked a treatement date that coincided with half-term holidays, and also decided to go by Eurostar since my little darlings had yet to experience that delight. Before we left the house, I asked the local radio to play me a song to give me courage - they chose 'Rip Her to Shreds' by Blondie1. Caught the 8 o'clock bus for a 9 o'clock train to Brussels, to be in plenty of time for the 12.58 Eurostar. To do a quick promotion plug, Eurostar tickets to Brussels are valid to any Belgian station, which makes it very economical. But time consuming.
While travelling through Belgium2, I listened to the first part of the Tertiary Phase radio series, and passed the time on the Eurostar being beaten hollow by my daughter at Scrabble3. Arrived on time at Waterloo, met up with various people, said farewell to my babies who were spending the weekend with their Dad, and headed off to the house of SarahLMH, my best friend. We had planned a girly pre-Valentine celebration, so got suitably dolled up, drank champagne, ate Luxembourg's finest chocolates and watched The Man With Two Brains. Oh, and of course enjoyed Duran Duran's appearance on Top of The Pops with the very apposite 'What Happens Tomorrow'. Had some lovely 'good luck' texts from friends, and enjoyed a good night's sleep.
Blinded by the Light
Now, it takes a lot to scare me. I can handle the whitest of white-knuckle rides, I can sing and dance on stage, or give a speech in front of an international audience, and I have no fear of flying or dentists. But I was really, really frightened before this operation - my palms were sweaty, my shoulders were tense and hunched, my mouth was dry and my stomach was turning cartwheels. The surgeon ran through the procedure and made sure I was aware of the risks before I signed the consent form, and a lovely Irish nurse showed me how to use the eye drops I'd need afterwards. And we were off - into a small chamber with The Machine, and a bed flat undedrneath it. I lay down and placed my head into the headrest, and was soon looking up at a flashing red light. My stomach was complaining wildly now - I tried some distraction therapy by wondering whether farting during laser surgery would be worse than during oral sex.
The operation itself is blessedly brief, but extremely unpleasant - if you are at all squeamish, look away now! Anaesthetic drops were put on both my eyes. My left eye was covered up, and my right eyelids pinned open. The surgeon marked the edges of my cornea, and then put some pressure on the eyeball to raise it up. There was a short buzzing sound while the cornea was sliced to make a flap, and then vision blurred and almost disappeared as the flap was opened. The nurse advised me that there would be three short bursts of the laser - less than 10 seconds each - while the surgeon held my head to keep it extra steady and I focussed for all I was worth on the fuzzy red light. The laser made a fizzing sound and there was a burning smell that I tried not to think of as my own flesh burning. Cornea put back in place - and wow, instantly I can see that red light in perfect clarity! Onto the second eye - with only a slight delay as I was able to feel the surgeon marking the cornea and so more anaesthetic had to be applied. And it was all over. Ten minutes, tops. I sat in the recovery room with Sarah, and even managed to phone my mother (Bless her, she'd succeeded in clearing out several kitchen cupboards to take her mind off it).
Don't blame it on the sunshine!
After having been so chipper and perky in the recovery room, and after being given the 'OK' on my vision, I was somewhat surprised to reach the outside world and discover that the sunshine was impossible to bear - I couldn't open my eyes at all. Sarah had to lead me to the car, where I sat in the passenger seat curled up in a moaning ball of agony, sunglasses, coat and scarf all over my head, just praying for the journey home to be as quick as possible. Was I allergic to the eye drops? Was my cornea not healing properly? Perhaps I'd turned into some kind of vampire! I crawled into bed with a couple of aspirin, and took my eyshields for their first test drive. I'm not allowed to rub my eyes for 2 weeks after the operation, so have to sleep wearing majorly attractive eye shields taped across my eyes. I found that not only could I sleep easily with them on4, but that the pain disappeared while I slept, and when I woke a few hours later, the stinging had totally gone. I still avoided alcohol, and insisted the curtains were closed, and still wore my sunglasses indoors... but I was able to enjoy some treats such as liquorice allsorts, salt'n'vinegar crisps, lucozade and endless cups of tea, whilst half-watching various awards ceremonies on telly.
I slept well.
On the Sunday, I had to return to the clinic for a very quick check-up, and stocked up on some necessities at Boots before heading back to Waterloo.
I can see clearly now
The journey home was uneventful - some more text messages, some more fabulous Scrabble games, some more Hitchhiker radio series. Approaching the Luxembourg border it started to snow... and as I left the station I looked up to enjoy the feeling of snowflakes on my face5.
- To SarahLMH who allowed me to be a pampered princess all weekend, and for whom nothing was too much trouble.
- To Reddyfreddy for being there when I needed a chat.
- To the ToyBoy for picking me up at the station.
- ...and of course to all the staff at the clinic who were so helpful and wonderful.
Now, does anybody need a supply of disposable contact lenses, -3.5?