Thursday, November 08, 2007

I'm getting new eyeballs, y'all

For most of my life, I have not been able to see clearly without the help of really, really, ridiculously thick corrective lenses known as spectacles, and/or contacts. I started wearing glasses when I was five years old. Later in life, I was not-so-proud to be the only kid in the 5th grade who had to wear contacts.

I guess I've always been an overachiever. Even my eyeballs excel quickly at progressively poor eyesight. They get worse every year, for almost all of my years.

But through a very generous partial sponsorship from a kindly couple known as My Parents, I will soon have new eyeballs through the wonders of LASIK surgery.

Today, I went for my eyeball consultation. For the sake of anonymity, we'll call him Dr. Foothe.

My day started by wearing my glasses all day. My prescription is several years old. Therefore, I don't see so good with the spectacles anymore. But, afer I had them on for awhile this morning, I remembered how much I like the way I look in my glasses. It's kind of a part of my identity. It will be a little weird that I won't have the glasses anymore. I even made my C.T. logo to include my glasses because I am so darn cute with them on. I think I've always seen myself in glasses even though I've worn contacts for a whole lot of years.

This afternoon, I went to see Dr. Foothe. Along with about 50 other people. For those of you who may not know about Dr. Footh (since he is disguised here on my blog), he is the LASIK expert around here with the TV commercials, the full page ads in the paper, the celebrity clients. He also did my mom's eyeballs. He's the go-to guy for new eyeballs.

He also has the personality of a flattened cardboard box on a bad day having just taken some downers after being in a coma for about 14 years.

Thankfully, he's really good at what he does. And for that reason, I don't care if he is the dullest person on the planet. If he can make me see again, he is my hero.

Anyway, the consultation is a 3-hour ordeal. There are people constantly going from one place to the next. There are about 108 eyeball tests that they do to your eyeballs, but none of them last more than about two minutes, so you're pretty much running around this office for most of the three hours.

And then waiting. A lot. I learned all kinds of interesting things about my phone while I waited. And about eyeballs.

After every test, they send you back out into the waiting room to wait for the next person to take you somewhere else for another test. I waited in several waiting rooms, actually. One room had two rows of chairs against opposite walls, facing each other, with barely enough room to walk between them. In this room, you wait for the tests that require eye drops before you get the tests. Which means you sit there while a nurse-type-person comes along and puts drops in everyone's eyes.

Yeah, you just sit there with people watching you suffer through drops. I hate drops. And apparently a lot of drops are involved in this whole procedure. I have to start drops two days before the surgery, then for a lot of days after the surgery.

I think I'm more afraid of the drops than I am of the surgery itself. I can't help but freak out a little bit when I see a big blob of liquid coming towards my eyeball.

While you wait, there is a video in the main waiting room that plays over and over. It's full of celebrity testimonies about their successful new eyeballs. At one point, Lance Armstrong's mom is saying how kind, warm, and compassionate Dr. Foothe is.

So, when I finally got to meet Dr. Foothe, I (naturally) expected him to come in to the room, give me a big hug, want to talk about my feelings . . . and his, then joke around for awhile (because I'm really funny, you know?).

Instead, Dr. Foothe barely said two complete sentences. He wasn't rude or anything. He is just obviously not a people person.

He did look me in the eye at one point and say, "I think we can help you." To which I said (loudly), "GREAT!" followed by one of my best short, friendly laughs. To which he did not even flinch. But in my brain I was laughing hysterically because Dr. Foothe is literally hilariously dull. He's like a character you would see in a skit on SNL or something. You hear stories about how dull he is, but until you actually experience it firsthand, you will never understand the depth of the lack of personality involved here.

Anyway, Dr. Foothe was only the halfway point of my consulation. There were many more tests. And many more drops. They looked at my eyeballs, mapped my eyeballs, took pictures of my eyeballs, literally POKED my eyeballs with instruments on more than one occassion.

I did not so much like that.

After the very first test of the day, the guy looked at me and said, "I'm going to tell you something you probably already know. But you are REALLY, really nearsighted. I mean, WOW."

Um, der.

You also walk around a lot without being able to see anything. Because after a few tests, and drops, and eyeball dialation, you just can't see so good anymore. So I have no idea if people are looking AT me, or NEAR me, or PAST me, or what. It's all a blurry sea of blobs asking you questions and telling you eyeball stuff. And you are in a sea of other people going through the same thing. And everyone just sits around and squints at each other.

At the end, they ask you how you want to pay for the surgery (they kept asking me if I was going to write a check to cover it . . . um, NO). And they give you instructions for when you come back for your surgery. In fact, if you come in the next day they give you a discount. Which, while this may sound tempting that I could have my new eyeballs as soon as tomorrow morning, it actually freaked me out.

I do not want to do this tomorrow. I have to have some time to process and plan my schedule. I have to come to terms with the fact that after many, many years, I will be able to wake up in the middle of the night and actually see all of the monsters that are in my room to eat me while I sleep.

Or to fully understand that the next time I travel, I will not have to limit my trip according to the tiny amount of contact solution that I can carry in that stupid tiny ziplock bag on the airplane.

I've gone most of my life not being able to see. A few more weeks is not really going to make that much of a difference.

But when you say, "No, I don't want to come in for this surgery tomorrow," they look at you like you are crazy. A lot. Like I'm an idiot for not wanting new eyeballs TOMORROW just because they can do it TOMORROW.

The last person I had to go through before I could leave gave me instructions, etc. But she seemed not to be quite completely loving her job. When I arrived for my appointment, it was daylight. But three hours later, it was dark outside. Yet this very last lady that stood between me and the door said to me, "Since your eyes are dialated, you will need to wear THESE the rest of the day." And she handed me some of those giant, really dark sunglasses.

I looked at her, looked out the window at the pitch-back darkness, and I said, "Really? Even though it's dark outside?" Um, isn't this place supposed to help me see better? Dialating my eyes, blurring them with other drops, then sending me out into the DARK with sunglasses seems not to be helpful, or safe.

She looked out the window and said, "Well, you know, like if you go to the grocery store or something where there is light. Then you should wear these."

Um... ok.

I can't believe that 30 years of bad eyesight can be erased in literallly minutes. I'll be able to see better than I ever remember being able to see.

And you people with the jokes and the stories about LASIK gone bad, note that I know that you can't see . . . but I will be able to see SOON.

And if something does go horribly wrong, you will be the people to take care of me for the rest of my blind life....


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