After finishing up the second eye, and waiting the three minutes, they took off the drapes, wiped my face a bit (to get the betadyne and dribbled eye drops and stuff off), let me get off the table and then Lisa led me to the post-op waiting room — same leather chairs and carpetless floor, but with a bookcase (full of journals) a desk, and an end table with a tackle box full of drugs. She took off the gown and cap, and gave me a little black bum bag with the name of the clinic embroidered on it. This was to keep the stuff they were giving me in one place. She gave me some panadol right away, with a cup of water, because my eyes would be unhappy for the next several hours (and who can blame them ?). She gave me another couple packets of panadol for later that night, if I needed them, a couple pills of something with codeine in it, in case the panadol didn’t do it, and a sleeping pill if I had trouble sleeping. I might have used another dose of panadol later on, but I don’t remember. I didn’t need any of the other stuff. Then she left me alone long enough to get really bored in there. Probably to make sure I was okay & the sedative had worn off and I didn’t have any immediate bad reactions. For the most part, I could see. Things were kind of smeared and off-kilter, like I had water in my eyes or my contact lenses were sitting wrong. I could read the spines of the magazines with a bit of effort.
They came back, checked my eyes to make sure everything looked like it was back in the right place, and then taped “eye shields” onto my face. These are slightly cupped pieces of clear plastic with holes for ventilation, big enough to rest on your brow, cheekbone and the bridge of your nose, and so protect your eye from being bumped by anything. They’re also there to prevent you from rubbing your eyes. I was to keep these on until my appointment at 9:30 the next morning, and until then, I wasn’t to shower or wash my hair, and I wasn’t to touch or rub my eyes, no matter how annoyingly they itched. (I was also instructed not to squeeze my eyes shut too hard). Discomfort was to be expected, but actual pain meant I’d probably dislodged the flap, and in that case I was to call the after hours number. Lisa observed apologetically that the after hours number was in rather stupidly small print on the business card she tucked into the black bag, and I assured her that if I had any trouble, I’d get help from the hotel staff. She (and Helen as well) recommended that I mostly just sleep for the rest of the day.
The hotel staff, who for the entire rest of the experience were fantastic, took forEVER to come and get me (they did apologise). I did my best to read my book, but it was hard, because even though the eyeshields were clear, the curve and the eyeholes distorted things. It was hard to tell how much distortion was from the eye shields, and how much was from my eyes being wonky after the surgery. Back at the hotel, I rang Stephen, rang Helen, ordered room service (a really less-than-appetizing attempt at a caesar salad), took a bath, took some panadol, and slept. Mostly in that order, I think. My eyes *were* uncomfortable, but I never felt the need to claw them out of my head. Stewart described the sensation as “like wearing really dirty contact lenses”, and that’s not a bad description. They felt a bit like they felt fighting one of Stephen’s brush-fires, sort of burning and stinging and gritty. I slept like a rock. I always sleep well in hotel beds.
I expected to sleep later than I did, and so I was raveneous and bored by the time room service brought breakfast. At the followup appointment, they took off the shields (huzzah), took a look at my eyes to make sure they looked like they were healing okay, and did a shorter version of the eye test. I have “normal” vision in my left eye (not as good, I think, as I had with the contact lenses), and “better than normal” vision in my right eye (better than with the contacts). They reiterated that my sight might shift a bit as my eyes healed and got used to their new shape. They warned me (again) that I’d have crap night vision for a while — halos and starring and stuff — while my eyes were healing, but that this should gradually clear up over the next several weeks. They reminded me that my eyes would probably feel dry for a while, and this would also clear up as they healed, and they gave me samples of four different kinds of lubricating eye drops, which I was instructed to use as much as I liked, as keeping the eyes nice and wet helps them heal. They gave me a fifth bottle, which was an antiseptic/antibiotic that I was to use four times a day for the next four days. I was to keep the eye shields and wear them whenever I slept (even naps) for the next two days (a good thing, considering the first night home Stephen rolled over and elbowed me in the face) — longer, if I tend to rub my eyes when I wake up — and they gave me a little roll of tape for this. Likewise no moisturizer or makeup near the eyes for two days (which meant I could wear it again for work Monday). I’m to avoid dust as much as possible for two weeks, so Stephen must do the vacuuming. Wearing sunglasses is a good way to keep dust out, and also helps if you’re light sensitive afterwards, which some people are. I should still avoid rubbing my eyes, which includes vigorous towling. No contact sports for six weeks, and they specified that children are included under “contact sports”. Heh. I’m to schedule followup appointments with my Wellington optometrist for one month, three months, and six months post-op & she’ll report my progress back to the clinic in Christchurch.
Back at the hotel, I rearranged all of the books and stuff into something that could reasonably be carried on a plane. I’d come down with just a day-pack of clothes & it’s lucky they gave me a decent-sized handled shopping bag when I bought the coat, or I’d have nothing but a handful of thin plastic grocery bags to carry everything else home in. As it is, the hotel laundry bags were pressed into service. I put my wallet and sunglasses into the new bum bag (they’d also given me a hat, in case I was light-sensitive — don’t they just think of everything ? — but I left that in the backpack) and hopped the bus back into town to kill the rest of the day until my flight out at 6:30. This time, I hit the Arts & Crafts center the city cleverly set up in an old gothic boys’ school. Stephen and I had been there when we came through before, but I think we may actually have missed half of it. A whirlwind tour of the Art Museum across the street gave me enough time to grab the 4:30 bus back to the hotel, which shuttled me to the airport by 5:30, where I paid $1.50 to not have to carry 40 pounds of books around for 40 minutes, forgot about the Sbarro upstairs and instead paid $6.95 for a pint of really actually rather unpleasant pasta salad. But it kept me alive until I got home where Emily, blessings upon her head, had sprung for Hell Pizza. Yum. (I’m sorry that between Canterbury Faire and the laser surgery I didn’t get more time to play with Emily while she was staying with us, but she scored a contract, an apartment, and several more job leads without me fussing over her, so it worked out okay anyway.)
I’m one week into it now. Vision is still good, except at night. At night, it’s fine out in the dark, but I do get smudgy halos around bright lights, which fract out into long-tailed stars when the windshield is dirty. It’s not bad enough to be disorienting or unsafe, though. My eyes do occasionally get dry & uncomfortable, but it mostly just feels like I’ve got contacts in, and of course I’ve worn contact lenses for so long that I hardly notice. Having worn lenses for so long means also that I’ve long since developed the habit of *not* rubbing my eyes — learned that the very first time I rubbed my eyes and lost a lens, down a chasm in a cave in the Carolinas somewhere, I think. What I developed instead is a (no doubt disturbing to watch) habit of sticking my finger directly in my eye and gooshing my lens around. Luckily, I haven’t accidentally tried *that* yet. The only thing bugging me at the moment is that my eyes tend to be really dry and actually stuck shut when I wake up in the morning, and it does hurt a little to unstick them. I think I might try keeping some water or drops by the bed, and try soaking it through my eyelashes before I open my eyes in the morning. When I call to make the first follow up appointment, I’ll mention it.
And that’s that. It’s weird being able to see the mildew in the shower in the morning, and I keep getting brought up short by my hindbrain telling me I’ve forgotten to take out my contacts when I notice I can still see climbing into bed at night. Speaking of which, it’s pretty darned cool to lie in bed and see the Southern Cross through the slider.