Not To Be Trusted With Knives











I have been remiss! I had a one month post-laser eye surgery check-up a full week and a half ago which I fully, totally, and completely meant to blog about and then I fully, totally, and completely didn’t.

The reason my one month post-laser eye surgery check-up was blog worthy is… my vision has regressed!  At my check-up , my eyes had gone from perfect 20/20 vision to slightly under 20/20 vision.  When I couldn’t quite read that 20/20 line on the eye chart, it was like someone punched me in the gut.  All I could think was “$4400 to have perfect vision for 3 weeks?  Seriously??”

My optometrist pointed out that having slightly less than 20/20 vision is actually better than having 20/20 vision, as it means you don’t need reading glasses as soon1.  The only concern, is whether they will regress further.  She said it’s not uncommon for the vision you have in early healing to not be what you end up with. I gather that as corneas heal from laser eye surgery, the angles and suchlike can change.  So, as long as they don’t continue to regress, all will be well.  If they do, well, that’s gonna suck.  After testing my vision, my optometrist checked out my eyes and seemed quite baffled:  “Your corneas appear to be completely healed.  That usually takes 3-6 months.  And it has only been 1 month.”  The good news about this, in addition to the fact that it confirms I have superhuman healing powers, is that this may mean that my vision will not regress any further – since my corneas have finished healing, they shouldn’t change shape any more, which means my vision should stay as is.  Which will be fine – I can’t actually tell the difference between my 20/20 vision and my slightly less than 20/20 vision in my day-to-day life.  And, as much as I enjoyed saying, “I have 20/20 vision!”, I’d actually prefer not needing reading glasses until I’m older. Because, apparently, I’m not getting any younger.

At any rate, I have an extra optometrist follow-up scheduled now; usually they do follow-ups at 1 week, 1 month and 3 months, but my doc wants to do one at 2 months, just to make sure that no more regression occurs.  So, keep you fingers crossed for me, k?

1There’s always a trade-off beteween near and far sight.

Image credit: Originally posted by Christine Urias on Flickr under a Creative Commons license. Found by searching “laser eye surgery” and this image was just too creepy not to use!



{August 16, 2008}   I have 20/20 vision
Heading out for post-op check up the morning following my laser eye surgery.

Heading out for post-op check up the morning following my laser eye surgery. Don't you love my sunglasses?

Went for my post-op check up this morning and the technician checked my vision.  “You have 20/20 vision,” he said, “And it’s only going to get better from here.

It truly is mind-blowing.  I keep having to remind myself “I’m not wearing contacts.”  My brain is all “this is no big deal, I see this well all the time because I wear contact lens.”  And then I remind myself that I’m not wearing contacts.  And then I start looking around very carefully going “Oh my god, I can read that sign!  I can distinguish EVERY SINGLE LEAF ON THAT TREE!”  I’m actually really excited to go to sleep so I can wake up in the morning and look across the room and see my alarm clock.  I’m sure this makes absolutely no sense to those of you who don’t wear glasses, but it really is these simple things that make all the difference!

And the fact that I am now free.  I’m free from annoying glasses that fog up in the cold/get in the way/make me look ugly.  And I’m free from having to put contacts in every day/worry about losing a contact/remember to bring glasses & contact case when I stay over at someone’s house.  I’m free free free free free.  Well, except that I’m a slave to eye drops for the next two weeks (I had to put drops in 22 different times today!), but that’s a fairly minor price to pay.

Oh yes, and I’d like to state for the record that LASIK eye surgery was absolutely pain free.  Even the part where they slice your cornea (thank you anesthetic drops!) and when they vaporize parts of your eye with the laser.  The only thing I didn’t like was the part where they apply suction to your eye.  They do this right before the cornea slicing and my guess is that it is to puff out your cornea to make the slicing easier.  But holy crap, it’s a weird sensation.  Imagine putting a really, really strong vacuum cleaner right on your eyeball.  It didn’t last very long, but I really did not like it.  Thankfully, my surgeon has a very soothing British voice and kept saying, “You are doing perfect,” and “it’s almost over,” and “you are going to hear a buzzing noise now” (OK, that last part wasn’t too soothing.  But, as I’ve said, cutting of cornea = completely painless.  And the suction on the second eye wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as the first one, probably because I was prepared for it.  It was such an unfamiliar sensation the first time.  Blarggh!

The whole surgery took about 10 mins and at the end, when I opened my eyes I thought, “Oh my god, I can see that technician’s face!  I can see his face!”

Anyhoodle, my eyes are getting kinda dry from all this looking at the computer screen, so I’m going to hit the hay.  But I’ll leave you with some photos of the damage I did when I took a spectacular fall for absolutely no reason, just outside Cafe Artigiano, on my way to the surgery.  Warning: not for the squeamish!

Took this shot with my camera phone.  Notice profuse bleeding.

Took this shot with my camera phone. Notice profuse bleeding.

This is my knee today. Notice profuse bleeding has stopped, giving way to disgusting mangledness.

Also managed to scrape my foot during the fall.

And my toe. I told you it was a spectacular fall!

And now I’m off to bed.  Wearing these wicked awesome eye shields! You can just call me “Sleeping Beauty”!

Eye shields to keep me from rubbing my eyes while I sleep. I look like an alien.

Eye shields to keep me from rubbing my eyes while I sleep. I look like an alien. Or a bug. Or an alien bug.



{August 15, 2008}   EYE SURGERY LIVE BLOG

8:45 Getting off bus in two stops. Can’t wait for eye surgery.

8:53 Damnit damnit tripped on NOTHING outside of Cafe Artiango. Only person who asked how I was doing was homeless man. I’m bleeding bad.

8:59 In lobby. They gave me a bandaid. Since these bastards don’t take Amex, I wont get any AirKiles out of this. Instead i dropped $3900 onto my visa.

9:10 Booooooooooring Sitting in lobby, strategically hiding my book ‘The God Delusion’ in case surgeon is a Christian fundamentalist.

9:12 Okay they’re coming to get me.

9:26 have to keep blackberry hidden. i”m in a room with many time machines. driving technicians crazy by asking what they all do. should have remembered to go pee before this.

9:35 Back in waiting room again. Lots of people in here with big dark glasses on. Hahaha.

9:45 Reading more from my Book of Heresy. Nice lady says the next exam is soon. I don’t believe her.

9:51 I AM TRYINH TO TYPW WHILE THEY

9:54 Back in lobby. So that didn’t work out, but I think I know how to type AND be operated on at the time time now though.  We’ll see. Just got three pills. These anti-anxiety drugs are making me very nervous.

10:08 Okay, that was pointless. Just spent ten minutes listening to a boring CD (but with nice music) that told me they would be lasering the thetans from my eyes. It ends with the words “We will be coming for you soon.” I didn’t know this was the Scientology laser eye centre. Uh oh. I think one of my drugs just kicked in. Wheeeee!!

10:12 that was fast. in chair now. room looks like they conduct alien autopsies in here… and they don’t go well. i snuck a photo of the surgeon with my cameraphone. don’t know if i can post it here:

10:13 was that a sparrow?!?!! no. never mind. stupid robins.

10:15 they just gave me a stress ball to squeeze. a fucking stress ball? bad sign?

10:27 ******hard tp type with eye patch on and lasr bea in other!

10:28 OW OW OW OW OW!!! surgeon just pulled my hair.

10:34 im done. faster than i thought.

10:38 bacl in room with comfu chair. eyes are closed. i have to sit here for half hour. roking in my little chair

10:54 whoooooooooa. imagining loooooooong hallway that i’m the the end of and it’s moving away from me. trippy. i thin kthe othr drugs have kicked in now. my vision is clear in my imagination now. they surgery must have worked!!

11:12 back into first exam room i think. they caught me liveblogging but i told them i was texting my aunt. some chick looking at my eyes.

11:41 visa declined card. eyes being stapled back together.

11:42 just kidding. ok i think i’m done here. now adding live-blogger to my cv. i’ll sit down and post this right now.



{August 11, 2008}   I HATE wearing my glasses

I know it’s only been 3 days of glasses wearingness, but I have to reiterate that I HATE wearing my glasses.

  • They aren’t the correct prescription, so I have trouble reading things like, say, street signs when I’m on the bus, making figuring out my stop a little challenging.
  • They are kind of scratched up, making them extra hard to see through.
  • They don’t sit properly on my face because the arms are bent, making them crooked, which makes me look even worse than if I were just wearing non-crooked glasses, which is already bad enough.
  • They do not protect my eyes when I cut onions, which I was painfully reminded of this last night when I was cooking dinner.  When I wear contacts, they make me eye-invincible to the painful, tear-producing evil that is chopping onions.  Glasses leave my eyeballs naked and, thus, vulnerable to the onions.
  • They get in the way – you have to take your glasses off when you get dressed. Or brush your hair – but then, of course, you can’t see how your hair looks when you are brushing it!
  • Alternating between my glasses & my prescription sunglasses is a right pain the butt. When I wear contacts, if I’m going in and outdoors repeatedly (such as when I  go window shopping along Broadway), I merely have to put my sunglasses on top of my head when I enter the (relatively) dark store, then pop them down onto my face when I go back in the sunshine.  When I’m wearing glasses, every time I go into a store, I have to reach into my bag, find my glasses’ case, and then swap my sunglasses for my regular glasses. And then vice versa when I leave the store to go back out into the sunshine.  Pain. In. The. Butt.
  • It’s not a problem right now, but I remember from back in my youth, before I first got contacts, that wearing glasses in the winter sucked because your glasses always steam up when you go inside.
  • I don’t look like me in my glasses – I can’t even tell you how many people at the AdHack Launch Party on Friday said, “I didn’t recognize you with your glasses on!”

There is, however, one benefit to wearing glasses: It gives you the opportunity to do the sexy “holding glasses up to your mouth” pose:

Is it time for my laser eye surgery, yet?



{August 8, 2008}   Frailty, thy name is retina!*

Last night, for the last time ever1, I took out my contact lenses.

As you may recall, I’m not allowed to wear my contacts for an entire week before my laser eye surgery.  And my surgery is one week from today!  So I have to spend the next week wearing my stupid glasses.  Which I’m not looking forward to, since (a) I hate how I look in glasses and (b) the prescription is a decade old and, according to my optometrist who checked them out at my recent pre-op visit, just barely squeaks by the level of vision required to drive.

This, I believe, is what the laser eye surgery process looks like.

This, I believe, is what the laser eye surgery procedure looks like.

Also discovered at my recent pre-op visit was the fact that I have some slight retinal “latticing,” i.e., my retina is thinning on the bottom. Apparently it is relatively common for someone with my ridiculously high level of nearsightedness2 – since nearsightedness results from your eyeballs being too long, meaning that my retina is being pulled tighter than it should be and, viola, you have a thinned retina.   It sounds kinda gruesome to me, but I’m told that it’s nothing to worry about (although thinned retinas can then become detached, apparently it’s a good sign that (a) it’s thinned at the bottom rather than the top3 and (b) it’s evenly thinned in both eyes4).  At any rate, the latticing of the retina doesn’t affect my eligibility for getting laser eye surgery, so the countdown to lasers in my eyes remains at T minus 7 days.

Which also means that there is still time for any rich philanthropists or other people who have money burning a hole in their pocket to donate to the “Fund raiser for Dr. Beth’s Peepers“:


*Since two of my other blog postings on my laser eye surgery used Hamlet quotations, I thought I’d continue the trend here.
1Assuming, of course, that everything goes well during the surgery. Knock on wood.
2-7.5 in one eye, -8.5 in the other eye.
3since thinned retinas at the top can become detached to do the weight of the rest of the retina pulling it down.
4Why does this just not sound like a good thing to me?

Photo credit: Posted by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ on Flickr under a Creative Commons license. All hail CC!



{June 18, 2008}   Booked it!

It’s official! I will be have laser beams in my eyes on August 15th.

I was given a set of instructions. You have to arrive an hour before the surgery for them to get you all ready. Wear a button down shirt so you don’t have to pull the shirt off over your head that night. You have to wear those giant sunglasses for a day after surgery, including to bed, both because you will be extra sensitive to light and to make sure you don’t rub your eyes, even in your sleep. I tend to rub my eyes a fair bit, so I’m trying to get in the habit of not rubbing my eyes in preparation.

Probably the most difficult thing will be that I can’t wear my contacts for a week before the surgery. I *always* wear my contacts. I hate wearing glasses. This is due to a combination of my vanity1 and the fact that my glasses are almost a decade old. The thing is, with my ridiculously strong prescription, my glasses end up costing $500-$600. And where the hell was a starving student supposed to come up with that kind of dough? I could barely scrape together $100 every second year to buy a pair of contacts2. The glasses that I currently wear were purchased when I was doing my Masters at the University of Guelph, because the student health plan there covered them. That was back in 1999-2000. In the intervening years, my ‘script has changed, the glasses have been banged up, scratched up, stepped on, and so forth. Basically, I can barely see with them on. So that should be an interesting week, to see if I can function without my contacts.

Other instructions tell you that you need to:

  • “shampoo your hair and wash face and eyelids” on the morning of surgery. Do people really need to be told to wash their face? I mean, we’ve been over the whole “do you wash your hair every day” thing here recently, but shouldn’t washing your face just be a given?
  • “keep your eyes closed for the rest of the day after surgery.” Sounds like I’ll be listening to lots of podcasts that day!
  • have a “responsible adult” escort you home from surgery and back to the clinic the next day for a post-op check up. Man, I’m sooo glad they specified that, because I was going to ask an irresponsible adult to escort me. Or perhaps a responsible child. Now I know better, so I’ve arranged for a responsible adult to be my escort.

Also interesting was that the consent form, which they emailed for me to read before the surgery, says that “Laser-Assisted Intrastromal Keratoplasty [LASIK] and Photorefractive Keratectomy [PRK] are classified as investigational by the Canadian Health Protection Branch” (emphasis added). I don’t know the ins and outs of what “investigational” means exactly (I mean, I’m sure it means that it’s not like full status approved and they are still doing research, but I don’t know what it takes to become post-investigational), but it’s interested that this was never mentioned in the consultation, nor did I see in on their website.

Anyway, I’m excited and a bit nervous. But the promise of being able to see properly every morning when I awake, of being able to go surfing without worrying about losing a contact and go swimming and be able to see people on the other side of the pool will make it all worth while. Plus, I know you all can’t wait ’til the live blog of the surgery.

1I want everyone to be able to see my big beautiful blue eyes.
2Because I used to wear the non-disposable kind, so I’d keep the same pair for 2 years.



So, I think I’m going to go with the expensive place for my laser eye surgery. I really did like the doc there and a few things about the cheaper place kind of freak me out. First, on their website they explain that the reason they are so cheap is because they do a “high volume” of surgeries. They spin it as “high volume = more experience = better surgery,” but “high volume” suggests “assembly line” to me. The second strike against the cheap place was an email exchange I had with them. I emailed to ask for their success rates and rates of complications, since this information is not provided on their website. The email I received back was atrocious. They provided limited success data and completely ignored my request for complication rates. Then they told me to phone if I had more questions, with the tone of it making me feel as if they were really put out by my having emailed. I’m sorry, but you are in customer service and if the customer prefers email, you should provide courteous, accurate answers by email and make them feel welcome to email back if they have more questions. And, for the love of all that is good in the world, your email should be professional. In their 9 sentence reply, they committed the following grammatical transgressions:

  • hyphenating “with-out”
  • hyphenating “thank-you”
  • spelling the word “merit” as “merrit”
  • not capitalizing the first word in a sentence (twice)

This email does not give me confidence in their clinic. I realize that it is not the surgeon who is writing such an atrocious email, but in my opinion, it reflects the unprofessional nature of the place1. In a last effort, I emailed back to ask, yet again, what their complication rates are. Their reply: “We have done over 46,000 procedures and we have never had a serious complication. The pre-operative screening eliminates those patients that might be a complication. Our turn down rate is about 4%. Phone if you have any other questions to [number redacted].” First of all – I didn’t ask if they had any “serious” complications. Their definition of “serious” may not be the same as mine. Twice avoiding my request for complication rates makes me feel like they are hiding something. Secondly, I don’t think they really meant that the patient might themselves BE a complication2. And third, wtf is up with their not wanting email? “Phone…” is a command. And it’s not inviting at all. I consulted with my mom and she agrees that I shouldn’t let anyone with such poor grammar anywhere near my eyes. So expensive surgery it is!

And since I’m going with expensive surgery, I’m following my friend Dan’s3 advice:

Definitely don’t go cheap on your peepers. Maybe you should start a “fund raiser for Dr. Beth’s Peepers”. After all, you have been entertaining many of us in the internets for a while now. Plus, if you can’t see how are you supposed to blog? So really, it’s not about your eyes so much as it is about our entertainment. (Dan’s comment on my recent bog post)

So now I’m putting a “donate” button on the sidebar of my blog – all proceeds to go to the “Fund raiser for Dr. Beth’s Peepers.” A button that looks like this:

Also, I’m going to follow Dave‘s suggestion and live blog the surgery. No, really.

1sort of like that whole “if the bathroom in a restaurant is dirty, you can bet their kitchen is too” kind of thing.
2Although that is kind of funny.
3You may remember Dan as my co-author on the Snow, Snow & Gillis (2007) paper about the Count and mathematics.



et cetera