valley of darkness

Okay. I had PRK eye surgery a week ago. That's where they pry your eyelids open (a la Clockwork Orange) and correct your vision with a laser. To be more specific, the doctor burns off very thin layers of your cornea until it’s the correct shape and light focuses in the right place.

What made me want to do it? I've worn glasses for the last 10 years. That means that I've never had sex with 20/20 vision. Luckily, I've learned that I can just hold the magazine closer to my face.


After an initial consultation I was told that for $1600 an eye, I would have a 90% chance of getting 20/20 vision and 98% chance at 20/40. They didn't tell me about what happens to the other 2% of people until after I'd made up my mind.


I asked my insurance company and they said they wouldn't pay for any of it since it was a purely "cosmetic" operation. I appealed and said that my vanity was so severe, that having to wear glasses was a significant medical problem for me.


They didn't go for it.

They obviously don't know me.


So I sat through several of the doctor's informative videos and made an appointment for the surgery. From what I understood I would come in for an hour on Friday and leave with the gift of sight. I would be light sensitive and feel like I had an eyelash in my eye, but that would be temporary.


Before the surgery they numbed my eyes with drops. I didn't feel them pry my lids open with the speculum. And the only way I could tell they were zapping my corneas was by the smell of burnt flesh in the air. Luckily they gave me some Valium earlier.

burn, baby, burn!

After 10 minutes under the laser I was done. I was blurry eyed and dazed. "Don't worry," the nurse tried to ease my panic, " you won't see the full effects till Monday."


I put on my extra-cool, old-people, wrap-around glasses to help with light sensitivity and my mom drove me home.


At some point during my post operation nap the anesthetic eye-drops wore off. I woke up clawing at the burning embers nestled beneath my eyelids. Dear god! They said it would feel like an eyelash in my eye? It felt more like a garden rake. I couldn't open my eyes. I was blind and..., well, in blinding pain. As quickly as someone could bring me a glass of water, I exceeded the recommended dosage for the pain killers they gave me.

I spent the next 48 hours in a dark, drug-clouded, pain-filled haze.


Sometime Sunday afternoon I was healed enough to stop taking the pain killers. I was able to open my eyes for minutes at a time and…I could see.


Its been getting better ever since. I went to the doctor last Monday and my vision tested 20/20. He said it would only get better. The light sensitivity has been steadily decreasing and my vision is crystal. Its amazing.

I have emerged from the valley of darkness and am reborn into the light…


Now I can hold the magazine as far away as I want.


the old me


Advice to anyone considering PRK:

  1. Prepare to be OUT OF IT for the next weekend. You will be heavily dependent on other people to help you get around, get food, dial a phone, etc. Start racking up favors now.
  2. Consider getting the LASIK procedure. It is supposed to have a milder recovery than PRK. I think I would go that route if I did it again.
  3. I am definitely happy with the procedure. I can enjoy swimming, showering, sports, and other words that start with "S" without blurriness, fogged up glasses slipping down my nose, or contact lense irritation. My doctor's name is Glen Kawesch in San Diego. He's got a website. Let me me know if you have any other questions.

Prehensile Tales loves the smell of burnt cornea in the morning.

Copyright © 1997 Prehensile Tales.

d e s i g n by h a l c y o n