(**Update from my re-lasik on 12-20-03 below!**)

This is the story of my experience getting Wavefront Lasik (Laser) Eye Surgery at Lasik Eye Centre in Vancouver, BC on August 22, 2003.

Update 2008: Lasik Eye Centre in Vancouver is now closed. Instead, you can contact Clearly Lasik, run by Dr. Joseph King. They have a location in the Vancouver area (Burnaby) and Seattle area (Renton). I recommend both of these centers based on the amount of time they have been doing these procedures, and they are the only center in BC that offers the newest technique, i-LASIK, a combination of laser flap creation and wavefront guided Lasik. (Please tell them Daymented sent you!)

Cast of Characters:
Me - age 32 with eye prescription around 6.50. Wearing glasses since 2nd grade.
Sean - my husband - we live in Seattle
Dr. Hugo Sutton - the surgeon
- Sean's cousin - lives in Vancouver
Debra - Sean's cousin - lives in Vancouver

Sean & I left Seattle Friday morning with just enough time to get to the Lasik Centre. Because of our lack of planning, we did not have any canadian cash for parking, nor did we know exactly where the building was. Luckily it was easy to find, and Sean got money for parking just down the street.
I got to meet Ginny as soon as I walked in. She was the person who answered all of my questions on the phone for the past month. The office is gorgeous with leather couches and a nice fish tank and lots of space.
I was given my forms to consent to the surgery which took a few minutes to fill out, then I had my exam to make sure my eyes were healthy and they took eye measurements.
The measurements are taken at four different computers - none of them touch your eye. You look at a light that moves in disco patterns and in seconds they have pictures of your eye - topographical looking rainbow-colored images. After this I went into an office where they explained how to take care of my eyes after the surgery. A few different kinds of eye drops are explained, and all of things I can and cannot do, and for how long.
No rubbing my eyes at all. No shower for a few days (bath is okay, just no direct water into the eyes). No eye makeup for a week. Sunglasses must be worn outside for the first week. Then she explained these goggle things that I have to tape to my head to sleep. Eye drops all the time. Tylenol if there's pain. And some weird super-gluey drops if there's a LOT of pain (it numbs your eye and really does feel like super glue in your eye - but ahhhh... it does numb the eye).
Since your cornea can't be rubbed in any way, you wear these round plastic cups over your eyes for the first week - any time you go to bed. They are two separate cups that are taped around your eyes with surgical tape. They are dorky and incredibly not-romantic.
She asked if I wanted the procedure explained to me, and Sean and I both said "No!" and she said "Okay, then there are two things I have to tell you. One, they will press onto your eye and you will blackout in that eye for ten seconds. Don't be alarmed. Two, the laser may smell like burning hair. Don't be alarmed." This was all I knew, and all I wanted to know, when I went to put on my paper booties and shower cap.
They had me lay on a long bed with a loop for your head. A machine swiveled over my face. They put a heavy blanket on me and gave me a sedative to put under my tongue (this was an option - they recommend that you sleep for at least two hours after the procedure - if you think you'll have a hard time falling asleep then take the sedative or you'll be laying there awake with your eyes closed for two hours). I think the sedative was for kittens. I never felt it kick in.
Patricia was explaining every step as Dr. Sutton moved. Everything was very positive. The first eew was Dr. Sutton keeping my eyes open - it's a thing that felt like an unbent paper clip - just a small looped wire that fit inside my eyelids to keep the eye propped open. While I'm still thinking eew he put anesthetic eye drops in and I couldn't blink.
On the thing swiveled over my face is a red light with a starburst pattern coming out of it. Patricia is explaining that they will press on my eye and I will black out for ten seconds and oh WOW OW OW that was rough for me. Actually I think I was going OW OW OW the whole ten seconds. And then a little zippy sound, the eye gets sight back, and my cornea flap is cut.
Whoa. REALLY weird. When he moves the flap, I'm looking out of my eye with the cornea flap removed. I see my clear vision swivel away. The red light becomes red static. Eew. It was totally bizarre. So then he does the laser thing, and I don't think it hurt. I'm so weirded out by this point I just don't remember. I do know it wasn't pleasant, but I am a total wimp. A few dabs here and there on the inside of my eye, and with each dab, the red light changed to a different color, blue, then green, then back to red. I have no idea why.
Then he swivels my corneal flap (eew) back onto my eye and zwoop! I see the red light as a regular red light again. To stick my cornea back onto my eye, they just kinda squeegee it down and it sticks. He takes the paperclip out of my eye and puts one piece of tape over my eye to keep it shut.
Then Patricia says "Half way done! Ready for the next eye?" and I was saying "ohgod ohgod ohgod." I think they may have asked me if I wanted to wait a few seconds, and I said no.
The next eye was just as freaky, with me saying ow ow ow but it was done.
Mere seconds after the second eye was finished and he removed the paperclip from my left eye, Patricia removed the heavy blanket from me and I sat up. My eyes were burning. A kid came in and took this picture of us. Dr. Sutton asked my what time it was and I looked at the clock and said "Ten till four" and that's when I realized - I could see.
My vision was kinda like having a bunch of Vaseline smeared in my eye - and oh god it hurt so bad. My eyes felt chopped. They led me to another dark room with leather couches and had me lay down with the heavy blanket for a while. They brought my glasses to me and set them next to me. (I could have donated my glasses in the room where I put on my paper shoes and hat, but
I'm emotionally tied to my glasses, so I didn't. But what a great place to put one of those glasses donation boxes, eh?)
I was really tripping. It hurt, and my eyes felt hacked, and I suddenly got nervous about what I had done. It was not a good time for me to be in that dark room alone. I was scared. After maybe ten (?) minutes Patricia came in and said "How are you feeling?" and I said "Can my husband come in here?" and she said "Actually, you can go now!" and I was surprised that I was expected to just get up and walk out. I walked down the hall and walked up to Sean wearing my giant black plastic sunglasses and said "Hi Babe. Can we go? I need to freak out." and we walked out.
Once outside I was clutching him. I felt traumatized but I think it was just shock and pain. I am a total wimp. We got to my car and the sun was searing my eyes through my sunglasses AND my eyelids.
I kept saying "Baby it hurts." Sean then drove to Debra's as I'm going "Ow ow ow man this stings, ow Come and Play ow MAN this HURTS!" and Sean says "What did you just say? Come and play?" and I pointed to a sign across the street that said "Come and Play." It hurt to open my eyes (even with the sunglasses on) but when I did, briefly, I would read a sign or a license plate out loud and then resume my sentence. I'm sure it was confusing for Sean. I hardly remember the conversation.
Debra was not home, so we went to Shane's. Shane was not home, either. It was hot and sunny and I really needed a cold dark room soon. We crouched in the shrubs (in the shade) in front of Shane's so Sean could put some eye drops in my eyes for me and I figured to people driving by, we probably looked like we were in a huddle doing drugs. I didn't care. I was crying by now.
We went to Debra's work, but she wasn't there. Too much time was spent driving around. We drove back to Debra's and Sean just parked and I covered my head with a t-shirt while Sean went to get canadian cash, get change, find a payphone, and call Debra to see when she'd be home. It was probably almost two hours from the surgery to the time I was laying in bed in a nice dark room. That was way too long.
By now I was in Super Wimp mode because I was frustrated that we had no plan and nowhere to go after the surgery. It was totally stupid on our part and we should have planned better before we got to Vancouver. I guess I just assumed that I'd be doing a song and a dance as soon as surgery was over, because everyone I spoke to that had Lasik was like "Oh yeah it was great! Didn't hurt at all! I drove myself home!"
Thankfully Debra had some homeopathic sedatives and I took two. She and Sean delivered baguette slices with cheese on them, and juice, and I finally passed out, with those giant black plastic glasses on.
A couple hours later I could kinda cope. It hurt to look at anything but I could function. Sean made a totally awesome dinner. We took a couple pictures and I put tons of drops in my eyes and looked forward to taking a bath (with all the drops and rinses during the surgery, while I was laying down, all those drops drizzled down my neck and behind my head, plus I had been sweating. I felt gross). My eyes were stinging and tired and still felt chopped up. It was very strange. But I felt immensely better than hours before.
These pictures were taken that same night. I was happy it was over but you can see that my eyes hurt. The picture on the right is a blood blister or whatever from.... something. Who knows. It's actually even bigger now - two days later. I had other little pink dots in some spots as well. Sean watched TV but it hurt my eyes to look at it.
Later that night we went for a walk around Granville with my silly sunglasses. My eyes were burning but I was still trying to read things and Sean would point at a sign and say "What's that say?" And I would squint and say "I just see Vaseline in my eyes." But then I would read the sign out loud. I just had to blink a lot.
Once we got back to Debra's we taped those silly cups over my eyes and I slept with my face propped up on my hands (I sleep on my stomach with my face in a pillow, which doesn't work so well if there's cups taped over your eyes).
The next morning I was wide awake by seven. I called my Mom and walked around outside for a bit with my giant sunglasses again. I could tell that I felt better and I could see better.
My follow-up (day after) appointment was for 9 am and as soon as we walked in they had a basket of normal sunglasses to choose from. Dr. Sutton gave me a normal eye exam and it turns out I had 20/20 in my left eye and 20/15 (better than 20/20) in my right eye.
Then we talked for a bit and... it was over. I have to schedule a follow-up with my local doctor for one week, one month, and three months, to make sure everything is healing properly. If your sight isn't perfect after this, they do it again until it is.
After this appointment Sean & I met with Shane and we walked around board shops and had lunch. He digs the black plastic glasses. I should have left them for him. Besides, I have these spanking silver sunglasses now.
We stayed at Shane's while the Robosexuals had their band practice, but my eyes were burning and Sean was bored, so we went to Debra's to get our stuff and drove home.
Those of you who wear contacts: you know how it feels when you've had your contacts in for too long, or you've slept in them? Like sticky and your eyes hurt? That's how it feels.

(Robosexuals say Bye-bye)
I keep saying to Sean "I want to take my contacts out!" because that's how it feels. So I just keep putting in the drops.
I used the numbing drops on Sunday - it really does feel like super glue in your eye. But it was worth it.
Each day it gets better - not as much pain. Today, Monday, I think the pain finally eased up this afternoon. Up until then, though, UGH.
I have tons of crusties on my eyelashes and around my eyes from all the drops, and the eye cups that I tape on my face at night leave marks that are pretty dorky. They finally went away around lunchtime. Perhaps if you sleep on your back it doesn't matter. My eyes look and feel tired. I'm sure this will pass in a couple days.

So if you are considering Lasik:

- Make sure you have somewhere to stay right after the surgery. Somewhere peaceful and dark where you can sleep.
- Be able to make many phone calls. Conversation is your only source of entertainment for the first 24 hours since you can't read, watch TV, or use a computer. And you won't feel like partying.
- Have those eye drops on you at all times.
- Be VERY careful taking clothes/shirts off.
- If you get a hotel, make sure there's a bathtub and not just a shower, since you can't shower for a couple days (and the bath is also something to do).
- Have lots of Tylenol, or better, handy.
- Do NOT have plans for the next day or you may be disappointed. Everyone says it didn't hurt, but for me, it hurt like a motherbitch.

I'm still so glad I had this procedure done. If you have any other questions please let me know. Any technical questions I can forward to Dr. Sutton Dr. King.

12-20-03 UPDATE
Right eye was 20/20 briefly, but then it wasn't. Then it got blurry. Then it got really blurry. I noticed it when I drove home from that Hot Hot Heat video shoot - it was about midnight, and the highway was dark, and I realized I couldn't see the oncoming headlights sharply, and the highway signs were a blur. My local Seattle doctor wanted me to wait a while to see if maybe it would sharpen again as it healed, but by November, Sean and I went to the Lasik Centre while visiting Vancouver, and they had a look at my eyes. The right eye was still blurry. We decided that I would call them the next time I planned on visiting Vancouver, and if my right eye was still bad, they would re-do it.
I was invited to a Christmas party on December 18, and decided to make an appointment for December 19.
They did the tests and prepped me for surgery. It was a miraculous experience compared to last time. I had told them that my last experience was awful, so they gave me two kitten sedatives this time. I also took a valium before I walked in the door.
They put the paprclippy thing in my right eye and numbed it with drops. The new doctor, Steven Kirzner (Dr. Sutton is no longer there as he opened up another Lasik Center), used a tiny scalpel to make the corneal slice, instead of shoving that car cigarette lighter thingie into my head. I could see him doing it but I couldn't feel it. Then he lifted my cornea up, made some zaps, and pressed my cornea back down and squeegied it flat.
I was in the post-op room for about 10-15 minutes talking to another guy who just had the lasik done and it was nice to have someone in there to talk to this time. He was there with his brother and his brother's wife - ALL getting lasik done.
Oddly, I felt no pain. Maybe the valium and sedatives? Maybe the procedure? All I know is, I walked into the lobby and immediately asked Sean "Can we go to the Moderne Diner on Broadway?!" I took half of a vicodin at lunch, then we went to the drug store to buy me an eye patch. I took the other Vicodin half when we got to Shane's, placed the patch over the one plastic goggle protective thing, and passed out for two hours. That night, we went to Debra and Dave's, went shopping, made dinner, and played cards. I was amazed at how good I felt - my eye didn't hurt in the slightest.
The next morning I had no pain at all. I had my check-up at the Lasik Centre and went out to brunch with friends. I can not only keep my eye open at all times without pain, but I can also see so clearly! I'm so glad I had this done. I have to use lots of drops every two hours, but with the one-goggle one-patch system, it's a lot more comfortable. And I can see!

Drugs. Drugs are great.

Update 2008: I am still really happy with my eyesight and get e-mails all the time asking me if I recommend Lasik. I absolutely do. But please feel free to send me an e-mail if you have any other questions! I love hearing from all of you!