Saturday, February 25, 2012

Everything you ever wanted to know about: LASIK

Ok, so now you know that I had LASIK, and now you know why I got LASIK.  Here come the billion other questions, right?  Hey, I understand.  I was once in that place too.

Let me start at the VERY beginning.

I called the doctor to set up the preliminary testing to see if I was even a candidate for LASIK.  Who knew?  You actually have to meet quite a few qualifications before you can get the surgery done.  First, you need to be the right age.  There’s not an actual number on this.  You just need to be a little older (and by that I mean, into your twenties/out of college age) because your vision needs to have leveled off.  When we’re plagued with inferior vision, it typically starts changing in our adolescence and by the time we’re out of college/that age, it typically becomes stable until we start getting in our 50s (think aging eye).  Plus, you really wouldn’t want to go through the trouble of surgery just to turn around and need it again the next year.

So, you need to be a good age.  Next, your eyes need to be moist enough.  If they aren’t, don’t panic.  Drink lots of water.  Start using eye drops.  The doctor might even give you a prescription.  There are lots of different ways to increase eye moisture.

You need to stop wearing contacts for at least 6 weeks.  Contacts, apparently, change the shape of your eye.  I stopped wearing mine months before surgery.  Not only were they terribly uncomfortable, but it took me a while to get up the nerve to make the call.

And last, the doctor needs to check the width of your cornea.  If your corneas are too thin, surgery can’t be performed.  Those are the basics you need to become a candidate.  So let the testing begin!

I’ll be honest.  The preliminary testing (to me at least) is WAY worse than the surgery itself.  …probably because testing lasts 2 to 2 ½ hours.  Surgery lasts … 8 minutes.  Yep.  That’s it!

When I started my tests, they diagnosed me with my eye conditions – farsightedness and astigmatism.  So many people want to know what my vision was before (as in the number).  I have no clue!  But those were the two things I know I had wrong.  Because I had both of those conditions, in order to test my eyes, they had to “super dilate” them.  As in, I couldn’t see jack for 24 hours.  24 HOURS!!  It was ridiculous.

Besides the ridiculous dilation, there were lots of “which is better, one or two.  Now two or four.”  And “put your chin here.  Look at that light.  Try not to blink.” And so on and so forth.  Nothing more than what you get at a standard eye doctor.  ..just much, much, MUCH longer.

This is me, coming home from my testing.  My eyes looked so creepy!!  No blue – just black.  Two important things: make sure you have someone to drive you, and very dark sunglasses.  :)  You’ll need these things again.

After the testing, they told me I was a candidate!!  So I scheduled my surgery for 10 days later.  All of this happens very quickly.  Or at least I thought.  I mean, boom you can get it done.  Like right now.  They actually offered to do it that very day!!  Are you kidding me!?  I need a moment to breathe.

So I scheduled my surgery, and I set up a payment plan.  This is what most people want to know about.  How much does it cost?  Let’s be honest.  It’s an elective surgery.  It can’t be cheap!
I had planned to pay somewhere around $2500 an eye, so 5 grand total, just judging on what other people (people who had obviously never had the surgery) had said.  And of course the other factor is that insurance won’t cover the surgery because it is elective.  Welllllllll the office I went to had a policy where IF you had a certain type of insurance (as in, insurance with a company that was on their list) they gave you a discount.  They don’t run it through your insurance, they just give you a discount.  So because my insurance company was on their magic list, my surgery came in for both eyes at … *drumroll please* $3300.  And I was pretty darn pleased!!  Better yet – they set me up on a payment plan.  2 years no interest.  So I just finished paying that puppy off a few days ago.  Thank you very much!  :)

A few days before my surgery: I made sure to get my hair cut.  The last thing you want is to have to get your hair cut within a month of having surgery.  The first month after is very crucial.  You can’t touch your eye.  You have to be very conscious of what could get in your eye.  No makeup.  No hair spray.  No perfume.  And I took that to mean no haircuts, because I inevitably get little cuts of hair in my eyes, every time!  And to make matters worse, I had long, sweep to the side bangs prior to surgery, which got in my eyes all the time.  So, I chopped them way short.  AND I had to go without make up.  It was pretty much torture.

The above picture is the day of surgery!  That’s the before.  [duh!]  I wore my “Joe Mamma” shirt because I was trying to “be brave” and it was the same shirt I had worn a few months before when I went skydiving.  Maybe I’ll talk about that on another flashback.  ;)

The day of the surgery went so fast!  My Dad and my Sister drove me to the surgery.  I made sure to wear very comfortable clothes, bring a pillow, the darkest sunglasses I could find, and a hat.  I got to the doctor’s office and met with the doctor for a few minutes.  He explained the risks to me, and what I would need to do after surgery.  He told me everything that would happen during surgery, and calmed my nerves quite a bit – surgery would last 4 minutes on each machine (there are two machines), he would talk me through everything, and don’t worry about blinking.  That was one of my biggest concerns.  You can blink the entire time!!  [in all reality, they have your eyes clamped open, but you really don’t feel it.  It feels just like you are blinking like normal!!!]  He gave me the numbing drops, put a hair net on my head, and led me into the operating room.

I have to say the doctors and nurses I had were the BEST!  They were so good at their job and really REALLY took care of me.  They led me to the first machine and I laid down on the table.  They put my head in a very comfortable head rest, and then swung a large piece of machinery over my head.  I had to look into a blue light at this point.  The machine came down to my face and the doctor explained that I would feel some pressure.  Have you ever been hit in the eye?  It was kind of like that – but not as strong. … meaning there was the same feeling of pressure, seeing stars, things going dark, but it was really gradual.  The doctor said that I would lose my eye sight for a bit but it was normal.  Things just went really dim and then I couldn’t see.  It wasn’t scary, really.  It just looked dark – like I had my eyes closed.  But to be honest, it was so dim in the room to being with that it really wasn’t too much different.  Then the machine moved to the second eye and did the same thing.  Later I realized this machine was the one that was cutting the flap in my cornea.  I promise you can’t feel it.  It sounds way crazier than it really is.

After that was done, I had a little bit of eye sight – it was just really really dark.  …like trying to walk around in the dark.  A nurse helped me get up from that table and move to another table.  The same thing happened at this table.   My head was put in a comfortable brace and a piece of machinery came over my head.  The doctor told me to look at the light ahead of me.  It was by far the COOLEST light show I’ve ever ever ever seen!!!  It was just something I could never fully describe.  What was happening at this point was the doctor had pulled the flap of cornea back and was “cutting” my eye with the laser – to reshape it back to a normal shape.  But what I saw was a display of beautiful colors and designs and just pure craziness!!  Again, it didn’t hurt.  …although there was a very faint scent of something burning.  Good bye bad vision!  And of course, they repeated it with the other eye.

After that, another nurse helped me up and walked me to a chair to sit in.  The doctor then examined my eyes.  Things were still very blurry and fuzzy, but I could already see better.  YEP!  The very minute after surgery (8 minutes after I had walked into the room) I could already see better!  They put lots of drops in my eyes, gave me some Tylenol PM and told me to go sleep for 4 hours.

I put on my dark glasses and hat and my family lead me to the car.  I slept the whole way home (nearly two hour ride) and then my sister stayed the night with me to make sure I could sleep some more.  I remember that it was raining that day, on the way home, so the skies were pretty dark.  But everything seemed so BRIGHT!  I couldn’t open my eyes when I was in the car or outside because they were so sensitive to the light.  They would just pour water out of them – it was like I was crying the whole way home.  Looking back on it, that was a good thing.  But at the time I feared I would never get better.

I woke up in my bed a few hours later and looked over at the clock.  It read a few minutes after 5 pm.  Wait.  It did what!?  I remember that very first time when I looked over and could actually read the clock from the bed.  I was FLOORED!  And I knew I had made the absolute best decision.  This was SOOOOOOO worth it!

This is me when I had gotten home after I had slept those four hours.  Keep in mind, your eyes are under so much pressure when you get the surgery that it is COMPLETELY NORMAL to have blood vessels pop.  My one eye was fine.  My other eye had two popped blood vessels.  I swear it didn’t hurt.  It just looked ugly:

That night I went to bed with my new after-LASIK attire – a new pair of goggles.  It is very important that you wear these until your doctor says you don’t have to anymore!!  It’s so easy to rub your eyes while you are sleeping without even realizing it.  But especially for the first week or two, you are not even supposed to touch your eye at all, so the cornea flap has plenty of time to heal back into place.  Make sure to wear them every time you sleep!  And if you’re like me, you might want to tape them to your face … because if not, you might wake up with them flung across the room ;)

Don't be hatin' you don't wake up looking this awesome.  haha!!  jk

The next few weeks involved a lot, I mean a LOT of eye drops – about every half an hour.  Some of the drops left a very nasty taste in my mouth.  So whenever I took the drops, I’d make sure to drink something yummy :)

Also, make sure you get eye drops that do not have preservatives in them.  You can find packs of these individual ones.  Buy the big pack.  …on second thought, but three of the big packs.  You’ll use them all!

These were Refresh drops, and the packages specifically said for use after LASIK.

It also involved a lot of follow up appointments to the doctor.  It was a little difficult to get used to brightness again.  When the doctor cleared me to go back to work (since I then worked on the computer all day) she told me to take lots of precautions.  So, I set up monitors as dark as I could, I wore sunglasses inside, and a hat to block the overhead lights I couldn’t turn off, took lots of breaks, and eased myself back into working a full day.

Getting ready to go back to my nerdy job ;)

Disclaimer, I am NOT a Maryland fan.  I just had to borrow a hat from a friend.  You will never again catch something like that on my head!  ;)
Other things you’ll want to avoid: swimming (no water in the eyes!), exercising, sweating, lifting heavy things (puts strain on your eyes, believe it or not), make up, hair spray, and you’ll want to use caution when you shower – not to open your eyes or get water in them.

So how good were the results?  It was clear that my vision had improved.  It was interesting to see how much it would improve.  The doctor had told me that I would at least have perfect vision.  I can’t remember a time when I had 20/20 vision, so I was excited!  When everything was all said and done, I was reading the 20/15 line like no body’s business.  …and if they showed me the 20/10 line, I could almost make the letters out.  Pure craziness!!!

One week after LASIK.

I knew when I went to all the follow up appointments that my eye sight was incredible – and that the doctor’s did an incredible job.  But sometimes you still can’t put that all in to perspective.  But one day, within a few weeks or two of surgery, it really hit me how well I could see.  The picture below is taken in my bathroom.  I’m sitting on the toilet (no, not using the bathroom, geeze!  Just sitting there).  On the sink up against the far wall is a gray bottle of hair spray with a teal top and teal words.  You know those tiny words written on the back of personal care products that are difficult to read (directions, ingredients, etc)?  I could read it.  All the way from there.  Every single word.  Never EVER in a million years would I have thought that was possible.

A few weeks later, my blood spots cleared up, my corneas heeled completely, and life as I knew it came back.  I wore make up again, I went swimming again, I got my hair cut again.  Life was incredible without glasses.  It took what seemed like forever for me to stop trying to push my glasses up on my nose … even though I wasn’t wearing them!  Ha!  That was a hard habit to break.

My last word of advice.  It has been about a year and a half since I had the surgery.  My doctor had told me to keep using “tears” drops even if I felt fine.  So I use them twice a day – even still.  I use them in the morning when I first wake up, because my eyes are a little dry (it was like that before I got surgery) and I use them at night after I take off my make up (just to make sure my eyes are cleaned out from make up residue).  At my one year appointment, my vision was just as good as my one week appointment – which apparently is very, very good.  The doctor said that a lot of patients will have better than 20/20 vision, but it eventually will degrade a little back to 20/20.  Mine didn’t.  Mine stayed at 20/15.  And she said she would bet money that it’s because I still use drops.  I don’t know if there’s any real truth to that, but I’m not willing to risk it ;)

LASIK is guaranteed for life.  $3300 and never again do I have to wear glasses or contacts.  If I keep going to a yearly check-up that guarantee remains.  If my eyes should ever revert back, the surgery to correct them again will be free.  [this does not count for “aging eye” since LASIK cannot fix that.  I may need reading glasses in the future, but for the next 30 years, I think I’m good].

Now that I’ve written you a novel, you should know everything you need to know.  But if I left something out, or if you have a question please PLEASE don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.  It was one of the best decisions I ever made, and if I can help you, I am more than happy to.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flashback Friday: why I got LASIK

Ok, I’m not one to live in the past (because my present is oh-so-much better) but I have really wanted to start a new series on the blog.  “Flashback Fridays” …just to highlight some of the neat things I’ve done over the last few years.  Ideally I’ll do this every week.  But since I’m still trying to get in the swing of this whole blog thing, we’ll see how it goes.

First up on the flashback: LASIK.  8-)  Come along and relive with me, the adventure to change my life … as I see it.  ;)

In 2010, I decided enough was enough.  The job I had at the time (desk job / on the computer 8-9 hours straight a day) made me say good-bye to contacts.  And I couldn’t stand wearing glasses everyday.  Sure, I even had a super cute pair that I loved, but what a hassle!!  They were so irritating.  So, after several talks with some very convincing friends who had already done it themselves, I took the plunge.  I was so excited!  I even made a countdown until the big day.  It went something like this:

10.  This morning I realized I'm in desperate need of a new eyelash curler.  The rubber pad on the bottom is splitting and will soon be worn away.  And then it hit me.  In 10 MORE DAYS, I will never HAVE to curl my eyelashes again!!

9.  Hubs is excited because never again will he have to answer the age old question, "Honey, have you seen my glasses? ...I think I left them.... on the table?"  Nine days left!!!

8.  No more late night trips to the grocery store because I ran out of saline. ...or no more stocking the closet full.  EIGHT days till LASIK!!

7.  It's so frustrating to fall asleep on the couch (as I often do) with glasses on.  The only thing that comes from this is a poked eye and bent glasses.  But this time NEXT WEEK, I won't have this problem anymore!!

6.  As a cake decorator what's more frustrating than opening up the oven to pull out a fresh cake and getting steamed glasses?...  SIX days! whoooaaa.

5.  The only thing more annoying than your glasses steaming up when getting the cake out of the oven, is actually decorating the cake, with glasses on.  Gloves covered in Crisco and fondant in hand -- that's just the time when your glasses start to slide down your nose.  And no matter how hard you try to push them up with just your forearm, that dang Crisco seems to smear itself all over your glasses EVERY TIME.  5 more days until I get LASIK!!

4.  When I had contacts, I couldn't stand the least little bit of wind -- whether it was a slight breeze, the ceiling fan on, or the windows down in the car.  I don't get that feeling with glasses... but I'm just imaging how it will feel without the glasses.   Four days left till LASIK! It's getting close!!

3.  Because I paid way too much $$$ not to wear these gorgeous sunglasses....and in 3 days I can again.

2.  No more wondering ...are my glasses crooked?  The answer: yes, because even with $400 coach glasses, nose pieces are still sometimes soldered on at different positions.  It's quite frustrating.  I CAN'T BELIEVE I ONLY HAVE TWO MORE DAYS TILL LASIK!!!

1.  With glasses, I always thought accessories were too much -- too heavy to add.  Without them, expect more headbands, big earrings, and lots and lots of eye makeup.  :) ...not all at once though.  I'm not gaudy.  LAST DAY WITH GLASSES!!! AAAAHHHHHHHHH.

I had started this countdown once I found out that I was actually going to have the surgery.  Believe me.  I could have listed 100 more reasons why I wanted LASIK.  I just didn’t have the time.

So many people wanted to know about the surgery, the procedures before and after, and how much it costs, etc.  I’ll answer as much as I can tomorrow.  But no one asked why I got it.  To anyone that’s ever had inferior vision, I guess that answer is obvious.

It’s a surgery I’ll never regret.  The only thing I regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.  I could never stress enough how uncomfortable I was before LASIK, and how insanely better my life is now that I’ve done it.  I wasn’t just uncomfortable with how I looked (that was such a minor part of it) but I was literally uncomfortable.  My eyes were always dry, always hurt, and I felt like I could never see, with or without glasses.  All that changed.  And it only took 8 minutes to do it.

If you’re on the fence, I cannot encourage you enough to seriously consider it.  It was worth every. Single. Penny.  To me, it was SUCH a small price to pay for HUGE rewards in the end!!

Here’s to better than perfect vision!  :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

couponing newbie

A few days ago, I decided I’d try my luck at “civilized couponing.”  It’s what we bloggers like to call the saner version of “extreme couponing.”  Not that there’s anything wrong with clearing out shelves and paying zero to very little for it, but it’s just not my style.  Juggling coupons and deals can be very overwhelming (as it was to me) and I have limited kitchen space as it is.  So, with the lead of Little Bit Funky and a few others, I decided to try my hand at buying what I needed or regularly use at a much cheaper price.

So, Monday, with the help of my hubs, I ventured out on my very first couponing trip.  Like I said, I was very overwhelmed at the thought, but who doesn’t like saving money??  I spent an hour that morning looking through deals on the internet and printing coupons.  I spent about an hour and a half and went to four different stores.  I paid $23.28 for all of this:

It's really like I bought that shirt and got the rest FREE ;)

How did I do it?  I’ll tell you, of course!

First stop was Staples.  They had those reams of copy paper on their “easy rebate” list.  Meaning, you have to pay for them in the store, but they give you a rebate form and you get fully reimbursed for them.  And when they say easy, they actually mean it.  All I had to do was fill out a simple form online (seriously took less than 2 minutes) with the rebate information printed on the receipt and my address.  You can even choose how you want it rebated – a rebate check mailed to you, or directly deposited into your PayPal account.  Total price: FREE!  Sweet!  Word of advice for this though: when you hear about easy rebate sales going on at Staples, go as quickly as you can.  I went on the last possible day, and a few of the other items they had on the rebate for free were sold out.  And there’s no rain check for that.  Sorry, folks.

Next stop was Michael’s.  I’m not a huge fan of this store.  Ok, let’s be frank.  I can’t stand this store.  But there aren’t many craft stores around this area.  So a few months ago, when we moved in to our new place, I purchased a few white photo boxes, at what I thought, was a good deal.  I eventually wanted to see my entire craft closet filled with those boxes, but that’s kind of expensive. 

Each box is regularly $3.99.  If you sign up for Michael’s emails (which I did a long, long time ago) not only will they email you the circular with the sale items, but they will also send you coupons for that week.  This week’s circular showed that my beloved photo boxes were on sale 6 for $10.  That’s just $1.67 each.  Whoa!  THEN one of the coupons they sent was 20% off the entire purchase – including sale items.  That brought the price down to $1.33 each.  So I loaded up by cart with 6 of those puppies and paid a whopping $8.37 for everything (that’s like four FREE photo boxes, people!!)  My closet never looked better:

ok, ok.  it's still very much a work in progress.  BUT!  it's the first time I've ever had a place for my craft tools, so I'm stoked!!  I hope to spruce it up eventually :)

The third store was Target.  Target is an awesome place, no?  Rule of thumb at Target that I learned thanks to the incredible folks at – hand the cashier the manufacturer coupons first, then hand them the store coupons.  You’re allowed to combine coupons there, but apparently this is the way to do it.  I’m not sure why.  And I didn’t argue.  I just did as told.

I had a $3 off one maternity item store coupon, so when I found that shirt on clearance for $3.60, I nearly died.  Do you have any idea how expensive maternity clothes are!?  And I got one for 60 cents!???   I’m still in awe.

I headed to the personal care items isle next and landed my husband’s favorite body wash for $1 off, and a pack of cotton balls for $0.50 off.  Both of which we needed.

Then I went to the food section.  Our local Target is currently undergoing renovation on their 
grocery section, so a lot of the coupons I had (both store coupons and manufacturer coupons) couldn’t be used, simply because the stock was limited.  For instance, I really wanted to buy yogurt there, since I had two coupons for it, but they didn’t have any.  :(

I had a store coupon for Welch’s grape jelly.  When I started searching through the jellies, I found one bottle (ONE bottle) that had one of those manufacturer stickers on it that said “save $0.75 now!” and I did, by combining it with the Target coupon I already had.  SCORE!  Then, I had a coupon for a $1 off two Ortega products, so I chose the taco seasoning, making each packet only 19 cents each.  Hello!

Total Target bill for a maternity shirt, body wash, cotton balls, grape jelly, and 2 packs of taco seasoning: $4.87.  The cashier didn’t even blink an eye.  I, however, started getting butterflies and feeling a little bit giddy.

Last stop, Food Lion – a grocery chain here in the South.  I had a manufacturer coupon for Totino’s pizzas, which I happened to know were on sale at Food Lion.  Typically $1.79 each, they were on sale for $1 a piece.  Pair that with my buy five get a dollar off coupon, and it was a pretty sweet deal.  I also bought all those yogurts with a coupon.  One thing the cashier did, that she probably shouldn’t have done but I thanked her for a lot anyway – I had a manufacturer coupon for 50 cents off 8 YoPlait yogurts.  That yogurt pack I had in my cart technically has 8 yogurts in it.  But the pack is already at a discounted price.  I don’t think YoPlait meant for those coupons to count towards the 8-packs.  But technically there are 8 in there, and the coupon never said you couldn’t so I tried it.  When the coupon wouldn’t scan, the cashier agreed with me and chose to override it.  **Note, if you’re ever in doubt, don’t be afraid to speak up.  The coupon never said it wouldn’t count, and the cashier agreed that I was purchasing 8 yogurts, so she gave me the discount anyway.  I’m sure my nice attitude (and cute baby bump) didn’t hurt.  Cashiers easily get annoyed when you hand them a stack of coupons.  Be nice!!  It can go a long way!  Total FL bill: $10.04.  I don’t think I ever come out of that store paying so little!

So there you have it.  That’s how I did it.  2 ½ hours invested (that includes shopping time, and believe me, I took my time and browsed at each store).  What should have cost me over $75, really cost me $23.28.  And I didn’t purchase one single thing that I can’t use.  And I’m not hoarding twenty bottles of mustard in my basement either.  Success!!

So where did I find the deals?  I’d like to say I’m super on top of things and very conscious about store deals / where every single dollar goes, but… that’s a lie.  *sigh*  I already told you that I took the lead of Little Bit Funky.  She recommended a site (again, I already mentioned) – which posts an unbelievable amount of deals each day.  I got the Target coupons at and the manufacturer coupons at  I got the Taco coupon on the Ortega website.

Any other questions – don’t hesitate to leave a comment and ask.  I definitely don’t mind!  I don’t know how often I’ll be doing this couponing thing, but even if I do it once a week, or once a month, saving money on things we use … well I can’t go wrong there!

And now I’m off to celebrate my birthday!  :)  …which was yesterday.  But after taking my first glucose test at the baby doctor, I had all the sugar I needed.  The thought of birthday cake was not appealing after that.  But a very long nap was.  ;)

Ps – my apologies for the poor picture quality.  iPhone it was!