River of Life ~Sming's

Me and just me.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006
My Journey to Freedom- LASIK
Another of my karya zaman dahulu that I manage to dig out. hehe..

A freedom of sight
An experience to share
January 2002
For my parents,
Who gave me life,
and everything
made me
what I am today.
And now,
They gave me A new pair of eyes
The Decision
I had been a slave to aided vision since a young age of 9. I still remember that it started when the writing on the blackboard was no longer clear and characters on the television could be only recognized by their voices. Yet, I never suspect that I was losing my eyesight till my mother noticed that I was squinting while looking at the clock. Visits to the optician then were a torture as he always had bad news for me and was never patient with me.

8 years later, I started with contact lens. I was happy to get rid of my glasses. I wore my contacts for long hours and at times more than 12 hours a day. Due to vanity, I was seldom seen with my glasses.

Contact lens did not mean less troublesome. I had lost my contacts while cleaning them and even broke one of them. At times, when that piece of glass decides to runaway, I would be seen on my knees searching for it. Embarrassment and ego was pushed to the very back of my mind, all it matters was to find my lens, my second eyes.

Once, the strap of my handbag broke and hit right on my eye. The lens broke in my eye to 3 pieces. I managed to get 2 out of my eye but the tiniest one refused to budge. I was at Genting Highlands waiting for my second ride on the Odyssey. I need to go to the doctor to have it removed. Thank my lucky stars that my cornea was not badly injured.

That was not the end of the sad stories. My contact lens was giving me problems. Either one of my eye would get reddish and irritated once in awhile. It got worse when I started working. I blamed the dirty air in KL. But till a point, the problem was frequent. Worried was I, a visit to an eye specialist was vital.

Papilary Konjunctiva was the culprit. It is a reaction of some people after years of wearing contacts. It could be due to dirty lens, water or the container. People with allergies like me have a high tendency to get infected. I had to remove my lens and apply medicated eye drops frequently.

Could still remember the time I first appear in glasses at work, I was so self- conscious. Some people were tactful not to say a thing but some are just blunt enough to tell me. “Hey, you look ugly with glasses!”

Vanity rules my heart. I called home to complain and said I would like to have a new pair of glasses. It was then my mother told me to consider LASIK. It was then I started to surf the web for more information on this correction surgery.

Visits back to the specialist gave no better news. At the last visit, the doctor told me that I could try to wear my lens again after cleaning it thoroughly but she does not encourage me to go back to contact lens and should consider LASIK.

I sent my lens for recycle; soak them with heavy dose of protein tablets. I put them back on. Yet, the problem persisted. My right eye started to get irritated after 4 hours and get teary. After I remove them, my vision would be blurred and my eye would be aching for few hours. Sad was I. LASIK, Laser in Situ Keratomileusis, was my last resort.

I called up my cousin, Lian. She had undergone her LASIK treatment and filled me with details and information that I need. But, I still have doubts.

My decision was firm that day at the LRT station. The screw on my glasses loosened unexpectedly and my right piece of glass fell off. I was half blind. It was worse when the screw slipped to the floor. There was I, half blind desperately looking for the screw that was about 1.5mm in size. I knew I looked silly, but I was grateful that I was not driving then. At that moment I made my decision. I refused to depend on glasses and contact lens anymore.
The Check ups
Not every individual can be treated with LASIK. The thickness of cornea must be sufficient, pressure of the eyes must be normal and there should not be any dry eyes syndrome. Also, the power of the eyes must be stabilized.

I arranged for 2 check-ups at different centers. I wanted two opinions

On 5 January 2002 I went for my first checkup. There was a series of tests I need to go through. First, was to check the thickness of my cornea. I had to open my eyes real wide without blinking at a screen that looks like some optical illusion image with black swirling stripes. My cornea was thick enough.

Next, was to check the pressure of my eyes. I had to look straight at a light where a gust of air would be blown to my eyes. I jumped the first time as the air blew straight into my eye. I passed.

Then, they had to determine the power of my eyes. This is the part that is the most tedious. There was I, reading rows and rows of alphabets and deciding which is clearer, A or B?

My power had stabilized. Next was to check if I had dried eyes. The lady inserted a strip of litmus paper to the each side of my eyes. I was then asked to keep my eyes closed. For a minute or two, the paper was retrieved and was damped. Again, I passed.

Then there was a short discussion with the consultant on the risk and complications of the surgery. With my power of short-sightedness and astigmatism, it is a high possibility that I need to come back for enhancement. There could also be a risk of regression, where the power would return. To prevent this, the surgeon would then over correct my vision. That is why patients would be temporary long sighted after the surgery. With my high astigmatism, it would be almost 100% possibility that I would be seeing halos and glares at night permanently.

There could also be a risk during the surgery. After creating the flap, if surgeon finds the thickness of the flap is insufficient, the flap has to be replaced and the surgery could not be continued. This is rare and only happens if there is a sudden movement from the patient or technical fault on the machine.

The risks and complications did instill doubts. But I proceed to the second check up at the other laser center which in overall, much more affordable. It is also a well-established center where they started with PRK.

I was at the center at 10.00am on 11 January 2002.I filled up a form with my particulars. Then, they showed me a video clip of the surgery. That was the first time fear gripped me. How would it be looking right at the blade as it make the flap?

I did not have much time to think. Soon, I was ushered to the examination room. I went through all procedures as before. But there was just a little drama when the lady said my power is not stabilized. I was shocked, just a week ago I had my check up and my power has stabilized at where it was 2 years ago. I asked for a re-examination. My heart beating fast, I really want to go for the surgery. She examined me again and so did her colleague. I was right; my power had stabilized after all.

Other than the previous procedures, they gave me eye drops to dilate my pupils. As they waited for my pupils to dilate, they explained the procedure and also the risks and complications to me. Again.

After 2 –3 drops with a 5-minute interval each, my near vision blurred. My pupils were dilated. The lady took me to a room and examined the inner cornea. The cornea must be free of disease. My heart soared when she said, “Miss, you may consider LASIK. Your cornea is very healthy.”

I went to pay my bill for the checkup and also to book my schedule for the surgery, or referred as treatment in the center.

When the lady gave me the bill, I could not see the figure. I tried to put it at a distance but the printing was too small. I had to take off my glasses to read. Geez, did I feel old then!

I could not read and see anything near for that day. When I read, I had to place the material at a certain distance; much to the amusement of my housemates.

The effect stayed on the whole day. My vision recovered the next day.
Day before the DAY
That night I tossed and turned to wake up and kept thinking that the following morning was the day of the surgery. Only when I regain consciousness, I realized I still had a day to go.

I went to work as usual. But I was just thinking of the surgery most of the time. It was a mixture of feeling.

I was excited and anxious to be able to see things clearly with my naked eye. Yet, I was worried about the surgery. This is my first surgery in my 23 years of life and worse, I would be conscious of the whole process, looking at the blade and also the laser burning my eyes.

A lady from the center called to confirm my appointment. Again and again she reminded me to wear no makeup, perfume or hair sprays. Also to bring a sweater as it would be quite cold.

Friends at work filled me with all the side effects of Laser that I wish I did not know; cataracts, presbyopia or aging of eyes at an early age. I had read and surf the web, there were never such reports on that. I chose to believe that if these facts were true, there would always be new inventions and technology to cure me.

I asked all close friends to wish me luck and pray for me, just for the peace of mind. I received Hoon’s sms that night.

After work, I went to see my (then)bf. I poured out all my worries and excitement to him. I even reminded him to pray extra hard for me. It was that moment I realized everything was left to god to decide; though a bit too late.

Then I saw my credit card bill. As my credit limit was insufficient, I had written an advance check for the bank so that I can swipe my card the next day. The check was returned due to unauthorized alterations.

My heart sank. How am I going to pay the bill tomorrow? All checks that I had written gave no problems. Is this a bad omen from god? It disturbed me. But, as my mother taught me, think of solutions rather than dwell on the problem. I tried to think of all possible methods to make my payment.

My (then)bf offered me to use his credit card or charge card. But, hey, I am an honest person. I don’t do frauds. ;)

So I was left with a choice to pay partially with my card and the rest with a check or cash.

I went home to pack and to get ready for the day.
The Day – 25 January 2002
I did not sleep well that night. I woke up early, 6.50 am. Then, I just could not sleep. My mind was wandering, aimlessly.

This was the second night that I did not have sufficient sleep. It was written on the brochure that I should have sufficient sleep. Anyone who knows me well enough will know that if I do not have enough sleep or rest, I would spend the rest of day sneezing away.

Panic gripped me. What if I sneeze when the surgeon is trying to create the flap? Or during the laser procedure?

I went in and out of restless sleep till 11.00am. I woke up and got ready. I called ST. afraid that she would forget about my appointment at 2.00pm

ST came about 12.30pm. We went to have lunch. The chicken rice I ordered was tasteless, I was just swallowing everything. Marn called to wish me luck. I then went to the bank to withdraw cash for the payment as the center confirmed they do not accept personal checks.

We then left Sri Petaling to the laser center. We were early though we took the long way. Both of us was unsure of the other route

As I stepped in, the lady asked. “Sming?” I nodded and gave my appointment card. Payment was to be done first. I swiped my credit card and it went through, much to my relief. I paid the rest with cash.

I was then asked to take a seat. ST took some newspaper for me. But none of the news went into my mind. I sat there, my mind blank. ST tried her best to assure me that everything would be fine. I just smiled. But, fear lingered.

Then, the nurse in surgical outfit came approached me. My heart made a spin.

“Are you ready, Miss Sming? “

“Yes”, I croaked.

We then followed her into a room with me hanging on to ST for comfort. The nurse then handed me a change of clothes. I changed but I kept my sweater on. They did ask me to bring the sweater. The nurse smiled and said I need to take off my sweater too.

ST was then led to the video room where she will witness my surgery. She gave me one last word of comfort and an everything-would-be-ok look. I gave a weak smile.

The nurse started off with describing the procedure of the surgery. Though I have heard and read of it so many times, each word still makes my skin creeps. She gave me instructions of do and don’ts and also a number to call in case of emergency. It was then I knew the name of my surgeon whose hands determines the fate of my eyes, Dr. Chung.

She then handed me my medication and explained when to apply. She then made a comment, “Had you have your lunch, dear? You look so nervous. “

I nodded but thought to myself, I must be looking like a fool.

She then gave me a quarter of relaxant pill. She cleaned my face and said I should not touch the area, as it is not considered sterile. Also, she gave me some antibacterial eye drops then a pair of plastic like socks and then she covered my hair with a cap.

I was asked to wait for a while. She brought me a blanket. I was feeling cold then. I heard music coming from the surgery room. It was Chinese oldies. Good, I thought to myself, the doctor must be quite old, which means experienced then.

At the same time, I sat alone staring at the Hello Kitty on my blanket and the cat without a mouth stared back. I tried to assure myself that the issue where my check was returned could be a way that god made a complication that might happen during the surgery to a small obstacle. I prayed hard to all gods that I remember, Lord Buddha, Goddess of Mercy, Lord Ganesha and even Jesus. I was plain desperate. I would have sold my soul to the devil if he appeared then.

I jumped each time the door move. When the surgeon entered, I was taken aback. They should announce his arrival, Leos have bad hearts. He looked much younger than I had expected. He then introduced himself and explained the procedures again. As he talked, I searched his face for assurance. But I just could not find any. The surgery would start with my right eye. He then asked me to proceed to the room.

Like a scared kid, “May I bring the blanket along?”
The Surgery
I was then led into the surgery room, holding on my blanket. I was asked to lie down on a chair. I had expected a bed but instead it was a chair, just like those you see in a dentist’s room.

I climbed up the chair and the nurse covered my left eye and applied antibacterial and anesthetic drop to my right eye. My chair then moved to under the machine. I was asked to open my eyes wide. My duty then was to keep cool and concentrate on the green light ahead. At different times, the light was red. The surgeon then used a white sticker like paper to stick my upper and lower eyelids wide open.

Next, he placed a metal clip on my right eye and pried it wide open. It was to stop me from blinking. Dr. Chung then warned that he is going to place the eye suction to my eye; I would feel a bit of pressure and discomfort. I said my prayers; this was the moment that he will create the flap on my cornea. Vacuum applied. But I could no longer see the light. I felt the blade moved; I smell blood.

I stared ahead, desperately keeping my focus on the red light. Then the light blurred, he had opened up my flap.

“Alright, Sming. We are now going to start the laser. There would be a blue light and a ‘tak tak tak’ sound. Just keep looking at the red light ahead.”

The nurse placed her hand on mine. I was stiff like a log; I dare not move an inch. The lights went off and as I stared at the red light, blue lights were flashing. I don’t remember the sound but there was a burning smell.

After approximately 20 seconds, the surgeon announced that my astigmatism is cured and he is proceeding to my shortsightedness. He kept telling me I was doing fine and should keep my concentration. I relaxed. Hey, I am doing OK!

Then the lights came back, my left eye was teary. He proceeded to wash my eye with saline water and dried my right eye. He kept me well informed with the whole procedure. I did not notice that he had replaced my flap. I am glad I kept my mouth shut and not reminding him to do so.

My chair was pushed aside. Antibacterial and anesthetic drops were applied to my left eye. This time, the nurse covered my right eye.

Again, I was pushed to the machine. He again pry open my eye with the white sticker like paper and metal clip. The suction ring came down. The nurse again placed her hand on mine. This time I could not feel the blade move.

The procedure repeats itself but this time the process was shorter as my left eye has a lower power. After the laser, he washed my eyes and dried it with a cotton bud like thing. This time, I was aware that my flap was replaced. I did not feel a thing.
Then I was asked to look up at the light and blink a few times. Then, he announced that the treatment is over. I mumbled thank you as I was led to the recovery room. There was a third person in the room that I never saw the face. I was just so tensed up.

The nurse placed me on the lazy chair and placed another blanket for me. My Hello Kitty blanket was left in the room. It was nice to be tucked into bed. Ages since someone did so for me. I was shivering then, whether it was the cold or fear, I do not know.

The other patient was waiting then. Though my vision was blurred, she looked more jittery and tensed than me. I congratulate myself for that.

The tea lady came and asked if I like to have a drink. I asked for warm water and said no to the cake. It did not look like cheesecake at all. Then, I asked for ST.

In awhile I saw her. She told me she saw the whole surgery. There was a video camera on the machine itself. We snuggled into our seats and talked.

As the anesthetic wore off, I did felt a bit of sandy feeling in my left eye. It was only after some time my left eye was a bit teary.

Then a gentleman walked into the room and called my name. I changed and go for another round of checkup before I can leave home.

He scanned my cornea and led me to the refractive room. I could only read few lines for my right eye; my left eye’s vision was better. He warned me not to rub my eyes, if not, the next day they will need to ‘iron’ my flap back. Yuck!

In the car, I could not open my eyes but the teary effect stopped. I do not know if it was the medication, the sun or I had stressed myself out so much that when everything is over, I just feel so tired. Times, I pried my eyes open to check if ST is ok. If she were a character in a fairy tale, she would be the princess that would always be lost in the woods.

At last I reached home. It was real sweet of ST to walk me up to my apartment. I changed and applied the natural tears and the antibacterial drops. It sting a bit when I applied the latter. I could feel the wound from the flap.

Then I put on my universal eye shields and knocked off. Had to laugh at my ignorance that I had boasted to Marn earlier that I would meet her at 1 Utama after the surgery to shop and have a piece of cheesecake.

I slept for another 2 hours before my (then)bf bought my dinner for me, bringing my favorite sushi. I was a bit long sighted then.Calls from my parents and my bf’s mom came to see if I was fine after the surgery.

After dinner I went back to sleep. There was a bit of pain and discomfort but it went away as I fell into slumber land.
After the Surgery – Day 1
I woke up in the morning, taking away my eye shields. I look around my room. Everything seems clear as I tried to remember if it was that clear before the surgery.

I stepped out of my room. My housemates looked at me eagerly. With a proud voice, I announced the time on the clock.

Things were getting clearer. My (then)bf came over to fetch me. I had some herbal soup his mother made for me. It was supposed to be good for eyes. My parents called and I shared my good news with them. I can see clearly now!

In the afternoon, I went for my check up. I still could not drive but I spent my time on the car reading out car plates and signboards. My heart bursting with joy, I can see as if I was wearing my contact lens.

I went for my check up. I was proud of myself for not rubbing my eyes at all and was confident that I would be just fine. However, when the young lady there took quite some time scanning eyes, I started to worry. She then mentioned that my left eye was quite dry. She asked her senior to examine me. The other lady then said there is a patch on my left eye, SPK. I bit my lip.. What is that? Am I going blind?

Sensing my terror, they assured me it is normal that for dry eyes. I just need to drop the natural tears every two hours according to the prescription. My breathing regain to a normal pace.

Then, in the refractive room, I was asked to read lines of alphabets again. I could manage few more lines but it was still not clear.

I was advised not to drive so soon and I do not have a problem with that. I am just so tired of driving.

That night, we went out. In the car, I experienced glaring and halos. Headlights from cars, street lamps and even the traffic lights were just too bright for me.

I do not know how long this would last. Would it be for weeks, months or for life?

At night, I put on my eye shields to sleep again. I do not know how I look like with it. But when my (then)bf first saw me with it, his reaction was just so flattering.

“Sming, you look like a fly!”

“*&^?@)+!” ,I answered back. “No, I look like Ham Dan Qiu Yan! ”

My imagination told me I would look like Ultraman, living up to my nickname in the office, where Ham Dan Qiu Yan means Ultraman, direct translation would mean “salt egg superman”.
After the Surgery – Day 2
I woke up startled as I accidentally scratched my left eye. It was 3.05 am. There was no pain and without hesitating I drop the eye drops. I tried to see if my eyesight is still ok. It was dark and it did not showed much difference.

In the morning, I was relieved that my eyes are fine. I took out my nail clipper. For my eyes, the nails have to go.

My eyesight remains clear. However, it does fluctuate at night especially after eye drops.

Halos are seen around lights in the house.

Everything seems to be fine so far. I hope it will always be. This is a second chance I have. I cherish the vision I have now. .

25 January 2002, my celebration of rebirth!
Ok. It is a very very very long entry. I know.
I will give a cert for those who actually manage to read till this point..hehe. Just leave a comment. heheheh
Ok, status update.
4 years have passed. I have some left over power. Astig... I think about 25 or 50 lar. Negligible. :) - My ori power was 200+. Scary. Almost blind d !!
Short-sightedness did not reoccur till today. **Finger crossed
But, I do have a special pair of specs for looking at computers. My eyes get tired without the glasses. Also, I have dried eyes for about 10 months after the surgery. Partly also I lazy and always forget to put the eye drops.. :P
But now, I am okie. I have watery eyes.. Sui wong wong dik ngan jing.. heheheh.
For the KPCs, I have broke off with that bf. And it is not the one that I wrote the story for.
When I read/write till here, I cannot tahan. I know I should not kutuk ex-bfs. It is not ethical. BUT, I buoy tahan. So........
I always feel kena cheated. When tackling me and just started pak taw, aiyoooo.. sweet like honey. 2 years later.. like that lar. Never fetch me for the surgery, ask me take taxi ( can rhyme somemore- cool leh)!!
Luckily, I got ST. A friend that I met while she did her industrial training in my office. Really kind of her. Many thanks to her !!!
Somemore, when go check up, he will grumble all the way to the center and ask me go into the building ALONE. He will then sit in the car don't know do what. (got other things but I kutuk till here only lar)
I am so damn happy I dumped him. That time really bak jiu gor sai. ( eyes got shit)
ok lar. Finish scolding d. Syiok d.
Anyway, LASIK was the best thing that happen to me.. Will definitely recommend to go for it. Now they have new technology. Just go check out !! Any questions can ask me ( cheh, like so pro hoh)- on my experience only lar.. :)
posted by sming @ 6:48 PM  
  • At 12:45 PM, Anonymous ah_loong_siu said…

    where is my cert?? very long hoh.. anyway quite interesting .. highly recommended for those who wants to go for lasik... maybe you can talk to the company and ask them whether u can get paid by endorsing their service ?? then can make some money mah.. i think its possible .. those that visit their website can link the testimonial to your blog.. cool yea..

    and poor thing... must take taxi somemore.. luckily i not like that huh.. bringing u around in my Gen 2.. hahaha.. continue to write interesting blogs ok... sek sek...

  • At 2:07 PM, Blogger sming said…

    This is to certify that ah_loong_siu is a super cheong hei reader that have passed the super cheong hei writer's test.
    Salute ! Salute !
    Congratulations !!

    ps. but u did not read properly. ST fetched me mar I din take taxi.. So ur cert half only.. I won't sign it !! Hmmpf

    pps. Ah_loong_siu is my bf lar.. :) hehehe.. so sweet hoh he..

  • At 9:58 PM, Blogger 5xmom ~chanlilian.net~ said…

    Wuah, so long by the time I finished reading, I oso need lasik. Will be back with the 5 Qs later. Today very busy.

  • At 9:29 AM, Blogger AlvinTheSaw said…

    Walau.... super cheong hei....
    i beh tahan have to write comment b4 even finish reading :P

  • At 9:50 AM, Blogger sming said…

    5xmom, hahaha... still wanna do LASIK after you read meh?? I think this entry scared away few of my frens who are potential customers for the lasik centers. ok for the 5Q.. no hurry..

    AlvintheSaw, hehehe..pai seh huh.. that time overwhelmed with emotions.. so words came like flowing water....

  • At 11:32 AM, Blogger NZR said…

    ayyaa.. so long one ah...

  • At 2:28 PM, Blogger sming said…

    hahaha.. thank you for so bei min ahhh (give face).To show my gratitude, I give cert to everyone yeah... ahahhaha
    siu siu yee si, mmm seng keng yi...

    This is to certify that ~5xMom~ is a super cheong hei reader that have passed the super cheong hei writer's test.
    Salute ! Salute !
    Congratulations !!

    This is to certify that AlvintheSaw is a super cheong hei reader that have passed the super cheong hei writer's test.
    Salute ! Salute !
    Congratulations !!

    This is to certify that Nzr is a super cheong hei reader that have passed the super cheong hei writer's test.
    Salute ! Salute !
    Congratulations !!

  • At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Des said…

    I wanted to 'Lasik' my eyes a couple of years back but then chickened out after doing some reading about the possible complications.

    "Although there have been a number of improvements in LASIK technology, a large body of conclusive evidence on the chances of long-term complications is not yet in place. Also, there is a small chance of complications, such as slipped flap, corneal infection, haziness, halo, or glare. The procedure is irreversible."


    But then again, there's always risks involved when it comes to surgeries. And I guess in this case, it all boils down to how much you hate wearing optical aids and how much you yearn for that 'freedom'.

  • At 12:34 PM, Blogger Patrick said…

    yes, i think i should get a cert from you too, cheong hei poh! hahhaa..

    i remember last week i met my friend who just done his lasik, his left eye got some bloody sign!! look like the eye of an empire ! scary. He say he moving abit during the lasik in progress loh! DR tell him it is ok, few month later the bloody sign will go off..!

    ya loh hor. should give him a ring one day..

  • At 2:33 PM, Blogger sming said…

    ok ok certification..
    aiyoo.. Patrick, ppl read this comment lagi more ppl dare not go for LASIK.. hahaha
    ah_loong_siu somemore ask me to make then pay me.. hahah.. never sue me i also tau siu (curi senyum) d.

    This is to certify that Desis a super cheong hei reader that have passed the super cheong hei writer's test.
    Salute ! Salute !
    Congratulations !!

    This is to certify that Patrickis a super cheong hei reader that have passed the super cheong hei writer's test.
    Salute ! Salute !
    Congratulations !!

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