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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

No Pain, No Gain Right?

Okay here I am wearing my glasses for the last time. (I have been wearing glasses/contact lenses since I was 13 and before the PRK I was at -10.0 with my glasses and -8.75 with my contacts.) My prescription has stabilized for the past three to four years and most doctors have said I am a good candidate for the surgery since I have no history of glaucoma in my family and I lead a fairly active lifestyle. LASIK is not available in Torino so I opted for PRK, this procedure uses the same excimer laser as LASIK but has a longer recovery time. I opted to have both eyes done at the same time just to get it over with. It was very hard not to be able to see for two days but I think I made the right choice for me.

Walking into the doctors office I was nervous, I took some meds (Valium and Bromazepam-an anti-anxiety) to help calm me down. But when the lady before me when in and out in a matter of 5 minutes I felt at much better. Here is the entire procedure in a nut shell. One eye was done at a time, first the eye lids were held open by a plastic eye opener thingy, it happened so fast I did not get a good look at it but it was the most uncomfortable part of the whole procedure. (Someone needs to invent a more comfortable eye opener thingy). Then drops were added to my eyes to numb them, more drops were added to remove the epithelial layer of the cornea so the laser could access the interior. I looked at a red light for about 3-5 minutes per eye then walked out of the doctors office in no pain at all. When I mentioned this in Italian to the female doctoressa said "there is no pain now", which I interpreted to mean I could expect pain when I got home. (One downside, there was a acrid burning smell, like burning hair when the laser was removing extraneous tissue from my eye.)

When I got home two hours later, I felt a slight irritation in my eyes that turned into full blown shards of glass piecing every surface of my eye ball type of pain. I could not open them for two and a half full days and had to wear sunglasses 24/7. Here I am sleeping off the drugs. They gave me a sleeping pill that basically lasted for 24 hours and gave my eyes time to rest. It was quite comical at dinner the first night when my fork pierced nothing 1 out of 10 times. Of course I was stubborn and would not let Deme feed me. In then end I picked up pieces of steak with my fingertips. The next night I think I slept through dinner but before I dozed off I saw Deme eating a whole package of toast with a gigantic bowl of chocolate milk. Men when left to their own devices eat anything don't they?

When I could finally open my eyes again, I had 103 messages in my In-Box. Deme read them to me and we responded to the most urgent ones but in order to even read the screen, I had to change the appearance to HIGH CONTRAST, since bright colors were still a problem for me. I checked as many blogs as I could, called my parents and friends while I waited for the cells to grow back in my eye. In their place I have a clear protective contact lens that is due to be removed tomorrow. After my check up I'll find out how much of my vision was corrected. I don't expect to be 20/20 but I only have to be 20/40 to drive and I might need a pair of glasses at night which is fine with me. Since they will certainly be thinner than the coke bottle bottom glasses I was wearing at home before. Last but not least a few bit of advice for those who are thinking of getting the surgery.

1. Get LASIK if you can, PRK are for certain cases only (like thin corneas, do your own research) and if I could have gotten LASIK I would have.
2. Make sure to take something before the procedure aka drugs, Deme got some morphine in Seattle along with the local anesthetic for his eyes (he recovered in 1.5 days) but I was very nervous and wanted to be really relaxed before the procedure.
3. Check out more than one eye clinic.
4. Take the pain medication right after the procedure so by the time you get home you are covered.
5. Ask for extra eye drops, you will feel like there are shards of glass in your eye but you should not rub them at all. The drops will help to soothe the itching. I ran out of drop and had to use plain ole saline solution but it did not contain antibiotics.
6. Rest, drink plenty of water and ask for a few sleeping pills.

All in all, I was happy with the procedure, I will report back later when I get the lens removed and am feeling 100%.

P.S. Sorry to my dad who I called 2 days ago crying my eyes out. I did not mean to worry you. ;)


At 3:44 AM, Anonymous J.Doe said...

I never new there was more than one procedure. I thought everything was LASIK. Thanks for the link about PRK.
I'm glad you are recovering well.

At 4:51 AM, Blogger Sandra said...

Ew, sounds painful. My friend had LASIK in the U.S. and it was nothing, a total breeze for her. She said she woke up the next morning and could read the clock from across the room. I hope you'll be feeling 100% soon, with good results for your vision. Your glasses are cute on you, but they are such a nuisance, aren't they?

At 6:31 AM, Blogger Typesetter said...

My sight is still slowly regressing, so I am not a good candidate for surgery. Anyhow, I am quite used to my glasses and I would sorta miss them. Besides, the idea of a laser being beamed in my eyes honstly "mi fa £a£are in mano" (sorry, I don't know a way to convey this concept in English). So, I think you were really very brave. 8-*

At 8:43 AM, Anonymous island girl said...

I am glad you are feeling better. Sorry I missed your call yesterday; we were out for a few hours. This week is going to be crazy with my in-laws in town. Talk to you soon!

At 9:11 AM, Blogger Knit Chick said...

I am thinking about the surgery too, but then when I saw Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie do it live on TV, I thought - hey if they can do it - anyone can. I would love to see without contacts or glasses. I am going to see the eye doctor tomorrow - so we'll see. Hope you feel better soon.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Cynthia Rae said...

Ciao Gina!
So happy to see you back at blogging today! I will check in with you tomorrow. Sogni d'oro!


At 3:04 PM, Blogger american girl in italy said...

You are so brave! That has to be scary having your eyes pried open by an eye opener plastic thingy (is that the technical name?) and having lasers shoot at your eyes, that have been stripped of their layers! OK, now I am scared! hehe Glad you are feeling better!

How exciting to be free of your lenses and glasses!! Now I want lasik!!!

At 9:28 PM, Blogger corpodibacco said...

A-hem. Your eyes seem to be great and beautiful, so that obviously made it easier for the surgeon.


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