I can see clearly now…

A few of weeks ago, I went and got LASIK done. I’ve had glasses since I was about thirteen years old, but in the beginning I only wore them to see the board in class or when I went to a movie. I started wearing them all the time when I was about twenty-one and couldn’t pass the driver’s test without them. So not having to wear them anymore was a pretty big change for me. And the procedure was . . . amazing, strange, and frightening. If you’re squeamish, you might want to skip this section with my apologies and move onto the next, because I’m going to describe what the whole thing was like.

I have to start by saying I have crazy-sensitive eyes. I’ve never been able to wear contacts. I often can’t go outside without my prescription sunglasses. I hate optometrist visits the way most people hate going to their dentist. By the end, the doctor has to pry my eyes open Clockwork Orange-style just to get anything done.

Not really. But this is how it feels.

All of this is to say that I was pretty uncomfortable with the idea of someone slicing my eye open with a laser, which is what they do. But first they offer you a Valium to help you relax, which I accepted, but they only gave it about five minutes to kick in before they took me in for the procedure. So I wasn’t relaxed at all. Then they lay you down on a medical bed that might actually be pretty comfortable if not for the hulking, humming machinery on either side. Then they pull the first laser around, the slicing laser, and there’s no going back after that.

The doctor reassured me that the technology is so advanced, the machine actually knows whether it’s your eye before it starts working. If it’s not your eye, it won’t even turn on. Same goes for movement. If your eye moves even the slightest bit, the machine turns off and waits until you’re realigned before it kicks back on, remembering exactly where it left off.

So the first laser slices open the top layer of your eye, creating a flap that they pull back to expose the second layer of your lens. The strange thing is, you can see them do it. I watched this flap get peeled back, like a curtain being pulled away, and my vision went with it. The world became a hazy blur. That’s when they switch you to a second machine, the one that does the reshaping of your lens to correct your vision. That was the hardest part for me, because you have to hold your eye perfectly still. They tell you to focus on a red light, which isn’t a red light so much as a red tinge in the center of your cloudy world, and the whole time the machine is making a loud ratcheting sound all around you. When that’s done, they fold the flap back into place, wash it and smooth it out, and your vision returns in what was, for me, a glorious moment of relief.

Then they do the other eye.

The whole procedure took about ten minutes. I was in and out of the office in less than an hour, and most of that time was spent in the waiting room. For the first few hours following, my eyes burned like someone had just wacked them with the sleeve of their sweater. But I slept for a few hours (the Valium having finally kicked in) and when I woke up they felt much better. I went about my day as normal, and the next morning at my post-op checkup, I learned I now have 20/15 vision in both eyes. 20/15! That’s better than regular eyes! It’s like I have a very mild super-power!

It’s been amazing. I’ve worn glasses for so long, I had forgotten how inconvenient they can be. It’s only now that I no longer encounter those inconveniences that I’ve become aware of them again. Simple things, like going out in the rain and not having to wish glasses came with windshield wipers. Or going to a 3D movie without having to somehow fit the 3D glasses over my own (made Wrath of the Titans much more enjoyable). All of this is to say that I’m very, very glad that I did it. And I’m grateful to my wife for encouraging me, because I don’t think I would have gone through it without her.

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Icefall has been released in Italian as The Daughter of the Ice, which is a beautiful title. The cover is gorgeous as well, though perhaps a little more fantasy in tone than the book.

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I want to put out another plug for the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop. My fantasy class is sold out, but Mette Ivie Harrison is teaching one as well, and hers is almost full, too. There are classes for most genres, including contemporary, paranormal, middle grade, and young adult. And there are two advanced classes being taught, so even if you’ve attended the workshop before, you can attend again and take your writing to the next level. So if you’re wanting to attend, don’t wait. Register to make sure you get the class you want.

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To close out this entry, another review appeared for Jenna Lamia’s wonderful reading of the Icefall audiobook, this time from Publisher’s Weekly.

And a few more reviews for Icefall from around the web.

National Homeschool Book Award

One Librarian’s Book Reviews

Mom Read It

Mr. H Reads

Loft Blog

Kids Books Central

Fantasy Literature (second review)

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7 Responses

  1. Matthew: I know EXACTLY how you feel! I thought I was opening my eyes so they could put that thing in (excellent photo, by the way) but the doctor had to growl at me (really, he growled) to open my eyes! Scary and then wonderful…waking up to see the world clearly with no glasses! It is especially nice when you are in a swimming pool…you can see the person you’re headed for and avoid those blurry “sorry, I thought you were my spouse, didn’t mean to grope you” moments! And of course….you can wear super-cool sunglasses of any variety now!
    PS: I loved Icefall. Absolutely. It is spectacular.

    Reply
    • Matthew

       /  April 5, 2012

      Oh, I am so looking forward to swimming this summer. And skiing in the winter will be better, too. Time to go shopping for sunglasses!

      Glad you liked Icefall, Annie!

      Reply
  2. Andrea

     /  April 5, 2012

    Lasik surgery sounds kind of freaky. But I really need to have it done so I don’t ever end up in an emergency evacuation situation where I leave my glasses behind because we’re in such a hurry and then my contacts rip or something and then I’m almost blind during a crisis. (Not that I’ve ever worried about that, because who would worry about something like that? Not me.) Ha, ha. Seriously, though, I think I should go for it.

    On another note, I registered for your WIFYR class (yay!), but it’s my first time doing a morning class at the conference and I’m not sure what to expect. Are we supposed to bring a certain number of pages from a manuscript we’re working on–or will everyone just bring whatever they have? Maybe you’re planning to send out an email letting us all know what to expect–but I thought I’d ask in case everyone else already knows what to expect and I’m the only clueless one:). Thanks!

    Reply
    • Matthew

       /  April 5, 2012

      LASIK is kind of freaky, but it turned out to be well worth it in my case.

      As for the WIFYR class, welcome! Every instructor does it a little differently, I think. You will be receiving an introductory email with all the info soon. Looking forward to meeting you!

      Reply
  3. Andrea

     /  April 5, 2012

    Awesome, thanks!

    Reply
  4. Heather

     /  April 22, 2012

    Congrats on the lasik! I’ve thought about getting it, but I’m scared about people poking me in the eye. But it sounds like it wasn’t too bad. Hmmm…

    Reply
    • Matthew

       /  April 22, 2012

      Thanks, Heather. It’s one of those things that was not pleasant to go through, but was totally worth it for the results.

      Reply

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