Saturday, October 4, 2008

Extreme Makeover or just a healthy lifestyle?

And now for something completely different.

My friends were laughing at me the other day - they said I was going thru an extreme makeover. First the weight loss, then the fitness kick, then laser eye surgery, then the triathlon, and now braces. While I must admit I have done all those things in the past 2 years, an "extreme makeover" was never the intent.

The fitness and weight thing have always been goals - it's just that I was finally able to find an activity that motivated me enough to stick with it. It started with cycling, and then running, and finally triathlon. Yahoo!

The laser eye surgery has been a goal ever since it was first invented. Why now? I finally had the money and the motivation to do it - especially in relation to my outdoor activities as of late.

The braces? Well, they were DEFINITELY not on my "list of things to do before I die." But my dentist has convinced me that he will not be able to correct the ongoing wear of my front teeth without first realigning my jaw. He told me that a year ago. I've been thinking about it for a year. If I'd just gone ahead and done it a year ago, I'd only have one year left to wear the stupid things. At any rate, I have now decided to think of it all as another tough training session and just "get 'er done."


But today I want to write about the Laser Eye Surgery experience. Am I happy that I did it? Well the jury is still out on that one.

For anyone who has not read my blog, I had stage one of my laser eye surgery last March. Nothing at all has gone the way I expected but as you have probably noticed, I am always an optimist and have a great deal of patience. If I have to wait a year to find out if I am content, I'll wait a year.

A quick bit of background - my eyes were VERY near sighted, about -11 diopters in both eyes. That's like 20/4000 or something I think. Anyway, it's a bit of a dicey decision to go for laser eye surgery when you are that near-sighted. I was unable to do the Lasik so had to have PRK which means that instead of cutting and peeling back the epithelium layer before they laser, they actually completely remove the layer. This means that I have to grow that layer back. It takes a looong time and it's fairly painful, and it can come in uneven and cause abberations in vision (luckily that was not an issue for me.)

Because I was just beginning to lose my close-up vision for reading, I opted for mono-vision which means that my dominant eye is fully corrected and my non-dominant eye is slightly under-corrected. The idea is that the stronger eye takes over for distance vision while the under-corrected eye still allows me to read without reading glasses. In my case, I've been wearing a single contact in my right eye to bring it up to 20/20 while I wait for my second surgery.


• My eyes are currently -1.5 and although I have not yet had my 2nd surgery, I really can function without glasses now. I can even drive without contacts.

• I hated wearing glasses but more so, I hated wearing strong glasses that limited the style I could wear and distorted my face. That is no longer an issue.

• I can now wear good quality sunglasses, which is particularly important when I'm running and riding.

• I can see when I swim!!!!


• I will have to have two surgeries so while I wait the 4-6 months between surgeries, my eyes are not 20/20 (about -1.5 in each eye) and I still need to wear contacts or glasses.

• So far, I HATE mono-vision. My brain does not seem to want to have my right eye take over and things are still blurry and distorted. I am particularly uncomfortable riding my bike, especially at high speeds, so I have taken to wearing contacts in both eyes when I ride. If I still hate it in January, I will get the left eye touched up as well and live with reading glasses. (That's still better than regular glasses in my opinion.)

• The nerves in my eye are still extremely sensitive so I have a lot more pain and irritation that I used to. This makes wearing contacts much more difficult.

• I have severe stabbing eye pain on occasion, for no apparent reason. It comes out of the blue, stops me in my tracks, and then goes away in about 1-2 minutes.

• My eyes are extremely dry. I wake up two to three times in the middle of the night with one or both eyes 'glued' shut and I can't open them until I squeeze some Refresh drops into them.

Should YOU get laser eye surgery?

• If you have a moderate prescription, it's probably fine. If you have a high prescription, you have much more to consider, yet much more reason to do it, too.

• It does take a long time to get used to mono-vision if you opt for that (more likely if you are over 40). If not, you will have to wear reading glasses because laser surgery cannot correct for it.

• If you have Lasik, you will not be able to work for a few days after. If you have PRK, you will have severe pain for 2-3 days (Day 2 being the worst and rest is manageable) and you will not be able to function for 2-3 days. You may not be able to drive for 1-4 weeks.

• You can't swim for 3 weeks after.

So, I am now booked for my second surgery - November 6th. It won't be a fun weekend but hopefully, I'll have 20/20 vision in my right eye afterwards.



My running this week has been pretty good. I had to force myself to go out on Tuesday and Thursday but felt motivated on Saturday. My Saturday run was awesome. I ran the entire time and didn't have ANY GI issues. I only started to feel tired about the last 300m. I am hoping I'll be able to do 10K next weekend. I rode a hilly 30km later that day and my left glute is a bit knotted up. I think it will work itself out over the next day or so though.

Tuesday - 4km
Thursday - 5km
Saturday - 8km

This week, I plan to do the same but run the Zen 10k on Sunday. Will probably do it alone instead of paying to run the 10k at the Okanagan Marathon. Still could change my mind though...

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