I'd been struggling with my contact lenses for months so I took a leap of faith and investigated what letting a doctor cut my eyes open actually entailed.
Years previously a make up lady I met suggested going to Morefield Eye Hospital for corrective laser eye surgery. They have a private clinic specifically for this procedure. I'd never gone private for anything. I felt like Elton John but as I would hear time and time again, "it's your eyes, you don't wanna fuck about when it comes to your eyes".
They were right. As tempting as a those discount ads were, the idea of scrimping on eye surgery made as much sense as getting an Etch-a-sketch because they're cheaper than buying a TV.
I met my doctor at his offices. Hot. I thought although in hindsight I didn't have my glasses on or my contact lenses so I could be wrong. Anyway, Dr Hot did all kinds of examinations on my eyes, measured them, weighed them, took them out and polished them.
"So, I’ll tell you what the surgery involves" he said
"You don’t want to know"
So he told me.
You are given anesthetic drops then a ring is pushed down onto your eye until you can no longer see. At which point, Dr Hot unsheathes his broad sword and slices off the top of your eye. Not really, just checking you're still reading.
He uses a laser to do this. This process creates a flap which he gently pulls back. The ring is removed and the second laser is then positioned to do the corrections, searing your cornea. Nice.
He also said that I would need someone to collect me from the hospital to get home. I wouldn't be able to can’t cook or do anything strenuous. Excellent, I get to live like John McCririck for a few days.
On the day of surgery, I was a bit nervous to say the least.
I went into the theatre and Dr Hot is super chatty with his nurse. While I’m lying there, they’re chatting about their weekends. He’s off to a festival with his daughter (weird) and the nurse is off to Borough market (less weird)
I knew their game. They were trying to lull me into a false sense of security. Well, it wasn't working. They probably would have been more effective if I weren't laying flat on my back underneath a giant fucking laser but bless them for trying.
He started to talk through what was going to happened. I only heard snippets of words because I was focused on staying calm.
He actually commended me for my relaxed state, saying he had some big brawny builder in a couple weeks earlier that was a wreck. So you see, I’m good under pressure. Excellent qualities in a wife wouldn't you say, Dr Hot?? We can talk about it after.
So my head goes into the head rest.
The strap goes across my head holding it in place
My eye lashes are tapped open.
Ever seen a Clockwork Orange?
I was given the anesthetic drops to numb my eyes
He placed the ring pad on my eye and pushed it down until my vision went. It's more uncomfortable than painful. The thing I'm more aware of is my heart attempting to leap through my rib cage. Caaaalm.
So I'm strapped in. Now I really can't move. I heard a horror story about someone who flinched once this device was in place and nearly ripped their eye out of its sock. Fun times.
He then, with a laser, sliced the top of my eye off, to create "the flap". And that’s what he calls it. No medical fancy term, just, the flap.
At this point he has remove the rubber ring and my vision returns but I'm now essentially blind. All I can see are shapes and colours.
One of the shapes I could see was three blurry red circles and I can tell they are somewhere above my head, distance, unclear but moving closer.
Then I hear them, they are the lasers. Then I smell, that smell. The one everyone tells you about. The smell is -- burning. Burning what… burning flesh. Like when my mum would burn the feather’s off a chicken carcass before she would roast it, that burning.
I was really in my body at that point, abundantly aware of its fragility. My eye sight was in the hands of this man. There was nothing I could do so the calm took me.
Then I could see him push the flap back over and smooth it out. My crinkled eye was smoothed out and that eye was done.
All the while the weekend chit chat continued and I was actually thankful.
He did the second eye and in 20 minutes, we were done.
The strap across my forehead was removed, the tape on my eye lashes stripped off (ironically the most irritating part of the process).
I was taken to the room next door where the food market loving nurse talked me through everything I needed to know.
I had to take three different drops for 4 – 6 weeks. Anti inflammatory, anti infection, anti something else. I was also given an eye drop pain killer which, by the way I was blabbering after I took it, I suspect was in someone way related to the cocaine family. I am of course, speculating here.
My eye sight was still very blurry and I was told it would stay that way until at least the next day.
A taxi came to take me to my mum's. She was an angel. She'd already cooked me dinner and listened to me regale her with tales from the table. I made it sound like heart surgery but for my mum, a nurse of some 35 years it probably sounded no more dramatic then giving blood.
She dropped me home a couple of hours later and even by then the blurriness was starting to clear. It was incredible. By ten o clock I was knackered so I popped on my protective goggles which you're given to ensure you don't crease the flaps, again, medical term - and was asleep in seconds.
I woke in the morning and for the first time in my life, the alarm clock was crystal clear. If you've always had good eye sight that won't be a big deal to you, but to me it was everything. I looked around the room enjoying picking out little details. I could see the photos on the wall, the pattern on the carpet. I popped a foot out from under the duvet and peered at my toes. No longer were they distant blurry hunks of flesh, they were my feet, my lovely in-focus feet.
I had to make another visit back to Dr Hot to make sure everything was in order and then I had to return a month later but it was all fine as I suspected it would be. Ironically, one of the first things I did was buy a pair of Tiny Tempah glasses. After all that.
I felt like I was embarking on a brand new phase. It's changed my life - completely - in all the ways imaginable - driving, cooking - no more steamed up glasses, painting my toe nails, doing my eye make up, wearing sun glasses, watching TV, taking a middle of the night pee, checking train times and so much more.
I was surprised at how quickly being short-sighted became a distant memory. It was like this was how it was supposed to be. Even though I suspect that myopia (short-sightedness) is hereditary in my family, having near 20:20 vision felt much more natural.
It's not to say my sight is perfect. The surgery can cause a slight halo effect around lights and sometimes my eyes take a little while to re-focus between near and distant objects but these are a small price to pay and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Three years on and I'm delighted with the results and have been evangelical about it to anyone who asks. Obviously there are risks but there are with everything we do in life but if you're gonna do it, remember "It's your eyes. You don't wanna fuck about when it comes to your eyes"