Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hey, Four Eyes!

It has been several years since anybody has called me that, but nobody will be able to now. Friday afternoon I had LASIK. I wasn't planning on having the surgery until my last vacation time, which would be in February. I was going to go to Japan for this break, but on Friday the 12th, I decided that I was not going to go this time. I did not do much planning for it, and I really did not decide where I was going to go. I decided that instead, I would stay in Korea and take care of business, like getting the ball rolling on LASIK, looking into Korean lessons, and possibly traveling around other places in Korea. I did only one of those because on the 12th, I made an appointment with an eye clinic in Seoul.

I had been looking into different places in Korea for LASIK. Only one place in Korea had its website in English. I could have gone to a place in Pusan, but I would have had to take along a Korean speaker to translate for me, which I did not want to ask anybody to do. I even saw on thw website that one of the doctors had studied LASIK at Stanford and UCLA, so I knew for sure that he spoke English. I decided to spend my vacation time in Seoul so that if I did have the surgery, then it would not put a crimp in my plans. If I did not have the surgery, then I could sight see in Seoul.

I had an appointment for a consultation on Wednesday at 2:00. I had a little trouble getting there from the subway station but I called them and they told me how to get there. There were 24 tests that I had to go through. Some were to see if I was a good candidate and some were to see how much correction was necessary. After about an hour and a half to two hours, it was determined that I was a good candidate. I was given a choice between the Wavefront laser or the conventional laser. I chose the Wavefront laser because it is more precise. It would cost an additional 300,000 won. All in all, the surgery was going to cost 2, 300,000 won. They gave me a discount of 200,000 won and then would give me an additional discount of 100,000 won if I paid in cash. The day that that was quoted, the exchange rate was 1116 won to the dollar.

Since I was not going to have the surgery until Friday, I spent part of Thursday, looking for a Nonghyup Bank so that I could withdraw 2,000,000 won. I asked somebody at the front desk where there was one and he told me. I either did not follow his directions correctly or he told me wrong (or both). I did not find it. I remembered though that he told me Insadong street, so I went there and walked down the street. Eventually, I found one. I took a number and when it was my turn, I gave my passbook to the teller and wrote 2,000,000 on the back of my number. There was a slip that I had to fill out. I wrote down my account number and then he had some other customer who was leaving write something in Korean and then 2,000,000 won. After a few minutes of processing and him having another teller help him, he gave me the money in cash. Carrying that much money in cash is like carrying $2,000 in ten-dollar bills. I had to figure out how to get two bundles of money into my purse. I immediately went back to the hostel and put the money in a bag and put it in the freezer, since there was no safe for my jewels.

The next day, I had the surgery. I was a bit nervous. They had to redo some of the tests, but it was just the ones that determined the amount of correction. I had to put a gown on over my clothes and put on a hair net. They put several drops of anesthetic drops in my eyes. The surgery before mine had not started yet so I was able to watch one eye for that person done. Then I was taken into another room where somebody washed my face and put in more drops. Finally, it was my turn. I lay down on the operating table and then they covered my face. They did the right eye first and so they covered my left eye with gel so that it would not dry out. They taped my eyelashes down and then held my eye open. Then came the microkeratome, which is used to cut a flap in the cornea. Then the doctor lifted the flap and ablated the cornea with and laser. He then cleaned the cornea and put the flap down. He did the same with the left eye. Then "Congratulations" by Cliff Richard started playing. It was over. I rested a while in the recovery room. The doctor examined my eye with a slit lamp microscope again. I went back to the guesthouse where I stayed just for that night. My eyes were pretty sore so I just lay there with my eyes closed because they hurt less closed. Later, I went outside and was amazed by how well I could see. There were halos around lights, but that is normal while my eye is healing. I have three different kinds of drops that I have to use. My vision will improve for 1-4 days after the surgery and then will stabilize in 1-4 months. It's weird to be able to see.

The website for the clinic where I went is


Debbie said...

I don't think I'd have the nerve to do that, but know friends to have had LASIK and Kelli, of course. At your age, you will have years of decent vision ahead of you before needing reading glasses (maybe). It is a good investment in yourself!

Ben, Kelli and Nicholas said...

I have really enjoyed the eye sight I have now. I have a little trouble seeing at night (not bad enough to need correction), but other than that it has been wonderful. My advice to you is to use the rewetting drops as much as you want and for a long time. I probably should have used them a little longer than I did! Congrats!

AnnG said...

Very interesting and thorough description of your experience, Josey. Fun to read, and fun to see the website of the place you went! Isn't Internet technology great?! Hope your eyes completely heal with no complications.