My Eyes

Have been permanently altered for the sake of vanity.

They had been subjected to bright, moving lights. Time and again. The pupils of my eyes were first dilated using 2 types of eye drops. The eye drops stung and made the whites red. I sat there waiting with my dilated pupils, waiting to see the opthalmologist.

Then more bright lights using high tech machines. “You are a suitable candidate”, said the ophthalmologist in the late morning, and I scheduled myself to undergo the laser the following afternoon. The Man underwent the same procedures, and thus 4 eyes were booked to be changed.

After a hearty lunch with piping hot foods that misted up our spectacles, we joked about what we would not need to do by mid afternoon the same day.

“Opening my eyes first thing in the morning and be able to see Matt’s smiling face clearly.”, said the Man, the corners of his eyes crinkling behind his faithful friend of 23 years (though the friend had since changed its appearance dozens of times over the course of 2 decades). “And immediately seeing the number 18 when Matt calls it out at the opposite block of flats.” Hmm, for the kids’ sake. Interesting.

“Not having to keep pushing my spectacles up my nose bridge while feeding Megan.” (It sure is uncomfortable on an overly warm day with an overly sweaty and oily face. And using only the thumb from the same hand holding the bottle while the other hand is supporting Megan’s neck. And ignoring Megan’s stare because her feeding pleasure is slightly interrupted by the movement). Interestingly, it’s again related to the kids.

Back at the clinic after lunch, indemity forms were read and signed. 2 pupil dilation-reversal eye drops were administered on the Man, while my pupils behaved enough to escape the second stinging sensation. More tests with bright lights.

As my surgery was a simpler affair, I was ushered into the waiting area first and preparations were made. As I sat there trying to absorb the different instructions and eye drops to adminster when back home, I could hear continuous loud clicking sounds in the background. Click, click, click, click, click… for about 15 seconds. Pause. Click, click, click, click, click… for another 15 seconds. That was the sound of the laser burning away corneal tissue.

Soon it was my turn. I entered the operating theatre and was straight away chilled by the low temperatures. sterile environment, and gigantic machines. My heart started beating faster. And faster. No one helped me climb up the high operating chair. I felt very alone. And scared for my eyes. Numbing eye drops were placed in both my eyes.

The opthalmologist’s voice was smooth but practiced, reassuring but void of emotion. “Relax, you can still talk to me.” Hell, talking was the last thing on my mind, when all I wanted was out.

The medical terms escaped me, even if I were in the mood to remember. At that point in time, all I saw was this metal ring that came into my view and was placed onto my right eyeball. Slowly and surely, the ring started sucking the lights out of my eye and I went blind momentarily. Suddenly, the pressure was gone. Phew, that was fast.

Then I heard the worst words ever spoken. “You’re too nervous. We’re going to have to do it again. Relax and let the pressure build up. Don’t fight it.”

My nightmare began again. This time, I was supposed to voluntarily let my eyeball be sucked blind. I forced myself to relax, fighting against the pain and feeling like my eyeball was going to pop out of the socket. After what felt like a century, the pressure was gone.

“Perfect. Now for the other eye. Relax…” You’ve got to be kidding me doc…

Another century gone, popping eyeball and blindness came and went. “That was the hard part. Now what comes next will be so much easier…” My heart resumed beating.

I was asked to focus on a blinking red light above my eye while my eyelids were taped back and down. A metal brace was expectly placed under my eyelids, preventing me from blinking. At this point or was it another, 2 more drops of anaesthesia was placed onto my eyes. I could hardly remember.

I was reminded to focus on the red blinking light and no where else. I saw a thin metal stick enter my field of vision and felt something being lifted off, though I could not feel any pain. From a compulsory video earlier, I knew it was part of my cornea being lifted away.

The clicking sound began soon after. It sounded much longer when I was on the receiving end. My vision became clearer as the clicks went on. I was lucky to escapre the smell of charred meat because of my sinus. The Man was tormented. The shape of our corneas were permanently changed.

The clicking sounds stopped. A continuous stream of water entered my eye and ran down my temple and disappeared into my hairline. Why no one mopped the water away before it wet my hair, I wondered.  

I saw my corneal flap return to rest on top of my eyeball, and the doctor swiping a sponge over the eye, smoothing out any bubbles. Very much like putting the sticker back onto photos and smoothing out the bubbles like in some photo albums.

The metal brace and eyelid ‘stickers’ were removed and the doctor asked me to keep my eye closed. The whole procedure was repeated on my left eye. All of this was done within 15 course-changing minutes. My vision was perfect now, technically speaking. Reality was far from it, unfortunately.

By the time the Man was able to do his surgery 1 hour after I came out the operating theatre, my eyes were hurting like mad and my tears and mucus just kept on flowing non-stop. My eyelids were gelled together from the pain and tears and I was blind. I fisted a huge ball of soaked tissue paper in my hands, and had to be led away by the Man.

The pain was excrutiating. I could not fall asleep, nor could I eat dinner. 4 hours had lapsed, but the discomfort was supposed to ease after 4 to 6 hours. I was running out of time and patience. I half regreted my decision to subject my eyes to the ‘torture’. Luckily the Man escaped unscathed and is loving his long lost perfect vision.

This morning, however, when I opened my eyes and saw for the first time in 20 years how blue the sky was, and how sharp everything looked, I knew I probably made the right decision.

Not entirely though, for now. For one of the persons (the other cannot speak yet) whom I decided to make the change for told me this. “Eh, where MaMa pecs (specs)? I wan MaMa wear pecs.”

“Matthew, is MaMa pretty with no specs?”

“No…” came the sure and immediate answer…

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