I started waring glasses when I was 11 years old. Three years later I opted for contact lenses and they have since been part of my daily life.
At 15 I was offered the opportunity to get a laser eye treatment in Belgium. My parents showed me a video on how the operation was done but it horrified me so much that I chose to stick to my contact lenses and I forgot about the chance on a perfect eyesight.
Many years later my husband and I moved to South Africa. As the climate is much dryer than the European climate, I got more and more issues with my contact lenses. My eyes were extremely dry and at times my contact lenses would fall out, just like that. I found out about disposable contact lenses but was blown away by the costs.
A couple of months passed and I talked to some people who had received laser eye treatment. Everybody seemed happy. They said that modern techniques had improved. “It’s a quick job, 20 minutes, in and out. Times have changed!”. I was promised a perfect eyesight the same day of treatment.
It is a lot of money but also a lot cheaper than in Belgium and I thought of it as a very good, once in a lifetime investment.
Dr.B convinced me. He goes to Europe on a regular basis to perform laser eye treatment there. So I decided to have the treatment done with Dr.B. The people at his practice and at the eye hospital were very friendly and very supportive and I pushed the memory of that old video far into the back of my mind… “Times have changed!” I reminded myself.
On the day of surgery, all the patients who came in for the eye treatment got two little stickers above their eyes. I felt like an alien in the queue to the big black vast of the unknown… but at the same time I felt strangely connected to my fellow patients. We were all in for the same deal.
They all “went in and came out” as different people… happy but different. As my husband and I, were escorted into the theater, we both got caps for our heads, aprons and socks to wear over our shoes. The lady who went in before me quickly took me by the hand and told me not to be afraid. “You must just concentrate very hard!” – she said.
As a feeling of terror overwhelmed me, one of the nurses took a welcome effort to calm me down by asking questions about Belgium, which I strangely enough was able to answer reasonably calm. Her actions had worked, even for only a couple of minutes she had succeeded in taking my mind of what was about to follow.
Everything people tell you about the laser eye treatment is true!
When I got up from the table I was asked to look at the clock on the wall and tell the time. As I realized that I was able to see and that I was ok, tears of joy ran from my eyes, and with the tears the feelings of terror left my body. It were the 20 most frightening minutes of my life but my life has changed forever!
When I left the theater I took a quick peek through my sensitive eyes… I could see the rimples in the curtains at the back of the hallway! Everything was good! I closed my eyes only to open them again the next day after a necessary and more than welcome rest of 18 hours.
Not a day goes by without me being grateful! Grateful for the means I had to pay for the treatment, grateful for the support of my husband and my parents, grateful for the hard work the doctor and nurses put into their studies enabling them to change people’s life’s, but most of all grateful for the courage I took to make the decision! If I would have to do it all again… I would!