Updated: Feb 20, 2019
I booked my appointment for 11 AM so it was in the middle of the school day for our two oldest kids. We dropped them off at school and my wife (and newborn in the baby carrier) accompanied me to the doctor's office.
They told me to arrive an hour ahead of the surgery time as they would run a bunch of tests again just to make sure my eyes hadn't changed. As a (nearly) life-long contact wearer who had been wearing glasses for the longest stretch since I was 12, I liked that they checked again as I convinced myself that my eyeballs would take time to get back to their normal shape. In retrospect, I have no idea what difference a couple weeks makes vs the few days I had to wear glasses ahead of my initial consultation.
The doctor's office was pretty empty and I only had to wait a few minutes. I asked if my wife needed to be around for the next hour and they said, "no, unless you need her to go get you some pills from the pharmacy to help you stay calm." At first I said that I wouldn't need that, but then I thought about it a bit more and said, "why not? I should get some." The nurse made some light jokes that I'm a wimp or something like that. Also, Dr Mandel said it was unnecessary, but whatever, when else do you get to take happy pills?! They called in the prescription and my wife went to pick it up down the street.
Meanwhile, they had me come back to start the tests. I had to stare into this white dome-shaped thing with a bunch of sensors on it and keep my eyes open wide for about 10 seconds at a time. There would be pictures that started blurry and then because clear as the machine measured my eye ball. Apparently, the machine can precisely determine the shape of your eye ball and determine a precise prescription. I was told that Dr Mandel was the only ophthalmologist in the tri-state area that had this particular state-of-the-art machine (shrug... whatever). The nurse ran that thing a bunch of times and I think my nerves were messing with me because I kept blinking. She was annoyed with me, but we got all the measurements we needed. I did a normal eye test where I had to read the letters on the lines with and without my glasses. Not sure why they even bothered without my glasses because I was blind as a bat (-6.5 in the right and -7.0 in the left).
After all of that, Dr Mandel walked me through what was about to happen. He explained that they would numb me eyes with drops, then some more drops that allow the top layer above the cornea to be scraped off, then he would scrape it off with a brush, the laser does its thing, and I'm done. Easy peasy, I guess. I asked why he used a brush to scrape off the eyeball and didn't use a laser (I had read that some docs do it that way), and he said that he could be more precise with a brush but it didn't really matter much anyway. That didn't make much sense to me, but he seemed confident in his convictions.
Now I had to wait a bit until they were ready in the operating room. They put me in a small waiting room with some snacks and drinks. I got to take the pills to calm me down at this point and wait for it to kick in. He had massage chairs in this waiting room, which seemed a little over the top for my taste. I waited in there for about 10 minutes. I didn't bother turning on a massage chair, in case you're wondering.
In the operating room they had me carefully lay down and positioned my head exactly where they needed it. There was a machine to my right that did PRK surgeries and one to my left for Lasik. I stupidly asked if there were two machines so there was one for each eye. First they put a numbing drop in both of my eyes, which didn't really feel like much. I had to keep my eyes shut for a few minutes. The nurse turned the laser machine on so I could hear what it sounded like. Next came the worst part which is the thing they put under your eyelids to keep them open. Out of the whole thing, that was the most uncomfortable. They did the right eye first, push some drops in and then scrubbed my eye with a brush thing, which only took a minute, maybe two. Then I had to hold still and look at a blinking light while the laser went to work. Again, it was only a minute or two. They took the uncomfortable eye opener things out of my right eye and moved onto the left. For some reason, the eye opener things bothered me more in the left and I had a harder time staying still. I could tell I was frustrating the doctor, but in all it didn't take that much longer than the right eye did.
Just like that, it was over. They had me stand up slowly as my happy pills had kicked in while I was laying down. To my surprise, my wife was there. She had been able to watch the procedure on a screen just outside the room, which she said was really gross. They took us in another room to give us directions on eye drops, pain killers, etc. I was told to take some pain killers and go to sleep until the next day. Antibiotic eye drops and steroid eye drops four times a day. I was also given some heavier pain medicine for day 3 (Saturday), which I was told would be the worst (more on that later.
We took a cab home, ordered some Shake Shack delivery, and then I went to sleep. At this point I could see way better than I could before, without glasses or contacts of course. However, things were still a little fuzzy and my eyes were tired and just wanted to be closed. I slept for four or five hours and then woke up in the evening for a while. I really just wanted to sit on the couch with my eyes closed as any light was bothersome. After a little while I took more pain pills, eye drops, and fell back into bed.
The day after surgery (i.e. Day 1) was a roller coaster, but stay tuned for those details.