Manifesto of LASIK regret and despair...
I was raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. Father is a Dentist and Mother works within father’s practice. Dad is a perfectionist; nothing that me or my siblings has done is good enough, I didn't make good enough grades, I couldn't run fast enough, drive a car good enough, etc. I am the youngest of 4. I have 2 older brothers & an older sister. Both brothers work in automotive/construction and my sister went on to become an Orthodontist.
I have always been very creative, love to draw and paint and think outside the box.
Graduated from Meredith College in 1994 as an art major and continued going back to Meredith for classes in graphic design and photography.
I got married July 5, 2002. I wore contacts the day I got married, I remember my wedding night I could not get my contacts out, my husband took my contacts out for me & I remember my eyes hurt and I swore I would never put contacts back into my eyes again.
All through the late 80’s and 90’s I suffered from panic attacks, depression and anxiety. In 1999 I went to weekly therapy appointments and discoved the depression/anxiety/panic attacks stemmed from the pressure my parents placed on me, anything I chose to do was never good enough for my parents.
I started to wear glasses in 1992 because I couldn’t pass the driver’s license test.
I remember going to Dr.’s Vision Center, Cary NC to get my eyes checked and they told me that I was an “excellent candidate” for LASIK.
I also tried to wear contacts, but I found that contacts caused extreme pain and dryness.
Several pairs of glasses purchased from: Specs, Durham NC. I have small face and I always struggled getting cute frames that looked good on me.
My sister had LASIK in 2005 by Dr. Dean ******. She seemed so happy with her outcome and freedom from glasses. I have always thought very highly of my sister and I assumed that ****** would treat me right. ******’s children went to the High School that I teach at and I assumed that he had respect for me as a teacher; I assumed that ****** would take the time to make sure I was treated correctly. ****** preformed LASIK on a fellow co-worker and her husband. All seemed thrilled with their LASIK.
My father was a doctor (dentist) and I was raised to respect doctors, because they are "smart" and "know" their medicine. I was taught to respect the doctors opinion and to beleive in medicine.
I initially went for a consultation with ****** in 2006. I remember that I felt that ****** was reading from some kind of script and I felt uneasy about the situation and the cost of LASIK. I also remember seeing a 35mm film camera on the ophthalmologic equipment and feeling uneasy about his equipment being out of date since digital cameras are used today.
In the summer of 2007 I went to Specs at Southpoint Mall in Durham to get sunglasses. The sales staff ignored me, so I left without purchasing anything. I also went to LensCrafters but I didn’t want to go through the eye exam to get a pair of sunglasses.
My husband and I went on a trip to San Francisco in July 2007 and I had to wear sunglasses with no prescription and I remember feeling frustrated because I couldn’t see the sights without a prescription. We went into an optical shop in San Francisco but the shop was so busy with customers.
In late July 2007 I asked my sister again if she liked her LASIK. She was “thrilled” and one of her office staff members had LASIK and was “thrilled”. Since I respect my sister so much I started to seriously consider LASIK.
My Mother had a stroke in early 2007 and I was suffering from depression related to my Mother’s stroke. My brother had esophageal cancer in 2005 and suffered an intense round of chemo and surgery. I was also suffering from depression related to my brother’s illness. I considered going back into therapy because I started to have panic attacks again. I decided that instead of therapy I needed to do something to improve myself, make me into a better person. I decided to look back into the LASIK, I thought I could handle anything.
I started to consider LASIK for myself because since I had been doing so much for my family and for my school…I deciced it was time to do “something” for myself. I decided that LASIK would make my life “easier”….I wouldn’t have to ask my husband “where’s my glasses??”
My sister and I were arguing about what kind of care my Mother needed after the stroke. We disagreed about everything. My sister told me about paying for her office staff’s LASIK. At the time I felt that nothing I could do was right for my family and all my family members were disappointed in me. Somehow I felt that if did the LASIK, then maybe my sister would somehow respect me again.
I felt somewhat "outdated" because I wore glasses. WTF was I thinking. I thought that getting LASIK would give me some kind of freedom to exercise and not worry about my glasses falling off my head.
Teaching was wearing me down. I was doing everything for my students and I felt like LASIK would be a "nice" thing to do for myself. I thought about researching LASIK on the internet. I read things negative about LASIK. I thought that the doctor would not hurt me, I was taught that to beleive (and trust) my doctor.
I called and set un another evaluation (7/30/07) at ******’s office in July 2007 and set a date for LASIK (8/7/07). I told Jill, the refractive coordinator, that school started on August 16 and she assured me that I would be ready to start back to work. I truly wholeheartedly believed that it was going to go fine.
When I went for the evaluation , ****** told me I would be given “extra valium” because of my anxiety about someone touching my eyes.
When I went in for the surgery LASIK, I remembered that I was nervous. I was presented with 3 valiums were pushed at me to swallow and then they wanted me to read the consent form. I do not usually take drugs so I put the 3 vailums down on a table and began to read the consent form.
After reading the consent form I stared to feel extreme anxiety. I told my husband that I didn’t understand the consent form and I needed to research some of the side effects online because it was too confusing. I also told my husband the the consent form was written in such a legal style of writing; too confusing for me to understand.
I felt like I was going to have a panic attack. I signed the form, but I was not ready to hand it over. I put the form down in my chair and ran out of the room to find Jill, the refractive Coordinator.
I told Jill that I was very afraid and I couldn’t handle signing a document that said that I could go blind as a result of LASIK. I told her that I have a history of anxiety and depression and I am just on a teacher salary. I told her that I have a history of bad luck and I did not feel good about going on with the surgery.
She told me that it was extremely rare to have bad things happen and “everything will be fine”. She told me to “take the valiums, then decide”.
I was not in control of anything. My husband was still in the pre-surgery waiting room, so I went back to find him. I felt like if I left the office it would be some kind of scene, so I just caved in and took the valiums. The refractive surgery coordinator came into the room to see if I was OK and I was in shock, sitting there…she put a VHS movie into a player and offered me some cake that ******’s wife baked. I declined the cake and just sat there, afraid.
I went on with the surgery.
I am unable to wear the shirt, pants & shoes that I wore that day on the surgery, it is like they are possessed, with some kind of evil.
August 8th, I called ******’s office. Jill told me that she would see me at my “day after appointment”…I told her that I don’t have a “day after appointment” scheduled. She promptly scheduled a time for me to come in.
My day after appointment …****** said that my eyes were doing good and continue with my drops.
The first couple of days after LASIK I tried to run errands and prepare for the start of school. I went to the grocery store and purchased a couple of items and 2 large watermelons. When I picked up one of the watermelons I felt intense pain and pressure in my eyes. I called ******’s office I was assured that everything was going fine with my eyes.
Over the next 3 weeks my life became very confusing.
August 9th my eyes started to become extremely dry and painful. I started crying intensely and I was unable to sleep.
August 17 I called the office to tell them of my intense pain and anxiety. I was not sleeping and I started crying and feeling extreme anxiety. My eyes started to become very dry. I was crying all night, all day and stopped eating.
8/15/07 I went for a 1 week post op appointment. I told entire office staff I was in pain and my eyes were feeling dry and uncomfortable. I was told that “it would get better”
8/16/07 The first day of school, much anxiety & pain
I called ******’s emergency number over the weekend of August 18th and 19th and received no return call.
On August 20th I demanded to see ******. I was told that I would have to drive to the Smithfield office. I made an appointment after school and drove out to Smithfield with an overnight guest in tow. I waited an hour to see ****** who told me that my eyes were dry and I needed plugs. I was afraid of any other surgery, so I declined plugs. I was given Restasis and Lotemax.
8/29/07 Went to therapists office in Chapel Hill , NC. I was concerned because I was feeling suicidal. I was not sleeping and was loosing so much weight, none of my clothes were fitting me.
8/29/07 Went to Accent Urgent Care, told physician that I felt so depressed, was in pain and feel feelings of suicide. Prescribed antidepressant.
9/11/07 Came home from work and tried to suffocate myself with my husbands belt. Husband came home early and found me.
9/13/07 Voluntary admission at Holly Hill Hospital.
Diagnosed with Major depression & PSTD. I was having sucidal thoughts, unable to make it through a day without feeling suicidal. Stayed at Holly Hill in partial hospitalization because I was unable to sit in house alone.
9/19/07 I returned to ******’s office for 1 month post op appointment. Was told my eye are dry. I let the entire office know that I was very angry about my outcome and I was in constant pain and anxiety and my eyes were so dry that I could see cracks on the surface of my eye.
October 25, N&O interview article with Sabine Vollmer
November 9th, started taking Neurontin for LASIK-induced eye pain
I also kept a daily journal to document the severity of pain and anxiety caused by LASIK.
My LASIK surgery was August 7, 2007. The entire months of August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April, May, June were total hell. My eyes continue to be dry, to the point of quitting my teaching job. The flourscent lights and dry air in the building causes extreme pain.
Please don't beleive LASIK surgeons, there is nothing they can do to repain the damage of LASIK.