I prayed I wouldn’t show any fear, but I did. I couldn’t help it. I pulled my head away from the laser burning into my eye like a mare pulling away from a wrangler trying to break in a unridden horse.
It was involuntarily; had to have been. The pain seemed to go straight through the eye and to the reverse side striking some unseen part of my, I don’t know . . . I want to say “the brain,” but I know that’s not right. The pain hits what ever sensitive spot you have on the flip side of the eye. I felt intense pressure, the type of pain you get from a dentist striking a nerve before the pain-killer has kicked in all the way.
Nauseating. I thought I smelled something burning. It was the second time Dr. Daniel Will, a chief surgeon with Scheie Eye Institute — University of Pennsylvania, Department of Ophthalmology, lasered my left eye in attempts to repair a detached retina. This treatment, however, was more than double the first, increasing from 124 to 288 microscopic parts burned away. The smoke was only my imagination, as I laid prone on the dentist-like chair with my head tilted to the left for easier access for the laser to “fry” me away.
There’s no cutting, no incisions made with this operation. Just burns. Penetrating shocks to the eyeball, which I took well at first, trying to brave it out like a good soldier. Did the intensity just increase? Why does it feel like a drill digging into the eye? Is this what it feels like to be electrocuted? Is this the new “shock treatment?”
My head moves away from the laser. I swear it’s involuntary. I say “I’m sorry,” knowing the last thing a good surgeon needs is a shaky patient to “throw off” his aim, his focus. I place my head back, cradling it onto the head rest. Another laser shot bursts forth. Head remains still, but pulls away again after the third or fourth blast. This time, my head does not return to the head rest. I offer no apology. To hell with being a gentleman. The doctor has to work on me to get me cooperating again. I feel his free hand touching my head, gently nudging me back into position for another blast.
I try to “relax,” take deep breaths, and begin to wonder how many people cry out from this pain. How many beg for the procedure to stop?
I squeeze both my hands into fists. Press them against my side. Want to stick them into my pockets but can’t maneuver them. I stretch my legs and kick one of the other doctor’s, not sure if she was introduced as an intern or a resident.
Is this pain really worth it?