Laser pain – small price to pay for vision

Originally Cont’d  From Eye surgery burns the bravest resolve 1-17-10

Anyone facing a detached retina medical procedure must learn to deal with discomfort. A patient  will be in store for short bursts of pain that get progressively more difficult to deal with around the eye. Once a surgeon has to “laser” as many as 1,000 “points,” you can bet you’re in for some rough blasts. I had under 400 “spots” burned, and found my courage “under fire” needed constant nurturing to help get me through the process, as I describe here:


Lying on my back with my head cradled on a padded headrest, I feel the pain shoot through the back of the left eye. The next series of “shots” are intense. But short. I envision the laser “blinking” on and off — like a hydraulic drill —  eradicating microscopic points one miniscule spot after another. Pain recedes a little, and I’m directed to move my head slightly, so the surgeon can get to a better angle as he resumes his work, this time with a craftsman-like determination to finish the job. More pain . . . more pulling away . . . an involuntary “ouch” slips from my lips. Slight embarrassment. Can’t look  “weak.” Reputation and all that, you know.

More laser pulses . . . more pain . . . more “excited utterances.” 

Please end this, Dear God . . . please let it be over. . .please . . . please . . . stop. 

Finally, it’s over.

For now. Will return on the holiday, Martin Luther King’s Day on Monday. They talk about going to the operating room then. What the hell was this? l want to ask. Just a “routine” out-patient treatment, I learn.

To me it felt as if my eyeball and eye socket were being shocked or electrocuted, then the pain traveled into my temples with each burst of light,” recalled another detached retina eye patient, Jessica Crawford. She underwent treatment some four months ago and gave me some advice over the ‘Net recently.

I dreaded those visits,” she recalled.

The laser really is the worst part of the whole procedure,” she wrote, explaining how she took some Advil 30 minutes before the visit, and requested extra “numbing” drops. “Ask them to turn the intensity down. That helped out a lot.

By doing these things, she said, the last few “laserings” weren’t that bad. “Then,  just tune out while they work away ‘welding’ everything back together.”

To date, Jessica Crawford has had two gas bubbles injected, and seven laser treatments over a total of some 15 office visits. “It is probably the most trust you can put into a stranger’s hands, giving them complete control over what I believe to be the most important sense,” she noted.

“. . . [B]ut it’s really a small price to pay for vision.”

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