Monday, January 11, 2010


Yeah, so I had LASIK done last week at Steen Hall Institute in Shreveport by Dr. Christopher Shelby . It was an interesting experience and one that I'm hopeful will turn out to be a great decision. I made my first consultation appointment last October to review if it was right for me (been wanting to get this done since 2002) and then set aside the appropriate amount for medical flex-spending enrollment. I was able to get a discount for both eyes and worked it to be around $1600 per eye (setting aside $3500 for the year). Not a bad deal considering the improved quality of living through restored vision.

I went to my follow-up refractive consultations and followed all my preop instructions, no problem, although it was rather challenging getting a hold of their administrative staff. Week of the procedure and I call a few times to confirm the time I need to arrive at the facility. "We don't know", was the answer I was given. The room temperature and humidity needed to reach a threshold and this was a seat-of-your-pants kind of deal, so I may not know the time until the day of. Fine, cool, whenevers clever - I'll accommodate, I even went ahead and charged my account to cover the procedure to the tune of $3200.

The morning OF the procedure I get the call at 0840 to be in at 1015 that morning, awesome! I was confirmed to have just the left eye done.......wha....wait....huh? I was scheduled for BOTH eyes and actually already paid for both. "we'll check with the doctor when you get in".....was the response. Ouch, not a good omen, yo.

I get to the facility with the help of a co-worker friend and get to wait in their lobby and watch a monitor of the other doctors performing the same procedure on others there. As grotesque as this may sound, it actually is extremely reassuring as it allows you to be prepared for everything you will experience for yourself. I was near the end of a 4-person group getting the procedure done that morning. Fortunately, the family ahead of me were Bama alum and I enjoyed their houndstooth-championship dialogue for the 2 hours prior to my turn (National Championship was that evening). I received a Valium tablet to rest easy as I was prepped for the procedure. It was explained that my left eye (20/40 vision) was going to receive the LASIK and my right eye (20/25) was deemed not necessary to operate on. I completely understood, made sense, however, this would have been peachy news to know BEFORE I paid for it and before I set aside money for it (as I never use flex-spending and never get pharmaceuticals, let alone OTC medication).

As I relaxed in the operating chair, I couldn't help but be reminded of this entire procedure is that of a CNC lathe. The eye is completely mapped out and designated, the majority of the work is all done by programmed waypoints. The most interesting part was as the eye is fastened with speculums, it is suctioned into place, so much so that the vacuum pressure on the eye rushes the blood out of the area, causing a blackout (in that eye). Sight is immediately restored and the laser do their thing. The entire procedure takes less than 10 minutes and you're out the door.

can't even tell I had work done....

I was driven home and given a sedative and told to sleep off the impending eye discomfort/pressure I would feel (thankfully, it was an overcast day with no bright lights). Yeah, I'm all about that and I wanted to be sure I didn't screw this up by being hasty and especially so I can wake up in time for the game. It was nearing 1 pm and the sedative wasn't kicking in yet, so I happened to have some 'sleeping aids' in the cupboard, so to help things along, I popped two doses of that as well. The discomfort that was coming was more like a gritty burning sensation that I could see would drive most people batty (you can't touch your eye after the procedure). Apparently, this sensation is caused by the flap fusing with the severed nerve endings. I slept through the NC game (though I watched it twice over the weekend).

My follow up appointment the next morning was uneventful being that I really couldn't see out of my left eye and what I could see was completely hazy. I have another appointment tonight and have been religiously applying the ocular steroid, Pred Forte, so hopefully things will get progressively better.

UPDATE (1/25/10)
I'm pretty sure my left eye has been restored to 20/20 vision, so much so that the disparity in my "20/25" right eye is distinct. I'm pleased with the results of this procedure in correcting my eye sight. Dr.Shelby is a great ophthalmologist and although my LASIK had non-typical complications (taking 3 weeks to correct through steroids), I felt he did a fine job.

Unfortunately, the office staff proved to be completely incompetent in handling the basic of patient needs. I had visited the office 4-5 different occasions, and each time was met with unfamiliarity with my case (botching dates and times and my care plan). When scheduling (and financially planning) for both eyes I learned the DAY OF the procedure that they only planned to do one eye (thanks). Billing of the procedure was also fouled up by the office, over-charging, failing to credit, as well as being remiss to provide receipt to my benefit provider.

I was understanding that no one is perfect, that people are human (and make mistakes), but this was a rather simple procedure and there was no reason for such ridiculous patient care.


Yeah, so like starting next week, I'll be in Philadelphia (seriously...Northeast in January?) for the remainder of the month on business, so if this blog drags (more than usual) you'll know why.

Hopefully, I'll be auditioning my version of Green Man at a certain hole-in-the-wall pub when the Saints win the Conference title.....

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