What can I do to keep my mind off of the pain after my lasek surgery?
January 23, 2012 9:55 AM   Subscribe

What can I do to keep my mind off of the pain after my lasek surgery?

I am going in for a lasek surgery on my own and I'll be recovering on my own.(due to factors beyond my control) I am told I will not be able to do much for several days due to pain and lack fo vision. I've started buying some fruits and light snacks for easy access during my recovery. I've also downloaded some podcasts to listen to(that is if I can see well enough to operate itunes). Besides what I've mentioned, what can I do to keep myself busy and to speed up my recovery for 3-5 days. I have a small room I am staying at, fairly comfortable and warm. I just don't wanna go crazy out of boredom...and from pain (apparently I'll be crying and in pain for at least a few days). Whatelse can I expect and do about it?
posted by icollectpurses to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are they giving you pain medication? When I spoke to my doctor about LASEK they told me the best thing to do in the days immediately afterward was to sleep as much as possible.
posted by something something at 9:57 AM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Practice tying various knots to keep your hands busy. Better to learn a few now while you can see, then really get them down after the surgery. Surprisingly useful skill to pick up
posted by MangyCarface at 10:00 AM on January 23, 2012

I did not have much in the way of pain after LASIK and neither did my friends who have had it done. Sleeping for most of the 24 hours afterward and kicking back for a couple of days after that was enough. Just remember not to rub your eyes.

When I had strabismus correction surgery (the muscles that move and focus the eyes---THAT is painful for several days), I listened to dozens of episodes of South Park, since you can follow what's happening without watching and it's pretty undemanding mentally: key when you are on painkillers.
posted by amber_dale at 10:05 AM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

You can set up a youtube queue with episodes of The People's Court and then just have it autoplay. No sight needed to "watch" that show. Also if you wanted to prerecord or Netflix queue episodes of Law and Order or any of the spinoff series, those very rarely require sight.

Books on tape are nice.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:07 AM on January 23, 2012

Yeah, I was watching TV ~3 hours after getting home - it was blurry, but not too bad. The most pain I had was the sinus headache I got after they were done. I drove myself home from my follow up appt the next morning. Are they telling you will be in pain that long or are you just assuming it will be bad?
posted by blackkar at 10:10 AM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I had lasek (or lasik, I dunno which anymore) about two years ago and don't recall pain as being a monster issue. I could see well enough immediately afterward that I wasn't incapacitated. I slept a bunch on the weekend and went to work on Monday. I hope it goes as well for you.

By the way, for the next several months I was not terribly happy about the results of my surgery. I felt like I couldn't see as well as I'd hoped. I had extremely clear vision with glasses and I think I was bummed that my post-lasek vision wasn't quite so pristine. It took maybe six months before my vision settled in. Now, though my vision isn't quite as crystal clear as it was with glasses, I do have 20/20 vision and am supremely glad I did it.

My point here is this: I was a little depressed afterward thinking that I had spent a lot of money on a bad decision. But I was wrong. A little time passed and I realized it had been a great decision.

I say this to you now because I wish someone had told me this beforehand, so I wouldn't have spent six months being bummed out.
posted by etc. at 10:14 AM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

I had LASIK precisely 9 days ago. I was in the hospital for 45 minutes, including waiting and briefing time. The 3 hours afterwards were uncomfortable but not killingly bad. I had a friend round for dinner that evening and it was perfectly fine and I wasn't in pain. I was back at work 48 hours after the op, using a laptop. They issues me with painkilling eye drops and I didn't need to use them.

I went to bed early for the first few days, which worked. I found watching too much TV, reading or using the laptop wasn't great fun for the first two days and I either was or imagined I was straining my eyes. I had hazy vision for the first 5 or so days after surgery. At days 6-7 it went and now all is clear.

I'd tee up some talking books and some music. I got bored too and it was annoying to find reading a chore.

Top tip: if you are on your own post surgery (I got myself home on my own in a cab, which wasn't that bad), get used to putting in eye drops before you have surgery. I was really glad Mrs MM was there to help me in the first few hours when my eyes didn't open up all that much and I was poor of aim.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:21 AM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I also had LASIK a few years ago and can't remember being in any pain. I downloaded a bunch of audio books to my ipod, slept for like 18 hours that first day, woke up the next day with good, if slightly burred vision, and went about my day as usual. I avoided watching tv and doing too much on my computer for a few days and spent my downtime listening to audiobooks.
posted by nerdcore at 10:31 AM on January 23, 2012

(Just a note that LASEK is different from LASIK and involves a longer, much more serious recovery time.)
posted by something something at 10:34 AM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

I had no downtime whatsoever. I had surgery in the afternoon, got home, slept till about 10pm, then woke up an had a late dinner.

I took a few days off of work because my surgeon told me not to stare at a laptop screen.

My eyes felt only slightly dry for a few days and I just used a lot of drops. I've never had any dryness issues since that first week.

So basically, do whatever you want that doesn't involve focusing your eyes on anything intricate.
posted by zephyr_words at 10:35 AM on January 23, 2012

The best thing to do is to not feel like you have to do anything. You probably won't be in much pain, or for long, but while you are, lie down with your eyes closed. You'll probably fall asleep. This is good, because sleep helps you heal. If you don't fall asleep, listen to podcasts or audio books or the radio. But mostly you'll probably sleep. When you're done with the 'sleeping stage' your eyes will probably be comfortable enough to operate itunes, briefly. Make the font size LARGE. Rest your eyes, rest your body, take the pain killers if you need them, and don't worry about keeping busy. You won't want to be busy. Pain killers +sleep is really all you'll need.
posted by Kololo at 10:48 AM on January 23, 2012

(FYI, i write that as someone who had PRK - a more painful surgery thank lasik or lasek. I spent two days sleeping, with brief breaks for eating in a dim room (have easy to eat foods easily available - think sandwiches and things you can pick up and eat without looking - not fork-and-knife food.) Have a big sports bottle of water by your bed - something you can pick up and sip from, without looking at it or worrying about it spilling. When i felt well enough to not be sleeping, i listened to audiobooks. Audio books are better than podcasts because you can listen to them for hours without having to interact with the screen, whereas you have to choose a new podcast at least once an hour.
posted by Kololo at 10:51 AM on January 23, 2012

Mod note: Folks, lasek is not lasik, please be clear about whether you're commenting on the procedure the OP is actually getting? Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:59 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: LASEK = PRK, which I had last summer. I asked this question beforehand.

If there's any way someone can come and help you off and on the first couple of days, I'd recommend it. Recovery is pretty hardcore. You can MeMail me if you have questions.

I didn't have much humor or desire to do much else besides sleep and listen to podcasts. Blackout your windows before the surgery. Seriously.

Make sure your drops are in easy reach because it's difficult to open your eyes without drops when you wake up. And don't poke yourself in the eye with the dropper. I did that, and it sucks.
posted by lunalaguna at 12:01 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Fish oil and hot showers helps a lot with the dryness. Sorry, I forgot to mention that.
posted by lunalaguna at 12:06 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

If Lasek and PRK are indeed the same thing, i would like to second lunalaguna's suggestion that you do whatever you can to get someone to stay with you (or you stay with them) for the first couple of days. After my PRK, I pretty much regressed to a toddler for the first 24 hours - like my mom was walking me to the toilet so i could go without really opening my eyes, and i would not have been able to take care of myself. I actually don't really think that you should consider getting it done without someone there to help you for most of the day for the first two days - get someone, anyone, to at least be with you for the first 24 hours.
posted by Kololo at 12:56 PM on January 23, 2012

Best answer: My husband had PRK just over two months ago, and had a fairly significant amount of time spent in a dark room for recovery. Prep everything you can think of - stockpile drinks, snacks, and entertainment devices. Podcasts are great.

I recommend getting one of those fancy spa bath/sleep masks - I got one from Target for ~$5 with a padded nose rest. He wore that over the dark sunglasses they gave him.

Hot showers definitely help. Apparently, taking a C vitamin for at least a week before and the first couple months will also help recovery. Keep your location moist and your drops handy.

My husband spent a significant amount of time sleeping while sitting up to reduce the pressure on his eyes, so prep a pillow mound if you can. Take the anti-anxiety meds they give you - it functions as a muscle relaxer.

Are they allowing you to drive home, or do you have someone doing that?

Seconding above to get someone to at least check in on you - I was basically a full-time caretaker for the first 2-3 days, after he woke up from the first night moaning in pain at 4am. You won't be able to drive yourself for the 24-hr checkup.
posted by bookdragoness at 12:59 PM on January 23, 2012

Also, if you have a phone or a way to set multiple alarms, set them all up ahead of time. We used AlarmClock Plus to set up all the med alarms and named them with what to take when, or what drops to put in.

I typically stood with him and handed him each bottle individually, so the alarms were more helpful for me.
posted by bookdragoness at 1:07 PM on January 23, 2012

Best answer: LASEK and PRK are not exactly the same, but they are very similar [wikipedia]. LASEK should be a slightly easier to recover from than PRK in the first few days (see my note below about Day 2/3), but very similar long term.

I just had PRK done on Dec 7th, 2011 - less than 7 weeks ago. I live on my own with no-one around to help me. This is what I went through:

2 weeks prior to PRK - stop all use of contact lenses.

Day 0 - exactly as they described it to me. Very straightforward - actual procedure of lasers zapping my eyes was less than 5 mins if you exclude waiting, prep time, going over papers, post-op instructions, filling out prescriptions etc. All the other crap takes most of the day.

Days 1 to 5 (until bandage contact lenses removed) - not allowed to get ANY tap water in my eyes, i.e. no bathing, showering or washing of head / face whatsoever. No touching or wiping of the eyes. This is to prevent an infection of water-borne amoeba. Honestly, this was by far the worst part of my whole experience - not being able to bathe for several days. Your LASEK procedure might not require bandage contact lenses, in which case bathing won't be an issue.

Day 1 - only moderate scratchiness in the eyes. Horribly blurry -- could do all the basic stuff like heat up food in the microwave, feed myself, take all the pills and eyedrops myself. I could KINDA watch TV to pass time, though I stuck to re-runs and old DVDs since the screen was very blurry.

Day 2 or 3 - pretty intense pain and light sensitivity. This was expected -- I was told that the epithelium regrows from the outside in, so when it meets itself in the centre, things get gnarly. The good news is that this is the kinda pain that you notice less if you distract yourself with music, chores, etc. Remember that this is because I did PRK. The key difference with LASEK is that they try (but don't always succeed) in preserving your epithelium, so you might not have to deal with as much pain.

Day 4 or 5 - NO PAIN! Just blurriness, which steadily improved day by day. But I still couldn't take a fucking shower...ARG! The build up of gunk on my face and especially around my eyes was horrible, but they warned me how serious the amoeba infections could be, so I obeyed their instructions.

Day 5 - bandage contacts removed. I CAN SHOWER NOW!!! Hallelujah. Vision was kinda blurry, but I could do most basic things now that didn't involve reading (paper or computer screen). Eyes feel scratchy when dry, but so long as I used re-wetting eyedrops, it was OK.

Day 7 - good enough to drive at night, though oncoming headlights seem a lot more intense (almost painful) than pre-op. TV was OK to watch. Still hard to read the computer screen -- my 20" widescreen monitors were adjusted to 1280x800 instead of their usual 1680x1050.

Week 2 - 20" widescreens now at 1440x900.

Week 3 - 20" widescreens back at 1680x1050.

And then, honestly, since then the only annoyance is that I have to wear sunglasses outdoors ALL the time, and all the frickin' steroid eyedrops. 5 times a day in the first week, then 4 times a day for 2 weeks, then 3 times a day for 2 weeks, etc...tapering the dosage until I finish next week with 1 drop per day for 2 weeks. About 2 months of eyedrops, all said and done.

At this point (end of week 7), my vision is almost perfect. My eyes are a little bit dry (especially when I first wake up), but other than that I have no issues!

So yes, the recovery from PRK/LASEK is kinda rough, but it's not really a big deal. The most important thing is that you take time off work for the first week. Do not expect to be able to read anything at all.

I would say that it would be very helpful for you to have someone around for the first few days to assist you, but it's not essential. I survived just fine on my own.
posted by wutangclan at 6:40 PM on January 23, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you so much for all your suggestions so far! I am having LASEK, which means, like wutangclan, I'll be home for at least a few days...I think about a week just to be safe. I'll stock up on some easy to reach food. I just realized I could catch up on my NPR programs that I miss while being away from home.

Thanks again and keep'em coming!
posted by icollectpurses at 10:55 PM on January 23, 2012

One more thing -- they supplied me with Tylenol 3 but I never had to use it. I was able to manage the pain just fine with regular Tylenol, and again it was only "bad" on Day 2 and Day 3. Remember too that if you distract yourself with activities, the pain will be less noticeable. For me, it was smooth sailing from Day 4 onwards.

Then again, I am tougher than most people, including my best buddy who had the same procedure exactly one year before me. He still whines about being incapacitated for weeks on end. I think this is more of a sign that he is the world's biggest fucking wimp than PRK being gnarly.

You'll be fine.
posted by wutangclan at 11:25 PM on January 23, 2012

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