Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lasik, One Year On

It has been just over a year since my Lasik surgery. This is my second report.

I had been wearing glasses for almost 50 years, an expensive annoyance I had learned to live with out of necessity. When I first learned of surgical procedures that corrected for myopia I was intrigued but had little interest in being an early adopter. Glasses corrected my vision just fine, assuming I could find them (most of the time) and the lenses were not scratched or dirty (some of the time). When the Lasik procedure was introduced in the 90's I started paying closer attention. A casual conversation last summer with a friend who recently had Lasik on both eyes prompted me to schedule a screening exam with his surgeon. I conducted my due diligence on the internet, researching the medical literature, the doctor, and the equipment he used. After the exam found me a good candidate, I scheduled the surgery, ASAP.
Everything went as explained and expected. The ophthalmologist and staff were very friendly and professional. The resulting short term discomfort was gone the next morning when I jumped out of bed to see what I could see. It was like Christmas and I had a new toy.
At the 24 hour followup I was seeing almost 20-20. In a week it was almost 20-15. As I was advised, I would need reading glasses and maybe glasses for computer work. Not a problem, I already was using both; I just needed new ones. And yes, I did have the predicted short-term side effects: dry eyes, halos and starbursts, occasional blurring and double vision. But these dissipated within a few weeks, mostly.
clock-ghostAs time passed I began to notice that the slight ghosting or double vision in my left eye was not improving. The quality of my vision seemed to fluctuate according to how pronounced the ghosting that eye was. As I am left eye dominant, an unusual situation for a right handed person, the effect was enhanced. According, sometimes I could see just fine, and then a few hours later things would become annoyingly blurry. Highway signs provided the best gauge. I kept waiting for time-the-healer to make things better. It hasn't.
I suspect one variable is moisture. Lasik surgery cuts nerves in the cornea that affects tear production. The rate patients heal varies, making the use of eye drops a longer term proposition for some. I must fall into that group. I don't heal as quickly as I once did. But that should be true for both eyes. Why is my left eye different?
I suspect that the large dormant aneurysm behind my left eye has something to do with that double vision. Unlike my right eye, the area surrounding my left eye was sore for weeks after the procedure. If that is the case there is no telling when or if things will get better. But, as often before, I could be wrong.
I don't think my doctor or his equipment did anything wrong. I had no surgical complications. The doctor has been very concerned about the issues I have been having and has scheduled frequent follow-ups. He wants to see good outcomes and happy patients; both are certainly in his best interest.
One does not have to google hard to find dissatisfied Lasik patients venting. Don't count me in that category just yet. Some others may well have had much worse experiences than I. Lasik is surgery after all. And while I am probably more sympathetic to their results than most, no surgery can be guaranteed and no patients are exactly the same. I gave my informed consent. I can and will live with the results.
The other day I was watching the flight of golf balls against a pine tree green background struck off the tee over 440 yards from where I was sitting. If my vision was always that good my Lasik experience would be an unqualified success. Maybe time-the-healer will make it so. As is, not bad.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Do Windows, and Doors

Porch Windows1Today it was cool, windy, and wet here, courtesy of an unnamed storm off the coast. But my back porch was warm, calm and dry. That is because yesterday I installed the sliding french door, thus finally enclosing the porch. Thanks to neighbor Ed who help me tote and lift at just the right times.

So the back porch is gone, transformed into the ...? If it were not on the north side of the house it would obviously be the sun room. We'll think of something. That is the old outside door leading to/from the porch leaning against the house. And Hokie cat surveying the mess. Porch Windows2

This project is among the things I have been amusing myself with over the last few weeks. It has gone close to planned, with opportunities to learn something new; that is, the process has been occasioned by the odd do-over. Making things up as I go passes for normal around here.

Now the weather has cooled and the site is enclosed the pace will quicken. Next comes the trim - inside and out - as well as siding covering the new knee wall. The old stairs will be replaced by a deck that will lead to a patio.

Even unfinished I can attest that the whatyamightcallit room is a great place to drink morning coffee and watch the sun come up.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

August, 2008

My, that was fast. If those were Dog Days - evoking an image of a languid summer of lying about avoiding exertion in the heat - this August seems to have passed too fast for me to notice, or blog about. So here are some of my high spots for the weeks since FloydFest.
The conversion of our 9 x 11 back porch to an all-season room has begun. After building a new insulated floor over the existing porch floor - which raised the height to that of the rest of the house - and after MUCH deliberation, consultation and measuring, I ordered seven windows and a new sliding door. PorchFlooring was decided upon, ordered, and awaits installation. Next I removed the old screens/framing and reframed for the windows. As you can see, the new kneewall now advertises LOWE'S, courtesy of the house wrap. Subtle, aren't they. The weather was cooperative with high temperatures most days in the low 90's. The windows will arrive this week and will be set ASAP. After trimming out, siding, and adding a few flourishes the room should be secure from the weather and Phase II can begin, the new deck.
I had a good check up at my dentist; Look Ma, No Cavities. (I wonder how long it will take before people forget where that phrase can from.) I also had a Lasik followup; no real change, some days I can spot the eagles before they see me, other days not so good.
Got a haircut, needed it.
On Sunday the 17th my wife and I joined the Carolina Alumni Chapter of the Semester-at-Sea program for a Bon Voyage/Welcome Home outing at the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte. WhitewaterIt is a great place to hike, learn whitewater and other outdoor skills, or just watch. The US Olympic whitewater team trains there. We took a guided rafting trip - which at one time or another found all of us ejected into the rapids from the raft - had dinner, and chatted about places seen, things done, and people met on our voyages. Thanks to Donna (rear, blue helmet) for making it possible.
The next day was the opening round of the Men's US Amateur Championship at Pinehurst. Ben, an old friend of my daughter, and I attended the first day of medal play. Then on Thursday my sister, brother in law, and I watched the Round of 16 match play. It was wonderful to walk one of the world's great golf courses with friends and family and watch high quality competition without a huge crowd. Friday Francis and I teed it up here. I really need to practice.
In the middle of this my wife's niece, Virginia, came to town for a medical procedure that involved pulsed radiowaves, a thin wire inserted into her skull, and cranial nerves. (OK, so I don't know the proper name of the procedure.) The goal was to reduce her debilitating headaches and hopefully ween her off the mega doses of narcotics her previous pain management doctors put her on. Reports so far are positive.
Shortly thereafter Virginia's sister LeAnna had a baby boy. Both doing fine. No, neither of these events directly involved me; but they were part of my August.
I had some landscaping done in the front yard and the heating/cooling system inspected. No problems.
It is Fantasy Football time. I participated in two internet drafts last month and am planning to kick serious butt this year. I say this every year.
I drove to Virginia twice in August to further prepare mother's house for sale. We are about 95% finished now, many of the rooms clean and empty. Although it will be very hard to turn the keys over to Joe and Billie, closure will be a relief for all of us. We took our time and did it right. Now if I can just find proper places around here for all the stuff I have brought back...
There were the Olympic games which we were able to watch only because the Dish Network provided us with a local NBC station at the last possible moment, on the day of the opening ceremonies. China did a good job as host, to the relief and surprise of many and consternation to a few. The opening ceremony was jaw dropping. I kept hitting the replay button on the DVR and asking, "How did they do that?" China has come a long, long way since I peered across their border in early 1968 from Hong Kong and into their Cultural Revolution. Yes, it was a coming out party of sorts for them. China's rise on the world stage now can only be compared to that of the US in the first half of the 20th century. We had better learn to get along with them. Now if they would just let Tibet be Tibet...
I will admit to a soft place in my heart for the Olympics even though I must look past the big money and nationalism. OlympicAt the center there are real people being the best they can be at something, generally not a bad example for us all. The cartoon provides an example and a segue.
A routine medical exam early last month led to the suspicion that all was not well with my prostate. My PSA was also heading in the wrong direction. So a biopsy was ordered. That was not a pleasant experience (although I have been through worse). Neither was waiting eight days for the results. No, cancer cells were not found. But some of the samples showed PIN cells of a high enough quality to warrant a second biopsy. Cancerous cells may be there, just missed. Or not. We will know more in a couple of months. Meanwhile I am conducting due diligence and thinking about how great it is to be here. August may have been a lucky month for me.
I am sharing this because about 28,000 men will die in this country this year because of prostate cancer, our second leading cancer killer. A lack of early symptoms is the main problem. It is too often discovered late, after cancer has spread. And most men have about as much chance locating their prostate as Uruguay. Down there somewhere. The numbers are similar as with women and breast cancer, but few seem to know that. Early detection is the key for both. Screening is simple, though a bit intrusive. So guys, bend over and get that thing checked. Gals, see to it the guys in your life take care of their business.
For more info, try here, the NIH, or the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
On a more positive note I found in one of those awful magazine special advertising sections (Doctor's Orders, Fortune, September 2008)
"In 2007 scientists in Seattle reported that men who drink four to seven glasses of red wine per week are half as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as nondrinkers."
I started my own study immediately. I wonder if eight to fourteen can drop the percentage to one quarter:)
Finally (even though it is now September) the eyewall of TS Hanna passed about 35 miles east of here early yesterday morning with little effect other than almost 6 inches of rain. We were fortunate. I remember Hugo. For that matter I remember Hazel. Both passed as close to me as Hanna. H must like me.