You’ve been searching for answers to your visual trash for months, lurking on Internet sites and seeing the local co-managing optometrist regularly. While your vision has settled down to what you’re going to have to live with, you are not giving up on finding some kind of rehab options. Because you [obviously] have a hole in your head, you go back to the clinic five months after your surgery for a free “touch up” to correct the residual refractive error in the left eye. Fortunately for you, the second surgery is not nearly so disastrous as the first, although you now have a foreign body sensation in your left eye that becomes more irritating the drier your eyes. Doogie Jr has no idea what’s wrong. He’s consistent, if nothing else. At least your acuity is better. The aberrations are still present and now you have a two diopter imbalance between the eyes.
You have tried wearing soft contacts, but your eyes are too dry to support them and they do nothing for the aberrations. Besides, the pokey thing in your left eye goes bananas whenever you put a lens in. There is nothing evident on the cornea, nor on the underside of the lid. You are not happy about any of this, but you count your blessings that you are not blind, that you can still work, that you can still create art. You don’t see color the same way you used to, but you somehow adapt. You have new glasses made with correction in the left lens only for the residual astigmatism. The right lens is thicker to correct your -2 diopter myopia and astigmatism. You hate wearing glasses, not because you hate wearing glasses, which were part of your face for 40 years, but because they make the aberrations worse. You call it Vaseline vision, sort of like looking through wrinkled waxed paper.
You begin posting to the bulletin board of the site where you have been lurking. There are some wonderfully compassionate and caring participating doctors who answer patient questions, both via email and on the board. Your original optometrist, who couldn’t fit you with bifocals so you could read, shows up as a contributing doctor. He offers to try to help you. You should know better, but you go to see him anyway. You learn later that LASIKed eyes cannot generally wear mass-produced, off-the-shelf rigid lenses. Instead, because refractive surgery flattens the cornea, they require a “reverse geometry lens.” Your optometrist should know this, but he has no idea how to design a custom lens. He decides to try a lens off the shelf. No sooner does he plop the lenses in than your eyeballs are on fire. You scream in pain and he has to pry your lids open to remove the lenses. He calls you a quitter and a whiner. You call him something else not nearly so nice.
You write about your experience with the RGP lenses on the bulletin board. You believe you are probably SOL with respect to your vision. Later in the evening, you receive an email from another optometrist on the board, who wants to know what’s wrong and why you believe you are SOL. Surprised to be receiving a personal email, you check out his bulletin board profile. He’s one of the original docs who joined shortly after the board opened in 1999, and he has more posts to patients than any other doctor there. You explain what happened with the other guy and his lenses, and he writes back that you’re not necessarily SOL, but that your OD seems to know squat about fitting lenses. You thank him and expect that will be the end of it. Pretty soon, though, you are exchanging a lot of emails about the posts on the board and the fact that there seems to be so little help for so many people who need it. You are learning a lot from him.
Via the bulletin board, you hear of a doctor about an hour away, supposedly an authority on LASIK complications. You make an appointment to see her, but she finds nothing unusual and tells you that you are simply too picky about your vision. She doesn’t notice the scarring from the DLK, nor does she test you for dry eye, although that is one of your primary complaints. She uses her topographer to scan your corneas, and though you already know that there are some serious issues, she mentions nothing at all. The doc on the bulletin board has looked at your most recent topographies and has assessed the damage and corneal irregularities. You get a big bill from her, your insurance refuses to pay and you are stuck with coughing up the cash for a worthless second opinion.
You continue to search for answers. Eventually, as you learn more about the damage to your corneas, you consult a malpractice attorney. You send him your records. He is fairly certain that he can win your case if he can find an expert witness. He sends the records off to several other experts for their opinions. Your case moves forward and you manage to find a surgeon who agrees to testify on your behalf. Your deposition takes two days. Doogie Jr has four lawyers representing him, you have one.
“You state that you are unable to drive at night. Has anyone told you specifically that you cannot drive at night?” You respond that no one had to tell you what is so painfully obvious, that you cannot see in the dark to drive safely. “But you still hold a valid driver’s license, and no medical professional has told you that you cannot drive at night, is that correct?” Your lawyer kicks your foot under the table to remind you to stay calm. The question is phrased in such a way that you must answer only yes or no. You say yes, but you really want to ask the silly bitch which part of “I cannot see in the dark” does she not understand? For 10 hours on two consecutive days, the lawyers grill you. Late in the afternoon of the second day, you drive home in a violent thunderstorm. You are barely able to see the highway through the rain and it’s getting dark. Traffic is moving too fast, even for you with your lead foot. By the time you pull into your garage, you are sobbing with relief. You now hold the dubious honor of having the longest deposition in their practice.
(to be continued)