LASEK {with an "E"} for knitters and : or stay-at-home moms : The Definitive Guide

Let's be clear: my definition of definitive on this matter is 100% incorrect. This is purely recollection of my personal experience. But definitive sounds fancy and makes a good title so I'm rolling with it.  

Tiny needles = tiny stitches = bad for the eyes.

Tiny needles = tiny stitches = bad for the eyes.

First off: some basics

  • I am 33 years old. Not old. Not young. Not even really middle age yet.  
  • I have no clue what my prescription was beforehand but I do know that my optometrist has told me that I've been eligible for some kind if corrective surgery since I was in high school. {imagine my glasses being insanely thick}
  • I will refer to the date of surgery as day zero and use "-" or "+" to indicate before or after surgery. 
  • I didn't write any of this down until about three weeks after surgery and intermittently since then so if it's a bit fuzzy {eyesight pun!} / incorrect please forgive me. I'm going mostly from memory.
  • I'm not a doctor. Just in case the title of this post didn't clarify that from the beginning. 

Secondly, here is an article describing the difference between LASIK {with an "I"} and LASEK {with an "e"}. By linking to them I am not recommending anything they are selling. It's just the first article that popped up when I googled it and makes sense: 

LASIK vs LASEK comparison chart

The moral of the story : LASIK has a two hour recovery period with a slightly greater chance of dry eyes in the future. LASEK has a month plus recovery period but has less potentially negative side effects including dry eyes and less chance of the "eye flap" being knocked out in some serious head concussion event {which is why it's preferred by military and police... and apparently stay at home moms}.

I received the second kind of surgery. All the recommendations I hadwere from people who had received the first. Keep that in mind as you read my account below.  

And now a basic basic timeline of my procedure, LASEK, so far.

  • day -40 : I go in for original consultation. They tell me I have fat corneas which is apparently a good thing. 
    • They tell me they I won't be able to wear glasses for the two weeks prior to surgery.
      • I have to order a brand new pair of glasses after remembering that one year old baby Samuel destroyed by previous ones. 
    • They also give me a whole list of prescriptions to be filled {"ASAP"} as well as super cool {ie. nerdy} sunglasses and eye shield, For sleeping... so I don't try to gouge out my own eyes while asleep post-surgery.
  •  Day -30 : I get crazy headaches when transitioning from contacts to glasses so I make the switch a week early to get that business out of the way while I'm on my normal schedule instead of traveling cross country like I'm scheduled to do. 
  • Day -23 : Fly across the country. See the same ocean and forest that Lewis and Clark saw from the same vantage point. Cried a bit at the beauty. This should have been a clue that I'm extremely visual.
  • Day -17 : Return from vacation. Have everyone who knows I'm having surgery asks if I'm excited for the next two weeks. I generally shrug. 
  • Day -14: Tests at both the surgeons and my ophthalmologist. Another cornea test {still fat} and a tear production test {in which they stick a string in my eye to see how much I cry} among others.
    • Finally go get the prescription medicine. Apparently the pharmacist is really interested in how my surgery goes because he is thinking about having it himself. {I will obviously be giving him this post via rx-mail.}
  • Day -01 : I hardly sleep. Super anxious.  
  • Day of surgery :  They have me arrive me surgery at 1:00. I'm sitting knitting a sock for an hour while paperwork happens. Then they have a nurse come talk to me and my "responsible adult" (my mom who is staying for the weekend) about the medications I will need for the next few hours and to confirm the eye appointment first thing the following day.
    • The nurse then tells me to take two Valium.
      I question her because earlier in the year I was able to sleep through getting a crown with a single Valium, but decide to roll with it because no one wants to be antsy while someone is shooting lasers in one's eyes.
    • Chat with the surgeon about 15 minutes later.
      He confirms everything we're doing and let's me know that his neurosurgeon son has had the same procedure and he's back to working on people's brains today, so basically I have nothing to fear. Or maybe that's the medicine kicking in.
    • I walk back to the super cold "surgery room" where all the nurses look like what I had expected them to look like when I was delivering my son {scrubs and hair nets and masks and the whole shebang}. They give me a final test and then ask me to look at the tv. "Just to compare the before and after."
    • They help me to a chair {yes, the medicine was definitely taking effect} and work on each eye individually. All I remember is someone holding my eyes open, seeing flashing red dots of light and, close to the end, the surgeon saying in a stern tone of voice, "Keep your eyes open wide." This moment will forever make me wonder if I screwed up my own vision by falling victim to the Valium.
    • As they were almost finished the nurse sees that one of the "bandage contacts" {like a regular contact but no prescription: it's job is to hold everything tight} is about to come out so they scoop it out and replace it with another.
      I had been warned that tricky bandage contacts were a somewhat common occurrence so I was relieved that mine went ahead and misbehaved while I was still in the presence of medical professionals. 
    • Afterward they suggest a heavy meal to help the pain medicine along, so Mom drives me through my favorite fast food place on the way home and I'm eating french fries in bed 20 minutes after my surgery. {Did I mention I live exactly 2 blocks from my surgeon's office?}
    • The next morning I wake up to read and laugh at the three nonsensical texts that happened after the pain medicine kicked in and before I drifted off to sleep with my eye shield securely fashioned.
  • Day +01 : I'm fine. I was up not in pain and can see-ish.
    • I say "ish" because, as I can thoroughly understand now, it is so very hard to describe vision in verbal terms. If one can't see exactly what they were able to see before then they describe their vision as "bad" don't they? But what does that mean? Is it blurry? Is it doubled? is it clear? How close can you see? How far? Are your eyes dry?
    • These are all the questions that I am eventually asked at 8am that morning. I am told that my vision is really good for the day after and that I'm healing nicely. I've given an appointment for three days afterward and am shuttled back the two blocks by my mom and a toddler who is ever so sweet by wanting to "help mommy feel better", by laying on the bed with me. 
  • Day +04 : It's around this point that things take a turn for the worse. And by worse I mean... I've not had any pain so I don't have to wean myself off pain medicine or deal with pain. However, higher consciousness does alert me to the fact that I can't miraculously see. 
    • It's around this time that I distinctly hear my sister-in-law's voice in my head, "I woke up and I could see across the room." I can't see across the room. Did something happen?
  • At the surgeon's appointment that afternoon two things happen that, sort of, assure me:
  1. I meet another woman, a mom with two kids under five, who had the same surgery the same day as myself. The receptionist had mixed us up at the front desk so, using the confusion as an icebreaker, asked her how she was. "I can't really see," was the answer that made me feel less alone... even if we both had to figure out how to entertain toddlers while blurry.
  2.  The doctor said everything was progressing well. He took out the bandage contact, transcribed notes to send to my regular optomologist, and told me to have a good day. I have an infinite amount of trust in doctors. If this gentleman said everything was going to be fine, it will be okay.
  • Days +05- 10 : Still super blurry. Still not driving. Trying my best to not cook {sharp knives!}. Still depending on my babysitter to get Sam to and from school. 
  • Day +11 : Appointment with my regular eye dr.
    I asked ryan to come home early and watch Sam. I drove myself to the appointment though I probably shouldn't. When the dr asks how things are going, I answer a not very upbeat sounding, "I honestly don't know." "I tried to warn you that you would say that to me at this appointment," he replies and begins to explain the healing process. 
    • He asks me to imagine how a rose blooms from the outside in. This surgery requires the eyes to do the same. The healing starts at the outside and gradually moves toward the inside of the eye. That first week I could see relatively well compared to the second week because the healing was closer to all my focusing mechanisms. This gives me hope. I am a "why" person. Explain it to me in a way that I understand and I freak out less. 
  • Day +12 - 13 : The days before Thanksgiving. I am basically excused from the majority of Thanksgiving cooking duties because of my lack of eyesight. Except rolling out the pie dough. My brilliant chef of a husband can't be expected to be amazing at everything.
  • Day + 14 Thanksgiving : Packing. Traveling the hour to the in-laws. Traveling another four hours to my parents' house. Dealing with a toddler who is high on Dorito dust and Nana kisses. All while blind-ish. 
    Yeah. Okay. No problem.
  • Day +16 : I wake up the Saturday after Thanksgiving and I can see!
    I proclaim it to be a Thanksgiving Day miracle {"The turkey does exist!"} and all is well. For approximately 30 minutes. Things go blurry again and I have officially hit the "fluctuating" stage. 
    • The tech had told me lots about this stage. "Your vision will change throughout the day depending on how tired you and your eyes are." But I expected it to be smaller changes. Like the ones that happen when the eye dr says, "option one or option two," the slight difference makers as he is refining one's prescription. The fluctuations I dealt with were massive. At 6:01 I could read the time on the kitchen oven clock from Sam's favorite chair. At 6:33, nothing but a green blur.
    • It's sometime around here that I decide that knitting cables stocked is a bad idea (the sock that I had been working on pre surgery has been finished the week post surgery and I had been working on the second) so I forego knitting as well. 
  • Days 17-22+ : I make a concerted effort to rest my eyes. I hire a babysitter to take Sam to his activities and school. I lay in bed with an ice pack and listen to lots of audiobook Harry Potter. I stay away from screens as much as physically possible given that's how I communicate all day.
    • I'm lonely. I'm bored. I'm trying not to be a "bad mom" who "allows" her child to watch tv all day but that's the extent of my desire. Mostly, I'm scared that I've screwed up the first two weeks of my healing by not truly resting in those initial weeks. 
  • Day +30 : I've not been as good at rest this past week as I was the last. I'm learning that resting takes both work, patience, and a bit of extra money. From hiring a babysitter  to chomping at the theoretical bit to finally start the correspondence course I had bought, to deceiding how cold is too cold to take a stroller ride when not able to drive: all these things were things I wouldn't have had to even worry about with had I not had the surgery.  I'm less mad about it now. A bit more resigned.
    • My near vision continues to be good. Though I'm trying to stay away, screens and reading and knitting really are the hardest thing to be taken away from. Especially since I can actaully see well enough to do these things but knowing that doing them causes the stress that is perhaps the cause of...
    • Continued bad distance vision.  And it's more of a "seeing double thing". It's less about not being able to see and more about a thing and the ghost of a thing happening close enough together for me to know it is a single thing but far enough apart for my to not be able to see it clearly. The squint test occasionally works but the truth is I'd rather stay crow's feet free and it still doesn't improve my depth perception, which is the reason that though I may be "legal" to drive{ in Arkansas you only have to be able to see 20/40}. I chose not too if I can help it. When I do it's on less busy roads at lees busy times, and always before dark. I prefer to not even think about driving in the dark. 
      • I do see improvement. Though it's so small and incremental that I actaully have a hard time realizing it, let alone verballing it.
  • day + 60 : I'm still not 20/20 but I am living normally. I think it's a combination of both improved vision {yay!} and getting used to my less than perfect vision {boo}. I still squint when I pass someone at the grocery store and I'm unsure if I know them or not. But I can see most things when I glance at the television screen. I can make out signs on the road before I almost pass them. I'm cooking and {sometimes} answering emails. I'm making house design decisions and making out regular trips to the library and staying up too late knitting or reading. And I'm actually re-reading and editing this post which was {and probably still is} rife with typos and misspellings from the first few weeks. 
    • All of this is encouraging. But I still can't see crisply. And subsequent visits to the eye doctor have assured me I'm healing normally. I'm no longer mentally/ emotionally depressed about it. But this is not what I was expecting. 

I am writing this because it's the thing I wish I would have read before I had surgery. I was told that LASEK {with an "e"} was "new and improved" and "better in the long-run" and went with it.  

Were the claims of "new and improved" incorrect?

Probably not.

Did the techs and the surgeons and the ophthalmologists try to fully explain this to me before hand?

Mostly-ish.

But I still wish I had known all this detail before. As someone who goes crazy without something to do combined with being alone with a toddler all day with no ability to do anything but take {sometimes questionable} stroller rides for two plus weeks, I wish I would have said, "Let's not do new and improved. Let's do old and reliable and quick. I love my kid but we have to go to gym class/ library/ the grocery store or both of us will go crazy."

Having had LASEK here are some things I wish I had done differently: 

  • Known what to expect. Obviously I was putting too much weight on the experience of friends and loved ones and too lazy / busy to do my own research. If you are reading this post you have officially done better than me.  
  • Knowing what to expect I would have had only one eye done at a time so that I could (with the help of glasses) have continued to drive. 
  • At the very least I would have arranged babysitting / play dates / travel arrangements for Sam and I. In my extra Pinterest - wannabe time {Ie. Nonexistent but whatever} I would have probably prepped some at home activities for us to do while "stuck" at home.  
  • Given myself a legitimate if unofficial eye test I could do at home. Something that simple would have been a more definitive test of how good or bad my eyesight was on a particular day. While it may not have helped me physically I think it would have helped the depression that settled over me after the first week. 

The irony about this whole thing is that the majority of my latest Color and Happy podcast season focused on creative women and major illness. I respected their stories for the strength that they showed.  But having a very minor and temporary {and elective! chosen!} experience of disability myself I am even more in awe of their mental and emotional resilience. This experience taught me that, in my case, the physical is secondary to the depression and anxiety and angst that comes from dependence on others and inability to do "normal" life. 

This, like most things, been a learning experience. And if this helps you learn without the pain of going through two months of questionable eyesight I hope that helps you.

Onward and upward friends. 

Inspiration : Oregon Wine Country

As I mentioned one my last post, this wasn't my first time to Oregon Wine Country. During our previous trip we had taken a tour through Backroads Wine Tours.

The word "tour" seems a bit.... fancy in this instance. From memeory {and please remember this was three plus years and a pregnancy/ birth and lots of missed sleep between now and then} it was nothing more than a guy driving us and another one maybe two other couples around in his dusty old minivan where we hit four... maybe five... wineries in one day and he dropped us back off neatly at our hotel in Portland. 

There are several advantages to this route: 

  • one always has a designated driver {this in itself is good enough reason}
  • you have a person who knows the history of the area and the wineries and the stories of the wine growers and why the wineries on the top of the hill are worth more than those at the bottom of the hill and how the pterodactyl poop in the Jurassic period affected the taste of the 2014 Pinot noir.  {okay. That last one is a bit of an exaggeration.} the point is: going with someone who knows the area means you can walk in blind without researching much of anything and learn a lot about wine in general and this area specifically. 

The downsides are the exact benefits of going at alone. When you're not in a tour you can:

  • decide your own route. Have a favorite winery? Saw something interesting in the Bon Appetit you were reading in the airport on your way over? Want to visit the cute couple at the red barn who also raise sheep as well as make wine that your neighbors told you about after their last trip?   Driving one's self is the best way to make this happen. 
  • Relationships. As with most of the world, wineries are always better once you have a conversation with the person who knows it inside and out. Where our visits with the tour guy lasted 45 minutes max per winery we were able to spend an hour plus per winery this trip because we weren't on anyone's schedule but our own. This gave us time to rally chat with the winemakers and sommeliers and get really interesting stories about different years of their own production or how the area vintners come together to figure out problems.  These relationships also were the key to the next benefit.
  • my husband, bless his heart, came prepared. He had a map and he had everything circled that he wanted to visit along with notes of wines we'd had from there. And then we met a wine maker over on the coast that suggested a winery and, like that, his list went out the window. We went to one winery and asked who they recommended we go to next. Our "go with the  wind/ the next recommendation" theory didn't allow for us to hit very many places but we get like we got amazing experiences at each one.  

Let's also talk about how to do this safely:

  • Shared flights:
    Generally there are three or four half glass per wine flight. If you ask to share one person is drinking half of that.
  • Spit buckets:
    For the wines you're not feeling and spending that time getting to know the folks at the winery and you'll be good. 
  • Another pro: picnic!!
    We picked up cheese, sausage, cheese, fancy mustard and patte and had the absolute best lunch on the side of the road. We still joke that we were eating the world's largest most fancy Slim Jim. But goodness, I remember that as one of the best meals on the trip and we ate REALLY well in Oregon. 

Below is another pared down phone dump of the McMinnville Downtown area {so cute!} and then a sneak peek of the winemaking process at White Rose Winery. Ya'll they were pressing wine BY HAND. It was amazing and beautiful and they were working so hard because it was harvest season which means there's a lot happening. And we basically got an unscheduled unanticipated insider's view.

Le sigh. So awesome. 

Check below the images for links and recommendations.  

Inspiration : The Oregon Coast

Three-ish years ago, for our anniversary., Ryan and I were going to take a trip to Oregon to do all the things: deep sea fish, whitewater raft, wine tasting, enjoy the Portland food scene... the whole spiel.

And then we found out I was pregnant.

We had already bought the plan tickets but we cancelled most of the activities and let me just say from experience, that seeing any town for the first time whilst in the middle of the first trimester is a horrible way to say, "hello."

So for our fifth anniversary we did a make-up trip of sorts: back to Oregon, but with a schedule much less intense and much more focused on relaxing.

As it turns out: Cannon Beach, Oregon is probably the best place to relax in the entire world. And I've been fortunate enough to go to a fair share of places. It has the laid back vibe of the west coast but the hardier scene one would expect to find in Oregon. ie. It's not a beauty contest, There is absolutely no expectation of one getting in a bathing suit in October... or maybe ever. When we went the weather was cool - high of high 50's perhaps?  Just the kind of weather that asked a body to sit on the balcony and watch the birds and bunnies {crazy story there} and read one's book and listen to the waves and watch the mist come and go and take a lot of deep relazing breathes.


On the other side of the coin, it was also an amazing place to be active. The mist creates these amazing moss covered forests. We actaully hiked through tree that were standing when Lewis and Clark came through and first saw the Pacific Ocean.

Just typing that gives me chills ya'll. Our lives are so tiny- but look at the beauty we can experience during it!


Below is a highly paired down phone dump. I'm pretty sure I maxed out the storage on my phone and have no regrets about that. Scroll through to see my recommendations.

Lodging:

Food

Shopping:


Be back in a few days to talk about Oregon Wine country, i.e. World's Most Relaxing spot #2.

On the Needles : Ravelry Updates

When I took my first knitting class at Mockingbird Moon, I was told that Ravelry was this magical world of knitters and patterns and yarn and conversation and that I absolutely had to join.

And, because I like to follow the rules, I immediately did.

I fell hard: the equivalent for Facebook for knitters where one can talk gauge and tension and twisted stitches and "I've got a skein of this really nice yarn. What should I use it for?" where no one gives you the stinkeye for talking about old lady stuff.

I updated very regularly until I started my non-profit communications gig. And then it {and most extraneous stuff} fell by the wayside. So I've spent the last few weeks updating projects (those that I could find} and updating my current "stash" {which saves one the problem of saying "This project needs a size 7 needle. Do I have size 7 needles? I'm not sure,I should probably get one while I'm here at the store." Only to discover that you, in fact, have four sets  of size 7 needles and you've unnecessarily spent {another} $15. 


All the pictures below are linked straight to the Ravelry site and are fairly new (within the last two years-ish projects}. Some of the old projects are pretty fun too. {Check out "naughty reindeer" for an inappropriate knitting laugh.}

You will also see I added pictures of my son's toy's in all the new pictures. When I first started knitting I was working for a photographer and tried to take all my creative work so seriously. And while I will still take 45 pictures to get the "right shot"I don't take myself near as seriously. I consider this a major boon to getting older.

Anyway, if you're on Ravelry, go ahead and hit the "let's be friends" button because I'm always interested in knowing more knitting nerds. And if you're not on Ravelry but are interested in starting to knit or crochet go ahead and join. It's free and easy to set-up and was a huge encouragement booster for me when I first started.

Sir Top'em Hat {picture taken before Same ruin{ed} the second pompom.}

Sir Top'em Hat {picture taken before Same ruin{ed} the second pompom.}

I designed and made this myself. I am MEGA proud of it. My next goal is to learn how to write up a colorwork pattern and turn this into a real deal pattern instead of something that simply lives inside my head.

I designed and made this myself. I am MEGA proud of it. My next goal is to learn how to write up a colorwork pattern and turn this into a real deal pattern instead of something that simply lives inside my head.

I have no clue why I added these farm animals, but they're cute no?

I have no clue why I added these farm animals, but they're cute no?

In Praise of : Ozark Folkways

Ozark Folkways is one of those local gems that almost none of the locals know about.

Its what looks to be an old school building at the top of a hill in the Boston Mountains (the Ozark Boston Mountains, not the more historically famous Boston... obviously}. It's part art gallery, part art studio, part workshop space, part community center, part history museum, and part magic.

I really don't know much more about it other than I took a mushroom class there in Early November and it was amazing. I also know my friend, Amanda Cothren, former Editor of Edible Ozarkansas, recently took over as Director there and I'm wanting to send all the positive vibes her way for this amazing undertaking.

Here's some of their links:

  • Website:
  • Facebook
  • Address: 22733 N Highway 71, Winslow, Arkansas 
  • Telephone: 479-634-3791 

Below is a photo dump of my day {almost 12 hours!} learning about mushrooms in the Ozarks. My brain couldn't hold more but if you're interested in mushrooms in / around Arkansas check out the Arkansas Mushroom and Fungi  facebook group

Yes, I'm well aware of how nerdy that sounds but you would be amazed at the delicious things that people find in their backyard. 

jay justice arkansas mushroom expert
ozark folkways jay justice mushrooms
Leaves of three, let them be. Because calamine ointment stinks.

Leaves of three, let them be. Because calamine ointment stinks.

Seriously - it doesn;t get better.

Seriously - it doesn;t get better.

arkansas mushroom haul
These people didn't know one another 5 hours previous.  Walking in the woods will do that to you.

These people didn't know one another 5 hours previous.  Walking in the woods will do that to you.

Probably not poisonous. Maybe....

Probably not poisonous. Maybe....

On the Needles : Darjeeling Socks and an Oversized Sweater

I have had this mental image: 

She who knits her own clothing is... a lady of a certain age.
Or dresses similarly to Laura Ingalls Wilder while in her Little House on the Prairie period.
Or... gosh... insert a thousand other negative, short-sided and, truthfully, not very nice assumptions here.

And I was wrong..

Below I am wearing an outfit that I styled and I knitted two pieces of: The sweater and the socks. And I don't feel the least bit like Laura on the Prairie. I feel feminine and modern and stylish and.... like me. The woman who wears tutu skirts and hair bows and hiking boots. The lady with the platinum pixie cut and the bold red lips and mixmatched earrings. 

oversized sweater chunky yarn eat me blog

I included this second image because the sweater is far from perfect,.  It was a pattern suggested by Anne Weil of Flax and Twine {who has an amazing book on arm knitting and a beautiful blog}. In fact, this sweater, originally from the Eat Me Blog is a free pattern that was my first attempt at knitting a sweater.

The pattern, being free, is...
What's the saying? You get what you pay for, right?

It's a good start of a sweater pattern but the author leaves lots of details out especially for the beginner level that she claims that this is.

For example she says, "Stitch the pieces together."
To which I ask: "How exactly DOES one stitch sweater pieces together?"
"Will I have enough yarn to do said stitching?
"What kind of... what is it called... connection stitch thing  does one do for stitches?"

Insert multiple {LOTS} of other questions here. But the truth is, it worked out.

it's far from cute but it makes a perfectly cute outfit.

Photo Nov 17, 1 53 50 PM.jpg

And the socks:

I started them on vacation on the Oregon coast (if you're in Cannon Beach you MUST make a trip to Coastal Yarns} They started with a new -to-me, super tricky cast-on. I LITERALLY started and re-started these socks seven times but I'm super happy with how they turned out. And they're the second in my personal Stepping Stones Challenge. 


darjeeling socks stepping stones socks for knitters

Socks

Sweater


If you're celebrating Thanksgiving today - I hope you are enjoying friends or family or food. In whatever order you prefer. And if you're not - happy Thursday - may you have lots of interupted creative time.