Wednesday, 16 July 2014

LASEK Laser Eye Surgery in Detail: The Aftermath

In my last LASEK update I told you about the operation itself; now let's move on to what happened afterwards.

All was going well until we were about 30 minutes from home (this was about three hours after I'd gone down to theatre and, therefore, since I'd had the anaesthetic drops put in), when the pain really started to kick in. We pulled over and hubby put some more drops in my eyes (anaesthetic and HyLo synthetic tears) and I took some painkillers; I'm not going to lie, I was in a LOT of pain and it took a lot of effort for me to pry my eyes open so that hubby could administer the drops. The tablets and drops kicked in but things still didn't feel that great. I had been given VERY strict instructions not to touch my eyes, when really all I wanted to do was to rub the living daylights out of them in an attempt to make them feel better.

We got home and DC was very pleased to see us, but I could barely concentrate on him as I was still in a lot of pain. I was literally clinging on to the edge of the worksurface in the kitchen thinking 'What have I done?' The pain really was immense; I remember thinking that even childbirth hadn't felt so bad! I couldn't take my sunglasses off even indoors as everything felt so bright (when I was actually able to open my eyes) and I basically felt very sorry for myself. Hubby took DC off to bed and I slumped on the sofa, still in a lot of pain and still wondering what on earth I had put myself through. And worst of all, I couldn't even read or watch TV! Strict instructions to do neither for 24 hours. Thank goodness for Radio 2.

And then, miraculously, at about 9pm the pain eased off and I was finally able to relax. Although still with my sunglasses on and only R2 for company (hubby had gone out - probably to escape me and my moaning.)

I took a few selfies of my new eyeballs

 I think it's fair to say I wasn't looking my best...
 The sunglasses definitely helped.
I went to bed at the usual time and slept soundly; I was actually quite worried that I wouldn't be able to sleep because of having to wear these beauties; quite the lovely articles, aren't they?

But the sleeping tablet prescribed by the eye clinic clearly did the trick. As for the goggles, I had to wear them every night for two weeks to ensure that I didn't rub/touch my eyes in my sleep. I also wore them in the shower for the first few days as I'd been told not to get my eyes wet; the instructions were actually not to have a shower at all (to have a bath instead) and not to wash my hair for the first week. I bought some Batiste dry shampoo which worked really well, despite my reservations. And I ignored the instructions not to have a shower because I'm a rebel. Plus, since I was wearing the lovely goggles and only showering from the neck down I figured there wasn't much chance of getting my eyes wet.

After nine days I went back to the clinic for a check up. By this time my eyesight was a little better but I only knew this because I put my glasses on one evening and could tell they were too strong. In 'real life' I really couldn't have told you whether there was any improvement in my vision, everything was still very blurry. Disappointingly so. And at the same time as barely being able to see beyond the end of my nose, I was frantically trying to get everything ready to open the tea room! I relied on my mum and hubby to drive me everywhere; I couldn't do anything without wearing my sunglasses (including painting the walls and woodwork at the tea room); at least three nights after the op I still couldn't see the TV (waaaah!) To say I was concerned/disappointed/upset is putting it mildly. I took to the wonder that is the internet to see (ha, excuse the unintended pun) what other LASEK patients had experienced. That's not to say that the eye clinic hadn't warned me about the pain and the blurred vision, but they had suggested that after a week I would be seeing much better than I was. Turns out I needn't have worried. It's pretty much par for the course with LASEK, which is one of the ways in which it differs markedly to LASIK whose patients report near-perfect vision and little pain after about 24 hours. My check-up showed everything to be in order and an improvement in my vision already, even if I wasn't aware of it. Plus reassurances from the surgeon that all would be well very soon.

Two weeks on and my eyesight was still blurry; frustrated was my middle name. I would wake up in the morning to perfect vision; I could see the alarm clock, I could even see to the bottom of the garden from our bedroom window. I could happily make my way downstairs and start the morning routine (coffee, packed lunch, school uniform ready, bag packed), but within about 30-40 mins the blurriness would return and that was generally it for the day. I was serving customers in the tea room without being able to see properly and trips to the supermarket were a case of getting up close and personal with the shelves to make sure I was buying the right things. All this while still administering endless rounds of antibiotic, topical steroid and synthetic tears eye drops (at least I only had to use the fourth lot of eye drops and the anti-inflammatory tablets for the first three days.) But then there would be strange moments of clarity when I'd glance into the distance and realise I could read a car number plate or make out a road sign (be reassured, I still wasn't driving at this point.) However, these moments chose not to join together until about three weeks after the surgery when one day, mid-afternoon, I realised I could see and had been able to ALL DAY LONG! Finally, the moment I'd been waiting for had arrived, and not a moment too soon, thank you very much.

One month on and I had another check-up at the eye surgery; the sight tests showed that I now have better than 20/20 vision, I am indeed bionic. I'm not sure if there's any point in vision being better than 20/20, but it certainly feels good. And my three-month check-up showed my sight had improved even more (when they put dilating drops in my eyes and everything went blurry, it felt just like the old days.) By the time the six months rolls round I expect they'll be telling me I have X-ray vision. I still have moments when I go to push my glasses up my nose, or even to take them off when I'm getting in to bed. That feels good. It's also great not having to worry whether to put in contact lenses in case the sun decides to shine, so that I can wear sunglasses. All is good in the eyeball department. So, if you are considering laser surgery, or if you've recently had it (esp. LASEK) and are looking for reassurance, I hope the three posts I've written about my experience will go some way to helping.

One final warning, when you go for a pre- or post-op check-up and the surgeon puts dilating drops in your eyes, you will look CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY. So keep those sunglasses close at hand if you don't want to scare the children.

Edited to add: there is one thing I do have an issue with, eyeball-wise, and that's an increase in the number of floaters (not the toilet kind; get your minds out of the gutter.) You know, those weird things that sometimes pass across your field of vision, looking like little amoeba/worms/aliens? Well, either there are more of them since my op or I'm just able to see them better. It's not uncommon and, apparently, once my brain has got used to them it will stop 'seeing' them, even thought they'll still be there, but it's still a bit of a nuisance and definitely something to be aware of if you're considering laser eye surgery.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Book Review No.9: Dead in the Water (cosy time again)


The blurb from the back reads:
"July 1923, and Daisy has been invited by an American magazine to cover the Henley Regatta. But unknown to her, she steps right into a class war between two members of the Oxford rowing team. Cox Horace Bott - a shopkeeper's son and scholar student - has always hated rower Basil Delancy - younger son of an earl and all-round cad and bully. And after a particularly brutal public humiliation by Delancy, Bott swears revenge - so when Delancy keels over and dies mid-race, it would seem he's made good on his promise.
Yet Daisy isn't convinced, and with the help of her fiance Det Insp Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard, she dives into a tangled web of jealousies and secrets, where appearances are everything and good breeding may just be a cover for a killer intent on keeping Daisy mum forever..."

Set in the UK during the 1920s, this is a cosy crime series which differs from many, as I've mentioned in previous reviews, since most cozies (that I've read) are set in modern-day USA. The main character is Daisy Dalrymple, a fairly well-to-do young lady fighting against the social constraints of the era to be 'independent'; despite her mother's complaints, she is employed by a magazine to write about stately homes around the country, which is how she so often happens to be in the right place at the right time to help solve murder(s). The atmosphere of the 1920s is apparent in the language, behaviour, settings, etc throughout the series, making it a gentle read where the modern world (computers, mobile phones, even motor cars for the most part) does not intrude. I'm sure a historian of the 1920s would find fault with some part(s) of the book, but I enjoy the fact that we are taken back to a time when things seemed, even if they weren't actually, a little gentler and less frantic.

This is the sixth in the Daisy Dalrymple series and the story goes something like this: Daisy is the guest of her aunt at the latter's manor house in Henley during the Regatta. Also staying at the house is one of the many rowing teams, the members of which appear not to get on particularly well. When one of them dies in the middle of a race, and in the middle of the Thames, it's up to Daisy and her fiance Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard to find the culprit.

This has been my least favourite of the series so far. Such a pity as I was really looking forward to reading a book set in a town where I used to live. I did enjoy the references to the town (especially trying to work out whether the author had the geography right) and the Regatta (you can't live in Henley without knowing about the Regatta and all the goings-on surrounding it), but the story was pretty dire. There were way too many similar characters, quite a lot of whom were surplus to requirements, so that was confusing; the plot was a bit wobbly; Daisy was pretty annoying throughout, and actually the rest of the characters were either frustrating or nothing-y (great use of descriptive words there.) I do hope the next in the series is a great improvement on this one as I do generally enjoy them a lot. 

As I've said before when reviewing the Daisy books, if you are a fan of cosy crime books you might be interested to give this series a go; even if you're more au fait with Agatha Christie and/or Patricia Highsmith you might enjoy it, for the settings or time period as much as anything else (autopsies, finger prints and other detection methods are evolving which is interesting in itself), although I'm not sure the plots are anything to match those penned by Ms Christie.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Clinique Clobber

A few weeks ago I was approached by a lady who lives in the village about the possibility of hosting a cheese and wine evening in the tea room. The lady in question works for Clinique and the evening was to be in aid of Clinique's Kiss it Better campaign which raises money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Of course, I said yes.

The evening was a great success with about 30 of us enjoying plenty of wine and cheese and donating generously to the cause (over £600 was raised.) There was also a fantastic raffle with a HUGE number of prizes, all donated by Clinique. I was lucky enough to win one of the prizes, and it was quite a haul:
and included three Chubby Sticks in Grandest Grape, Oversized Orange and Mega Melon
Eyeshadow in Olive in My Martini (don't they have the weirdest names?!?)
Superprimer Colour Corrector
Moisture Surge CC Cream
Moisture Surge gel
And two bottles of Dark Spot Corrector (one is in my bathroom cabinet in use already).
I have to admit I'm not much of a one for wearing make-up. I'll pop it on when we're going out for a meal (if I can be bothered...), but I certainly don't wear it everyday. I do, however, follow a bit of a skincare ritual in the mornings, and always have done since my teenage years. I cleanse with Clean & Clear, use Boots Protect & Perfect Eye Cream for those pesky crows feet, add a serum and then finish off with a moisturiser which is sometimes a cheap and cheerful one such as Boots Essentials Cucumber Moisturising Cream (at a whopping £1.50 a pot), sometimes it's Waitrose Baby Bottom Butter (perfect in the winter as it's very thick and does a great job of moisturising; yes, I know it's meant for babies bums, but we've all heard the saying 'Soft as a baby's bum') and if I'm feeling really flush (or I've been to the USA and picked it up at a bargain price) it's Clinique's Dramatically Different Lotion. So, winning this little haul was great for me, with all those fab skincare goodies. While I was writing this post I thought I'd check out how much the items would cost if I bought them in the shops, and they add up to a hugenormous £255! The raffle tickets cost £5 each and I bought two, so I definitely lucked out there.

And I thought I'd do a little experiment. The dark spot corrector is supposed to even out skin tone and reduce the appearance of dark spots and age spots. I've been applying it to my face and one hand and will continue to do so until the two bottles are empty. This is a photo of the hand I'm trying it out on, and I'll take another photo when I've come to the end so I can compare the results. I'm intrigued to see whether the age spots will be any less noticeable.
Watch this space...

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Book Review No.8: The Quick and the Thread (it's a cosy!)


This is the first book in the Embroidery Mystery series by Amanda Lee. A quick check on Google shows there are already another four in the series, so it's clearly been popular.

Here's the blurb from the back of the book:
"Opening an embroidery speciality shop in quaint Tallulah Falls, Oregon, was a big deal for Marcy Singer. But it was nothing compared to finding a dead body in her store.

For the grand opening of her shop, the Seven Year Stitch, Marcy throws a soiree. Her friend Sadie, who owns the coffee shop down the street, provides the delicious refreshments, and the party goes swimmingly. Marcy's registration sheet for embroidery classes fills up, and everyone in town seems willing to raise a glass - or a needle - to support the shop.
But the morning after the party, Marcy and Angus, her pooch, find a nasty surprise: the man who leased the shop before Marcy is lying dead in the storeroom, with a message scratched by a tapestry needle on the wall beside him. Now Marcy's shop has become a crime scene, and she's a suspect in the murder. But Marcy will be darned if she doesn't get to the bottom of this mystery, because it's starting to look as if someone's intent on putting the final stitch in her."

Oh gosh, doesn't it sound twee? But, if you love cosy like I love cosy, you forgive all that and dive right on in.You forgive the fact that the book has all ticked all the cosy boxes, like it was written following that magic formula:
set in quaint or interesting town/village? check
set in a speciality store of some sort? check
is there a dog/cat/other pet? check
is there a friend/relative on hand to help the main character in times of need? check
does the main character have an interesting job/hobby? check
is there a love interest? check

So, the book has pretty much everything a cosy needs, but was it any good? Well, it wasn't bad. There were little bits here and there that annoyed me, such as the main character's constant references to songs and films (as if the author was trying to show that she's knowledgeable about such things), and the arrival of a love interest for the main character almost instantly, but otherwise I enjoyed it. The characters were well-developed and believable (in as much as any can be in a cosy because, let's face it, you really have to suspend your belief the minute you turn to the first page), the setting was interesting, the plot was entertaining and well-paced although a little confusing at times (too many financial shenanigans for my brain to manage). All in all this was a good start to the series and I'll definitely be happy to read more (bookstores of New England, here I come!)

Thursday, 3 July 2014

LASEK Laser Eye Surgery in Detail: Part Two

When last we left off, I was about to go under the knife or, rather, the laser. I forgot to mention though that prior to the final tests before going down to the theatre, one of the ladies at the clinic talked me through my medication and the schedule for taking the various tablets and drops. I only wish I'd remembered to take a photo of the enormous bag full of bottles, boxes, tubes, etc. I have, however, taken a photo of the schedule which might give you some idea of just how many drugs, lotions and potions I had to take and how often they had to be administered.
Across the top are the columns for the different drugs (seven of them), and down the side are the times/days on which they were to be administered (from day of surgery up to 21 days after the op.) Suffice to say I was a little overwhelmed when I first saw this sheet, but I soon got into the swing of things. There were even a couple of sleeping tablets for the first nights after surgery.

Anyway, back to the theatre. So, I got myself comfy on the operating table and Mr Jaycock started with my right eye while my left eye was taped shut. He popped a speculum into my eye to keep it open for the duration of the surgery, so no need to worry about blinking and getting your eyelid lasered by accident. Then he taped my eyelashes out of the way. After that, various liquid solutions were washed across my eye while Mr Jaycock used an instrument that looked like a hockey stick (only smaller, much, much smaller) to scrape away the surface layer of the cornea (epithelium). This was the really weird part of the whole shebang because, obviously, I had no choice but to watch exactly what was going on in absolute close up! But because of the anaesthetic drops, thankfully, there was no feeling whatsoever, so it was a bit like watching through a window. It's hard to explain just how odd it was though. Then it was time for the laser to do its trick; there's no need to worry about your eye moving and the wrong part getting zapped as the machine tracks your eyeball precisely. Plus you do your most to keep looking at the light anyway. The light pulses and does its trick very quickly but there is a slightly odd smell and, I'm sorry if this is TMI, but it is a bit like burning meat. When I mentioned this afterwards the nurse said it was to do with the gases that the machine emits, but I'm not sure if she was just saying that because I have to admit I assumed it was my eyeball frying under the bazillion watt laser. Didn't bother me, either way. Once the laser part was over, Mr Jaycock did some more washing of the eyeball and then popped in a protective contact lens. The speculum was removed and that eye was taped shut. Then it was time to do it all over again on the left eye. All in all I think the entire procedure took about 30 minutes. And there was no pain or discomfort at all (actually, the most uncomfortable bit was having the eye drops put in prior to going into theatre.) Once it was done, I was taken to the recovery room (in a wheelchair, which made me feel like a bit of a fraud) and given a drink. Then my eyes were examined through one of the many machines that opticians love to use and I was given the all clear. Already, although things were blurry, I could notice a difference.

We went back to the reception of the laser clinic and I was advised to put my sunglasses on while I waited for hubby to come and collect me. When we went outside the light did feel very bright so I kept my sunglasses on and my eyes shut for as much of the journey home as possible. And there began my road to recovery and glasses-free living! Tune back soon for the next thrilling instalment...

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Half Term in Catalonia

We made our annual (three years in a row now!) trip to Spain recently, this time it had to be during half term so as not to have the Education People hunting us down, so it was a week earlier than we have been on our previous visits. Not sure how much of a difference that made really; the weather was a bit hit and miss for the first three days, but otherwise everything was pretty much as it has been.

When I say 'hit and miss', this was the weather that greeted us on the first evening when we arrived at the apartment

Torrential rain that turned the road outside into a river, and some spectacular thunder and lightning. Still, we were content to stay in and get settled so it didn't affect our plans too much. And I was happy to unpack and make a start on my holiday reading...
You probably know all about how I choose which books to take on holiday - basically it's the ones that have been languishing in my unread bookcase for rather too long and/or ones that I know I'll be happy to leave behind at the end of the trip (this doesn't include the New England one which is where we're off to on our next trip.) Reviews to follow sometime soon-ish of the books I read (clue: I only read two, and one of them wasn't by Lisa Jewell.)
At least the weather had improved by the next morning so the boys were able to have a stroll on the beach and along the rocks
while I hot-footed it to our favourite cafe to check that they were still open and still selling my favourite drink. Of course I was only trying it out for market research purposes, you understand.
I think it's fair to say that a certain person was happy to be on holiday.
We made our annual day trip to Girona so that we could repeat this pose
and compare it to 2013
and 2012.
My, haven't they grown?!
A quick stop at our favourite ice cream shop for yum scrum dulce de leche flavour.
Before heading off to explore the city walls.



Luckily that weather in the distance didn't catch up with us til we were driving home.



The following day we enjoyed a walk around the marina in Sant Feliu (the town where we were staying)


And the day after, when the weather had finally decided to play ball, we made our first visit our favourite beach at San Pol. And we went back for more of the same the following day. Because why wouldn't you?


And relaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaax.
On our final full day we visited the gorgeous town of Callela de Palafrugell. Where a little walk along the coast offers glorious vistas at every turn.






  And what luck that there's a lovely restaurant right on the front.
 Not a bad way to end our trip. 
See you next year, Catalonia!