What a Wonderful World
I had LASIK surgery. It worked.
I’ve never had surgery, unless you count getting my wisdom teeth out when I was in college. To prepare, I did what anybody would do these days – researched it on the internet.
Thanks to Google, I understood what was going to happen to me and why it was going to happen. I knew that I had to use a sleep shield for a week after the surgery, I couldn’t take a shower for a few days, and I’d need to take a series of eyedrops to prevent infection.
Just before the nurse took me away for pre-surgery disinfecting, the doctor went over the whole procedure with me.
“Do you have any questions?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
“No questions.” Who has questions when they have google?
“OK,” he said, skeptical.
The doctor performed a continuous monologue throughout the whole surgery. Some of this I appreciated and some of it I did not.
I was most nervous at the beginning, when I was wearing a paper shower cap and clutching a giant green stuffed toy, staring at the flashing light above me.
“I am now cleaning and preparing the surgical instruments,” the doctor said.
That, I did not appreciate. Please, no reminders of the blade that is going to cut a flap in my cornea.
Later – “You will see nothing for ten seconds while I make the flap. This is perfectly normal.”
This, I was glad to hear.
The surgery was brief, about ten minutes in total. The nurse held my hand under the blanket and soothing music played on a loop. When it was finished, they played what I believe was “Congratulations” by Cliff Richard. (I know this because I googled it)
The lyrics go like this:
When I tell everyone that you’re in love with me
Well, it was a nice thought, but I wasn’t quite ready to declare my love for the doctor.
That changed when the nurse helped me out of surgery to wipe down my face one more time. I sat in a chair directly opposite a sign that read, “Welcome to your dream world,” or something like that.
“I can read,” I said, jubilant.
The nurse smiled and continued to scrub my face with an antiseptic-doused cotton pad. She had previously made it clear to me that she spoke no English.
“I can read that sign,” I babbled.
Unfazed by my childlike enthusiasm for basic tasks, she passed me to another nurse who led me to a ‘relaxation room.’ This nurse tucked me in – literally tucked the blanket around my toes – to a single bed, where she dimmed the lights and switched on some music.
“Close your eyes for ten minutes,” she said. “You need rest.”
Close my eyes? I didn’t just undergo elective surgery and pay 1.9 million won to close my eyes. I wanted to look at everything, just to prove to myself that I could see it clearly.
But she was the nurse, so I closed my eyes.
Before the surgery, I was asked to select which genre of music I wanted to hear in the relaxation room. My choices were:
I thought Classical was the way to go, but I couldn’t tear my pen away from Movie Soundtrack. I now lay under the fuzzy blanket and listened to “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “What a Wonderful World.”
I see trees of green/red roses too
I see em bloom/for me and you
And I think to myself/What a wonderful world
How wildly appropriate the song seemed! I let waves of vision happiness wash over me. Then I panicked. Wasn’t Louis Armstrong blind? Was that some sort of bad omen?
No, wait. That was Stevie Wonder. Thank goodness ‘motown’ hadn’t been an option.
The nurse came to collect me and I met with the surgeon one more time.
“Looks perfect,” he said, inspecting my corneal flaps for wrinkles and dust particles. “See you tomorrow morning.”
A staff member escorted me from the clinic to the Prince Hotel, where they were putting me up free of charge.
“Better to wear your sunglasses,” she said. “Even in the night.”
We wound through the crowds of MyeongDong, one of Seoul’s busiest shopping districts. We passed street food vendors, tables of knockoff designer t-shirts, and some sort of stage performance. I marveled at my ability to see it all without glasses or contact lenses.
“I think you look slimmer,” the nurse said to me. “Since last time.” She touched her jaw lightly with both hands. “Slimmer in face and body.”
Now that she mentioned it, I did feel slimmer all of a sudden.
I wondered if this was all part of the commitment to service I had read about in the brochure. Whatever it was, it was working. I checked into the hotel, put on my safety goggles and snuggled into the fluffy cloud of a bed. This surgery was definitely one of my better decisions.