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Scent of an eyeball.

I had laser vision correction over the Christmas holiday.  Finally.

I told my friend about it.  She asked me if I could see through walls now.  I told her it’s not that kind of laser vision.  She said ok, but made me promise not to blast her with my Superman laser beams.  I agreed.

For now…

It took me a long time to decide to get my eyes fixed.  I knew I wanted to, but I just couldn’t quite do it.  Either it cost too much money, the timing was wrong, or I was simply too chicken to allow someone to splash about in my eyeballs.


I was very careful.  I checked out three different laser clinics in three different countries in the span of five years.  I scoped out the offices.  Sniffed around the doctors.  Ran my finger over the laser machine to check for dust.  Each time they told me I was a good candidate for surgery.  Each time I hummed and hawed.  And each time I ran away to hide under a blanket.

But this time – this fourth time – I was ready.


I decided that I would have the surgery done in Canada over my three week holiday.  The price was pretty good (a bit more than in The Netherlands, but less than half of the UK), and I liked the vibe of the clinic.  The staff was chatty and friendly.  Perhaps a little too casual at times, but at least I felt comfortable to air my questions and concerns.

Which I did with gusto.

“Will my eyeballs puff up like marshmallows in the microwave?”


I set up an appointment for the day after my arrival in Canada.  And the morning of the day after my arrival in Canada, I canceled my appointment.  I thought, ah, I’ll just get it done in Holland.

Total chicken move.  Buck-aw!

But a week or so into my holidays I had a dream.  Actually, it was more like a premonition: One morning, in that magical hour of delirium between sleeping and waking, when the brain is at its most fanciful, I had the overwhelming feeling that if I got my eyes lasered in Holland I WOULD GO BLIND.

Ok, that’s an exaggeration.

But, upon waking, I had a serious sense that the level of care at the Canadian clinic was higher.  No matter what the other variables were – cost, timing, chickening out, whatever – it was my vision that was on the line.  And level of care was really all that mattered.

So I called them.  I had the pre-screening appointment on Tuesday.  The surgery Thursday.  And I was driving again on Friday with 20/20 vision.


Don’t let me fool you into believing that the surgery was the simplest thing in the world.  Don’t let this little story suggest that everything was just fine.  Because that’s what they’ll tell you in the clinic: “It will be fine! It’s a very simple procedure! Painless! Fast!”  Yes was quick (only about 12 minutes), but it was anything but fine.  While it wasn’t “chop your arm off” pain, I reckon “pain” comes in many forms.

There is physical pain – of which there was admittedly very little during the procedure; there is psychological pain: which includes emotional and perhaps anticipatory pain – again, nil; then, (I would like to posit) there is what I like to call subconscious pain: pain that is registered by some dormant part of our primitive brains that says, “Wait a minute…. This just ain’t right… Wait just an EYEBALL STINKING minute here! THIS JUST AIN’T RIGHT!”

Because, yeah, during the procedure I could smell my eyeballs.


No, it didn’t “hurt”.  But call it “pressure” or “discomfort”.  Call it whatever you like.  It doesn’t matter.  The stink of my own burning eyeballs?

That just ain’t right.

The stinging scent of my right eyeball hung in the air and my left was next.  I was so disturbed by the smell that in the middle of the procedure I tried to distract the surgeon so I could compose myself.  Below is the ACTUAL CONVERSATION I had with the doctor while I was on the table:

Me: “SOOOO… how did they figure out lasers could do this?”
Dr: “Um… they just developed the laser and tried to think of all the things they could do with it.”
“Me: “Yeah buuut, BUUUUT… what about the numbing agent for the eyes?  And all the drops and stuff?  They must have had to test it out on someone.”
Dr: “Animals I suppose.”
Me: “Oh yeaaaah… poor bunnies.”
Dr: “Well – “
Me:  “But MAAAAN!  Who was the FIRST GUY to get his eyes done?  He had to be CRAAAAZY!” (insert my near-hysterical laughter)
Dr: “Well, um – “
Me: “Never mind.  I’m ok now.  Blast away.”

And she did.  Quickly.

The recovery wasn’t hop-off-the-table-and-drive-home miraculous, but it was pretty darn close.  As fast as it was, the stress of having my eyeballs mined left me feeling like I had run 10k in that 12 minutes.  I slept for about 4 hours after the surgery.  Once I could manage to open my lids (about 8 hours later), it felt like my eyeballs had been popped out of my head, rolled in sand and popped back in again.


But I could see!

And it was all totally worth it.

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