I Once Was Blind
In the 1999-2000 school year, I was a 4th grader at a magnet public elementary school in North Los Angeles aka the 818 aka San Fernando Valley; home of a mission on El Camino Real, and capital of a couple vices that I shan’t name. My teacher, Mrs. Inoue, a survivor of Japanese-American internment camps orchestrated by His Imperial Majesty FDR, and I had a mostly good relationship, but she was pissed off at me for never doing my homework toward the end of the school year. *shrugs* ish happens.
During Parent-Teacher conferences she told my parents what was happening, and like many Habesha parents would be, they were aghast. Not my boy! They confronted me, and told me the hw is on the board, why are you not copying it down and doing it? I told them I couldn’t see the board. They didn’t believe me. They took me to get my eyes tested. I was vindicated, in the flesh.
Since the school year was almost over, they decided to just put me in the front row, my vision wasn’t so bad yet. The following school year, same year, I became a bespectacled boy. I wouldn’t wear my spectacles outside the classroom for another couple years out of embarrassment, but in the classroom, it was a must. Surprisingly, my magnet brethren and sistren eschewed poking fun at me in favor of supporting me and even telling me that I made spectacles look cool… word?
I wore spectacles on-and-off for seventeen years. The off was for contact lenses that I got out of necessity when I joined my high school football team as a defensive end and linebacker, always head-hunting the opposing squadron’s quarterback and punter. Swag was a secondary reason. My eyes are too pretty to hide behind spectacles.
In 2017, my vision stopped getting worse and had leveled out for three years. I had inquired years earlier, but now I had the capital myself to fund the refractive eye surgery that would level me up. LASIK, I knew about. That thang that makes a flap. PRK, I learned about with quick research, it’s slightly older, takes longer to recover from, and might be cheaper in some places. Here, they taught me to SMILE.
I went to UCLA’s Stein Eye Institute. I trusted UCLA with my oncology in 2011, and although there was a hiccup or two in hard-pushed advice, overall my experience was well worth returning, and I would recommend them to anyone in Southern California and perhaps even some in Central and Northern. The lead doctor there had been performing this family of surgery since the beginning in the mid-90s. If you go for LASIK, you can get a cheaper price by getting one of the student-doctors.
You already know, though I seek discounts almost everywhere, I don’t play games when it comes to something I’m going to use everyday of my life. The SMILE surgery is the latest in this family of refractive eye surgeries, and I ended up choosing it because 1) no flap 2) competitive recovery time with LASIK 3) fixed my astigmatism.
I cared about the flap, because I had aspirations to train and compete in striking and grappling. An eye poke could cause havoc for a flap. I cared about recovery time, because I had just accepted a job offer and didn’t have time to take off from work, otherwise I would have chosen PRK; which also has no flap but has a noncompetitive recovery time. I think now LASIK might be able to fix your astigmatism, ask your doctor, but my doctor told me SMILE could and LASIK couldn’t for my time and place.
SMILE makes an incision, rather than a flap, and takes the bad vision out. Sounds like science fiction and horror to have a stranger shoot lasers at your eye balls, but it worked. Here I am, five years later, and I still have something like 20/20 vision. I hear now, ophthalmologists can get you to 20/15 and 20/10 regularly, and 20/08 in rare cases.
See what the placeholder man can see at twenty feet is what it all means. Eight feet might be better, but every surgery has associated risks, ask your doctor. I was one of the first 50 people West of the Mississippi River, in the United States (some Ozzies beat us) to receive SMILE. I’m crazy. Or in touch with the latest technology.
I’m the first person to visit the doctor as little as possible, and to call them quacks when I disagree with their systems. Whether it’s an apple a day, or a cold shower a day, I say keep them at bay. But, in oncology and ophthalmology, I have entrusted my breath of life to them, and they have treated me well.
All of this was inspired by my general gratitude, and a recent episode of one of my favorite podcasts, The Drive, of which I am a paid subscriber. He doesn’t self-identify as a Copt, but the host Dr. Peter Attia is one. He self-identifies as an ex-surgeon and an ex big four accounting firm consultant, and a current physician obsessed with preventative interventions to promote lifespan and healthspan in his patients and in himself.
Sometimes the show is jargon-filled, and he and his guests can’t help themselves. I have struggled to understand certain things in certain episodes. Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly recommend this episode, and really every episode except the meditation stuff. A little woo-woo for me, plus, I accept my organized religion.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding laser eye surgery, please feel free to ask your doctor, but also my DMs and my inbox remain open.