And it wasn't even all that bad. I was mildly worried about the metal spider-like thing used to hold my eye open, but that part was actually no sweat. They gave me some sort of mild Valium, too, so I felt very calm and relaxed. The worst part was the very first thing they did, when they fitted plastic cuplike things over each eye in turn and made me stare at the tip of the doctor's finger while a lot of pressure built up - it felt like someone was pressing on my eyeballs - until my vision literally went black. Then I had to go lie on another table, and they gave me more anesthetic drops, taped my eyelashes back, fitted the metal spider (which I actually barely felt) to hold my eye open, and got to work, one eye at a time. I had to stare at a blinking red light while the laser was working; the actual laser only took about a minute to work. Then they placed a non-prescription contact lens on my eye to act like a Band-Aid for the corneal flap they'd cut, very gently removed the metal spider, took off the tape (ow!) and taped my whole eye shut while they worked on the second one. My eyes were then taped shut for an hour, and when they took the tape off, I could already read the EXIT sign across the room. It was by no means GOOD vision at that point, but compared to what I was before, it was amazing.
The one thing that surprised me, though, was the smell. There was actually a smell while the laser was working, and it was one that I immediately recognized because of Gabby. For those who don't know, Gabby was our Pembroke Welsh Corgi that we had for three years until she died of a congenital heart defect. After her nail clipper proved itself not very effective, Dad and I used to tag-team her to shorten her nails - I'd lie her down on her back between my legs and pet her and talk to her while he'd use the sander attachment on his power drill to file the nails down. It must have looked pretty funny to any outsiders, but it worked. But anyway, the smell of her nail dust being filed off was the same smell that was present while the laser was working. ("Burning flesh," Mom said later, with a grimace.) It didn't bother me - it was actually kind of a nice smell, since it reminded me of Gabby - but it was just something I'd never considered, that I might smell the cells being burned off.
Anyway, I have to put rewetting drops in every hour and antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops every four hours, plus sleep with (uncomfortable) eye shields - all of which is a bit annoying, but my eyes are doing great. I went back to the doctor the day after the surgery so he could check me out, and he said my corneal flaps were "an A+" - perfectly aligned - and that my vision was already 20/25! (It was something like 20/800 before.) It was and still is slightly better in the left eye than the right, since the right was so bad - a -7.50 - but I'm by no means done healing yet. It's good enough that I can drive, but it'll take 1-2 weeks before I'm a hundred percent. Sometimes I see perfectly, sometimes (like right now) things are a bit blurred. But in the end, I should actually have better than 20/20 vision; they purposely overcorrect their young patients because our eyes can still change a little.
Anyhow, it's just unbelievable. I am so glad I got the opportunity to do this. Those of you who are lucky enough to have 20/20 vision: don't ever take it for granted. I was driving yesterday and got a huge grin on my face, just because I was driving, doing it all on my own, no contacts or glasses or correction. And when I woke up this morning, I could see my room. That might not sound like such a big deal, but it is to me. I'm 20 years old and I've had glasses for almost two-thirds of my life - I don't remember what it's like to be able to wake up in the morning and see without fumbling for glasses, or run out the door to breakfast at camp without having to fiddle with contact lenses first, or go to a water park and be able to keep my eyes open without fear of losing a lens, or get up in the middle of the night and be able to go to the bathroom by sight rather than simply by memory. For the past two days, I've had that. And the only word for it is AMAZING.