Thursday, September 26, 2013

Losing it with Lose It!

I've always struggled with 10 or 20 pounds.  I'm not hugely overweight, but not where I want to be, either.  Most of the time I don't think about my weight, until I don't fit into my clothes.  I gain 10 pounds in a month or two without realizing it.  Before I know it I'm not fitting into my pants anymore.  I always notice the pants first.  If I look at my shirts, I realized they don't fit as well as they used to, either.  Then I work very hard and lose a few pounds.  It's always been a constant roller coaster just for 10 or 20 pounds.  But suddenly as I'm getting older it seems it's harder to lose the weight.  I used to just simply change my eating habits and the weight would disappear.  Now, not so much.

I recently gained another 10 pounds on top of the 10 extra that I was already carrying.  Hmmm.  I changed my eating habits, thinking it would drop off, instead I continued to gain a pound or three, four, maybe lose a pound, then gain it right back.  I worked really hard, pulling out all my secrets, like quitting diet soda, bread, drinking water when I'm hungry, eating grapefruits.  But I couldn't lose weight.  What's up????

A 20-something coworker told me she lost 10 pounds in a month by changing her diet.  I remembered back when I was 20-something and could easily shed pounds in the blink of an eye like that.  Now it seemed something was wrong with me, I was stuck being heavier on the outside than I was in my mind.  

I honestly think my metabolism changed.  It slowed wayyyyyyyy down.  I started working out more, but that had no effect on my weight.  I believe my weight has a lot to do with my eating habits.  I workout and reward myself with some chips and salsa, thinking I deserve it.  So I started a food journal and I carried it around for months on end.  But I needed guidance, instruction, and encouragement.  Finally I went online and found a site called Lose It!  I love it!

I put a Lose It! app on my tablet, but mostly I use it on the computer, since I have access to computers at work and home.  When I created a login it asked for my age, sex, weight and goal.  I said I wanted to lose 20 pounds at a rate of 1.5 pounds/week.  I thought that was doable.  It provided me with a daily calorie intake goal.  If I stick to the goal I can lose the 20 pounds by Thanksgiving!  Yes!  I log what I eat and my exercise.  The exercise subtracts from the daily calories allowed, allowing me more food.  I can eat whatever I want, as long as my daily calories are below my goal. I've quickly learned what types of foods are high in calories.  Plus, all types of exercise counts, such as "household walking".  And you can create exercises and foods, of course, based on what you actually do.

It's an awesome app.  Since I've started it on Sep 2, 2013, I've lost 7 pounds.  It really just helps me to watch what I eat, exercise more, and provides me with encouragement from hundreds, thousands, of others already using the app.  I joined Lose It! challenges to eat more veggies and burn so many calories from exercise and compete with the others online.  I am tied in first place in a push up challenge where we are supposed to do some type of push up every day, as many as each person can do.  Simple stuff!  If I really get carried away I can do weekly reports showing how much I lost a week, comparing it to the amount of calories I ate and my exercise for that week.  Lose It! allows members to become friends with other members to encourage each other.  I encouraged my husband to join, so now I have a friend on Lose It!.

I'm just happy I'm finally losing weight.  I want to lose 1 more pound by the end of this week so I will have lost a total of 8 pounds in Sep.  Piece of cake!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My LASIK Experience - 2 weeks post surgery

This post is a continuation of the posts about my LASIK eye surgery experience.  I believe in sharing information to help others if they plan on doing LASIK.

It's been 2 weeks since my surgery.  The doc tells me my eyes are very dry.  I didn't know what dry eyes felt like before this, I never had dry eyes before.  Since surgery my eyes feel like they have sand in them.  They're scratchy.  I guess that means they're dry.  I put drops in all the time, about every 30 min to every hour.  The doc told me to use Refresh Plus or Refresh Optive and Refresh Celluvisc drops.  They're all over the counter, no prescriptions needed.  I finished the steroid drops and the antibiotic drops already.  My eyes actually itch sometimes, they feel so gritty.  I just want to scratch them with my fingernails, but of course I restrain.

I went to my 1 week after LASIK appointment.  The doc said my eyes were very dry and I needed Restasis drops twice a day.  Restasis helps your eyes to start lubricating themselves.  It takes about 3 weeks to start working, according to my doc.  He gave me a sample and a prescription.  I started using the sample.  Immediately I noticed a constant twitching in my left eye.  My eyes continued to itch and the scratchiness increased.  The night I started Restasis I woke up 4 times to put eye drops in my eyes.  For the next few days I continued to wake up on average of 4 times/night with severe eye scratchiness and pain.  I was putting Refresh Celluvisc in at nighttime, per doc's instructions.  Refresh Celluvisc has fibers that seal my eyelid closed and make my eyes feel like there are sticks sealed inside the eye.  It was very uncomfortable and finally I stopped using Refresh Celluvisc.  I continued the Restasis for almost a week.  The insomnia was terrible, I started taking sleeping pills so I would sleep through the night and not continually wake to put eye drops in my eyes all night.  The constant twitching in my left eye continued the entire time I used Restasis.

I realized that Restasis is very expensive when I attempted to fill the prescription.  I didn't fill it.  Instead I stopped using Restasis.  The first day Restasis-free, the twitching stopped in my left eye and never returned.  I've been sleeping fine ever since I stopped Restasis.  I'm not going to use it again.  I'm going to manage without it.

My eyes are still dry, but I think they are slowly getting better.  They still itch most of the time.  I still use Refresh Plus or Refresh Optive drops about every 30 minutes to hour.

My distance vision is awesome.  It's everything I was hoping for.  I can see 20/20 for distances and I love it!

However, I'm struggling with reading now!  I used to be able to read without reading glasses.  Now it's hard to read.  It's blurry!  I had no idea I'd lose the ability to see up close immediately after LASIK.

Honestly, I think I need to retrain my eyes to focus up close.  I try not to use reading glasses, I try to force my eyes to focus on up close reading.  It strains the eyes, but eventually I can make the up close letters clear.  The first day I didn't use reading glasses at all my eyes were exhausted by the end of the day.  Most of my day is spent reading - computers, reports, etc.  That evening as I drove home I could feel my eye muscles struggling to hold my eyes straight.  It was scary, I felt like I was having a strabismus problem again.  I decided to take it easy and use reading glasses for maybe 50% of the day and let my eyes learn to refocus on up close work the other 50% of the day. 

This whole LASIK process has been an experience for me.  Honestly, I don't know if I'd do it over again, if given the opportunity.  Maybe.  I think the scratchiness will eventually go away.  I do think I'll be stuck with reading glasses forever.  I didn't mind using reading glasses before when my eyes were tired, but I didn't know I'd LOSE my up close vision on the day of LASIK surgery.  It's hard to handle losing the ability to see up close so quickly.  I used to be able to see so well up close, I miss it.  It's a tradeoff.

On a good note, reading glasses are a whole lot cheaper than distance glasses and contact lenses.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My LASIK Experience - Surgery Day Part II

This post is continued from the last post - it reviews my LASIK eye surgery that I had this week.

The last post was getting very long, so I decided to break it up into 2 parts.  Sorry for the delay!

So, I was led into the LASIK surgery room.  The room was bright.  I was led to a bed with a bunch of equipment at the head of the bed.  I was told to lie down with my head near the equipment.  I knew that equipment consisted of a laser and I was scared.  The doc was assisted by another man who's name I immediately forgot.

As I settled into the bed the assistant handed me a teddy bear and told me to hug the bear when I needed.  I loved that ugly worn little bear that moment, he was my only friend, facing the laser right along with me!

My right eye was done first.  The doc put a lot of tissues or something in front of my ears and said they were so eye drops didn't run into my ears.  The bed had something that lightly held my head in place.  Eye drops a plenty were put into my eyes, I was told they were numbing drops.  I told the doc to apply liberally.  He said if I felt any pain at all I should say something.  Suddenly he put a tissue or something soft over my left eye and taped it in place, making it impossible to open that eye. 

Doctor Solomon put something which I later learned was called a "lid speculum" over my right eye to hold it open.  It felt metallic and in my mind it looked like an egg separator - you know, that kitchen gadget that removes the egg yolk from the white.  It was very uncomfortable but not painful.  He was touching my eyeball a lot, checking it, but I didn't mind.  I focused on not moving the eyeball to the left or right, staring straight ahead.

My bed slid to the left and the equipment was positioned above my right eye. I squeezed the life out of the teddy bear.  The equipment lowered itself onto my eye.  The doc was explaining everything, talking to me.  Some kind of suction cup came down and stuck to my eyeball and felt like it was lifting my eyeball a little.  Again, uncomfortable but not painful.  The was the most uncomfortable part of the procedure.  Bright blue lights were then on my right eye.  I was told to stare into the lights, don't move the eye.  I don't think it could move with that suction cup stuck to it.  The blue lights were so very bright, light, almost white blue in color.  Lost in the blue I saw white dots going around in a circular shape.  This was when the flap was getting cut in my cornea.  It didn't hurt at all.  It took maybe 5 or 10 seconds of white dots then that eye was done.  The blue lights faded, but I was still seeing blue in my head, it was so very bright.  The suction cup released my right eye.  Ahhh, that felt so good, I hated that suction cup!  The squeezing let up on teddy.

In no time at all the bed was slid sideways, a cover was taped on the right eye preventing me from opening it, and the same procedure was done to the left eye.  The suction seemed a whole let less on this eye and this part was done in no time.  I felt like a pro, just look at the blue light, no problem!

Tons of drops were put in both eyes and the doc was touching them both with what felt like tweezers.  He was explaining how he had to open the flaps.  I asked questions as he worked and he commented on my curiosity; I told him I liked to understand what was going on.  The cornea flaps were opened on both my eyes, I think.  Then the doc took off across the room and told me to come along with him.  In my drug-induced state it seemed he moved quickly, but in reality my body was moving slowly.  I had no idea where he went and so I just sat up and looked abound blindly.  The assistant helped me to my feet.  I couldn't see anything, everything was a white haze, extremely blurry.  Basically I was blind.  The assistant walked me to another bed on the other side of the room and told me to lay down.  They acted as if I should be able to see the bed, I explained I was blind and didn't want to trip over anything.  I looked down and saw I was gripping teddy close to my chest still.

The assistant got me to lay down, my head felt like it was held in place again, although I really wasn't sure.  The left eye was suddenly covered.  The bed rolled under the equipment that was sitting beside it.  I knew this was the laser that would reshape my eye.  The doc was doing something with the equipment as he talked to me.  We talked about a lot of things, about his job, about the types of surgeries he does, it seemed we chatted for a while as this process occurred.  He was working the whole time and explained everything before it happened to my eyes.

I was told to look into the light again.  The machine came down onto my right eye. This time it was a bright red light - very red.   It had many dots of red - it wasn't solid, but a million dots that created the red color.  The red filled my eye with color.  Somewhere in the depths of red a green blinking dot appeared.  The green dot got larger and larger.  It's blinking became a steady pulsing.  I could smell the awful smell of what I thought was my eye being cut, but what the doc assured me was the smell of gases emitted by the laser machine.  I stared straight into the green pulse, afraid that my eye would move somehow and mess up the surgery.  The teddy was enduring a serious hugging again.  Eventually the green pulsing became a small green dot and faded.  Very quickly the machine and the red dots were pulled away.  The procedure was repeated on the left eye.  I felt like this whole process had already taken longer than what I read about and I was ready to have it over.

Finally the left eye was done and both eyes were opened.  Tons of liquid was doused into both eyes.  Everything was blurry.  Teddy was whisked from my hands.  Goodbye, my friend!

The doc then worked on the eyes with the tweezer thingy again to close the flaps.  He explained the flaps hook into the cornea to hold them into place.  He struggled getting the left eye flap closed, he said it was because my eye was shaped odd from the strabismus surgeries.  When he got it closed he watched me blink a few times.  He wasn't happy with the way my eyelid ran across the flap when I blinked, he was concerned the flap would open.  So he put a clear contact lens on the left eye to hold it closed.  There was no problem getting the right eye flap to close.  My vision wasn't perfect but I could see pretty darn well.  I wasn't tested right away, but was walked out and sent on my way.   All in all, the procedure took about 45 minutes.  Everyone said it would take 10 minutes or less!  I liked the way the doc took his time with me, I didn't feel rushed at all.  I thought  Dr. Jonathan D. Solomon
was an excellent eye doctor; I agree that he's one of the best in the country and I'm happy that I chose him!

While I was having the surgery Randy made an appointment for me to be seen the next day for a post surgery follow-up.  On the way home we had to stop at a pharmacy to get more prescription eye drops.  It took about an hour and a half to get home.  In that time my right eye started hurting very badly.  The eyeball itself hurt.  I put a jacket over my face to keep out the light.  It hurt so bad I was crying.  As soon as I got home I put in the proper drops, took 800MG ibuprofen, and and went straight to bed.  I awoke 3 hours later with no pain at all.  And I could see perfectly!

The following day I drove myself to my follow-up appointment.  I had no pain in the eyes.  The clear contact lens was removed.  My eyes were tested - I have 20/15 in the right eye and 20/20 in the left eye!  This is awesome!  I'm putting drops in my eyes about every 30 minutes now, I have 4 different types of drops.  It been 4 days since my LASIK surgery and I'm loving it.  The first day my eyes felt weird, tired maybe?  But now they feel better.  I haven't applied any eye makeup since surgery, I'm afraid it will hurt them.  Plus in order to remove eye makeup I rub the eyes.  Maybe a week after surgery after my one week followup appointment I'll start wearing makeup again, who knows.  People at work tell me I took younger without eye makeup, one person even asked if I had a "mini-lift" on my face! 

If you're considering LASIK surgery, I say GO FOR IT!  It's expensive, but worth it!  And the procedure isn't that bad.  I hope this blog post helps people to understand what to expect if they decide to get LASIK.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

My LASIK Experience - Surgery Day - Part I

This blog post is continued from my last post at  It tells about my LASIK surgery experience.


Before I get to the surgery, let me tell you about my doctor.  I saw Jonathan D. Solomon, M.D., from Solomon Eye Associates Physicians and Surgeons in Maryland.   

From their webpage:

Dr. Jonathan D. Solomon has been named one of the Top Doctors in America. ‘Peer-nominated and selected by the nation’s leading providers of information on top doctors’, Dr. Solomon has been featured in the April edition as a top doctor for the Washington, DC area for Vision Correction Surgery.   

I saw a magazine article listing Dr Solomon as one of the top doctors in the US and I was sold.  I wanted a good doctor to do my LASIK because maybe he'd understand my past strabismus problems.

My surgery was scheduled for Sep 12, 2013, which is today.  I had started on the OTC eye drops and ointment, but as of Mon Sep 9. 2013 the doctor's office had not successfully called in the prescription for the Zymaxid  and Bromday.  I had called the doctor's office multiple times and was frustrated.  I also had to pay for the surgery still, so I called on Sep 9th, Monday, to make sure the person who received payment would be available that afternoon so I could stop by.

To my surprise the doctor's office told me I was rescheduled for surgery on Sep 10 2013, Tues, as the doctor had an emergency and wouldn't be available on Thur.  So it was Tues or reschedule for a month down the line.  I quickly shuffled around all my work responsibilities so I could take Tues and Wed off vice Thur and Fri, the doctor's office finally called in the Zymaxid  and Bromday prescriptions to my pharmacy, and I was ready for surgery.  However, the change in dates really stressed me out.

The afternoon before surgery Randy went to three different pharmacies to find one that carried the Zymaxid  and Bromday when I was finishing up last minute things at work.  I couldn't have managed without Randy.  Who knew that pharmacies don't carry these meds?  I recommend getting them early to avoid this last minute dash if you are planning LASIK.  I started on the Zymaxid  and Bromday drops the night before surgery.

The day of surgery I was told to arrive at 3pm at the TLC Laser Eye Surgery Center where Dr Solomon was working.  I guess the doctor rents TLC equipment.  I was retested at 3pm and had all these pretty pictures of my eyes printed, the eye tests took about 10 minutes and I was sent back to the waiting room to wait till 4pm.  I was called at about 3:30 for surgery.  I asked the woman if I was the last patient of the day and she said yes.  I was told to put on a cap and booties.  Randy was allowed to join me in the room.  The assistant asked me if I wanted something to calm my nerves prior to surgery and I said yes, remembering a friend of mine said her doctor gave her a Valium before surgery and it helped to calm her.  The woman brought 2 Aleve and a Xanax .5 mg.  I have never had Xanax and it kinda concerned me.  I'm not into drugs, and heard that Xanax is strong and addictive.  Just the idea of taking a Xanax freaked me out even more.  Now I was scared of surgery and concerned about taking Xanax.

I closed my eyes and took the Xanax and Aleve.  The Xanax didn't start affecting me right away, it took about 30 minutes or so.  It was weird, eventually it made my body slow, but my mind was still normal, I was thinking just as fast as before.  But my speech became slow and my physical movements became slow, as if I was drunk.  But inside my brain was still normal!  This wasn't a fun drug!  I'm sure everyone is different, but I wont be taking Xanax again!

Dr Solomon tested my eyes yet again right before surgery.  He explained monovision to me, which I did NOT want.  Monovision is when one eye is used for distances and one for close up sight, it makes it so the patient doesn't need reading glasses.  Previously my optometrist had me try monovision using contacts and I hated it!  It made me dizzy and gave me headaches.  I wore monovision contacts for a week and it was just plain miserable, my brain couldn't handle it.  I don't mind reading glasses, although right now I don't really need reading glasses unless my eyes are tired.  I was told by the surgeon who did my strabismus surgeries, Dr. Birdsong, that reading glasses help to relieve stress on the eyes and I should use them if my eyes are tired.

I told Dr Solomon No to monovision.  He explained he was going to make my right eye dominant because strabismus patients need one eye to be dominant or the eyes fight each other and strabismus can occur again.  I was concerned about losing the ability to read immediately after LASIK and he explained that LASIK wouldn't affect my reading vision.  He went over the details of the surgery, and then I was walked into the surgery room.  I was terrified!  Here we go!

Randy was allowed to watch my surgery through a window into the surgery room and up close over a TV screen displayed through that window. 

Stay tuned for the surgery itself in my next post.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My LASIK Experience - Pre-Surgery

I had LASIK eye surgery yesterday!  I was nearsighted and I hated glasses, so I mainly wore contacts. My contacts had a prescription of -3.75 in the right eye and -4.00 in the left eye.  Yes, that's pretty strong!  I had always wanted LASIK surgery, but waited for my budget to allow it.

Then in my 30's suddenly I started seeing double.  Not all the time, just when my eyes were stressed.  I look at computer screens most of the day for my day job, when I'm not here on the farm doing farm duty.  My opthamologist said I had a strabismus problem, which involves the eye muscles.  Both eyes were fighting with each other, causing double vision and causing my eyes to turn.  He said my eye muscles were very tight, which caused this issue.  I think the eyes visibly turned outward, but I don't know, I never looked in the mirror when it happened.  I just knew it was terrible and scared me to see double.  It also affected my depth perception.  When your vision starts messing up, that's serious business!

Anyway, I ended up having 2 strabismus surgeries in one and a half years.  After the first surgery I was so happy, but a few months later the double vision returned, eventually making me have another surgery.  Strabismus surgery is serious stuff.  First of all, I was the only adult in the eye hospital on both occasions; most strabismus patients are children.  I figured if the kids could go through it, so could I!  The patient is knocked out, the eye muscles, which are located behind the white of the eye, are cut and tightened, and the patient is left with stitches in the whites of their eyes.  After surgery the eyes feel like a piece of hard plastic is left behind, because it is (the stitches), and it hurts very much to move the eyes.  Recovery takes up to a week.  I had to go back and have the stitches cut out each time after surgery.  It wasn't that bad because I was so happy to be able to see straight after the surgeries, and I forgot about the pain, as is normal.  I still needed glasses, but I didn't see double and the depth perception was perfect again.

If I can go through that TWICE I can do a simple LASIK procedure. I waited about 5 years after my last strabismus to make sure I had no more muscle issues and then signed up for LASIK.  Finally, no more contacts!  Finally I will be able to wake up and see.  Finally I can swim and shower without worrying.  I wont have to spend time every morning and evening messing with contacts.  Ahhh, eye freedom.

I was very nervous the day before surgery.  I Googled LASIK eye surgery and attempted to watch a video on YouTube of an actual surgery.  If you haven't had the surgery and plan on it, don't watch the YouTube LASIK videos, it's too gory.  When they started pressing down on the eyeball and it left indentations in the eyeball I had to stop it.  Ugh, that would be my eye soon enough.  I didn't ever finish watching it.

I stopped wearing contacts 2 weeks prior to surgery, as the eye doc requested.  My miserable glasses were dusted off.  The week before surgery I started on an eye drop regime.  Refresh Plus was put in my eyes 4 times a day and Muro 5% ointment was put in the eyes at bedtime.  The Refresh Plus felt refreshing, it's just an over the counter eye drop.  The Muro 5%, also OTC, was a heavy ointment which was squeezed into the lower lids at bedtime and was like putting Vaseline into the eyes.  It was kinda nasty, but really lubricated the eyes.  In the mornings my eyes were all greasy.

One day prior to surgery I added Zymaxid, an antibiotic drop, and Bromday, an anti-inflammatory.  Zymaxid was four times a day and Bromday twice a day.  Both were prescription drops.  I made up a spreadsheet to organize my eye drop regime.  And after surgery there were more drops!

My next post will go over the surgery so those of you considering it will know what's going to happen.  I think it helps to read about LASIK surgery prior to having it to understand what to expect.  I know I read some other people's accounts and it helped me to be less nervous.  My biggest fear was being awake through the procedure, plus I was afraid my eyes were going to have a strabismus issue during the surgery and suddenly turn one way or the other when the laser was on them.  I didn't have strabismus issues anymore, but the concern was in my mind since I had that problem before.