Sunday, September 30, 2018

My Long-Haul Carry-On Essentials

 One of my favorite things to do is travel...and for me, that includes the actual trip to get there. I love my luggage set and over several trips I have my process down to a science.

For starters, my set is a bright purple/plum color so I can spot them from the other side of the airport. We 2 large Delsey suitcases and a smaller one that we use when we travel as a family. But, more often than not, I travel alone and use one of our larger Delsey cases and my Aimee Kestenberg carry-on underseater bag. (It's a lucky coincidence that my carry-on bag happens to perfectly match the larger suitcase!) Finally, I always carry my Vera Bradley handbag which kind of color coordinates with everything else but also has a million pockets to work perfectly for holding all my items. I only use this handbag for traveling, so it's always ready.

For long-haul flights (typically those 7 hours or longer), I have a few things I do to prepare. First of all, I pack my PurseN lunch bag, pajamas and change of underwear into my carry-on bag. Next, I make sure that my daily essentials are in my handbag: wallet, makeup bag, battery brick, and my passport. Third, and very importantly, I check in and make sure I have picked my seat. This can literally make or break my entire trip so I always make sure I have this done.

Personally, I rely on Seatguru to pick the best seat on the plane:

Once I get onto the flight (or sometimes right before I board) I change into my pajamas. I've experimented with wearing comfy clothes or keeping it casual, but to be honest, there is no way I have found to sleep in my clothes and still arrive looking fresh and sleek. So, my recent process is to wear whatever I want, then change into pajamas for the flight. I then stow everything else away except for my PurseN lunch bag, which contains all my essentials:

1. My auto-inflate neck pillow which has a little pump so it inflates with just a few squeezes of the nub.
2. My molded eye masks that are contoured so they don't press into my eyes.
3. Earplugs so I can enjoy some quiet time when I sleep.
4. My compression socks in leopard print to help me fight DVT.
5. Foldable flats that I put on to walk around the plane (the floors can be filthy, especially in the restroom).
6. Lip balm, hand lotion, hand sanitizer and hydration spray.
7. Mask- this helps keep the air I breath moisturized and also helps me avoid germs from the recycled air.
8. Coloring book and coloring pencils (I also stash a pen in the tube).
9. My travel journal. I keep notes on things I plan to do or journaling on what I've done.
10. Face Mask and eye treatments- one of the things I like doing to pass the time on long flights is to do face mask treatments. Flights dry out my skin so it's a great pass-time as well.
11. Spare charging cable.

And that's enough to keep me occupied for up to 16 hours on a flight!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My First Vacation with Perfect Vision!

Yesterday I got back from a mini-vacation to Mexico City....and it was the first trip I have had without worrying about contacts/glasses and it was GLORIOUS!

For starters, I left on Friday night after a long day of work. Usually, that would mean my gritty eyes would need a break from my contact lenses.

On my first day there, I went to a Temazcal, which is a traditional steam/sweat lodge. I have *always* wanted to try this but each time I've gone to a regular sauna I've either sat in steamed up glasses or totally blind (I learned quickly that contacts would stick to my eyeballs). This trip to the Temazcal was an intensely healing one. I found myself more open than I have been and had a lot of catharsis during the shaman's healing.

On my second day I took a ride in a hot air balloon over Teotihuacan. We left at 5am to make it in time for the sunrise take-off. This was a day that definitely would have been a struggle for me pre-ICL: Too early for contacts, but then a paralyzing fear of losing my glasses over the edge of the hot air balloon. It was amazing to take it all in, with crisp, clear vision.

The rest of the trip was spent exploring and at every interval I had things that made my time easier by not having to worry about dry contacts. Especially the tequila. Just saying... 

One of the big advantages of having ICL was to be able to travel and move unfettered, explore, get lost, without a crippling fear of how to manage and maneuver my glasses and contact lenses. With this mini trip I have definitely confirmed that this was the perfect choice for me!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

One Week Post Op- ICL Surgery

1 Week follow-up day! The most exciting thing I was looking forward to today was the green light to stop taping those shields to my face at bedtime!

I came in today and had Natalie get me ready for my appointment with Dr. Ryne. We went to test on one of the machines (the one I lovingly call the hot air balloon thingie) and then to the exam room to check my eye pressure. It was 11, which by all accounts sounded pretty good. My vision is now actually *better* than 20/20- it is 20/15!

Dr. Ryne came in and was full of good news- my eyes are healing very well, I'm cleared to stop all drops (except artificial tears if needed). And, most importantly, I can sleep without those shields!

I still wondered how delicately I had to treat my eyes- Dr. Ryne put me at ease by sharing an update he had from a conference he attended where soldiers in bomb zones had MRI's taken and their ICLs hadn't been dislodged! So, mascara, here I come!

My next appointment is in 3 months....I bade goodbye to all the wonderful staff at Clearview Eyecare- Mackenzie at the front desk, Natalie, Austin, and...Brianne! What an amazing team- what an amazing experience! I am *so* glad I got the courage to do this!

Friday, February 10, 2017

1st Day Post Op- ICL Surgery

I woke up this morning and my first thought was 'how am I seeing my clock???' Yes, I was seeing my bedside clock for the first time ever (and it wasn't because I had passed out with my contacts in). Of course, I was seeing them through the snazzy shields with perforated holes so that was fun for me, too.

Day 1 post op my eyes have felt quite light sensitive today. I've worn my funky sunglasses most of the day and my drops have saved me. At points in the day, I've been unable to open my eyes in light. BUT, it is day one so some tenderness is to be expected. I went for my post-op appointment today and both eyes are now at 20-20...Hurray!

Dr. Lyons has been such a blessing to us!

I have so many thoughts on ICL. Should you do it? Only you can answer that. It takes a ton of research, self-reflection and bank account analysis to decide the right thing. For me, it was the best option and it was the exact right time in my life to do it. I have reflected on whether I would have chosen it over Lasik if that had been an option... On the one hand, it is a much more popular route and there is more long-term data available. However, of the 3 people that I know personally who have undergone Lasik recently, 1 is not pleased with the results and already needs an adjustment. And I have been surprised to find that more people who I know to be glasses-wearers now actually had Lasik years ago. For me, I wanted something guaranteed.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Iridotomy Recovery

After my iridotomy on Wednesday afternoon I was, to be frank, in a world of pain and discomfort. I have been reassured several times that this is the worst part of this process. I truly hope so. By late Wednesday night the halos around lights were gone to my great relief. I was prescribed drops that I have been using 4 times a day and will need to stop 2 days before surgery. They help, but leave a bitter taste in my mouth shortly after I put them in my eyes. They are also white, so there is a tendency to get some weird eye goo after I put them in. None of these are big deals though. 
I've noticed that if I go too long, my face starts to feel a bit tender. That happened today and I had to high-tail it home to get some Ibuprofen in me. 
I got my nails done today and am having my hair done tomorrow. The last time I had surgery I didn't think of doing all this the weekend before so I had to go quite a while before I could do both.... #lessonlearned 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

LPI Procedure- AKA "It's Just Awkward!"

Let me start by saying pardon any typos or grammatical errors- I'm typing this mere hours after having the LPI procedure and let me tell you....that HURT. Today's tech was Brynn, and she sweetly warned me that the procedure could be "awkward"...that is probably the understatement of the century. But, let me start at the beginning.

Rocking my coke bottles in the waiting room

Today's appointment was my LPI- Laser Peripheral Iridotomies. I also had a chance to meet Dr. Lyon who is the surgeon who will be doing my ICL surgery. I was a bit apprehensive when I arrived- there is precious little online about the LPI procedure and all I knew for sure was that the doctor was going to put holes in my eyeballs. Yikes!

The appointment began in the exam room. Dr. Lyon came in and re-explained everything about the ICL procedure including a blow-by-blow of what next Thursday would look like. I cannot describe how much of a relief it is to have every single person in the practice narrate what to expect in exactly the same way- very reassuring! Dr. Lyon was open to questions and responded graciously even when I asked him how many ICL's he had done (over a hundred) and for how long (7 years). While that doesn't seem like a ton, it's important to remember that this is still a newer procedure and the cost is quite high- people aren't exactly rolling in off the street by the dozens to get this done. But, between the cataract surgeries and the Lasik procedures- clearly this is a doctor who knows eyes! One of the nurses put some constricting drops in my eyes and then they had me sit in the waiting room for a few moments to take effect. I took that opportunity to take some Ibuprofen- I was warned by the nurse at my last visit that the LPI would likely give me a headache. As the drops took effect, my nose started running and my pupils started to constrict:


I was called to the procedure room by the most delightful nurse (tech?) named Brynn. Let me just say that Brynn needs to be sought out by Visian ICL to do their promotional videos....this woman knows her stuff and made everything sound perfectly doable. Case in point....she cautioned me by telling me that things might be "awkward". Seriously. "You might pass out, but I'll definitely catch you!" She offered me some crackers and juice as I had missed lunch, and answered even more questions that I had. (another Q & A post to come shortly).

She applied some numbing drops in both eyes and then I got to belly up to this laser machine:

Dr. Lyon came in and sat facing me on the other side of this machine. A 'lens' was put into my eye and then the fun began. Looking straight ahead, Dr. Lyon fired the laser into my eye repeatedly until he was able to break through the cornea to create the hole to prevent pressure buildup. It did feel like a rubber band snapping my eyeball while a bright red light was being shone into it. The second hole in my first eye took a really long time to pierce through and it felt like he had to zap me a ton for it to happen. Through all of this Brynn was there, reminding me to breathe, ratcheting the laser strength up or down based on his request. Once the first eye was done, the doctor removed the lens and as I backed away from the machine to have my eye flushed, I suddenly realized that I was seeing only in black and white out of that eye. That was freaky! It only lasted a few minutes before I could see color again, but it was a very odd sensation.

After both eyes had been completed, my vision was atrocious. I wasn't sure how on earth I was going to drive myself home. There was goop that had been put into my eyes around the lens that was really messing with my ability to see. Luckily, Brynn was on hand to do another eye flush then applied my first dose of my steroid eyedrops that I will need to use 4 times a day until next Tuesday. A few more minutes later and I was able to do a very shaky drive home. Let me share something- if I could do today over, I would definitely take my co-worker up on her offer to drive me today. It was way too bright, the sunglasses they give you didn't sit properly over my glasses and I was just not as comfortable as I would have liked to be. Fortunately, I only live about 15 minutes away so the drive was not too bad.

I took a few more Ibuprofen when I got home and waited for my eyes to clear. Once the night time rolled around, I had a very unpleasant surprise...halos around lights! What? I haven't even had the ICL yet and I already have this??? I'm going to hold off from panicking and hope that this is to do with the stress my eyes went through today. I'll do another Q & A in a few day's time and then......BIG DAY!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

ICL Surgery Questions

Tomorrow I have my iridotomies, followed next Thursday by my ICL surgery. In the meantime, I thought I'd share the questions I asked my doctor (and his responses):

Q: Confirm which Dr. is doing the surgery?
A; Dr. Robert Lyons is a board certified ophthalmologist who has been performing cataract and laser refractive surgery for many years. He previously served as an ophthalmologist in the United States Air Force and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has performed thousands of surgical procedures and has been a surgical mentor to many ophthalmology physicians-in-training. He has been trusted to perform laser vision corrective surgery on fighter pilots in the United States Air Force.

Q: How soon can I fly following surgery?
A: Give it about 2 weeks to be safe. 

Q: How soon can I engage in strenuous activities?
A: Give it about a week

Q: Will any of the prescribed eyedrops bleach my lashes? (I read that somewhere). 
A: No

Q: Will I experience 'halos' at night?
A: Based on the measurements we have seen, this should not occur in your case. 

Q: Can I drive that weekend? (I have tickets to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch!)
A: Yes. You should be able to drive the next day. The anesthesia wearing off, and not the vision, is the limiting factor. 

Q: Do you have a charity I can donate my old glasses to?
A: Yes. Bring them to your surgery and we will have the Lions Club collect them

Q: What if I sneeze during my ICL surgery?
A: As you will be under anesthesia, this is highly unlikely to happen. However, the doctors can read the body's preparation to sneeze and it gives them ample time to remove any objects from the eyes. 

Q: What if my vision is not great after the ICL surgery?
A: Unlikely, but we can make adjustments with Lasik (at no additional cost)

Q: What if something feels 'weird' after the surgery?
A: In the kit provided you have the cell phone number for Dr. Lyon and others. Call them right away. 

Q: What if it's too odd?
A: We'll go in and take them out!

I was pleased with how thorough they were answering all of my questions- he didn't shrug anything off as too silly. I'm getting more excited! 9 days to go now!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

ICL Measurement Day

Today was the first step of my amazing journey! I spent about 2 hours putting my eyes through what felt like the Olympics of eye exams...I had a wonderful tech named Elaine who, once I explained that I planned to fully document the process, did a fantastic job of explaining each machine and allowing me time to take pictures. So, here we go!
I arrived and was called back quite promptly. I was taken to a room which had about 6 stations with eye equipment at each one. I'll do my best to recall each one:

This was the first station I started out. The one on the right measures anterior chamber depth, I think the one on the left measured for astigmatism among other things. Astigmatism higher than 1 is considered bad (and potentially would require additional laser after the ICL to completely correct vision). Mine was 0.27 and 0.33 so the doctor was quite happy with those numbers.  Both machines were connected to each other and the final picture that it put out in the end gave a rendering of my eyes:

Once I was done at this machine, I was taken to this one which measures prescription strength. Looking into the machine I could see what looked like a hot air balloon at the end of a street. Elaine made several clicks so that it went into, then out of, focus:

Next I was moved to a station to measure my peripheral vision. This was the only one where I was allowed to wear my glasses. I was given a buzzer and had to press it every time I noticed a 'wrinkle' appear. It was kind of tricky and I'm not sure if I passed or failed this one:

The last station I used in this room was this one:

The Optos took what felt like a Xerox of my eye once I leaned in. The image it took looked like this:

The doctor was able to tell that my eyes looked healthy and was particularly pleased to see the pinpoint in the center of each eye.

With that room finished, I was taken to the room that had the equipment specific to ICL surgery. All the tests I had done so far were also used for Lasik patients.
The next room had these 2 machines first which again involved sitting and leaning into them. I have completely forgotten what these were measuring, but I did get pictures!

The last machine in that room was to measure the corneal cells. Preferably, a denser amount of cells, close together is found. Here is the machine and the readout:

Once done in that room we went to the exam room. We did the usual machine (is it better like this, or like this?), then my eye pressure was checked using this machine:

Elaine dilated my pupils and after I sat for about 15 minutes she took me back to the first room for the hot air balloon test again.

So, after ALL these tests, I am still a candidate for ICL and when the doctor came in to talk to me he seemed very pleased with everything he saw. Exactly 2 weeks from today I should have, for the first time in my memory, absolutely perfect vision....I am beyond excited! Next week I have an appointment to have my iridotomies (tiny holes for drainage in my eyes). I'll be filling you in on that one next.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

My 30+ Year Journey with Glasses

Me at about 14
I remember vividly a time in Kindergarten when I just couldn't see the blackboard. I would be in the front row, squinting so hard and wondering why the teacher was writing in such tiny font. At some point I must have told my mother and, after an eye exam, I had my very first pair of (glass) glasses. The feeling I experienced when I put them on is one I will never forget. The way everything suddenly became crisp, clear and in vivid color...I couldn't believe I had been missing out! That euphoria lasted exactly 3 days until I did a high jump at recess and my glasses slid right off my face and shattered into a million pieces. This was the very first sign that my life with poor vision was not going to be easy. At all.

At a friend's birthday party...yep, that's me on the left.
Over the years we tried different things- I was an avid reader and my prescription was often so strong that I preferred to read without my glasses holding the book right up to my face. This spurred a fun game for my classmates who would walk by and slam the book into my face yelling "Slambook!". Ouch. My mother though bifocals (then, later, tri-focals) would help. This led to a weird tic of me constantly tilting my head to find which section of my glasses would help in each scenario. I had the 'librarian chain' to hold my glasses in place, the bi-focals, then, for something different, we started with all kinds of wacky colors because my mother thought it would add a little pizzazz to the situation. It did not.

My freshman year of college I spent Spring Break at a friend's home in the Bronx and that trip changed my life forever. She took me to an eye place in the nearby mall and I got my very first pair of contact lenses. I.was.amazed. Not only did I not have to wear glasses all the time, but I was surprised to find that beneath the coke bottles, I had a fairly decent looking face! I bought my first pair of sunglasses, went crazy with the makeup and proceeded to make up for lost time. It was amazing...for a while.

Dominican Republic, 2011
If you've ever worn contact lenses, you know that sticking your finger into your eyes every day is only charming for a while. The other issue that had reared its head was that my love of travel was in direct conflict with my need for contact lenses. Each time I would have to plan ahead for how I would do the trip- should I wear glasses during the flight? Where would I stow my glasses if I needed to sleep? What if they slid on the floor and I couldn't find them? What if it was sunny when we landed and I needed sunglasses? And with the FAA regulations on liquids it became even more complicated to just throw contacts in by handbag. I know these are that my mother lovingly refers to as 1st world, electricity-having, problems, but to me they put a real damper on a hobby that should have been nonstop fun.

In the past 2 years or so, I have had an increasing number of people that I personally know, undergo Lasik. I went back and forth with the idea and finally, this fall, went for a consultation. I knew that the window for any corrective action was closing and, to be honest, I have a crippling fear of impending blindness. I wanted to take the step that might help me avoid getting to that point. I have so many fears surrounding my terrible vision- I keep a spare set of glasses in my car because I am terrified of having a contact rip in my eye when I need to drive. I check the screws on my glasses daily because I worry that I will lose an arm. I have an old set of glasses I keep for relaxing my hair at home because the chemicals ruin the arms. I have a backup pair of glasses I keep in my drawer in the bottom left corner in case I need them to help me find my current glasses. I mean, it's a whole event.

My Lasik consultation was a colossal fail. The doctor told me that I was not a candidate due to blah, blah, blah and also blah. I was crushed. I had finally summoned all my courage to go for the consult and to be told that I was out was a huge blow. But from my dark sad hole, I became aware of him talking about 'another option'....I wiped my tears and listened to him tell me about the Visian Intraocular Lens Implant. This was a way to have my vision corrected (possibly to even higher than 20/20!) with implants that would go behind my corneas. I was...intrigued...Could this really work? I was excited until I saw the cost- all payable up front, not covered by insurance. Yeah, no way.

Winter 2015. My 'cute' frames
But, as Dean and I talked more and more about it, suddenly it didn't seem so impossible. We calculated how much I had been spending annually on eye care, glasses, contacts, solution and realized that this surgery would pay for itself in just a few years. The thought of opening my eyes in the morning and just...seeing....gosh, that still makes me weak in the knees just thinking about it. After a lot of discussion and research we decided it was worth pursuing. The facility I am going to has done thousands of this procedure with amazing outcomes. The cost includes all pre and post-op care, as well as future Lasik if I need it to adjust my vision. (With your vision corrected to a reasonable strength, you can have Lasik if needed in the future for a slight tweak). My surgery is early February and I have a few pre-procedure visits I need to have before then. I plan to share every step of this journey in case it is something you are considering for yourself.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

My New Tablet: Galaxy Tab S2

So, based on the last time I switched tablets, it seems like a 2 year span is about the life expectancy of a good tablet for me. I enjoyed my Nexus 7 over the past 2 years but over the past few weeks I started feeling the particular there was an issue where the screen would become unresponsive and need to be reset to function properly. I decided that I would begin to look at what options were available- apparently 7 inch tablets have become a rarity in the last 2 years. I suppose it's not surprising with the phablets. I mean, who would carry a 6 inch phone then a 7 inch tablet?

I did a lot of research and had ruled out the Galaxy Tab S2 very early in the process. Verizon offered a 9.7 inch version that was entirely too large for me to consider. There was a 8.0 version but it was wifi only. But then, just as I was mapping out a wifi-only strategy (which included considering a mobile hotspot), I stumbled on an unlocked version of the S2 8.0 that could, according to reviews, work on AT&T. That could still work because even though I'm on Verizon (I switched for the Droid Pro and original Galaxy Tab back in 2010) Dean is still on AT&T with a USPS discount to boot. In fact, I had already clicked the button for the wifi-only version when I saw the Unlocked international version under my recommendations. By the time I did all the research on the unlocked version the wifi version had already shipped (it arrived this morning and it's heading back tomorrow). 

The Tab was meant to arrive on Saturday so of course on Friday I went to Best Buy to get my hands on the wifi version to see what it felt like in hand.! I ended up buying an amazing case in Champagne (I know!! I totally didn't go with Black!) and a screen protector. 

Super-thin Galaxy Tab S2 8.0

We had planned to go to get the AT&T store yesterday evening to get the sim card I needed. We got there, got the sim, got the bars but not the mobile data connection...maddeningly the lady at the store had no idea what APN settings even were so not much help on that front. One of the top reviews on Amazon directed me to change my APN settings but even trying that didn't help. This morning I finally gave in a called AT&T tech support (here's a tip- the tech support on the phone is *always* more robust that in-store. Save yourself a trip). For those who have the same issue, let me share the wealth:

Instead of nxgenphone, use broadband. That's it. Seriously. So annoying the amount of time I wasted not knowing that. 

So, my initial impressions of the Tab S2 are very favorable. It's snappy, snazzy and very low profile. Even the case was thoughtfully designed- snapping onto the back to keep the thickness at a minimum. So far I think the Tab is going to be a very nice successor to my Nexus 7!