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Saturday, Apr. 20, 2002
So yesterday I had the laser eye surgery performed.

The doctor was quite explicit in his pre and post operation instructions. Rest up before hand, not too much coffee, have someone come with you for the actual surgery time, be ready to sleep afterward, etc.

That plan was a good one, and would have been executed with great precision, but the doctor doesn't have a crazed fiend for a business partner and a fishing lake that just hit ambient temperature. At 5 am, Stu jingled me on the cell phone.

Stu: "Hee, I hear the water at the lake is 75 degrees!"
OF: "Spawning bass! Spawning bass!"
Stu: "Pick me up in 5 minutes."

I was so excited I didn't even finish my (third) cup of coffee.

So there we were, with the mist just lifting from the lake and fish rolling around in the shallows and copious amounts of beeps and pings emitting from the fishfinder gizmo attached to the transom and the cell phone rings again. (editors note: maybe a better surgery to consider would be the one which can remove the wart of a cell phone from one's hip)

Ally: "Where the hell are you?"
OF: "I'm on an exploratory mission with Stu involving lakefront property."
Ally: "Oh, horses ass. You're in the boat aren't you."
OF: "Well, isn't that the same thing?"
Ally: "You are remembering that you're supposed to have surgery in 4 hours aren't you?"
OF: "Oh….yeah. Wouldn't miss it. S'long."

Cast, retrieve. Cast, retrieve. Catfish chasing topwater spinnerbaits. Hot sun turning skin a little darker. Little to no wind. I guess you could count that as resting up beforehand. I know I do.

Yes, we made it off the lake in time for the appointment (it would be too much drama to say I landed a 12 pound bass and hauled it to the doctors office with me, wouldn't it?). I even showered before leaving, although the smell of catfish has always been very pleasant on me. Can't even imagine why Ally would insist that a medical team might think otherwise.

The very hip and decidedly commercial world of laser surgery turned surreal when I stepped off the elevator to find that this particular Friday was not only casual dress day at the doctors office but was also Hawaiian Day. A nurse in a lei and a flowered shirt proffered pineapple and mango on toothpicks from a heaping platter of sampler fruit and directed my attention to the nearby display set up by a vendor of obscenely high priced custom sunglasses.

What a marketing idea, eh? Put high fashion sunglasses up for sale in a place where people are just coming out of eye surgery, groping around and steeling themselves for a trip outdoors into bright sunshine. Why, they even gave me a $25 dollar off coupon at the sign in station.

You now, just in case I was of a mind to consider.

I filled out just one form which was essentially a contribution to the doctors advertising database (what TV station do you watch the most? How did you hear about us? Read any newspapers?) and let the nurse explain all about the eyedrops I would need to use after surgery. Then she asked if I'd like a Valium.

OF: "Valium? What on earth for?"
Nurse: "Oh you know. Calms the nerves. Relaxes you."
OF: "Shucks I'm relaxed. Just got done fish….."

And managed to catch myself before admitting to have been naughty and all disobeying of the pre-op instructions. Decided to distract her by accepting Valium. My first, since me and prescription drugs are strange bedfellows at best.

They ushered me into a little room with a TV and a really cool leather recliner and a chair for Ally to sit and wait. Big tip: Recliner + TV + Valium + early fishing = happyland. If I was relaxed upon entry, I was getting to the point of an absolute state of gelatinous mass by the time the doctor made his appearance. Ally poked me with her shoe and managed to make my snoring subside long enough for the team of nurses to haul me into a vertical position and frog-march me to the table.

Now say whatever else you want. This laser surgery stuff is like the drive-thru of medical technology. Assemble a crack team of experts (I counted 5 in the room besides me), give them a specific task, swing the machinery into motion and move on. In the space of 6 minutes:

Minute 1: The meet and greet and shove me prone onto the table
Minute 2 and 3: Wrap up and swab the eyes
Minute 4: Somehow, and without pain, slice a flap of my cornea open and position the laser
Minute 5: Fire laser! Fire for effect! Close cornea flap and squirt drops!
Minute 6: Get me vertical, roll to inspection station for a last peek, pose with grinning physician for digital picture (guess he keeps a scrapbook of such things, I dunno). Boot patient out the door and holler "Next!"

I swear, getting a Big Mac and fries to my car has taken much, much longer.

I staggered past the reception desk looking for my wife (and ergo, my ride home) who was nowhere to be found. Donned my old sunglasses (no, I didn't take advantage of the $25 dollar coupon) and careened outside where Ally was relaxing with a smoke in the car.

Ally: "What are you doing? They said it would be 15 minutes or more."
OF: "Olfactory lambs and tennis shoes make good soup."
Ally: "You really enjoyed that Valium, huh?"
OF: "Take me fishing, Stu."

And other than having eye drops thrust at me every 30 minutes for the rest of the day there isn't much to report. A little scratchy pain in the eye for the first couple of hours. A long nap (thanks, Jennipurr, it worked) and taping a shield over the eye (to reduce the chances of my poking myself in the recently chopped eyeball) did their work.

So can I see any better? Isn't that the question of the day?

I suspect that I will, just as soon as I can desist from having eyedrops blur it all up every hour on the hour.

After that, look out 12 pound bass. I can see you hiding out there in the shallows and a worm and me are coming to get your fleshy self. Count on it. The new, high-tech Outfoxed with heat seeking vision.

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