Lasik: 3 years later — was it worth it?

It’s been around three years now since I had lasik surgery. Was it worth it?

I had worn glasses since I was ten years old. Too much reading probably. At first, my prescription wasn’t that bad, but as time went on, the glasses got thicker and thicker. By the time I was 40, I needed bifocals. I got the kind without the lines, which really would have bugged me, but bifocals are a headache in and of themselves — if your head isn’t at exactly the right angle, things are out of focus. Lying on the sofa and wanting to watch TV required a few minutes of arranging pillows so I could see everything in focus, and changing positions meant pausing the show to make adjustments.

Then things started getting worse. My eyes couldn’t handle the stress. I would get flashes that stayed for many minutes — you know, how when you look at the sun and then look away and there would be a kind of exposure that stays in your vision? I’d get those for no reason whatsoever.cyclops

The final straw was when I was in court and I started seeing two images. Scariest thing ever. You ever been to the optometrist and your head is against that machine and the doctor shows you two images, one above the other, and says, “Let me know when the images combine into one?” I was seeing two images without that machine!

So it was determined that I really needed to get a lasik operation by everyone except, of course, my insurance company, which called it “elective surgery.”

I was hesitant, of course — it’s my eyes, what if something goes wrong? (Plus I thought I looked good in glasses.)

The surgery itself was really simple. It took five minutes at most. I laid back, they used a q-tip to numb my eyes, and then it was done. I needed a ride home and couldn’t drive for a day or so, but the next morning was amazing. I woke up and could read the clock on the other side of the room for the first time in my adult life. I stayed home from work just in case but I was fine by later that day.

I also remember the first time I went to bed that night after having the surgery, and just as I was about to lay down, reaching up to my face to remove my non-existent glasses. Forty-five years of doing that every day is a hard habit to break.

One difference I noticed was that there was a halo effect around lights at night, especially things like streetlights. My night vision also seemed diminished. This is normal, and I’m not sure if it’s gotten better over time or if I’ve just become used to it.

My eyes were also very dry after the operation and I had to carry around eye drops and put them in every few hours. It gradually got better so that I no longer need to do that.

Still haven’t figured out how to shoot lasers out of my eyes, though. I suppose that comes later.

The operation was expensive but then again, so is buying new glasses every few years, which can really add up.

I still need glasses for reading and using the computer, but I buy them three for ten dollars at the discount store.

Last week, I decided that I should get bifocals again, with a clear top part and a magnified bottom part. faceThat way, I wouldn’t be whipping off my glasses every time I go between reading something and looking at the person I’m talking to (which happens a lot when you’re a lawyer, as you can imagine).  What a mistake. I had forgotten the problems with having to hold your head a specific way. With the bifocals I had to hold my head up and look down my nose to read the computer screen. Fortunately, the eyeglass people were nice and allowed me to return them for a full refund.

So I’m going back to what I learned to do after the surgery — put the glasses down at the end of my nose so that I can see over top of them. Fortunately, I have plenty of nose for that.

It’s frustrating to have to always carry around glasses with me. I have glasses laying all over the house so if I go into the kitchen and need to read cooking instructions on a package, I’ll be ready. (I used to be able to hold those things up to my face to read them, but not any more.) But given all the advantages, this is minor.

So yes, I absolutely recommend it.

The Supreme Court, Hate Speech, and the Washington Redskins

The United States Supreme Court just ruled that the government cannot stop someone from getting a trademark on a name that the government considers “hate speech.”

This is an important win for freedom of speech. As I’ve said here many times, the 1st Amendment is meaningless if it only protects speech we all agree with. As the Court held:

[The idea that the government may restrict] speech expressing ideas that offend. . .strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.”

The case involved an Asian-American rock band called “The Slants.” They wanted to trademark their name, but the government said no, you can’t, because it’s hate speech.

This case basically puts an end to the lawsuits against the sports teams with insulting names, such as the Washington Redskins.

Should the Redskins change their name? Absolutely. Should they be forced to do so by the government, making the determination as to what speech is acceptable for us to use? Absolutely not.

Speech we all agree with doesn’t need a 1st Amendment.

The Slants

The Slants


Remembering my Father

It’s Father’s Day

Dad influenced us in many ways without sitting us down and giving us lessons. I can’t remember him ever saying “Now, don’t be a racist” or “It’s important for you to be a responsible person” but we learned by example.


My family around 1977, but with my girlfriend (now wife) Heidi standing next me.

Dad quit his job at Channel 12 to start his own business, and painted signs in the basement of our home, so he was always there. Each of us later went on to start our own businesses, and while we’ve each had our ups and downs, we’ve all become pretty successful at it.

He was also fiercely loyal to Mom, and loved her tremendously and treated her with respect, and that taught us something, too.

He hardly ever drank, except maybe wine on holidays, and none of us grew up thinking we had to drink to have fun. And he always made us laugh.

When Heidi and I started dating, one time we went on a picnic with my family and as we walked through the park, she was astounded to see Mom and Dad holding hands, obviously still in love with each other. “I didn’t know parents did that sort of thing,” she said. Later, my friend Mark Waid said something similar: “The reason kids come over to your house every weekend to hang out is because everyone wants to be a Ventrella. You don’t realize how unusual your family is.”

And that was true — on TV, the family sitcoms all had families basically getting along. But in real life, most of the kids I knew were from broken homes or unhappy homes. I never realized that when I was young.

So here’s to Dad: You did a good job.