Friday 29 April 2011

Thursday 28 April 2011

Happy birthday to you, squashed tomatoes and stew, bread and butter in the gutter....

The boys turned one on 25th April, which was both Anzac Day and Easter Monday this year. They got some awesome presents (some lovely wooden toys, lots of books (which they love), some clothes). We spent the morning in the park with Annie, Brian and Tayla, then want for a walk near the stadium in the afternoon.

They are sharing a birthday party with Holly Polly on Saturday, so more news then.

They are busy walking all over the place now, pulling the wooden giraffe, sticking the shapes in the castle walls, playing peekaboo...Josh waves and claps, which Felix can't really do...but he does give me kisses, which more than makes up for it.

Friday 15 April 2011

Post Lasik results - nobody likes a wrinkled cornea

What happens during Lasik? well, if you want nauseating detail, read on.....

I decided to use the Quality Healthcare Medical Centre, mostly because it's the cheapest and I don't like spending money. So I went along to the clinic in Mong Kok (which, incidentally translates as "busy corner", fascinating fact!) one Monday lunchtime. The arrangement was that they would examine my eyeballs, and if they were suitable, I'd have SURGERY later in the afternoon.

As with all medical appointments in HK, there are maaaany stages. You sit and wait a while. Someone gives you a form to fill in. You wait a while. Someone checks your form with you. You wait a while...finally I had what seemed like a normal eye test. So far, so good. They did that thing where they puff air at your eyes, that was about the extent of the discomfort.

More waiting....

Went in to see the eye doctor man. He said that I was suitable for surgery, but that I have a medium to high risk of experiencing flare in low light conditions. There's some index that gives them an idea of your risk - usually it's below 0.2, and mine was about 0.6. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead, signed away my life, and HK$12.5k.

More waiting.....administration of eye drops to dilate my pupils. Another hour and a half of waiting...this was rubbish because with dilated pupils I couldn't read or go anywhere, and the TV which I could vaguely see was in Chinese. Booooring. Also by now I was, not to put to fine a point on it, crapping myself. As you know, I have a tendency to faint, and I came close quite a number of times. I also had a load of anaesthetic eye drops so I couldn't feel anything.

Anyway, eventually I went into the operating theatre (having been supplied with natty paper shoe-covers and a delightful Asda-meat-counter style hairnet). They drew on my eyeballs which was pretty weird, mostly because I couldn't feel anything. Lay down, tried not to faint. The dr said to keep focusing on the red light, which I did as if my life depended on it. First they stuck my eyelashes down, with some tape I guess. From this point on, I'm not 100% sure about the details, because a) it's all so close to your eye that you can't actually focus on it and b) I was delerious with fear.

Next they put something around your eye - I'd guess it's a metal frame - which they push very hard onto your face. I felt as if the bones around my eye socket were under a great deal of pressure, and it was pretty painful (obviously the anaesthetic eye drops don't numb your whole face). Then something suctions very hard onto your eyeball, to stop it moving. I never felt any urge to move my eye though! Next comes the microkeratome, a little jobby that cuts a flap of your cornea (nice!) It's a very odd sensation, kind of buzzing and tingling, but it only lasts 5 seconds.

Once the flap is cut, the doctor lifts the flap, and the laser does its work. Luckily Gareth had warned me about the distressing aroma of burning eyeball, so as soon as I detected it I stopped breathing through my nose. You feel nothing while the laser's burning, but you are unable to see for 10 seconds or so. They warned me that this might be scary, but to be honest it was the least of my worries. Then they put the flap down, and use (I think) a spatula type thing to smooth it down, because nobody likes a wrinkled cornea. Actually I think this was one of the hardest bits for me, I was totally freaking out by then. After that they put a contact lens in, which is removed the next day.

So right eye done. I had a little break, just a minute or two, then repeated the whole procedure for the left eye. This time I was a bit more prepared, and I said to myself "relax, relax, relax" over and over again, and tapped my feet too, so that I wasn't so terrified. But of course the second eye was much easier because I knew what to expect.

The whole process took about 20 minutes. The lovely nurse lady deserves a special mention - she saw how petrified I was and gave me a little shoulder and head massage and a mug of warm water. (I went back for a follow up the next day, and took her a box of Ferrero Rocher, the ultimate in Hong Kong gifting)

I left about 10 mins after the surgery was done, wearing my sunglasses. Waaaay too soon! I had to stop and sit down for a while when I got out because I was still feeling very faint. That evening I went to bed about 8pm, wearing my sexy plastic eye shields. It was still pretty painful that night and the next day, and I couldn't read or watch TV. I did a bit of work the next day, which was hard! even 2 days after the surgery work was hard because my sight was still blurry and my eyes got tired easily.

Next day I had a follow up, I was pretty disappointed with the results at that time. I now think that I was just a bit unrealistic with my expectations, and it's continued to get heaps better since then.

My vision was about -1.75 in the right, and -2.5 in the left. It's now nearly 4 weeks since I had it done, and although at the time, I was a bit distraught about how painful it was (never believe a boy who tells you that it doesn't hurt) now I am thrilled. The results are fantastic so far, I adore not wearing glasses or contacts, being able to wear my sunnies whenever I like without putting my contacts in, falling asleep without taking off my glasses / having to peel dried up contacts off my eyes....and of course it is wonderful to wake up and see the world!

So, those are all the gory details. I am still using eye drops, and will for the next few months, but then it'll all be over. Phew.

Felix all grown up

Wednesday 13 April 2011


We set off for our Phuketian adventure with the traditional sea-sick-making lurchy taxi ride to the airport. Ross has recruited a friendly taxi driver Ah Tsun (Danny) who will take us there, and pick us up for a very reasonable fare (but he does drive like a maniac).

We stayed at Pacific Club Resort, in a 2 bedroom suite (as we took our helper with us). The hotel is just north of Karon beach, near the infamous Patong beach.

Mostly we spent lots of time in the gorgeous pool and tried to tech the boys to swim! We were very lucky that our friends Darryl and Karen were in Phuket at the same time, with their twins Isabella and Luke. They have an apartment in Palm Beach, which is in the Laguna area. The apartment and the pool were gorgeous.

Our boys are just little, only 1 year old, but here are a few of the things to do with kids in Phuket.

The Phuket Big Buddha - just about overtook the Big Buddha on Lantau as the Largest Seated Buddha in the World. There's not much there, as the buddha was only completed in 2010; there's no access to the dude himself, and not a lot around the (building) site - nothing to compare to Ngong Ping (home to the world's first 7 Eleven, if my brother is to be believed)

The Phuket Aquarium - hmm, well, I haven't been to many aquaria, but this was certainly not the best. A few of the inhabitants were dee ee ay dee, if you see what I mean. Several of the exhibits weren't working, and those that were were pretty lame. Basically it was a bit crap, but we really needed something to do inside with the boys in the middle of the day when the sun is so strong. On the plus side we had a nice lunch at the hotel just next to the aquarium, the Kantary Bay.  It's an isolated place though, so I'm not sure I'd want to stay there.

Phuket Old Town - a few streets in Old Phuket are really pretty, with lovely architecture. It took quite a long time to get there though, so not sure it was really worth it!

Karon Beach - it's a long, beautiful stretch of beach, which is mostly very clean and lovely. I think I am spoiled though, because I sort of expect all beaches to be like that....

We went to a couple of lovely restaurants, Bai Toey (where we went twice actually) and Oasis. In general Karon was a bit seedier than I hoped, but hey, things are different now that we have two little monkeys to take around with us.

Saturday 9 April 2011