Remote work from the gay pub

Friday lunch at the Wickham, Brisbane’s local gay pub, is one of my favourite new traditions.

I’ve been intending to go on Fridays because it’s a great spot, there’s plenty of places to work, and it helps keep the lights on at a place that’s important to me. This is where I’ve met a lot of my friends, done a lot of growing as a person, and really it’s a nice spot to be.

It’s been wet, and I’ve had other commitments so I’ve only been twice in the past month but each time it’s been great.

Last night my friend R arrived after work and we stuck around for a few drinks which turned into a bottle of wine back at my place, where he stayed on the couch for the night (he lives on an island, it’s a trek).

For a person who “doesn’t drink” I have a low grade hangover this morning. Coffee is brewing now.

This is part of how I’ve been getting a bit more experimental with how I’m approaching remote work in a pandemic world. There’s a bunch of picnic shelters down by the river that I’ve been working at from time to time, and the local coffee shop has pretty good outdoor seating. Depending on my meeting load it’s not always possible to do, but I think it’s important to get out and be a part of the world.

Brisbane floods

Thursday

I saw a tweet earlier today along the lines of “I don’t like living in interesting times”, and I thought it was amusing. Referring to the alleged Chinese curse which from memory I don’t think is real, but is very clever nonetheless, “may you live in interesting times”.

Sometimes an idea will get stuck in my head, a wordplay usually, and repeat over and over until I put it into the world. Throughout the pandemic my little brainworm is a similar corruption, “you may live in interesting times”.

Among other world disasters, the one a little closer to home right now is the effects of La Niña on East coast Australia. Earlier this year the Bruce Highway was washed away by flooding near Tiaro, and just yesterday a freight train derailed on the north coast line when the track washed away. We’ve had a lot of rain.

Yesterday the ABC made passing reference to the Brisbane River catchment, which put me on edge. My place is in a low lying area and while I think technically it’s above the council’s flood level, I don’t especially want to risk it. I was pretty annoyed that it was mentioned in a single article with no follow up at all, so I suppose we’re probably not going to flood? I’m sure I’d know about it.

It’s been on my mind because I was planning to visit my parents this weekend, the weekend of my birthday. But between the rail catastrophe and breathless news reports advising people not to travel, I’m sort of thinking I’ll stay in after all.

Anyway, I’m doing fine. Just really aware of the emergency fatigue that’s probably got everyone to some degree.

So I’m sitting outside in the dark wearing trakky daks, hanging out with my plants. There’s the white noise of raindrops hitting the leaves in the garden and pattering down onto the courtyard. A streetlight across the road lights up the sheets of rain as they blow past. And occasionally a car will drive by and make the cosiest wet asphalt sound you can imagine.

I do like the rain.

It’s cosy.

Gezellig.

Reminds me of the summer storms in my childhood home, beating down on a tin roof so hard you could barely hear each other talk. Looking out the window at a wall of water while being inside, safe and dry.

We may live in interesting times, but at least there’s comfort in the familiar. I don’t know if I’m going to see my parents tomorrow, I suppose I’ll have to make that call to the QR support line. In the meantime, no point worrying right?


Friday

A screenshot of the message from QR travel: QJ11 Tilt Train 25 Feb is cancelled with no alternate arrangements. Another notification forecasts rain.

The train line is still out. Now the highway is out.

Deep Creek (ironic name, it was a trickle when I was there) has gone over the highway. This kinda blows my mind.

I know Gympie floods, I read as much when I visited last year. All the riverside infrastructure is concrete and brutalist to survive the water going over it.

At Alford Park, there’s a massive great flood marker showing where all the historic floods have reached. Pretty scary stuff.

Anyway, it’s just weird because that road bridge is SO high I would never have expected it to go under. At least that’s the decision made for me.

Undearneath the Bruce Highway bridge. It's suuuuper tall. There's old wooden foundations from what I can only assume is the old bridge.

Saturday


Sunday

I hardly slept last night. I kept waking up to check the river wasn’t lapping at my door. It wasn’t, but that just meant it hadn’t happened yet.

Tae lost power. She’s in a low-lying part of the neighbourhood. She came over to charge up all her bits and bobs and we watched TV and chatted for a bit. I fell asleep and slept for what felt like hours.

The rain still hasn’t stopped, so Tae decided to just make a run for it. I got drenched just opening the gate to let her out. I can’t imagine what it would be like riding in that.

The forecast is looking pretty grim, but the flooding is supposed to coincide with high tide tomorrow at about 8.


Monday


Tuesday

By the time I got up the street was already completely cleared. You wouldn’t have known it had flooded if it wasn’t for the people cleaning out the businesses that were inundated.

I was expecting to get out with my shovel picking up trash. But Peter told me the RCC Builders from the construction sites were all out cleaning up the streets in the early hours. I suppose it benefits them not tracking mud everywhere, but it’s such a nice thing to do. I’m very grateful.

The river is down about five steps at the end of my street. Enough to clear water from most of the streets around here.

Looking down a staircase into water and slick brown mud. There's still trees submerged, poking out of the river

I went for a little walk down Duncan Street way. I don’t know what to call that little precinct of West End but it’s the built up area, as opposed to the gritty sort of partially industrial area I live in. There were a lot of pumps running to pull water out of basements, and some that were completely full to the top.

Peter’s was full to the top.

He told me the building manager was here for the ’11 floods, and the painstaking lengths they had to go to to clean out the mud and debris from two levels of basements. I think the mud army can probably help, but it’s going to be days before that water clears.

His lift was out, and the emergency stairs led to deep water, so we had to climb a ladder from the lobby to get to the stairs, to get to his apartment. It’s the penultimate floor, which is ordinarily lovely, but absolutely destroyed me. I’ve been working on my cardio fitness, but apparently there’s still a ways to go.

I had my first hot shower in 2 days, and left a powerbank to charge, just in case. I also guzzled all the water in his jug because, as I realised later, I was super dehydrated from not taking care of myself the previous days.


It’s Tuesday afternoon and I’m surprised to find I still have ice cubes. Most of them are stuck together, swimming in a puddle in the bottom of the ice cream container where I store them. But there’s a few separate blocks. I scoop em out and put them in my glass of warm cola.

Later that afternoon Peter, the ghost of Adam, and I went to a town hall organised by Jonathan Sri and Amy McMahon, council and state representatives, respectively.

There was a free sausage sizzle and people sitting around powerboards charging their devices. Real disaster vibes, but I think folks were largely okay.

Jonno and Amy on the mic, next to a portable loudspeaker.

It was a useful meeting. But the message I got was that while the flood waters are still up and there’s not a lot we can do until they go down. I get the feeling everyone just wants to do something but we can really only wait until we know more.

As I was walking home past the gym I noticed the lights were on.

“Great” I thought, I can go there for a warm shower.

Then I realised the lights were on in my building too.

There were people milling around the street outside one a that was still dark. A lady was gesticulating at the utility closet that had been beeping for two days straight, so I went over and offered to let them charge their stuff at mine. Her kid proudly told me how they’d been using candles and a lantern, it was cute.

There’s a kind of survivor’s guilt in all this, I try not to indulge too much. I lost power for a couple of days, and the basement that I never use got flooded with 30cm of water. That’s nothing, right?

But then I realise I’ve been amped up on stress for the past week, I’ve lost the contents of my fridge and freezer, my backpack and a pair of shoes are ruined because they just couldn’t dry out, I’ve got loads of washing strewn all in the laundry because they asked us to conserve water before the power went out, I have a sunburn and a caffeine withdrawal headache because I regularly forgot to feed or water myself while everything else was going on.

I don’t need to feel guilty because I got my damn power back.


Wednesday

The dishwasher and washing machine are humming away. I appreciate the breeze from the fan. It’s 31 and partly cloudy. Humidity is cloying. But we’ll work things out.

I’m miserable but I’m fine

This is a bit of a rant. Please skip it if you don’t want to feel worse.

The Omicron variant is tearing through Australia’s workforce, from health care and child care, to agriculture and manufacturing, to transportation and logistics, to emergency services.

The result is an unprecedented, and preventable, economic catastrophe. This catastrophe was visited upon us by leaders — NSW Premier Dominic Perrotet and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in particular — on the grounds they were protecting the economy. Like a mafia kingpin extorting money, this is the kind of “protection” that can kill you.

Jim Stanford @ The Conversation

It’s been a bit of a time. But not at all unexpected.

When we followed Morrison’s “plan” to open everything up for Christmas right as Omicron was tearing through the population vaccinated and unvaccinated alike it reminded me a lot of watching Europe slowly fall. Cases popped up in Italy then Germany then the south of the Netherlands, getting closer and closer while governments did sweet fuck all. Catastrophise much?

Merry Christmas I guess.

Mt Tibrogargan out the train window

I took the train to visit my parents over the holidays. It was a calculated decision: go early in the spike or not at all.

A few weeks earlier I’d grabbed a handful of RATs in preparation for things to come (who would have thought they’d become like hen’s teeth) so I was feeling okay about the risk. But on the train, despite being law, a majority of folks and one staff member just took their masks off once we were underway.

It reminded me a lot of the repatriation flight back from Europe: twenty five hours and eighteen thousand kilometers in a metal tube heading into the unknown. No idea whether the air I’m breathing will be what kills me. A resolve to mask up and sleep the entire journey until hunger overrides everything and I slip the mask off for long enough to scarf down the little airplane meal while trying not to breathe.

Christmas was fine. I spent a couple of days working from the side deck which was somewhat optimistic considering the temperatures were hitting the mid 30s. But truly my parents live in a wonderful place and I really appreciated the greenery. It sort of inspired me to fix up my own courtyard in the new year.

A laptop and water bottle on a table, looking out over a garden

I’d made a personal resolution to vlog my christmas, and given my Sony camera just stopped working I had to do it on my phone. For some reason the Sony had an exhausted battery & wouldn’t charge using the cable I took with me, but it sprung right back to life when I got home.

The vlog was kind of interesting because excluding a few medicated moments I was a wreck for the entire holidays. I wasn’t really happy with the video, it was a bit disjointed and the quality wasn’t up to my standards. But people seemed to enjoy it, and I was surprised by how many different bits folks picked out as their favourites. So in the end even though I was too caught up in my own stuff, recording the little moments to tell a larger story kinda worked. Note to self.

Because of the massive rise in case numbers, rather than catching the train my folks drove me home. They stayed a night at my place before visiting every single family member within three generations.

Since then, like seemingly the majority of Brisbane, I’ve been on lockdown lite. It’s not that places are closed as much as there just aren’t any places I want to go right now. So I’m laying low, just waiting for the next thing. Surviving.

But like seemingly the majority of the world I’ve also been fixing up my little corner of it. I already installed screens last year so I can keep the insects out and naturally cool my apartment. At the end of this month my proper curtains are being installed. I finally got around to putting up some cute fairy lights, and when the outdoor chairs I had my eye on went on sale Ben convinced me to unload my wallet and get em. So after about 6 months this place is really turning into home. It’s my little oasis. I couldn’t be happier.

An outdoor patio, with two garden chairs and LOTS of plants

So to speak. It’s been a slog. I feel like Australia is now in the throes of that first wave most of the rest of the world experienced in 2020 and it’s really shown what we’re made of. There’s no protein (let alone meat) in the supermarkets, the ones that are even still open. Test and trace collapsed within days, and fucking Smirko do-nothing Morrison is looking to win the next election despite presiding over the entire shitshow. It’s rough watching all this stuff that we knew was going to happen, yet somehow nobody planned for, all the while having to just plug on and keep working like everything’s fine.

I’ll be honest the thing that’s kept me going for most of the year is making to-do lists. Simple things that I can pick up to break myself out of the absolute listlessness that’s underscored this latest wave. That, and I finally fixed my bike so I’ve been enjoying riding after work. Bike rides are on my list.

Bikeway, the go between bridge, the Brisbane Skyland in the background. On the left there's street art on a column for the coronation drive overpass, painted with geometric symbols and a pair of drag queen eyes.

When Dad was here he mentioned the tap water tasted disgusting, so I ordered a water filter jug along with some other items I needed from Kmart. When the water I’d been hoarding in the fridge ran out I realised that yeah, it does taste disgusting. The ABC says it’s because of rainfall and algae, natural and harmless. But my first thought went back to that article at the start of the pandemic outlining that probably a week into our supply chain failing we’d lose water treatment. Catastrophise much? But the jug arrived and while I’ve never much been one for filtered water, that first sip was heaven.

So this is what back to normal looks like I suppose. I’ve been trying to plan what my future looks like from here, but there’s not a lot to look forward to at the moment. New curtains at the end of the month? Everything else is just treading water and remembering to breathe.

Heading back to Australia in times of Coronavirus

It has been SO hard being in Amsterdam away from my partner, friends, family and all the people I love during the pandemic and I need to fix that. So in some very bittersweet news I am returning to Australia.

As far as I know the only flights to Australia are repatriation flights from Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and London via Qantas. I missed the first round of flights, but another 6 opened up from London and after speaking to work I decided I wanted to be on one.

The TLDR

  1. 14 day quarantine on arrival into Australia
  2. Organised on a state by state basis, and rules constantly in flux
  3. Up to 2 "care packages" can be picked up from within the city by staff. Not all items are allowed.
  4. Non-perishable grocery deliveries allowed from Woolworths
  5. Laundry quota twice a week
  6. Once a week supervised outside exercise allowed
  7. Free internet access 🎉 as well as movies

I've scanned the documents outlining Victoria's quarantine procedures as of May 23 into a Google Docs folder.


Getting to London

Getting to London was not difficult from Amsterdam because The Netherlands doesn't have any measures preventing travel.

The UK seems to be accepting folks with the same visa restrictions as before, providing they have a valid onward journey. I couldn't find this information anywhere online and only found out when I was unable to check-in online.

At the KLM check-in desk I was able to check-in by showing the details for my Australia flight, even though it was on a different day. Others were not so lucky. One man in the queue was advised to "book a train or a bus ticket" before he was allowed to check into the London flight.

On the London side I passed through the automated security check with no hassles at all, and didn't speak to another human.

Uber in London doesn't seem to have any real preventative measures in place, but the taxis in the cab rank had sealed partitions between the driver & passenger which made it an easy choice.


Checking into the repatriation flight

Before check-in, Qantas sent a COVID-19 health screen form which could be filled out online at the check-in desk.

In addition to the obvious "do you have COVID-19" question, they also asked:

  1. Are you diagnosed or suspected to have pneumonia or COVID-19 infection?
  2. Have you been in contact with someone that is a suspected (being tested) or confirmed a COVID-19 case in the last 14 days?
  3. Have you been on a cruise ship or in a shared accommodation setting such as a hostel in the last 14 days?
  4. Do you currently or have you recently felt unwell with any of the following symptoms:
  • Feverish, fatigued or aching
  • Cold or flu like symptoms such as runny nose, cough or sore throat
  • Shortness of breath

I'm not sure what answering yes to any of these would mean because again I couldn't find info about it online.

A card reads: COVID-19 Health Screen Approved

Heathrow was a total clusterfuck. Security took about 30 minutes and it wasn't possible to social distance because of the layout of the queues winding tightly back on each other. This didn't stop them from putting up signs advising you to do so, and thankfully almost everyone was wearing masks.

Once cleared, there was a final health check to measure temperature, etc before we were given a little green pass and allowed to board.


Flying to Australia

A yellow bag with a biohazard label

Upon boarding the flight we were handed a yellow biohazard bag containing spare face masks, hand sanitizer, a pen, an immigration card & several spare bio bags.

Contact was kept to a minimum, and after meals any remaining garbage was only collected in the bio bags.

The flight was a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which had three groups of three seats per row in economy. People were distanced at one person per three seats, and spaced so that nobody was sitting directly in front or behind anyone in the next row.

We were all required to wear masks, and they say the HEPA filters take out the majority of nasties so it's about as safe as you can get locked up in an airplane for 22 hours. But of course, nothing's a given.

I remember being relieved they did anything at all. There was no info on the Qantas website about it so I was preparing for the worst, but it was well implemented. I felt a lot more relaxed on the plane (aside from the woman sitting near me who kept taking her mask off and wearing it on her chin. Some people!)

I got to see both a sunset and a sunrise. Watching the sun come up through the tinted Dreamliner windows was beautiful: a giant purple-red orb rising through the clouds, looking like a fiery gas giant in alien solar system.

Sunset from a plane window


Melbourne via Perth

Since the flight to Australia is too long for conventional aircraft, there's usually a stop-over somewhere in Asia or the Middle East. None of the countries that I know of are allowing transit at the moment. Instead the flight ran directly to Perth to refuel before continuing to Melbourne.

The stop in Perth was brief. We didn't leave our seats, we just sat waiting for the crew to change over and the refuel to finish. I lost track of the time because I was sleepy, but Flightradar24 says it took about an hour and a half.

The final leg of the trip to Melbourne was fairly uneventful.


The Crown. Or in Spanish, La Corona

What happens when you land in Australia?

The very first thing is another temperature check & health screen. This wasn't the quickest procedure, so we queued in the aerobridge while this was taking place.

Once cleared we were given a detention notice from the Victorian government, letting us know that we would be quarantined for 14 days which we were required to sign.

A state of emergency exists in Victoria under section 198 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic), because of the serious risk to public health posed by COVID-19.

You must proceed immediately to the vehicle that has been provided to take you to the hotel. Once you arrive at the hotel you must proceed immediately to the room you have been allocated. You must not leave the room in any circumstances

Finally, we were given the information about the hotel we would be staying in. In my case, the Crown Metropol in the center of Melbourne which was cordoned off especially for this.

After that we were herded onto the tarmac and boarded buses directly to our hotel. There was no social distancing on the bus, but we were required to wear our masks through the whole process.


The quarantine

The hotel is a quarantine zone so nobody other than staff and occupants are allowed in.

When the bus arrived we were shepherded off one at a time and given our room number, a care package of various snacks, toiletries & necessities, and many pages of documentation about how things work.

This was the first time I learned anything solid about ANYTHING to do with the quarantine. Before now I'd only heard rumours.

As I understand it's a rapidly evolving situation, and it's managed on a state-by-state basis which is possibly why the Federal government has no information for travellers.

I've scanned the documents outlining Victoria's quarantine procedures as of May 23 into a Google Docs folder, which has a lot more info on how everything works.


My experience

Through this time I've been an anxious mess but now that I'm in the hotel I'm finally starting to relax.

The hotel room is bigger than my apartment in Amsterdam by a large margin so even though I'm locked in I'm feeling much less cooped up.

The meals so far have been pretty good, all things considered. There's far too much food provided at any given mealtime, but that leaves plenty of other items for snacks in between.

The hotel, security, and health staff have been absolutely amazing and I'm so grateful to be able to come home. The amount of love and support and human connection I've had from everyone while in isolation this past week is truly overwhelming, and I'm beginning to feel that just maybe things are going to be okay <3

Hey, I moved to Europe


It happened almost by accident that I moved overseas.

I've always had it in the back of my head that I'd like to work internationally at some point in my life. Just a year ago I was honoured to be invited to speak at a conference in Amsterdam, and It was my first time leaving the Asia/Pacific region. It was a total blast and was really nice to make new friends around the world, but it kinda set a few ideas going in my head.

So when I saw an off-hand remark from a school friend about an opportunity to work in the Netherlands, I followed it up nonchalantly. This started a chain reaction that ended with me selling all my stuff, renting out my apartment, and moving to another country with little more than a general sense of confidence things would work out.

So here I am. I'm in bed at my temporary hotel, having just got home from a night of drinking with my surprisingly international (and incredibly boozy) coworkers, after my third week at the company. Things have generally been pretty good.

I'm still working my way through a bunch of issues (currently trying to get Suncorp Bank to let me make a damn bank transfer), but after three weeks things are generally looking good. I am especially excited to move into my new apartment at the start of next month, so it will be nice to have a place to call home again.

There's no set plan for what I'm doing, but from here I am looking forward to making new friends, getting to know the city, and going even further in my free time to explore the rest of Europe.

To make things a little more fun I've been trying to keep a video blog. You can keep updated by subscribing on youtube if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Laser eye surgery: my experience


I'd been considering getting laser eye surgery for a while, and while the idea appealed there wasn't any major incentive for me to do it.

But eventually I got frustrated. My glasses were always getting dirty, falling off, fogging up (while cycling, working out, or once getting off a bus). At work in particular I was finding myself taking them on and off all day since I don't need glasses for working at my desk but whenever someone would come over they'd be just outside my focal distance and I'd have to put them on again.

So having reached perhaps a vague not-quite-quarter-life crisis I decided to just do it and hang the consequences.

Table of Contents 👓

This post is a bit long, so here's a table of contents.

And some updates:


The Tech

There's a few types of laser eye surgeries and they're all pretty squeamish. The ABC has a high level overview of the various types.

I chose IntraLASIK (also known as Femto-LASIK) which uses a laser to create a corneal flap (as opposed to the dark ages when they used a miniature angle grinder), then another excimer laser to evaporate bits of the eye until it's the optimal shape. Amazing, totally terrifying technology, but it works amazingly well.

The alternatve, PRK, doesn't involve a "flap" but has a much longer recovery period since it effectively melts away the top layer of your cornea instead. This one probably isn't for you unless you have a special condition or are at particular risk of head injuries.

Some newer technologies are coming out that show promise, but ultimately IntraLASIK is the best, most mature option out there.


What to expect before laser eye surgery

I initially booked appointments at two places in Brisbane, but only Lasersight got back to me which was strange. The have offices in a number of major urban areas including Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts so it seemed reputable.

I arrived for my initial appointment not really knowing what to expect, but they were really good. I'd already researched most of the technology, caveats and read countless accounts of other people's success (and failure) stories, so none of the information was particularly new.

Lasersight offer PRK, LASIK and IntraLASIK, but only really do PRK and IntraLASIK as the traditional LASIK (angle-grinder) technology has been pretty much superseded. The nurse I spoke to in my initial consult had PRK himself due to his corneas being too thin for IntraLASIK, and was very happy with the results. Generally a good salesman.

In the initial consult I was taken through a number of machines that scanned my eyes, mapping out the various distortions and measuring the thickness of my corneas. I have a mild astigmatism as well as a mildish shortsightedness, and the machines picked this up and spat out a bunch of graphs and figures saying such. I was also given an eye exam like you get at the optometrist, which confirmed all this as well.

After all the measurements I was told about the payment options and booked in for the procedure the following week.


Lasik prices & extras

Prices I was quoted were:

  • $6600 for IntraLASIK, or $5400 for PRK (Divide by two for costs per-eye)
  • A $200 consult fee and
  • A $200 discount for payment upfront.

This includes all the drugs, consults within a year and the “for life” program in which any subsequent surgeries are free of charge (though consult fees still apply).

It's not the cheapest and some people on various forums have flown interstate or overseas to have it done, but I personally consider that to be a little far out.


On the day

Due to a mistake on the little card they gave me, I showed up expecting a consult but was actually being prepped for the full-on surgery. Thankfully there's not much you need to do to prepare other than not wearing eye makeup or fragrances, neither of which I'm wont to do in day to day affairs.

The initial consult was with Doctor Peter Stewart, director of surgery, who was friendly, answered all my questions and seemed to know what he was doing. He ran me through some of the same tests again to make sure everything was right, before sending me out to fill in some waivers.

The actual surgery was planned for a few hours after the consult, so I had lunch and sat in the stinking Brisbane heat sipping cola across the road.

O Bar mini review: they had inexplicable table service for the bar section, and it took forever to get a drink. The guy was kinda rude but the girl was nice.

At 2:30 I want back in and was ushered into the secret surgery area out the back.


The LASIK procedure

I was dressed up in a robe and hair net, given a bunch of pills to take and administered anaesthetic eye drops which stung like crazy until my eyes were completely numb and could no longer feel anything.

When it was time I was ushered into the room and laid out on the first of two beds at the femtosecond laser. There were three specialists which was really comforting, each presumably had a job to do. One wore fluorescent sneakers.

I don't remember much about the first part, although the general gist was having my eyes propped open, being slid under a machine and having it take a flap cut into my corneas. It was terrifying but vaguely surreal; there was no pain, just sensations of pressure and a primal urge to freeze and not move a muscle.

I was surprised to find they performed this on both eyes right away; the documentation suggested they would do one at a time in case something went terribly wrong, but I wasn't going to quibble because my eyeball was hanging open and I was more concerned about making sure i didn't make things worse.

Overall the procedure took a handful of seconds per eye, though it felt like an age.

After this they ushered me to the second bed. It was an interesting experience; I could still see at that point but everything was cloudy, apparently due to the microscopic bubbles the femtolaser had created.

The second bed was the hardcore stuff: the excimer laser. For each eye they propped open my eyelids and popped on a suction ring to keep the eyeball relatively in place. This was probably the most uncomfortable part, and I later found was the part that left a little bruising.

I was told to stare into the light and not to move while the doctor lifted the flap with a squidgy looking utensil. It was completely painless but silently horrifying to watch my vision distort as my optics bent and shifted with the flap. It also made it difficult to stare in the one spot since the spot kept moving.

The actual excimer laser took literally ten seconds to operate on each eye, during which there was a smell not entirely unlike cooked hair. After that, a bunch of cold water, eye drops and flap-replacement took place. The second eye seemed to require a bit more smoothing out but ultimately everything was fine.

After this I was given the all clear and ushered through another doorway.


IntraLASIK after-effects

I immediately noticed the difference. Having just had my eyes cut up and laserbeamed I expected perhaps to be completely out of it, but I was surprised that I could actually see everything. There was a very strong haze in my vision, but I could see the detail in the surgeon's eyes which would ordinarily be a complete blur without my glasses.

The nurse took me, did a bunch of tests, explained my drop regime, attached some goggles to stop inadvertent touching and suggested strongly that I go home and sleep straight away.

The initial six or so hours are the worst, so it's best to sleep through it. Basically your eyes feel really scratchy like you've got sand in them, but you can't touch or your corneas will most likely fall out (that's my nightmware anyway). They also get very watery and it's generally unpleasant. So go to sleep.

Thanks to some fantastic drugs included in the package, I ended up sleeping until midnight at which point I woke up and took a walk outside for the first time to find something to eat. Greasy pizza outlet was the best I could find, but honestly it was the best greasy pizza I've ever had. It looked good too. So did everything, really.

At this point my eyes still felt somewhat gritty, but there was no pain and most of the haze had cleared up.


The next day

The next day was pretty amazing. Even more of the haze had cleared up and everything was getting progressively better.

Here's a selfie of me looking slightly dopey, but outside without glasses for the first time in forever. You can see a bit of bruising in my left eye if you look hard enough. I'm assured this will heal in a couple of weeks.

One of the side-effects that worried me were “halos” or a “bloom” around bright things, to borrow a gaming term. Particularly things like traffic lights, signs, and (annoyingly) computer screens. This has definitely improved as it's healed, but it's still noticeable on high contrast light points. While you see results instantly, they say it takes about a week for the cornea to heal properly, and this was definitely one of the more noticeable healing issues.

I took a walk through the city the day after and it was quite windy so I definitely noticed some discomfort in my eyes and feel I probably overdid it a little. I bought myself a pair of sunglasses which has been on my list of things to do for ages now and definitely made things better.


LASIK as a programmer

I read a really fantastic overview of the procedure by another programmer who had the procedure done but still wears glasses for working. My surgeon assured me that my vision would be fine for the kind of work I do, but I'm wholly aware that this may not be entirely the case, and certainly won't be forever as presybopia eventually becomes an issue.

Thus far things seem pretty good in terms of working. The main issue now is that where previously focusing near was a zero-effort task, I now have to actively choose to focus on my phone or screens in particular. I can still read tiny ebooks on my phone screen from 10 cm away, though it's not as comfortable as it was before and there's a more sensible point further out.

My main goal is to be able to work at a regular desk with a 27" screen without having to perform acrobatics to do it. Initially there was some discomfort around the "halos" making it more difficult to do much on screens, and this continued for about a week.

I also notice it takes a bit longer to focus "out" from my work. For instance, if someone walks over I'll take a second or two to break out of computer mode and actually engage with them. Often I've instinctively reached for my glasses, so I'm not sure if this is psychosomatic.

The one disappointing thing I've noticed is that I'm having trouble with colour contrast, specifically red on black. This is arguably a terrible design decision to start with, but the super-pretty Monokai colour scheme that (I think) comes default with Sublime Text and that I use for my terminal scheme is uncomfortably difficult to read as a result. I've changed it ot a lighter, more contrasty white-pink, but apparently colour contrast issues are a potential issue, so there you go. I'll update if this changes.

Otherwise everything's great now. Initially I was really worried, but after a week or two it's perfect again.


Overview

Ultimately this was a well-researched but snap decision that I'm totally happy with. There were some initial side-effects that had me a bit worried, and I can't see distance as perfectly as I could with my glasses, but it's pretty damn good, and apparently better than 20:20 anyway.

Would I do it again? Probably. It's a freaky procedure that carries admittedly small risks, and part of me still boggles that I actually went through with it. There may be a touch of post-purchase rationalisation too, but ultimately it's just an amazing experience being able to see properly with my own two eyes.


Two Years On

It's hard to believe it's been almost two years. Life has changed a whole bunch, but for the most part my eyesight is pretty great.

The problems I initially reported are all either resolved or stuff I've gotten used to. I occasionally notice my eyes will get tired and hard to focus on screens, but I imagine that's fairly standard working at a desk all day. My distance vision is still not as perfect as when I had glasses, but again I'm more than happy with it. It's probably something I could improve with glasses, but it's not something I've a need or interest in pursuing.

Another thing I used to notice is that I used to get eyestrain and headaches watching TV for long periods. It only occurred after the surgery that this was due to context switching between my laptop and my TV through my glasses, which no longer happens. So now I don't get nearly as many headaches which is a pretty cool side effect of the surgery.

So overall would I recommend it? Sure. While it's not a complete solution, it's changed my life for the better and I certainly don't miss having to clean my glasses all the time.


Four years after laser eye surgery

It's some four and a half years later and a lot has happened. I've moved to Amsterdam for starters, which is a fair ways from home.

In terms of my eyesight things are still good.

I've noticed that I really need to take care of my eyes while working, otherwise the world is a blurry mess when I step away from my screen after work. This means fairly frequent looking out the window to change focus, and generally taking care not to stare at a screen all day.

In the Amsterdam winter my eyes dried out a lot more than they ever did back in Australia. This was easy enough to fix by making an effort to remember to blink from time to time, but I was on the verge of buying eye drops a few times. They say dry eyes is one of the side effects of the lasik, and I guess it's more of a thing in the cooler climates.

Anyway, that's about it. Just wanted to update things because I know posts like this are valuable when you're considering the procedure. Feel free to reach out on Twitter if you have any questions.