My LASIK Story: 1 Month Post-Op

“Trust the process. Your time is coming. Just do the work and the results will handle themselves.” –Tony Gaskins

January 31 to February 5 (Days 9 to 14 Post-Op)

I decided to go cold turkey and stopped wearing my goggles, since my doctor already said I could do away with wearing them. I only wore them when doing activities where I risk getting something into my eyes, like when I bake. I figured that if I wore the goggles for much longer, it was neither going to do anything for my paranoia, nor help me consciously break my eye-rubbing habit. Thankfully, I have not rubbed my eyes in my sleep, nor have I done anything to disturb my healing corneal flaps. What I can say though, is that I have started sleeping much longer, once I did not have any goggles to be conscious about in my sleep.

With longer sleep, however, came drier eyes upon waking up. Unlike the previous week when I used to wake up every three hours or so, I managed to drop on some lubricants on my eyes before going back to sleep. Hence, I did not wake up with very dry eyes. Not this week though. Eight to nine hours of straight sleep? Hello dry eyes in the morning! Thankfully, I got my lubricant eye drops to help me deal with the dryness.

From time to time, I would check each eye to see which one could see more clearly than the other. Then, I’d freak out when I was having episodes of blurry vision. My sister scolded me and said that I was putting too much pressure on myself and was expecting magically perfect vision immediately. She reminded me that when she had her PRK back in 2011, it took her six months for her vision to stabilize (still within normal recovery period), with regular monitoring by Dr. Nepomuceno. By stressing too much about my LASIK recovery, I was noticing every single fluctuation and was beating myself up for it. Oh well, competitive spirit. We need to chill for now. Let the eyes do its healing in its own time.

To help me not abuse my eyes so much, I downloaded an app to remind me to look at objects 20 feet away for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes that I was working on my computer or reading a book. My phone would beep after the 20-minute timer ends, signaling me to look away. This, on top of my hourly alarms for my eye drops, helped tremendously. By day 14, the blurry episodes were limited to the first one to two hours in the morning, as my eyes adjusted after waking up and feeling dry from the night before.

February 6 to 12 (Days 15 to 21 Post-Op)

My aunt treated me and my mom to lunch at a Korean barbecue on Saturday, February 6. I decided to wear my goggles while we ate to protect my eyes from the smoke from the grill. Surprisingly, I didn’t notice any significant fluctuation in my vision. My eyes didn’t feel very dry throughout the day either, even if I missed to drop on lubricants while we ate. I guess my eyes were very glad to see stuff apart from the usual things at home and the view from my window.

Big servings at Masil in SM Megamall!

There were less fluctuations to my vision this week, with nothing as bad as days 11 and 12. I also noticed that at night, my vision seems clearer and much more focused, with my eyes not feeling as dry. However, if I stared too long at my monitor, even with the 20-20-20 practice with the help of the app I downloaded, my eyes would tire or dry out much quicker.

On days I went out, after my LASIK procedure, I didn’t wear any make up. Skin care was limited to washing my face or using micellar water and cotton pads. What I did do was discard old and used make up and skin care products that were already past their use-by-after-opening dates. I didn’t want to risk getting infection, so I kept only the ones that were unopened and still good for use. I got a new set of skin care products, but make up can wait until after June, when we hopefully safely end our work-from-home setup.

February 13 to 19 (Days 22 to 28)

By this week, dry eyes were mostly during the first few hours after waking up, and when my eyes got tired from my work during my shift. I continued dropping lubricants every hour that I was awake though, as instructed by my doctor. However, GenTeal wasn’t doing it for me anymore, with its moisturizing effect not lasting as much as I needed it to.

This week, I noticed that my right eye wasn’t having that much problems with focusing at things from a distance, even during the first few hours from waking up. My left eye, though, still struggled a bit with focusing. When I covered my right eye for my left one to read signages that I could see from my window, I could still notice how my vision would be blurry, slowly becoming clearer and clearer. Once it managed to focus properly, it could see just as clearly as my right eye. It wasn’t as bad in the afternoon or at night, though. Maybe because my left eye muscles have had its share of exercise during the day and has already warmed up? At least my right eye’s pretty stable already.

I bought a non-prescription eyeglass that has blue light filtering mechanism. I also started turning on the night light mode on my laptop and my phone. My attempt to filter blue light does not have anything to do with blue light affecting my LASIK outcome. My reason was more about blue light’s impact on my circadian rhythm and melatonin levels. The more exposed I was to blue light, the longer it took for me to fall asleep after work, and the more I was inclined to pass time looking at my phone to kill boredom. Such cycle would dry out and tire my eyes out and I don’t want that.

February 20 (Day 29, 3rd post-op check-up)

I visited Peregrine Eye and Laser Institute (PELI) again for my third check-up post my LASIK procedure. I was assigned a different person this time to check on my visual acuity. Thankfully, she was patient and understanding when I asked for some time to my eyes to focus on the chart I had to read. With both eyes open, I could easily read at 20/20 level. With my left eye closed, my right eye only took a few seconds to focus and clearly read the letters I had to. With only my left eye open though, it took much longer to focus, although I only missed one letter from the set.

After having my visual acuity checked, Dr. Nepomuceno checked my eyes for any concern, most likely on my corneal flaps. He said everything was great and that from my visual acuity check, my vision great and they weren’t seeing any eye grade. Thus, there’s really no need for eyeglass anymore. I informed him that my left eye was taking longer to focus when I start looking at objects or reading signages from far away. We acknowledged that my left eye’s vision was still fluctuating, but it should just keep on getting better.

We agreed to change my eye lubricant to Cationorm, which contains mineral oils to help keep the moisture longer. He told me to drop some on my eyes at least six times in a day, and to tell him right away in case my eyes do not react very well to it. Because of that, I did not buy an entire bottle right away (it costs 1.6x than GenTeal!). Instead, I bought a couple of 0.4ml vials to try out first. Thankfully, my eyes seemed fine with Cationorm and it does feel much more lubricating than GenTeal. Still, I hope to get rid of dry eyes as soon as possible.

My next check-up is going to be in April, three months after my procedure. I will continue to write updates about my recovery process.

Tip: Don’t just save for your refractive eye surgery cost. Save extra for post-surgery care like your lubricating eye drops. Each one reacts and adjusts differently to the procedure. Therefore, our after-care needs and routines might be different. It’s best to have some funds set aside for that.

For all of my posts on my LASIK journey, visit: https://sunshineandrobins.wordpress.com/category/health-and-wellness/my-lasik-story/

My LASIK Story: Day 1 to Day 8 Post-Op

“My eyes are my favorite part of me; not for how they look, but for how they see.” — Frau Feuerameise

What a feeling it is to be able to see without eyeglasses or contact lenses! By now, I am at Day 8 after my surgery day and I want to share how it’s been so far. Before I go to the details of my recovery though, you might want to check out the first two parts of my LASIK posts series. Part 1: The Beginning and the Screening | Part 2: Day of the Surgery

LASIK Screening: December 28, 2020

Screening Results Interpretation and Tear Test: January 9, 2021

LASIK Surgery: January 22, 2021

Day 1: January 23

When I woke up, I thought my eyes were glued to my eyelids, so I carefully opened my them. I did not feel any pain yet, but my eyes felt dry and my lids felt heavy. I administered Tobradex (antibiotic) eyedrops, followed by GenTeal (lubricant) after 5 minutes. I felt pain at the leftmost corner of my left eye, but I could not see any redness or scratch when I checked my eye in the mirror. I had no light sensitivity, glaring or halos. My vision was clear, with no blurry or hazy areas when both eyes were open.

I visited Peregrine Eye and Laser Institute (PELI) for my first post-surgery check-up. I could already read the the eye chart clearly, but only with my eyes both open. If reading with one eye only, the rounded letters were a bit distorted or it took long before they became sharp for my eye to recognize. I was assured it was because it’s been only a day after my surgery.

Dr. Nepomuceno checked my tears once more and saw nothing amiss. I told him about the pain on my left eye when putting on eye drops, but he also did not see anything wrong with that eye. It must be only from the dryness, a common side effect. I was told to continue my medications: Tobradex 4x a day and GenTeal every hour while awake, or more frequent if needed. I was also reminded to keep my protective goggles on for a week, even while I slept.

The rest of the day went well. I slept for most of the afternoon with my goggles on. No other discomfort was felt apart from the pain in my left eye whenever I put on eyedrops.

My specs officially retired from service. Keeping them as a memento.

Day 2: January 24

I woke up and found myself lying on my right side. My goggles were still on but got so pressed against my nose bridge that it hurt. Thankfully, I did not dislodge it so badly or they could have pressed against my eyelids instead.

The pain on my left eye was significantly less, but my eyes felt drier than the day before. I dropped GenTeal more than once every hour this day and so I noticed that my lubricant bottle has some defect. Even if I made sure to cap the bottle securely, the moment it was left lying horizontally, some of the liquid leaked to the cap. As soon as I opened the bottle for my next drop, the leaked liquid trickled down the bottle’s body. I felt bad for the waste, but my ever-proactive Mom already bought me three more bottles of GenTeal after we got home from surgery. I did not have to worry about not having lubricants on hand.

By the end of the day, the free bottle that I got from my kit was used up. I don’t blame St. Luke’s for that. It must have been a problem during manufacturing. Thankfully, my second bottle had no problem.

Today, I gave my stash of unopened contact lens solutions to my college classmate. I bought them prior our lockdown in March 2020. I have been working from home since then and didn’t find the energy or motivation anymore to wear contact lens. Giving these away made it finally sink in that I no longer qualify for our my employer’s optical benefit allowance every year. It as good while it lasted.

My stash from when I stocked up in January 2020.

Day 3: January 25

It was Monday, so I went online to work. It’s our slack season these days, so there’s not much to do. Instead, I worked on my presentation for a training I will give on Friday. Also, I edited the last few touches on my blog posts. Nothing too strenuous yet for my eyes.

The pain on my left eye was completely gone already! Yay! The only discomfort I had left was just the dry sensation and this was the day when my eyes felt their driest. I dropped my eyes with lubricants more than once per hour this day. It was worse at night, so while I wasn’t working too much in front of my computer, I decided to give my presentation a rest.

Day 4: January 26

I got pretty attached to my protective goggles already. I didn’t find it as bothersome anymore compared to when I first had to wear it to bed. I didn’t wake up with my goggles at an awkward position, which meant I have adjusted pretty well to wearing them to bed. Cleaning them is still a pain though. I constantly had to clear it of smears of my eyedrops from my eyelashes.

Another workday today. I worked on my presentation again, but pretty much just went into a couple of virtual calls. I didn’t tire my eyes at all this day since there was not much to do.

Surprisingly, my eyes were not very dry today. In fact, they just felt the way I remember they did when I wore contact lenses. I did not reach out for my GenTeal lubricant as much, so I basically just followed the minimum drop every hour I was awake. Hopefully my second bottle will last longer than the first one. This thing isn’t cheap!

Day 5: January 27

Upon waking up at 8am, my left eye felt extremely itchy. I dropped on my Tobradex, followed by GenTeal after five minutes. The itching didn’t go away, and my eye started producing tears excessively. I tried my best to keep my hands off it and just slept. I woke up three hours later and both eyes were already fine.

Throughout the day, my eyes didn’t cause me any problems. Occasionally, they would itch, and I’d just drop on lubricant for that. Other than that, they pretty much felt just like they used to when I wore contact lens in past. Pretty normal.

I texted my doctor to ask if a certain medicine I needed to take will not affect my LASIK. He assured me it was okay to take it and reminded me to lay low on computer use. Oopsie 🙂

I did notice several eyelash fallouts. I think I counted around ten strands, most of which I noticed when I wiped smears of eyedrops off my goggles. I am very worried that they will get into my eyes. How the heck do I take them out?

Day 6: January 28

I slept much longer already, unlike in the first few days when I was still paranoid about my goggles. Before, I would wake up every two hours and would drop lubricant on my eyes to get rid of the dry feeling. But having slept longer last night, my eyes felt drier when I tried to open them this morning. My left eye was especially difficult to open. Let me clarify though that there was no pain; just a dryness. It took a couple of drops to get rid of the dry feeling, especially on my left eye.

Except for the initial dryness upon waking up, my eyes were feeling the best they’ve felt so far since my surgery. It almost felt as if nothing happened and my vision just miraculously got better. I wasn’t reaching out for my lubricant as much, with my second bottle not yet completely used up. I’m pretty sure I’ll be opening a fresh bottle tomorrow, though. Lastly, there wasn’t as much lash fall out this day. I remember finding only 2 or 3 sticking to my goggles.

I did a couple of checking which eye saw much clearer than the other. My left eye was noticeably weaker than my right. I wasn’t that surprised. Prior the surgery, my left eye was at -5.75 and my right eye was at -5.50 only. My left eye had always been the more problematic. It also produced less tears than my right during my tear test. With my doctor expecting at least a level of 10mm on the Schirmer strip, my left eye reached 13mm while my right eye reached 20mm. This also explained why my left eye always felt drier than my right.

I was told though that it’d take time for the eyes to fully get used to the new cornea shape. Some people take less time while some take more for their eyes to stabilize. I’ll just have to be patient with my eyes.

Day 7: January 29

There was no difficulty opening my eyes today. They also didn’t feel so dry anymore. Still, I had to stick to my routine with Tobradex and GenTeal. I opened my third GenTeal bottle today and I thought to buy two more bottles.

I spent almost the morning sleeping, trying to rest my eyes as much as possible because I was going to give a virtual training for an hour and half that evening. True enough, my eyes did get tired and felt dry after the training. I still had a couple of e-mails to send, but I could already feel that my eyes wanted to rest.

Day 8: January 30

I woke up with dry eyes again, probably because they got tired from staring at my monitor for an hour and a half straight last night. It took a couple of lubricant drops before they felt well enough to stay open. They were so dry that it felt like my eyes were soaking the drops instantaneously, so I had to drop some more.

As I was fearing, a fallen eyelash went into my left eye. With a clean cloth, I very carefully tried to take it out because my tears and my lubricant weren’t pushing them out. At least I didn’t damage my eye in the process. I really hate it when my eyelashes fall and go into my eyes!

Today was my second post-op visit. Again, I could see clearly with both eyes open, but they were still a bit weak individually. I was told though that my responses were still better than last week’s. My competitive spirit was a bit let down despite my improvement, but it’s something I have to accept. My eyes will have to recover in their own time. Patience, Monica. Patience.

2nd post-op check-up at PELI!

I was told I can already skip on wearing my protective goggles, but I told my doctor I that rubbing my eyes is a bad habit I have. My goggles has become a sort of security blanket for now, and I just need to slowly let go of my paranoia that I will damage my corneal flaps by rubbing my eyes. I think it takes more than nine days to get rid of a bad habit. So, my continuous wearing of goggles is a personal choice.

Overall, everything was still going well. I need to drop Tobradex on for just two more days, and to continue with my lubricant eye drops. My next visit would be after a couple of weeks.

By the way, prior my LASIK, my right eye was extremely sensitive to the lights in my doctor’s tools to check my eye condition. We figured it was because of my cataracts in that eye. Today, I confirmed what I noticed during my first post-op visit; my right eye is not averse to the light from his apparatus anymore. Before, I would pull away as soon as the light hit my eye, but last week and today, I managed to hold still. I told my doctor about it, but he said it wasn’t something intentionally addressed by my LASIK. Regardless, I am still thankful.

Tips:

Resist rubbing your eyes

If rubbing your eyes has become a habit, you will have to try your absolute best to keep your hands off your eyes to allow it to hear properly. From time to time, you will feel like there’s something in your eye. Just use your lubricant to get rid of the sensation.

Set reminders to put on eyedrops

I used my phone alarm to remind me to put on my eyedrops. For my Tobradex, administer it on my eyes 4x a day (8AM-12PM-4PM-8PM). If I still felt sleepy after my 8AM drops, I put off some of the alarms and just adjusted again after I woke up. Otherwise, I dropped GenTeal once every hour that I was awake, and more if I felt my eyes were dry. My day ends at midnight because I work from 3PM to 12MN.

Before going to sleep, I adjust my ringer so that it’s loud enough to wake me up, but not loud enough to startle me into opening my eyes abruptly. As much as possible, I open my eyes slowly, checking first if my eyelids feel stuck or if my goggles were dislodged and pressing into my eyes.

Another technique is to use any fitness watch that you have that has an alarm feature. My Honor Band 5-FC2 allows me to set up 5 alarms in the Huawei Health app and I get alerted because my watch will vibrate. It’s a much gentler way to waking up than being started by alarm sounds.

Keep your medicines close

Depending on your room’s setup, make sure you can easily reach for your eyedrops. My adorable Mom made a pouch for me with two separate sections inside. I just made sure to know which bottle I placed in which section as I do not want to drop on antibiotics more than necessary. I put it on the table beside my bed, but not so near the edge so that I don’t accidentally push it off the table when feeling around for it.

I don’t recommend putting them under your pillow. You might unknowingly press heavily on them while asleep and cause some leakage. As I mentioned, my first GenTeal bottle had a manufacturing defect so some of the liquid inside leaked out.

Keep water off your eyes until you’re told it’s safe

I was advised not to use swimming goggles while bathing. The pressure the goggles would put on the eyes might botch the healing process.

You will love your handheld shower head during this time. Long hair might be a bit of a challenge. Try to see if you really need to wash your hair every day. Or, if someone at home can help wash your hair for you, salon-style, that might be better.

For washing your face, unless you are good at doing it without getting water inside your eyes (I am not), micellar cleansing waters are your best alternative to clean your face. Just don’t soak your cotton pads with too much. You don’t want excess liquid trickling down your face as you wipe. It’d be painful for some to get into your eyes. Avoid the eye area as you wipe.

Don’t panic when you taste something bad after putting on eyedrops

Yes, it is possible to taste your eyedrops. No, eyedrops weren’t made to come with awesome flavors. Don’t worry if you suddenly taste something unpleasant after administering eyedrops on your eyes. That’s actually pretty normal (read: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/12311/why-can-you-taste-your-eye-drops).

For my next post, my observations will not be on a per day basis anymore. I’d probably just write about significant observations from today until my next post-op check-up. But if you have questions, please feel free to use the comment section. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

My LASIK Story: Day of the Surgery

“I have long forgotten what it’s like to see the world with just my own eyes. Today, I’m going to rediscover that.”

January 22, 2021. After 21 years of wearing specs and contact lenses, I was finally getting rid of my myopia and astigmatism. I couldn’t be any happier! I have been waiting for this day since I was told I qualified for refractive eye surgery (click here to read about my screening and how I arrived at my decision to get LASIK).

A week before my surgery, I was told to keep off soft contact lenses at least three to seven days before the surgery, or at least two weeks if I wore hard or rigid gas permeable contact lenses. I had no problems about that because I only wore my eyeglasses since my screening. Also, a day before my surgery, I got a confirmation SMS from St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) and from Peregrine Eye and Laser Institute (PELI) about my appointment. It really was happening!

I opted to go early because after having worked from home for almost a year now, I didn’t know the traffic situation anymore. We arrived at 9:00 am, an hour before my actual schedule. I filled out all the necessary forms, again including a consent form about having a non-essential procedure during this pandemic. All my forms had to be signed by my Mom too as a witness. She was there as my companion because my eyesight was not going to be perfectly clear right after the surgery, and I would need assistance to get home.

After all my paper works were done, I was asked to stay at the patients’ waiting area. A nurse approached me, and he put my patient’s tag around my wrist. I was instructed to gargle for 30 seconds, the Betadine oral solution he handed me in a cup. Then, I was escorted to a different room where I was asked to take off my shoes and wear slippers before going in. I was made to wear foot covers, a hair cap, and a hospital gown over my clothes. I sat on a comfy chair while my eyes were prepped for the procedure and I got briefed on what to expect.

Dr. Nepomuceno and his assisting doctor soon arrived. Anesthesia drops were administered on eyes and my doctor made some markings on my eyeballs. Not long after, I was already asked to go inside the operating room, where I found the two machines the nurse talked about. The first machine painlessly created the corneal flap on my eyes. The second machine worked on the correction of my vision, during which I did not experience any pain, but I smelled something burning for a few seconds. According to my nurse, that was expected and completely normal.

Yet for some bloody reason, my head and my eyes didn’t cooperate with me during the procedure. No matter how much I tried not to move, my head kept tilting one way or another, so my doctor had to readjust my head a couple of times. The blinking light they told me to focus on? I sometimes lost focus and thought the light “moved” to a different corner. Naturally, my eyes would follow it and they would have to rework on my eye alignment again. Aigoo! I wanted to die of embarrassment. Thankfully, they were all very kind and patient with me.

The surgery lasted a little bit longer because of my inability to stay still but did not take an hour to complete. Everything went according to what the nurse briefed me about so there were no surprises during the surgery. As soon as it was done and everything was put away, I sat up immediately. The nurse asked if I felt dizzy as he helped me stand up and walk back to the waiting room. I wasn’t dizzy, but I was excited and giddy with delight because even if my vision was still blurry, it was 70% better than it was before I entered the operating room.

As I sat back down in the waiting area, I automatically searched for the items I told myself I would attempt to read after the surgery, like the signages and the posters all over the place. I kept looking for more stuff to read, so when Dr. Nepomuceno went back to the waiting area, he hurriedly told me to close my eyes to allow my corneal flaps to start healing. I did as I was told, but I couldn’t resist pointing first to one of the signages and proudly telling him, “I can read that already!” At one point, he ask and a question and I made the mistake of opening my eyes. He immediately reminded me, “Close your eyes, close your eyes!” I was freaking hilarious!

After a few minutes of sitting with my eyes closed, he checked my eyes again to ensure nothing was amiss before I was allowed to check out. I was given my kit of protective goggles (which I must wear for an entire week, even while sleeping), antibiotic eyedrops, moisturizer eyedrops, and after-care instructions. Before leaving though, my doctor told me he was giving me a memento/remembrance of my surgery. He handed me the suction rings that they used while creating the corneal flaps on my eyes. “Your sister didn’t have these,” he said (click here to read about when he performed PRK on my sister in 2011). I checked out after settling the bill.

I was asked to close my eyes on the way home. My doctor was very clear when he said, “Open your eyes only when you’re going to walk. Keep it closed on the way home.” We got back by 12 noon, at which time I started on the antibiotic medicine that I had to drop on my eyes four times a day, spread throughout the day. After 5 minutes, I placed moisturizer drops. I ate my lunch and then went to sleep.

I woke up at 2PM for my second dose of antibiotic drops, then I went back to sleep. By 3PM, the anesthesia has worn off. I suddenly woke up from some discomfort in my eyes. Imagine the pain from looking at a very bright light while keeping your eyes open. That was the same pain I was feeling, even if my eyes were closed. I felt around for my moisturizer drops to try to alleviate the discomfort, but it was causing my eyes to feel like squeezing and there was already a buzzing sound in my ears. While I do have high pain tolerance, I found the sensation annoying, especially the buzzing sound. I was worried about my corneal flaps from all the involuntary squeezing my eyes were doing, so I decided to just open them for a few minutes. I found some relief afterwards, but my eyes soon started producing excessive amounts of tears.

I looked up all these things that were happening and, to my relief, these were just effects from the anesthesia wearing off. The excessive tears were to compensate for my eyes drying out, a common side effect of LASIK. So, I tried to ride the discomfort out, switching back and forth from keeping my eyes open to trying to sleep again. I guess the discomfort wore me out because I fell asleep once more, but not before I had to drop my 3rd antibiotic dose at 4PM.

I woke up once more at 5:30 in the afternoon. To my delight, my vision was extremely clear! To me, everything looked as clear as when I used to wear my eyeglasses prior to surgery. This was surprising because I was told the it would take around 24 to 48 hours before the blurriness will go away. Clear eyesight in just close to 8 hours?! I must be so lucky!

Because of all the sleeping I did that afternoon, I couldn’t sleep right away at night. Therefore, I was more aware of the different sensations my eyes were feeling. My left eye felt a tad bit heavier and more swollen than my right eye. It felt like there was an extra layer covering my left eye and every time I put on some moisturizer drops, I would feel a slight pain on its leftmost corner (nowhere near pupil or iris). My eyes also watered from time to time, albeit not as excessively as they did in the afternoon. To be honest, my eyes weren’t exactly comfortable, but they were not that bad either. They just felt like they had to endure something that day.

The more challenging part was finding a comfortable position to sleep for much longer this time, than my afternoon naps. Sleeping with my goggles on wasn’t the most comfortable thing, but I knew I needed something to prevent me from accidentally rubbing my eyes at night. While I know some people make use of clear eye shields that you tape on your face to keep in place, I did not trust those to stay in place. Having oily skin, I doubt the tapes would stay put on my face for hours. Therefore, despite the discomfort, I much rather prefer the protective goggles. But if you are the type who can sleep on your back (I can’t do that), you’ll have no problem with the goggles.

I went to sleep that night a bit earlier than my normal bedtime because I had to see Dr. Nepomuceno at PELI the following day for my post-op check-up. In my next post, I will be talking about my experience during the week following my surgery.

Notes:

  1. For inquiries on SLMC’s pricing for PRK, LASIK and SMILE, you may call the QC or BGC branch to inquire. Check out its VLC page via https://www.stlukes.com.ph/health-specialties-and-services/institutes-departments-centers-and-services/vision-laser-service. Price may change without prior notice, but I was able to avail of their promo since 2019, through which they brought down the price of LASIK to Php 75,000 (https://www.facebook.com/StLukesPH/posts/2189277434485362). This fee covers both eyes and includes the after-care kit (protective goggles, medicines and eyedrops, and post-care instructions), post-operative follow-up, tests, and surgeon fees. It also comes with a ten-year warranty, the details of which they gave me a copy. The LASIK screening is priced separately. Again, prices may have already changed by the time you read my post, so call the hospital to inquire.
  2. All necessary health protocols were observed by everyone involved in my surgery. Hence, I felt safe proceeding with mine even if we haven’t completely put a stop to this pandemic. If you are thinking of having your own refractive eye surgery, assess the risk and make an informed choice. Your health and safety should always be the number 1 priority.
  3. Bring a companion with you. I was lucky that after my surgery, my vision wasn’t very blurry and I believe I would have managed going home by myself, provided the Grab driver was super trustworthy even with my eyes closed the entire trip home. However, my experience will not necessarily be the same for everyone and some might find theirs a little too blurry to manage going home alone. That is why they require a companion to be with you on the day of your surgery.
  4. My medicines included Tobradex (antibiotic) and Genteal (moisturizer). For the antibiotics, I had to drop on each eye once every four hours while awake. For the moisturizer, I had to drop on each eye once every hour while awake, or as I deem necessary to relieve any discomfort and dryness. Speaking from my sister’s and my experiences, buy a couple of bottles of Genteal or Systane (depending what you will be prescribed to use). You’ll thank yourself for it. You’ll never know how dry your eyes will feel after your LASIK, so best to make sure you have enough moisturizer drops on-hand.
  5. For post-care, it is best to sleep after the procedure. I must keep my goggles on all the time. If I need to remove them for any reason (such as removing any smears of my medicines), I must make sure never to rub my eyes. I can use my eyes to pretty much do what I want, but only in moderation. I must rest them when they feel tired. Cigarette smoke should be avoided, but I don’t smoke anyway. Lastly, I am not allowed to swim, take hot tubs, jacuzzi, or whirlpools for at least two weeks. Swimming in the lake or sea is not allowed for at least a month. Not a problem for me because I am not a fan of swimming. I just basically need to avoid getting my eyes wet until my doctor says it’s already safe to do so.
  6. The doctor needs to see you again to check your eyes the day after your surgery. Next follow-up will be after a week, and then after a month. Don’t skip these consultations because your doctor needs to check that your eyes are healing well and that there are no post-surgery complications.

My LASIK Story: The Beginning and the Screening

 “It never hurts your eyesight to look on the bright side of things.” -Barbara Johnson

The Philippines went on lockdown in March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you will ask me the best thing working from home has brought me, I will say that it allowed me to save money from not having to take Grab (Southeast Asia’s version of Uber) to go to the office every weekday. In the ten months I worked from home in 2020, I managed to save enough to finally fund my refractive eye surgery.

Poor eyesight runs in my mom’s paternal side. I started wearing eyeglasses at eight years old, after they wondered why I kept getting headaches in school, throwing up, and going close to the blackboard to copy my notes. It turned out that my eyesight started becoming poor and that I had astigmatism. My sister started wearing eyeglasses at nine years old, but her vision over the years was much poorer than mine.

Wearing eyeglasses as a kid can be tough. I was ready to be bullied for being a nerd, but instead, I was bullied for “pretending to be a nerd.” A classmate spread a rumor that my eyeglasses were not prescription specs and that I just wanted to look smart. Kids can be savage. Imagine having your classmates take turns trying on your eyeglasses just to prove or disprove the rumor. It took three years before they finally accepted and acknowledged that I wasn’t faking my poor eyesight, around which time, I discovered the magic of contact lenses.

In 2014, a visit to a new ophthalmologist (my usual one had training abroad) led me to a surprising discovery when, for some reason, this new doctor decided to dilate my pupils. Lo and behold, my right eye has cataracts! The doctor wasn’t very comforting in his revelation of my eye problem and he started talking about cataract surgery already. I wasn’t keen on having any procedure, so my sister recommended that I seek a second opinion from the doctor who worked on her PRK (a type of refractive eye surgery) to get rid of her myopia (nearsightedness) back in 2011. He was Dr. Richard Nepomuceno of Peregrine Eye and Laser Institute (PELI). Not only does he specialize in refractive eye surgeries, he specializes in advanced cataract surgery too.

Dr. Nepomuceno confirmed that first doctor’s diagnosis. My right eye did have cataracts, but I was told that these were only on the outside edges of my lens and were not touching the center. Thus, they were not yet causing me problems on top of my myopia and my astigmatism. He did not recommend immediate surgery to take these out because he was not keen on replacing my natural lens if the cataracts were not bothering me yet.

My prescription stabilized somehow since 2014, with very few changes over the years, unlike in the past. PELI became my go-to clinic for my annual eye check-ups. Around 2018, my doctor started discussing the possibility of getting LASIK or PRK done. But since my right eye had cataracts, there was a time we were also discussing whether to have cataract removal for my right eye and a different procedure for my left one. Both procedures would restore my visual acuity to normal. There was never a time when I felt pressured to undergo any procedure, which is something I respected about my doctor and the clinic.

In February 2020, before we went on lockdown because of COVID-19, I had another check-up. After having monitored my cataracts for six years already, it appeared that they were not progressing at all. So, my doctor told me that I might not have to worry about them until I am already much older. We could proceed with LASIK or PRK to deal with my nearsightedness and just worry about my cataracts when I already need to. But with the pandemic and all the uncertainties, I decided to delay the procedure.

While I was not yet in a hurry to deal with my poor eyesight, I was woken up by earthquakes on the 22nd and the 25th of December. It felt like my PTSD from my previous earthquake experience in 2019 came back and I remembered worrying about having to find my eyeglasses before I can save myself and evacuate in case “The Big One” happens. I immediately requested a LASIK screening at the Vision Laser Center (VLC) of St. Luke’s Medical Center in BGC, where my doctor performs refractive eye surgeries on his patients. While comprehensive check-ups can be done at PELI, the necessary equipment for LASIK screening were at the St. Luke’s Medical Center branches in QC and BGC.

St. Luke’s Medical Center is a premier healthcare institution, so I felt safe knowing that there were protocols in place to ensure that COVID-19 patients are looked after in a safe and separate section of the hospital. This allows non-COVID patients to continue their visits to the hospital for their health concerns and treatments. I observed our health protocols such as wearing a mask and a face shield, sanitizing my hands every now and then, and filling out the health declaration forms for contact tracing purposes. The hospital staff wore appropriate protective suits and masks and physical/social distancing was always observed inside.

At St. Luke’s Medical Center for my LASIK screening! Last time I visited the Vision Laser Center (VLC), it was to accompany my sister almost 10 years ago for her post-PRK check-up.

On December 28, 2020, I went to the hospital for my screening. Everyone at the VLC was nice and accommodating. I filled out the necessary forms, including a consent form to have the screening, given that it is a non-essential procedure during a pandemic. After a few minutes, I went through the different stages of the screening. In total, the series of tests took around an hour and a half to two hours to complete. Some of the tests required my pupils to be dilated, so I had a companion with me on that day because my vision was extra blurry, even with my eyeglasses on, and I was sensitive to light for a couple of hours. My results were printed on the same day and I was given a copy to show Dr. Nepomuceno on my next checkup on January 9, 2021, at PELI. At that point, I think my eyes were at -5.50 on the right and -5.75 on the left, plus some astigmatism on both eyes. I forgot to take a picture of my record before I handed them over on my next consultation day.

After seeing my results and testing the quality and quantity of my tears, my doctor presented me with three types of refractive eye surgery that I qualified for. These were PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), and SMILE (small incision lenticule extension). He explained the differences of each one and how they ranked in terms of speed by which you get clear vision, downtime and recovery time, and cost. He also discussed what to expect after each procedure, such as the commonly expressed feeling of dry eyes. The great thing about how he explained each procedure was that he used words and terms that could be easily understood by someone with no medical background. He was fair in his discussion and was not pushing or influencing me into blindly picking the most expensive and most recent type procedure of the three, SMILE.

In 2011, my sister chose PRK over LASIK, so I had an idea of what to expect with PRK. Therefore, after considering her experience, my budget, and the information presented by my doctor and what I read up online, I made an informed choice to have a LASIK procedure for myself. We then scheduled my surgery (January 22, 2021) at St. Luke’s Medical Center in BGC, where I also had my screening done.

I wrote a separate post about my actual LASIK procedure experience and I will continue to write a series of posts on my recovery process. However, if you are curious about my sister’s PRK experience, you may read about it here.

Notes:

  1. It is always best to seek a second opinion before agreeing to any surgery or major procedure. On the same day that we discovered my cataract, my Mom also consulted that same doctor for floaters. She was told she had early signs of glaucoma. We both sought a second opinion from Dr. Nepomuceno, but unlike my case, he did not see the same early signs of glaucoma on my mom that the first doctor said she had. After six years, Mom’s vision is fine, and she no longer has those floaters she initially complained about.
  2. It helps when you know and trust the doctor who will perform your refractive eye surgery. From 2015 to 2017, I was employed in a bank that included LASIK in its employee benefits. However, the accredited clinic was a different center and Dr. Nepomuceno did not perform surgeries there. While he offered to refer me to a friend who performs the surgery in that center, I was not comfortable with having another doctor poking at my eyes. For me, patient-doctor history was more important than cost and we’ve known Dr. Nepomuceno for almost ten years now. If cost is important to you, just ensure that you are comfortable and that you feel you can trust the doctor who will perform your surgery. You can also read up about other people’s experiences with the clinic/hospital you’re looking at.
  3. There are different types of cataracts. I was lucky that mine was only in one eye and that it was not the type that blurred my vision on top of my myopia. If, like me, you suffer from cataracts in just one eye, you may discuss with your doctor the best treatment options for you. I opted to have LASIK already because I cannot wait forever for my cataracts to progress before deciding to get my myopia fixed.
  4. Different clinics/centers have different costs and package inclusions. Cheapest or most expensive does not always mean it’s the best choice for you. Each type of refractive eye surgery procedure has its pros and cons. Make an informed choice by inquiring and reading up materials online. However, don’t let other people’s bad experiences scare you right away. What didn’t work for others will not necessarily mean the same for you. In the same way, just because a certain procedure worked for others, it does not necessarily mean it will work for you. That is why you still need to undergo a screening procedure to determine the procedures for which you qualify for.
  5. If you want to consult Dr. Nepomuceno for your eye health concerns, you might want to check out his FB page (https://www.facebook.com/richard.nepomuceno.eye/) or PELI’s (https://www.facebook.com/peregrineeyeandlaserinstitute). I do know that PELI’s Makati Surgicenter has already moved to a new location at 5F Morning Star Center, 347 Sen. Gil Puyat Ave. Bel Air Makati. They are still moving their PLDT trunk lines so just call 0917 874 9202 and 0977 803 7472 in the meantime for appointments and inquiries.
  6. I know several people are wary about going to the hospital because of COVID-19. I also had that fear in the beginning. What I did was read up on the hospital’s health protocols on handling COVID-19 patients. Once assured that they have appropriate and sufficient protocols in place, I pushed through with my visit. It depends on your comfort level and your hospital’s handling of COVID-19 cases. Mine is not an essential case requiring immediate treatment, but if yours is, I hope you do not delay your doctor’s visit.

After This

I am not sure how, not sure when,
But surely one day we will fly again.
We have already seen what’s beyond our ken,
We’ll come out to the world as better men.
If we have done our part for the threat to wane,
Then we’re a step closer to getting rid of the bane.
Surely these sacrifices will not be all in vain,
One day we’ll bask in the sun and dance in the rain.
Empty arms will have someone to hold,
And warmth will come to replace the cold.
Stories will be shared, stories will be told,
How we’ve come to see that time is truly gold.
One day our cry will come with a smile,
When we come out after waiting for a while.
By then we’ll have learned to go the extra mile,
And some of us will be walking down the aisle.
This, too, shall pass as what they say,
I know it sounds like such a big cliche.
But know that bad, good will always outweigh,
And only love will be left to stay.

Footprints and Sand

I am afraid of the lightning,
That’s followed by roaring thunder,
And booming thunders remind me,
Of the things I do not wish to remember.
When the rain is hard and the sky is dark,
I brace myself when I see sparks of light,
I await the sound of explosion from above,
Like a scolded child who’s trembling with fright.
I am not afraid of heights,
But I am afraid to fall,
Earthquakes make me queasy,
They make my skin crawl.
Rollercoasters make me turn pale,
Cable cars on windy days are a no,
Turbulence on journeys and flights,
Would make me not want to go.
But the thing that I fear the most,
Well, it is to be forgotten,
To not have made a mark on the world,
Or touch a heart not even.
I’d hate to not have brought change,
The good kind to the space I occupy,
To not have made an effort to move,
For less hearts to bleed or eyes to cry.
Will I be gone just like a breeze,
A blow of air not moving the leaves,
Or the sound of an ending echo,
Inaudible to the ear that receives.
Will memories of me be etched on sand,
That washes away so very easily,
Captured at the arrival of the mighty waves,
To be thrown to exile to the sea.

Moments Alone

These days it is easier,
To feel that you are alone,
When everyone is fighting a battle,
You’re sometimes left on your own.
And in these moments it’s easier to feel,
That you’re not worth the bother at all,
And in loneliness you succumb,
To deeper isolation you fall.
When you try to reach out,
But only air touches you back,
May your arms never tire while waiting,
For another hand be there to grasp.
When you are already barking at the right tree,
But your cries still fall on deaf ears,
May you not think you were not loud enough,
Perhaps the tree isn’t the type that hears.
When you’re the only one that remembers,
And prompts are met with shrugs,
May you not take it against yourself,
For your self-worth to be crushed like bugs.
When your “hello” is not even seen,
And your “do you have time?” gets ignored,
May the silence just be silence,
And not bring your heart discord.
When your attempts to raise awareness,
Are shut down and deplored,
May you not get exhausted,
From being the only audience of your voice.
When your efforts meet cold shoulders,
And all you gaze upon are blank stares,
May you never lose the fire in your eyes,
Don’t stop from being someone who cares.
May you feel comfort in your own presence,
May you remember you are enough,
May you not depend on others to see,
You’re a diamond in the rough.
May you learn to love yourself,
Find happiness within every day,
You will not be everyone’s cup of tea,
And that should be okay.

Productive Day. Making Lady Fingers, Tiramisu, Butter

“You have to be a romantic to invest yourself, your money, and your time in cheese.”― Anthony Bourdain, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook

I am no connoisseur when it comes to cheese. Growing up, we never had the fancy cheeses at home and we pretty much just grew up consuming processed cheese. I often wondered why the cheese we used to buy did not have the iconic holes like what is drawn in children’s books or in cartoons. As I grew up, I got introduced to other cheeses like cheddar, white cheese, Parmesan, and mozzarella (I bloody love this in fried cheese sticks!). As I discovered cooking shows on YouTube, I also learned about the many kinds of cheeses in the world. One of them is mascarpone.

An Italian creamy cheese, it is made by coagulating heavy cream using an acid. It is only recently that I realized it isn’t very easy to find. Even if I can watch videos on how to make homemade versions of it, I needed to taste the real thing to know if I got the homemade version right. Also, I figured that if I was going to make my first ever tiramisu, I can’t risk it by making mascarpone when I don’t even know what to expect.

Sometimes, when you search just hard enough, you will find what you’re looking for. I saw an advertisement for Pacific Bay and found out that they sell mascarpone and whipping cream, both of which I need to make my tiramisu! They deliver to Metro Manila and even have same day delivery option for those paying before 3PM. Of course, I had to get my orders on the same day I placed them!

I had my mascarpone, whipping cream, rhum, and coffee ready. I was still missing something though. Lady fingers!

Called broas in the Philippines, the lady fingers are essential to a tiramisu recipe. However, I cannot find any online or in the bakery in our condo village. For this, I had no choice but to make it myself. That is why I am glad to come across Gemma Stafford’s recipe from Bigger Bolder Baking. The only different thing I did was to dust the piped lady fingers with powdered sugar before baking them. I watched a couple of Filipino broas tutorials, and it seemed that this method helps the lady fingers to not spread out so much.

Lacking a proper piping bag, I had to make use of a zipper bags to do the trick. I also still need to improve my hand’s steady and consistent grip, but I managed to pipe some lady fingers on my baking sheet. After a couple of minutes, I had a fresh batch of lady fingers for my tiramisu. I was jumping up and down in excitement over my lady fingers, squealing in delight!

And while stale lady fingers are best for making tiramisu, I simply had to make everything in one day, so I risked it already.

To make my tiramisu, I opted for the eggless version only because I ran out of eggs already from when I made a cake with Swiss meringue buttercream the previous week (post coming soon). My aunt offered me her recipe, which I basically just doubled to fill my square glass dish. Here’s the recipe in the original measurements:

Ingredients and Instructions

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar (I used powdered sugar but those left from when I dusted the lady fingers before baking)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups coffee
  • Rhum (I added 2 tbsps to mix with the coffee and just 1 tbsp to the mascarpone cream)
  • Lady fingers (as many as can be fitted in your molding dish/pan)
  • Cocoa powder
  1. Whip cream, sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.
  2. Add mascarpone. Whip until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  3. Dust bottom of pan with cocoa powder.
  4. Dip ladyfingers in the coffee/rhum mixture. Arrange in tray.
  5. Spread half the cream/mascarpone mixture over the layer if ladyfingers. Dust with cocoa powder.
  6. Arrange 2nd layer of dipped ladyfingers. Cover with cream. Dust with cocoa powder.
  7. And/Or grate dark chocolate over top layer.

Try as I might, I could not achieve stiff peaks after adding the mascarpone in. It wasn’t curdling at all. It just remained the consistency of whipping cream before getting whipped. A little disheartened, I just went ahead and built my tiramisu regardless of the state of my mascarpone cream.

After six hours of chilling in the fridge, it still wasn’t sturdy enough. I decided to just let it chill overnight. Thankfully, the mascarpone cream thickened overnight to allow me to get a good slice of tiramisu without the entire thing falling apart. The taste? Oh my gosh, it was heavenly!

Now, while the tiramisu sets in the fridge, what do I do with the half liter whipping cream still left? I decided to make my dream of making homemade butter come true! I have seen a couple of videos about it and I really wanted to have a go at it. Armed with a glass jar, I worked my arms out shaking the whipping cream until I got my butter.

The videos said to pour the cream in a glass jar. There should be enough space for the cream to be shaken well inside. Here, I just went a couple a little over halfway of the jar. Then, I proceeded to shake the jar for a couple of minutes, stopping in between to check how the cream looks like inside. Eventually, the mixture became thicker and liquid separated from a huge chunk of fat. Butter in less than half an hour!

Plain whipping cream
Just a bit more
Whipped cream stage
It’s butter!

Whew! What a workout! After separating the fat, I had to rinse by butter and squeeze all buttermilk out of it. After adding a little bit of Himalayan pink salt, I achieved butter that somehow tasted like my favorite Queensland butter in its iconic red tin!

I was so tired that I slept soundly that night. So much accomplishments in the kitchen in one day, all of which I tried making for the first time. You see, baking does help me stay sane during community quarantine because it keeps me from thinking about how much I already long to go outside, breathe some fresh air, and be surrounded by people.

What have you been up to in your kitchen? Let me know your kitchen adventures too.

My First Ube Dessert Attempts

“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.” –Michael John Bobak

A lot of my spare time outside of work is spent on online “window” shopping. Having no car and with our public transport system still somehow a mess during this pandemic, I little to no way of moving around to get groceries done. Being reliant on grocery delivery services, I am always on the lookout for new retailers that make their goods available through online shopping. I also try to see which ones offer goods not sold by the mobile markets that go to our condo village every few days.

On one good day, I discovered Green Grocer and discovered that they sell fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers here in the Philippines to buyers in Metro Manila. I was delighted to discover that among the products listed on their website are limes and ube. I have long tried to buy limes, but only manage to buy lemons in supermarkets, so I was ecstatic. However, the star of this post will be the ube.

Ube, or purple yam, is a kind of tuber with color ranging from lavender to deep purple. There are some that are cream to white in color, but the famous ones are those with the vivid purple or violet color.

In the Philippines, it is used in a variety of desserts. One of the more common ones is the ube halaya, a type of jam made with boiled and mashed ube mixed with cream and condensed milk. Ube halaya then becomes the base of several other ube desserts like ice cream, cake, and crinkle cookies. It is also used as one of the ingredients in the Filipino dessert, halo-halo.

Cross-section of ube

I bought a kilogram of ube, hoping to make ube halaya. I started by boiling the ube until tender, but not too mushy. It was tender but still firm enough to hold and grate. Some people would mash it further, but my Mom and I like ours on the chunkier side.

Once grated, I heated evaporated milk, condensed milk, butter and sugar over medium heat. Once simmering, I added the ube to the pan and started stirring continuously until the liquid has been somehow absorbed by the ube and I achieved a thick, chunky consistency. It took a couple of minutes and a lot of elbow grease that I considered making it my arm workout of that day.

Finally, I had my ube halaya that I can use as base for my ube cake and its ube frosting. Because I made so much jam, I was still able to give a jar to my friend who lived close by.

With that done, I proceeded to find ube cake recipes on the internet. Believe me, it was not easy. It felt as if only Filipinos eat this sweet, vibrant purple cake. For me, the world is missing out big time!

After much searching, I decided to follow the recipe of CookingwithKurt for the cake base. Full recipe is discussed in his YouTube video. For the icing, I just winged it by making American buttercream. I used one cup of butter, half a cup of ube halaya, 2 cups powdered sugar, and one tablespoon of ube extract.

After much time on my legs making my cake, I finally had my first ever ube cake! I made sure it wasn’t overly sweet so that the ube flavor will shine through.

Think I’d stop there? Oh no. I have plenty of ube halaya left. Therefore, I decided to turn them into soft and fudgy crinkle cookies! For the crinkle cookies, I followed the recipe of The Unlikely Baker.

Anyway, that’s it for my ube dessert attempts. I am pretty sure that if I consumed more ube, I will turn into Tinky Winky already.

If you like purple desserts and would like to try making something that is not very common (at least outside the Philippines), you might want to try your hand at making ube desserts. This sweet and earthy tuber brings desserts to a different level. Just wait until you’ve had it in ice cream form! No wonder it’s one of Philippine’s favorite flavors!

Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

“Days spent in idleness and leisure creates empty pages in the anthology of human beings and leaves no indelible mark in the pages of a person’s life story.” ― Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

After months of not leaving our home, I am bored. I am so bored and am so bummed that we seem to be getting nowhere in flattening the curve. Just because another country has it worse, it does not mean it’s okay that we aren’t getting anywhere either in the fight against the pandemic. I have grown weary of reading the news that I’ve muted my Telegram alerts for the Covid-19 news tracker that I joined.

That being said, I needed something to keep me sane in this boredom and to keep me excited about tomorrow. I figured that only a hobby can help me these days. So, not only did I decide to bake sweets more, but I also decided to learn more about cooking. My time on the internet is no longer spent reading up on the coronavirus. Instead, I look for recipes and watch cooking videos so I will find new dishes I would like to try and recreate at home.

It started with a carrot cake from my Mom’s recipe notebook. I have no idea where the original recipe was lifted, but she lovingly marked it with her brother’s name, indicating that my uncle loved the carrot cake loaf that she made following it. The carrot cake base itself was not a basic cake, containing pineapples and shredded coconuts apart from the carrots.

While the carrot cake is great on its own, I decided I wanted to frost my cake. Also, I was giving some to my friend because it was his birthday. I figured I would make cinnamon American buttercream frosting to go with it. Luckily, I had walnuts and decorative carrots to decorate it with.

I initially followed the recipe Mom kept, but I had no shredded coconuts in our pantry. Instead, I used desiccated coconuts to do the trick. Still feeling like amping up the taste, I figured I needed to add something else aside from the cinnamon called for by the recipe. I had the idea of adding ground nutmeg and ground cloves, both at a fraction of the quantity of cinnamon.

Oh my God! The cake was so moist and tasted better than any carrot cake I have tried! It wasn’t overly sweet and the spices weren’t very strong, but there was something comforting about it and that was even without the frosting! Even my friend said that it was already good even without the frosting.

I know that carrot cakes go best with cream cheese frosting, but my cream cheese expired on the day I made this cake. So, I disposed of it and just decided to go with cinnamon American buttercream. I always lessen the amount of powdered sugar I put in, so my buttercream is not as thick and is a lot softer than they should be. It gave me a hard time decorating the cake, but I just couldn’t take overly sweet frostings.

Anyway, here’s tweaked recipe of the carrot cake in case you want to try making it too.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour*

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour*
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch*
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup flavorless oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 115 grams pineapple tidbits (drained and chopped to smaller bits)
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots
  • 200 grams desiccated coconut

*Original recipe just called for all-purpose flour, but I wanted a less dense cake. I used a combination of flour and cornstarch because I did not have cake flour. If you have cake flour, just use 2 cups of it and skip the cornstarch.

  1. Preheat oven at 350°F.
  2. Grease and line desired baking pans with baking paper. This recipe can make one 9”x13” so adjust according to your bake pan sizes and desired number of cake layers.
  3. Combine the sugar and oil until well blended. Beat the eggs and add to the sugar and oil mixture. Add the vanilla and mix well.
  4. Combine the flour, cornstarch cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt and baking soda. Mix to evenly distribute the spices, salt and baking soda.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix just until there is no more dry flour.
  6. Fold in the carrots, pineapples and coconut.
  7. Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick test comes out clean.

For the buttercream frosting, I just used the recipe from the Two Sisters blog. I just lessened the powdered sugar by one cup and omitted the milk. It still tasted very yummy!

Anyway, there’s my carrot cake recipe for you guys! I hope you like it as much as my friend did.

If you are not very confident with decorating cakes (I know I did not do a superb job on this one too), you may want to try storing the cake in short, small tin cans. That way, you only need to decorate the top. Tin cakes are also easier to send via couriers on motorcycles so you need not worry about the cake getting ruined on the way. I should know because that is how I sent my friend his share of this cake.

I have plenty more stories to share about my kitchen adventures during the community quarantine where I live. I hope you will stay tuned and read them as they come. I also hope that you are safe, healthy, and well, wherever you are. We will get over this pandemic and we will come out stronger and wiser.