SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (FOX 2) - In the weeks between Jessica Starr's eye surgery and suicide, she detailed the struggle she was fighting in journals and in revealing videos she shot on her phone. Jessica hoped her decision to have SMILE Eye Surgery would change her life - and it did.
Jessica's husband, Dan Rose, is taking the videos public now, two months after her suicide, to get people to pay attention.
"I'm just trying to stay positive right now. I'm trying to say some affirmations and some prayers, and I'm hoping that I really start to see the improvement," Jessica said in one of the videos shared to FOX 2 by Dan.
The videos journal Jessica's struggles in the weeks between October 11, when she had SMILE done, and December 12th, when she ended her life. She indicates herself that the surgery did change her life - but now how she wanted.
"It's been 6 weeks of hell"
In the last video she shot in November, 5 weeks after the surgery, Jessica said she couldn't sleep but had some minor relief from her doctor with some plugs put in, as she pointed to the corner of her eyes.
"I don't know, I am kind of frustrated, upset, regret. I have a lot of emotions, a lot of feelings going on, I am really mad at myself for doing this. I don't know why - I was fine in contacts; glasses weren't that big of a deal. It was fine," Jessica said. "I went and I wasted money - for what? For what? For nothing."
She said she had been praying to her grandparents but they weren't answering.
"It's just real hazy. It's just really hazy. I can see but I can't see and it's been 6 weeks of hell," Jessica said. "I don't know. I don't know what to do. I'm really frustrated. So, I'm hoping. I don't have any other words to say."
The videos, which you can watch parts of in the player above, were taken weeks apart and show her growing frustration. Jessica was suffering from chronic dry eye and blurry vision - complications from the surgery. In her own words, she said it was becoming too much.
The pain didn't improve
"I don't think she had any intention for them to be shared, they were for her. She was using them to compare how her recovery was going. She talked about her vision on that specific day. They're almost a video diary," he said.
Dan broke his silence Wednesday in a wide-ranging interview with FOX 2. He said she progressively became more upset after the pain didn't improve.
"She looked at me and she said, 'Dan, it's like my eyes and my brain aren't communicating like they used to. I can't process like I used to. I'm not visualizing things like I used to,'" Dan said. "In hindsight, I think she was telling me she was having a neurological problem and I don't think she even understood what was going on with her body and her mind and her eyes. It's scary."
Dan is now focused on their two young children, Noah and Riley, but also on helping someone else. He's urging anyone who plans to have any kind of surgery to know their risks - both physically and mentally - before the operation.
"We want to try to help somebody," he said.
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Dan believes Jessica planned on taking her own life for several weeks before she did on December 12th. She left behind a suicide note of more than 30 pages for Dan.
"Something had gone wrong"
"She had a procedure on October 11, and I would say within less than three or four days she started to indicate to me and her family that she felt like something was wrong. She felt like the procedure, something had gone wrong or her body had reacted to the procedure in a non-normal way," Dan said.
SMILE is different than the more common Lasik surgery that people like Tiger Woods have had done. SMILE is said to be different and less invasive. Lasik has been around for 20 years while SMILE has only been around for two.
"It's positioned as if you're going in to get a cavity filled. We have to remember that we have two eyes and this is probably one of the most important senses that we have," Dan said. "This isn't a different procedure where - where you're getting lip injections and if it's botched you can get it corrected. You have two eyes. I think it's, a lot of times positioned as this is something super simple: you get it done on a Friday and you get it done and you go back on a Monday. For some people it works that way but for others it doesn't."
Lasik vs SMILE
Dr. Todd Adelson at LasikPlus says SMILE is too risky for their office to try the new operation.
"They're two entirely different procedures, very different approaches. The end-goal is the same, but how we get there is very, very different," Adelson said. "We just don't have a long-enough track record with SMILE yet for our practice to feel comfortable performing it. We tend to stick with the procedures that have a longer track record and that are more tried and proven."
Dan and the rest of Jessica's family is remembering her as a loving mother, wife, and daughter - who loved her job, family and life.
If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or text 741-741.