I remember the first time I realized my vision wasn’t as clear as it should be. I was 14 and my dad was standing on the staircase outside my bedroom door, asking what I wanted for lunch. I squinted at him, trying to make his blurry face come into focus. He stood there expectantly, wondering if I’d heard him. Oh, I’d heard him. I just couldn’t see him. Off to the optometrist and the diagnosis was glasses – just what every 14-year-old girl wants to hear. But don’t worry – I was able to charm good ol’ Dad into getting me contacts, despite my mother’s objections!
I’ve been wearing glasses and contact lenses for a long time now. I’m so used to them, I barely think of the alternatives. But increasingly, I’m thinking about getting LASIK. It is a surgical procedure that uses laser technology to reshape the cornea to correct vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. People I know who’ve done it rave about it and I find myself thinking how nice it would be not to have to think about glasses and contacts and not to have to deal with the hassle of both.
Having laser vision correction would make travel easier. I wouldn’t have to worry about packing my glasses, lenses and contact solution or worse, figure out what to do when I forget to pack them (which has happened!) I wouldn’t have to deal with painful dry eyes when I fall asleep on the plane with my contacts in. It would be so nice to wake up in the morning and just be able to see. Oh, and it would be nice not to have my contacts splashed right out of my eyes by a massive ocean wave. Here’s that story:
It was January 2007. I remember it clearly because it was just two months after I’d met my now-husband Johnny Jet. We had met in November of 2006 on a press trip to Delray Beach. I lived in Toronto and he called Los Angeles home. It seemed unlikely that a relationship would prosper across a gulf of 2,000 miles but travel and technology make all kinds of things possible these days.
As writers, we both have the opportunity to travel to exotic locations for work – from France to Finland to the Florida Keys! I’d never been to Key West before and when Johnny asked me if I wanted to join him for a weekend escape, I was delighted; I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough! I’ll never forget the view from the plane just before landing, the crystal-clear turquoise waters shimmering below looked more like Fiji than Florida.
We checked into the Sunset Key Cottages, a resort on a 27-acre island that’s just seven minutes by launch from Key West. The quaint tropical cottages were surrounded by beautiful bougainvillea and the air was thick with the fragrance of frangipanis. It was all a far cry from what Toronto looked like in January and I soaked up every glorious moment.
Besides lazing around the resort, moving from the pool to the beach and hitting up the hammock in between, it was a restful and relaxing vacation. Until we decided to go jet skiing …
Let me preface what’s to come by saying that I’m not a water person. I’m not a strong swimmer and I have what I like to think of as a healthy skepticism of, and respect for, the ocean. So maybe jet skiing wasn’t the best activity for me but let’s just say that hindsight is 20/20 (though of course, my vision is not!)
We were traveling with a group of other journalists and jet-skiing was on the itinerary. I’d never jet-skied before but it sounded like a lot of fun, if a little scary. As we pulled into the marina, I saw the size of the jet skis and was a bit intimidated. I told the guide that I couldn’t swim and asked him if he thought it was a good idea for me; he assured me I would be fine. “You don’t need to know how to swim,” he said. “Just stay on your jet ski!” OK. Sure. That makes sense. I guess.
So I decided to go for it, carpe diem and all that jazz, despite my growing sense of unease. Once everyone was on their jet ski, we started our engines and ambled out of the marina at a slow and steady speed. As I got used to the machine (it was really big and heavy and felt like I was learning to ride a motorcycle!), I started to feel better about things. We weren’t going very fast and it was kind of fun. There were two guides with us and they briefed us on the dos and don’ts of riding a jet ski and assured us that one guide would lead the group while the other brought up the rear.
Suddenly, it was go time and before I knew it, everyone in the group had gunned their engines and were off. And I mean OFF. They took off so fast that I was stunned and started to feel a bit panicky. But I was out of the marina and in the open ocean so I couldn’t turn back. I figured my best bet was to try to catch up … and keep up!
I gunned the pedal and my jet ski lurched forward, taking me unwillingly with it. To be honest, I was astonished by the power of the jet ski. I’d never been on one before and didn’t realize how fast they could go. I watched my speed creep up from 15 miles an hour to 20, to 40. I still wasn’t going fast enough to keep up with the group so I gave the gas more pressure and suddenly, I was flying through the open ocean at 70 miles per hour. Isn’t that how fast you drive on the highway? I was so unprepared for this.
Because of my delayed start, I was well behind the group. The guide who was supposed to be bringing up the rear was nowhere to be seen. I was so far behind that I couldn’t actually see anyone. Instead, I was following the trail of white foam, left in the water in the wake of the last jet ski.
I started to feel scared. I couldn’t see anyone from my group and let me repeat: I was out in the open ocean. I couldn’t see the coast line. My jet ski was barreling along at a speed I felt entirely uncomfortable with and my arms were aching from hanging on so tight. The ocean was choppy and I was bouncing over giant waves and just barely staying on. I kept thinking about how I can’t swim and wondering where the hell the guide was.
Using the misty foam in the water ahead of me as my only guide, I followed along as best I could, trying to catch up, when I started to veer towards the left. But just as I started to make the turn, I caught a flash of red out of the corner of my eye. The life vest of one of the people in my group. I think. I decided to change course and follow the speck of red that I could see. Thank God. The other direction would have taken me further off course, headed south towards Cuba.
I finally saw people ahead of me (WAY ahead of me) and started to feel a bit better. I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t lost. I was still flying across the ocean, hurtling over waves at 70 miles per hour, my hands numb from hanging on to that beast of a machine for so long. And then, out of nowhere, came a wall of water. A massive wave that I was not prepared for and certainly not skilled enough to avoid. I didn’t even have time to hold my breath and before I knew it, me and my jet ski had slammed into it. I was able to hang on (just barely) but I swallowed a ton of water and was completely winded, my breath literally taken away. And I was in pain. Crashing into a wave when you’re going 70 miles an hour is like crashing into a brick wall. I think. I don’t know. It hurt like hell. I had barely pulled myself together when a second wave confronted and battered me. My sunglasses were flung from my face and with them, my contact lenses. I was an achy, disheveled, distraught mess.
I don’t know how but I finally made it back to the marina. Everyone else was jacked up, high on adrenaline.
Me? I was soaked. I was exhausted. I was defeated. And I couldn’t see.
I’m laughing (sort of) as I type this – it’s been a while since I’ve relived this experience but at the time, it was anything but funny. When I finally made it back to shore and stepped off that jet ski, I burst into tears. I could barely stand my legs were shaking so badly.
A hearty lunch and a pina colada later, I was feeling much better. But I was angry that I had lost my contacts. The rest of the trip, I couldn’t see properly. I was surrounded by some pretty spectacular eye candy and I couldn’t see it. And then, I had to make my way through the chaos of Miami airport, barely able to read the signs. Ugh. That was definitely one of those times I wished I’d had LASIK. The laser vision correction surgery is quick and by all accounts that I’ve heard, virtually painless. Should I do it?
When considering a laser vision correction procedure like LASIK, it is important to understand what it can and can’t do. Like all medical procedures, there are risks and benefits to learn about and factor into the decision-making process. Fortunately, the American Refractive Surgery Council (ARSC) is a great resource of information for people who are thinking about their vision correction options and are interested in LASIK or other laser vision correction procedures.
I would love to hear about your experiences with LASIK. Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear your thoughts! ARSC is listening, so if you have any questions they can address them on their Insight blog.
This is a sponsored post but all opinions expressed within are my own.