On Traveling and Surfing Semi-BlindTuesday, December 04, 2012
This is how I've been seeing the world for most of my adult life.
I was in high school when I discovered I was nearsighted and had to wear thick glasses. In college I progressed to contact lenses. By the time I started working, I had been used to wearing contacts and making sure I get fresh packs on a regular basis.
When I started to travel, I realized how difficult it was to go exploring semi blind. Contact lenses are crazy expensive in the US and in Europe and you could never get them without a doctor's prescription. Most Asian countries sell them cheap and in steady supply but it can be difficult to get the right brand and prescription. Not to mention always needing a lens case and contact lens solution wherever you go.
|Photo Credit: maikel_nai|
Chichi and I both have bad eyesight and shared a contact lens bottle during our Southeast Asian jaunt last year. We often complained and thought about getting LASIK surgery before going on our long term backpacking trip. But it was tough to give up half of our 6 month travel budget.
It became hellish when I got into surfing and active sports. I was forced to surf with my contact lenses on and I've lost one or both lenses on several occasions. Imagine trying to ride a big wave, getting sprayed in the face, losing your lenses and paddling your way back to shore semi blind. It was downright dangerous!
Then it got worse.
2 months ago, I left my contact lenses in my eyes overnight- something every eye doctor will warn you against doing. I couldn't open my eyes the next day. They were both swollen shut. The doctor diagnosed that I had eye ulcers which means my eyes were heavily scarred by infection.
His verdict: I could never wear contact lenses again or risk going blind!
I couldn't believe it! "But I surf! How will I do that now?", I asked. "Well, you're probably going to be the first blind surfer", he replied. Bad joke. I didn't want to follow his advice so I asked for a second opinion. And a third. And they all told me the same thing.
But because I am bull-headed and surf addicted, I challenged myself.
I had been invited to cover the Majestic Puraran Surfing Cup in Catanduanes. And I couldn't leave without surfing those gorgeous Majestic waves myself. I had to risk surfing overhead waves semi-blind in shallow water or stay on the shore and watch!
But I didn't go all that way just to sunbathe.
I grabbed my 6'6 fish surfboard Fuego and paddled out with a couple of new friends. Ryan Soria of Puraran Surf Resort and Brett Hembrough of Surf Quest Travel. They quickly charged and rode those heavy waves but I had to be more selective. I knew that making a mistake could mean going home with "souvenirs" carved into my skin. A handful of waves and even more wipe outs later, I had gotten comfortable in the water.
All of a sudden, huge waves came at us so fast that we didn't have time to swim out. We paddled for our lives, but all of us got caught inside. The current pulled me down and I surfaced with a cut on my lip and scratches on my leg. I still wanted to surf but I knew I had to wait another day when the Majestics were kinder and my vision, better.
|Photo Credit Tanya Hotchkiss|
Wakeboarding was a totally different story.
It was very challenging but it didn't stop me from having fun.
I can say the same thing about my condition so far. Traveling and surfing half blind can be very challenging- dangerous even. I can only imagine more discomfort when I finally climb Mount Pulag and have my glasses fog up. And bungee jumping and sky-diving will be very different if you can hardly see anything, right? Nearsightedness hasn't stopped me from snorkelling in Coron, but what if I finally decide to chase whale sharks in Sorsogon?
I've made a decision that will change how I see the world. Today, I'm off to the American Eye Center to get LASIK surgery. See you soon?
Excited for new eyes,
Sole Sister Lois
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