Friday, July 18, 2014

Seeing A Whole New World 063014

Surf: Choppy, 2-3 feet with occ. 4
Atmosphere: Blinding sunset
Winds: On shore
Water: trunkable

So, I am a man of my word.  If I say I'm going to do something, I will do it, no matter what.  One of my promises to myself was to get laser eye surgery done, and after many consultations and second opinions, I got PRK surgery done.

For those of you who do not know, I have acute astigmatism.  My right eye is a -8.0 and my left eye is -7.75.  In other words, I am legally blind without glasses.  For the last nine years, I have surfed without glasses on, because I have lost a pair of glasses in the Ocean, and lost two pairs of contacts also.  Tally that up to about $900.  So, I decided to surf without glasses or contacts.  My peers would ask, "HOW THE HELL CAN YOU SEE?'  Well, I don't, to tell you the truth.  I see at the last second that I have a wave to paddle for, turn around, and gun for it.  Finally, Pat, my beloved roommate and boyfriend of Mel, said to me, "You need to get your eyes fixed kid."  That was a resounding mantra towards me during my Mexico trip, and so I promised not only the boys but myself that I will get my eyes fixed. 

PRK surgery is the "older" version of LASIK.  While LASIK is minimally invasive, PRK is invasive.  LASIK cuts a small semi-circle in your cornea, then laser beams zap the eye to correct the vision, and the cornea is flapped back on top, so the only part that needs to heal is the semi-circle area that was cut.  PRK shaves off the cornea, laser beams the eye, then puts a protective contact lens on to act as a band-aid to let the cornea under it heal.  After a few days, the contact lens is removed, and the cornea has to heal a bit more for the eyes to be able to see again. 

Let me be the first to tell you that this process is fucking painful.  I couldn't hold my eyes open longer than 3 minutes, and when I did, the eyes were super sensitive to light.  MY GOD.  I was practically blind for four days.  But then came the day to remove the protective contact lens so my eyes could heal.  I go into the doctor's office, and have them removed.  My eyes start hurting like crazy.  I start tearing up a deluge of water from my eyes, all over the front desk.  The doctor is called to the front, and I am rushed back into his office.  "You tore the cornea that just healed over your right eye," he told me.  I TORE IT?? no fucking way. 

Who knows, maybe I did, maybe he did, maybe he took the contact lens off too soon.  I don't know.  But that day I couldn't keep my eyes open at all.  Even having my eyes closed hurt.  I can't believe I drove from the doctors office to my work with those eyes.  I had to leave my car and take a cab home.  For the next five days, I sat in my house, eyes closed, blinds shut, and listening to the television.  Luckily, there were a lot of left overs to eat so I didn't go hungry.  The World Cup was on, so I had that playing in the background the whole time. 

One thing I discovered was that TENNIS IS FUCKING BORING when you can't see.  There's no play-by-play, no commentary, until the ball goes out.  All I heard was the grunting sounds of the players, the rally back and forth, and then "Oh what a great shot by Azarenka!!"  I don't know what the fuck happened!!! how boring. 

So, I spent about ten days in the dark, with my eyes closed.  I must say, I grew sensitive to sounds in that short period of time.  It wasn't by choice, I was forced to.  I spent a lot of time on the sofa or on my bed, listening to audio books.  When I could, I would practice my pop ups, do push-ups, and do one-legged leg lifts with a medicine ball in one hand.  I had to do something to keep my body from stiffening up.  And slowly, my vision started improving and the pain subsided.  The day came to take off my protective contact lens off, and I could feel my eyes were ready to just see again.  The doctor removed the contact lens off my right eye and said that my cornea had healed perfectly, and that I should be seeing an improvement every day.  That was June 26th. 

On Monday, June 30th, I asked my doctor if I could go swim.  He said I was cleared to swim, surf, do whatever.  Just don't rub my eyes too hard just yet.  I had assumed I was cleared to swim that morning, so I had my swim stuff packed in my car already.  I posted on my facebook that I was cleared to swim.  Dais replied to me to come paddle out with him and Khang that afternoon.  How awesome would that be? 

For some reason, my boss had to leave early that day.  Which meant I was able to leave early.  I called Dais and he said that they were just leaving for the beach.  I told them I would meet them there.  I was stoked.

I drove towards my house, and saw the traffic was getting thick.  If I stopped by home, would I get stuck in more traffic?  I called Dais again.  "Do you guys have an extra board I can use?  I have a pair of boardshorts and a towel already, but don't wanna go home." 

"Khang, do we have a board for KK?  Yea, we do! We got the fish! We'll leave it out on the sand for you with a leash."

I was stoked. 

I parked right near Khang's car - my old car's twin.  Burgundy Toyota Sienna soccer mom van.  I got changed and heard a siren.  Some boys were on top of the roof of their million dollar house along the strand and using a megaphone to harass runners and people passing by.  "Hey, sir!  Sir, no running above 8 miles per hour.  Slow down! You, roller-blading! Slow down."  On and on they went. 

I put two hours in the meter and headed out to the sand. 

I could see from the parking lot that the fish was stabbed into the sand, ready for me to take her for a ride.  WOW, I can fucking SEEE!!!!

I did my routine stretch, and strapped on the leash.  I could see the people in the line up clearly, and I could make out where the waves were breaking.  It felt surreal.  I paddled out, and the water was so warm.  I couldn't believe it.  I duck dived, closing my eyes since they were still in the healing process.  But I could SEE. 

I saw Dais immediately.  It was pretty crazy, to actually SEE my friends in the water.  He was riding the CI Average Joe.  Khang was there too, riding his New Flyer.  We exchange pleasantries, and I get straight to work.

The fish is by Christenson, and set up as a glassed on twin fin.  It was a solid board, but very stiff.  I had no problem taking off and my pop-ups were perfect on it.  Thank you past self for practicing pop-ups even while I was blind!  I was able to pump down the line and cover a lot of real estate off of my first wave.  The inside was consistent, but all I did was wait.  No rush to get back out there. 

There were some really clean waves despite the wind being on it.  It wasn't too bad actually.  I saw Dais do some things on his board I have never seen him do.  His pop up seemed stronger and faster.  And he looked lighter on his feet too.  He got some long rides that connected to the inside. 

Khang was waiting for the bigger sets on the outside as always.  While I fought the current, he let it drift him further north.  He caught a big outside set but the thing just closed out after he popped up.  It's been a while since I got to surf with the two guys because our schedules don't coincide, so it wasn't pretty amazing that we got to surf together on my first day back in the water.  They are my childhood friends that I call family. 

I got to my feet a few times, not falling once, pumping down the line as much as I could on every wave.  Again, this board was pretty stiff so it was hard to garnish a top turn.  But hey, it's not the bow and arrow, its the Indian, right Donny D?

After one and a half hours, I called it a day.  It was getting cold, and although I wanted to WATCH the sunset from the water, I was done.  I didn't want to push my luck on the first day back.  I got my fair share of waves, saw my friends catch a good amount of waves, and hooted some strangers into waves too.  An afternoon well spent in the water. 

My vision is only going to get better from now on, I thought to myself.  This thought made me giggle inside.  I can't believe I've been surfing BLIND for nine years.  It took my stubborn ass to finally bite the bullet, spend $3,500, spend ten days in the dark, and finally! I CAN SEE!!! No  more blurry vision when I wake up, no more uncomfortable contact lenses, no more wiping my glasses after a kiss and her forehead rubs on my face, no more dancing worrying about my glasses flying off, no more prescription sunglasses to carry around, no more no more no more!!! It was a whole new world that I am able to see now, and I absolutely love it. 

Mahalos Mother Ocean!!