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    Optometric lessons learned from my jet ski

    There are things that you encounter as you grow up that make you smile so big (or make you unbelievably jealous) that you feel you must have that thing when you grow up.  For my husband, that was a jet ski. Being from Wisconsin, I was more familiar with a snowmobile, but a jet ski sounded fine to me. We got two. And yes, they were fun to ride.  But I learned a great many things—which I can apply to both life and optometry—from that idiot machine. 


    1. Read directions

    There are reasons why directions are written. In this case, it was so you do not sink your ski. I learned that when you are told do a task a certain way from someone with more experience, you do what he says—in the order he tells you, without fail. I learned this when we failed to follow the steps, leaving our little drain ports open when we put our ski in the water. Not familiar with this procedure? If you don’t close the holes, water floods your ski and it sinks. The kicker is it sinks slowly so you don’t notice until you are in the middle of the lake. 

    Optometry lesson: See one, do one exactly like they did it. Learning a new procedure? Do it exactly like they say until you can rattle of the steps in your sleep. Then you may venture off course because when you burn off that cornea after changing the steps of a betadine treatment, you can fix that in your sleep. 

    Related: Dear Optometry's Class of 2015

    2. Do not panic

    You can always take a breath. Your ski may be two feet below the water line, but you still have time to assess the situation and make a rational decision before it sinks to the bottom of the lake. 

    Optometry lesson: This applies to any ocular/medical emergency, including when a patient rubs a hole in her cornea “and stuff squirts out.” Until you have been in an emergent situation, you don’t know how you might react. Take a breath before you do anything, then think through what is going on. You may have to talk to yourself out loud. This may be confusing to those around you, but do not let it faze you. I put this into motion when my daughter put her arm through a window. My mother thought I was insane listening to my list, but I got my bleeding child to the ER like a pro. And when it is over, you will be amazed that the world kept spinning like your little crisis never happened, and you gain perspective. 

    3. Little pieces fall into little spaces and create havoc

    Tracy Schroeder Swartz, OD, MS, FAAO
    Tracy Schroeder Swartz currently practices at Madison Eye Care Center in Madison, Alabama. She serves as Education Chair for the ...


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