Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tera dives....and Dad gets a little more gray....

Double Standard  (Noun) :  a situation in which two people, groups, etc., are treated very differently from each other in a way that is unfair to one of them.

Thank you for the definition.

When Toby first took an interest in diving, I was all for it.  I was right there with him throughout all of the classes and certification dives.  I made plans to go see all of these awesome places and to take awesome underwater pics of us and the marine life that we encountered.  Diving would be just the sort of adventure that would bring the family closer together.  We could travel the world and create tons of fond memories.

One trip to the ER and one nasty bout of motion sickness later, I have hung up my dive mask; happily accepting the fact that the best place for me to be is on the beach.

Then Tera decided that she wanted to dive.......

The over protective dad in me felt my chest and sphincter tighten and I just knew that I could feel new gray hairs forming on my head.

This is where the double standard comes in.....Even though I did not have a good experience with it, I am still okay with Toby diving.

Tera?  Hey, this is my little girl, dammit........

But, despite my worries, I know I can't hold her back.  Tera was not a happy camper when she was informed that she was not old enough to take diving lessons last year with the rest of the family and she has been impatiently counting down the days until her tenth birthday.

She's only nine now.  But, when you have an uncle who is dive certified and has a large pool in his back yard, it provides an opportunity for some early exposure. (I, too, am dive certified......But you don't want me teaching anyone to dive!)

Having Tim teach Tera how to dive does make me feel a lot better about the situation.  I can think of no one that I trust more with Tera than Tim.  The one thing I have learned about my brother is that he may be crazy, but he is very well educated on all matters he pursues.  He knows exactly when he needs to be serious and is very thorough in regards to safety.

Equipment Check

Learning about the BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) 

Learning to read the pressure gauge

First breath with regulator
Clearing water out of the dive mask

My trip to the ER was nobody's fault but my own.  It's one thing to dive in a pool; something completely different in a lake.

To cut to the chase, I did not do my due diligence in regards to buoyancy control.  When you dive, you learn about the art of attaining neutral buoyancy in the water.  When you are neutrally buoyant, you do not have to work as hard, fatigue is lessened, and it just makes your diving experience much more enjoyable.

Ways to control your buoyancy include your BCD (Buoyancy Control Device), a weight belt, and controlling your breathing.

In all my previous dives I had no problem whatsoever with my buoyancy --- but I never dove any deeper than thirty feet.

I ran into trouble during my deep water certification.  Long story short, I failed to correctly use my BCD and worked way too hard to get to sixty feet.  On top of that, despite being well informed, I was not prepared for the cold shock that awaited me at that depth.

In the ocean, you don't have to worry about a thermocline; in a lake that's just part of the gig.

The thermocline is basically the separation of warm water from cold --- and it happens faster than you think.  When it hit me, it felt as if I had just been thrown into a deep freeze.  I involuntarily sucked in and lost control of my breathing.  Add to that fact that my lungs were already burning from over work due to my buoyancy problem and things went down hill from there.

An experienced diver would have motioned for help, found a place to rest, and just sat there until he/she got his/her breathing under control.  As soon as everything was ok, the dive could resume as if nothing had ever happened.

But I was not an experienced diver.  All I knew was that I couldn't get enough air in my lungs.  I knew all too well that I was supposed to stop and decompress at thirty feet......Screw that -- I need air.....

The end result was not a good feeling; for which I am thankful that I was in a little bit of a daze.  I remember my extremities going numb and having a shooting pain from my jaw all the way down to my fingertips.  The rest was just kind of an in and out experience.

I remember Life Flight being called in but was fortunate that the dive masters had everything under control before the helicopter made a landing.

I felt really bad for my friend who was teaching the class.....I was his first ever incident.  I felt like I totally failed him.

I was taken to the ER where I went through a battery of tests.  X-Ray, EKG, Urinalysis, Blood samples.....there were others but I forgot what they were.

It was just a bad day.....and it was no one's fault but mine.  I was lazy in the classroom and paid for it in the water.

Two weeks later I went back and completed my deep water dive.  I just wish I could say it felt like redemption, but it didn't.....I'm not used to failing and the accident did a lot of damage to my psyche....

So now that Tera is diving, I am determined to help her learn from my mistakes.  You can bet your ass that she when she gets out of class that she will have another class with me.  My little girl is going to know all the tricks like the back of her hand.....She will not go through what I went through.

I sat on the deck, amaretto sour in hand, and admired Tim at work.  He has always been a people person, a strong communicator, and has a gift for explaining things in a way that a nine year old girl can easily understand.

Like I said, I can think of no one I trust more with Tera than Tim.  I kicked back in my chair and felt at ease.

Then Tera went under for the first time.....and I felt the air leave my lungs.

I shot out of my chair and stood on the edge of the deck, worried.....Shit, I should have had a few more drinks.

But everything went fine.  Tera went under and stayed under for almost twenty minutes swimming lap after lap after lap.  It was almost as if Tera was meant to live under the water.

The ocean is waiting for her.......I better prepare myself.

I never did make a dive in the ocean.  It all started with a motion sickness patch.  Knowing that I have a queasy stomach, I had brought Dramamine to take before getting on our cruise ship.  Then it was recommended that I try a patch.  Ok, whatever.

I only figured it out after our trip was over, but when I put on the patch I basically went blind.  That revelation occurred on my first night on the ship when we attended a formal dinner.  I looked at the menu and the whole thing was just a blurry mess.  I leaned over to Karla.

"Dear, I can't read the menu."

Karla: "What do you mean?  It's in English."

"NO, dammit.....that's not what I mean.  I literally can't read the menu...It's all blurry."

The entire trip was a blurry mess....I couldn't see shit; which did nothing to help me get excited about the next day's dive in Cozumel.

The next morning, blind as a bat, I waded through the streets of Cozumel in a torrential downpour; water up to my shins and thinking there is no way in hell we were going to dive.

The dive shop had other ideas......

As we made our way to the dock I could see the big, rough, waves beating the hell out of the boat and tossing it around like a rag doll.  The sky was gray and overcast and looked nothing like the tropical pictures on all the vacation guides I had been perusing through.

The personnel at the dive company also did not appear as I thought they would.  Instead of the (obviously doctored) bright white smiles and sunshiny demeanor seen in the guides I saw set jaws, squinty eyes, and a look of grim determination.....We were going to dive, dammit!!!!

As soon as I sat down in the boat I knew I had made a mistake.  The boat felt as though it had dropped out from under me only to be violently shot upward as a big wave smacked it with a great amount of force.

The patch did a wonderful job of rendering me sightless, but it did nothing to help my stomach. About halfway to our destination I pulled the plug...There was no way in hell I was getting in the water.

So the captain of the boat handed me a five gallon bucket and motioned me to follow him to the back of the boat,  I sat down.  He leaned over.....


Whatever you say brother, just get me the hell off this boat.

About thirty feet from shore the captain weighed anchor and told me to jump.  The current was rough and I, sarcastically exaggerating, estimated that by the time I made the shore I might be a mile or two down from the jump off point.  I cursed the jolly captain and prayed he would get either a nasty bout of scurvy or have an octopus drag him by his crotch down to Davy Jones' locker.

The best part was after I jumped into the water I gazed up in time to see a trash bag with all my shit in it being hurled at me.  Awesome....Let's just hold this bag over my head as I swim with one hand.....I'm so up for the challenge.

When I finally made it to shore I rolled over on my back and just lay  I knew at that moment in time my diving days were over.  Eventually I got up, found a bathroom, and ripped off the wet suit that I did not deserve to wear.

I put on some dry clothes, (the bag never hit the water......still pissed about it, though), turned down a massage, went to some little shop, bought a knockoff pair of Oakley's, and became best friends with the shop owner after I tipped him a dollar.

"Yuu cahm back....breeng familee and I hook yuu up goood...."

Yeah, ok bud, let's not get too chummy.....

All in all......I would still cruise again.  The patch worked well enough on the cruise ship to make it enjoyable.  I got to pet a stingray and had my first taste of Cuban coffee ( was awesome)

But, next time I told Karla that we should go all inclusive.  The drinks were way too expensive.