Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I was a terrible SCUBA diver!

When I was living in Hawaii and working as a traveling nurse I decided to tag along with my buddies and learn to SCUBA dive.

It is a miracle that I am alive today.

(The title of this post says it all! )

In order to get a diving certification the novice diver has to do a set number of dives and perform specific skills...

I thought that I would join Rachel at Once Upon A Miracle today and tell this diving story. I am hoping you will join in this fun. I want to read a great story about you next!

This is my true story and I’m sticking to it:

A diving boat was floating on the turquoise tropical waters of Hawaii. The warm water was choppy and the dive master ordered his students into the water.

I tumbled backwards, into the water, from the edge of the boat. My feet flipped above my head and into the water, my body following.

The water was warm and clear. This should have felt comforting, but the swells were huge. As I rested at the surface, the water rose in giant peaks around me. The boat was intermittently obscured, as I remained at the bottom of the walls of water, looking up at the wave-like swells that never crashed into whitewash.

This is scary. I really don’t like this after all. Oh goodness, my stomach. Oh gosh, I am feeling so nauseated with this rocky ride.

Soon, I could see my dive master in the water. The other students were also bobbing at the surface. In a large gesture, the instructor motioned for the team to begin our decent.

Oh my gosh, I think I am going to throw up. Oh no, I don’t want to dive. But I can’t stay here…

I released the air from my flotation vest and down I went, submerging into the depths below.

I immediately went to the gently kicking feet of my dive master. Wanting to be close enough to grab him if the nausea worsened, I stuck to him like an undersea parasite.

Down, down, down. We finally reached a huge outcropping of ancient hardened lava. As volumes of gases emerged from the underwater flow of magma, hollow tubes were left behind.

The scenery was interesting, but the growing feeling of nausea distracted me and kept me from finding pleasure in the moment.

Oh, I am going to need to throw up. No, no! Pass nausea, pass!

When diving basics are taught to new SCUBA divers, instructions are given on how to vomit underwater. I’m not kidding! You are supposed to take a breath in the regulator (mouth piece), vomit into that mouthpiece (it will exit the same place that an exhaled breath exits), and then use the air in your lungs to blow the rest of the gunk out. I was not eager to see if I could perform this “skill” without DROWNING!

Soon, I had no choice, I needed to surface! Tugging on the foot of the instructor, I did the hand motion for “something is wrong”, pointed to my stomach, and then pointed to the surface. He made some motions to his assist and then accompanied me to the surface.

At the surface I…well…let’s just say, fed the fish. Sorry. Sorry!

(The dive master actually told me he never heard anyone vomit as loud as I did. Nice.)

“Julie, this is our last dive. Please, will you come back down. Let’s finish your skills. It won’t take long.” After a minute of contemplating my stomach, I agreed to return to the bottom.

The last skills went surprisingly well. All of the students were able to finish the list of things needed to complete their certifications. I was at the bottom for another 20 minutes or so. My stomach held out, not great, but good enough.

The ascent to the surface began after another gesture from our leader. Slowly, I began to head towards the light above. When I was about 15 feet from the surface I notice some long, translucent pink “ropes” surrounding me. Before I knew it, these slimy, thick strands were dragging along my body. Wherever they touched, I felt a sharp burning pain.

After rising to the surface, and nearly in tears, I pulled myself up the long ladder to the deck of the boat. I describe the underwater scene of being attacked by a pink alien to the boat crew.

“You’ve been stung by a Portuguese Man-of-War,” the crew member said “They are not dangerous unless you are allergic to them. They just hurt like heck.”

Soon another dive instructor brought over some meat tenderizer and coated my irritated skin with it.

As the boat headed to shore, I laid on the deck with my eyes closed, nauseated and in pain.

A single thought went through my mind...

This is the last time I'm SCUBA diving… EVER!


Rachel said...

I'm so sorry for laughing... because I truly do feel bad for you! I couldn't even handle SNORKELING in Hawaii (can't breathe through my mouth, don't ask) ... you are one brave soul!

Seriously, if they teach you "how" to throw up, does that mean it kinda happens often??? And the man-o-war... girl, I think you have much better luck on terra firma!

Thank you so much for joining along - I really hoped you would! You are a natural storyteller and I loved giggling along in sympathy (if that makes any sense)!

chickadee@afamiliarpath said...

i would be terrible at it too. i can hardly watch it on tv. it makes me so nervous.

Shanda said...

What an experience! I was so happy for you that you didn't actually throw up under water...I can't imagine! When you got stung by the man-o-war I'm sure your instructor was just hoping to get you to shore alive & well!

So you are certified and never Scuba diving again? ;) Maybe if you ever got to Mexico you could try again - awesome diving in MUCH shallower water!

Beth E. said...

You lead a very exciting life! I admire your bravery and fortitude. ME scuba diving??? AIN'T NO WAY!!! Haha

Semi-Slacker Mom said...

You have my kind of luck! That's why I do not scuba dive.

My friend got stung by a man-of-war when we were litle girls at the beach.

Becca~TimeWellSpent said...

How terrible~I hate to admit I'm laughing though! Goodness what a story!

Anonymous said...

It certainly seemed like the fates were conspiring against you that day. Maybe you're right in thinking you should never do it again!!!

But, really too bad you couldn't enjoy some of the view down there!

Lori said...

You're alot braver than I am. I could never dive. The one and only time I went snorkling all I could think about was JAWS and eels and piranhas...lol.

Mr. Daddy said...

Well guess diving isn't for every one,,,,LOL
heck of a way to find out though....

Helene said...

Goodness, ugh....my stomach was turning just reading this post. There's no way on earth I'd ever scuba dive...I just don't think my nerves could handle it. It's funny because as you mentioned puking I was wondering "how does one puke under water?" and then you wrote about it.

I could definitely see why you'd never do it again...but you're a much braver soul than I. And you even agreed to go back down after puking...wow, you are my hero!

April said...

You are much braver than I am for even trying scuba diving, so hold your head high! I can snorkle without any problems, but the thought of going down under the water DEEP makes my heart skip a beat. I'm a big ol' chicken when it comes to something like that!

Getting stung by the jellyfish would be just my luck, as well! I've heard that can be so painful...happened to my dad long ago! If I were you, I'd keep my feet on dry land from now on! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Young lady, your life has been exciting enough that you could write a book and perhaps you SHOULD write a book.

SoCal SCUBA Diver said...

SCUBA diving gets better, trust me. I have to say though - even though parts were tragic - that was one of the funniest SCUBA diving stories that I've ever read.

Elaine at Matters of the Heart) said...

One - this is something I never knew. Two - GROSS Three - I could not help but laugh. Glad you were not allergic.

Brooke said...

You are a wonderful story teller!

Miranda @ Traveling Treasures said...

Oh my goodness!! Glad you were able to make it to the surface before "feeding the fish", that could have been really dangerous. Sorry you got stung and glad you weren't allergic.

Paige said...

Part of me wants to hang out with you for a day and part of me wants to run!! : ) Couldn't someone have just peed on you to take away the sting? I know I heard that works. : )

Mighty M said...

You're braver than me - I would never have even tried it!