Sooooo, I said I would write this the day after I wrote part 1. We can all see how that worked out. By “check back tomorrow” I was REALLY saying, “check back in one month.” Yikes, sorry friends and family.
Subject at hand: Scuba. And why I will never do it again.
So I think I only went scuba diving three times after I was certified. Time number one was fine. Cynde and I went together kind of as a practice, do we really have this down when we’re on our own or not, run. And we did. We put all of our equipment together just fine, we had air, the air was getting to the regulator, we entered the water, dove, no trouble. Saw a few neat fish, saw a few not so neat sea snakes, done and done.
Time number two.
Before we get going on this particular dive, let me remind and/or tell you about a few things. I am certified to dive down to 60 feet and 60 feet only. The reason for this cut off number is that at 60 feet, you can shoot to the top and not do any damage to your body. At 61 feet, you have to do a three minute safety stop at 15 feet to ensure that your body corrects it’s nitrate levels before you go all the way to the top. If you don’t do this, you get decompression sickness otherwise known as the bends. The safety stop is just that. It’s to ensure that you have made your ascent it a slow and controlled manner. It’s possible to go up slowly enough that the safety stop isn’t actually 100% necessary but it’s wise to do anyway.
This time around it was me, Cynde, my friend Brooke, and Cynde’s new friend Shawna. We were all pretty much brand new to this “sport,” so we just decided to play follow the leader. Cynde was our leader as she had the fancy schmancy new dive computer that told her digitally how much air she had, the depth, and it even beeped at her if she was going to the top too fast or not. Because it had this beeping mechanism, we didn’t need a safety stop. Hahaha, brilliant, I know.
At some point during this dive I realized we had been underwater (and deep underwater) for a while and I decided I should check my air levels. I only had 1100 psi left (out of 3000) and I miiiight have panicked slightly. Or a lot. I had to hold my regulator in my mouth so I wouldn’t spit it out. This is when the realization of man, I am doing something so, so, SO unnatural with this breathing underwater thing. Now, 1100 psi is a lot. You use the air much faster the deeper you go and I had myself convinced that I was about to run out. I started to calm myself down and rationalize that Stephanie, we’re around 60 feet, you’ve got at least 20 minutes worth of air. Except I didn’t because we weren’t at 60 feet. We were at 95 feet. ?!?!?!?!? When did this happen?!?! How did I not notice?!?! Back into panic mode.
Now, panic mode isn’t good when you’re scuba diving for a lot of reasons. My main concern, as we’ve established, was that I was low on air. Well now being in panic mode, I was breathing very shallow and very fast thus using my ever dwindling air supply at a rapid pace. I raced my little fins over to Cynde and motioned for her that I needed to go up. We started our slow ascent by putting a tiny bit of air in our BCDs. Now here’s where things went from panic mode to actually not a good situation. Instead of letting air out as I rose towards the top, I continued adding air. This is bad. This makes you go to the top faster than you should. Even a tiny amount of air will expand when you start to rise. Things compress when you go down, and go back to normal when you come up – even air. So now, rather than let some of the expanded air out, I’m adding air to the already expanding air that’s shooting me towards the top. So now I’m panicking about that. I had so much going on in my head that I didn’t even have time to realize that I was about to pop my head out of the top of the ocean. And then that’s exactly what I did. Once I was there I realized I was fine. I still had about 500 psi and Cynde’s computer had only beeped at us once that we were going to fast. Other than a quicken heart rate I was okay.
The next night, now about 36 hours post dive, my elbows started hurting. I didn’t really think anything about it since I used to get tennis elbow when I was into rock climbing. By the time I got home that night from work, my ankles were swollen and so sore I didn’t want to move. Then it was my shoulders and my knees, and finally my neck by the time I woke up the next morning. I still just thought it was from swimming, using muscles that I didn’t normally use. Silly, silly me. Do you see where this is going?
Our kitchen manager the next day (now 48 hours post dive) asked me, “Daijobu des ka? ” Which is, “Are you ok?” in Japanese. I replied with, “Hai hai, I’m just sore, that dive really took it out of me yesterday.” I explained to him what happened and well, well. Was I ever in for a surprise. I forget that Dana-san was a rescue diver for the Japanese government. He’s so overqualified for dive master and dive instructor it’s ridiculous. He starting shaking his head and asking me questions. “How long were you at 95 feet? How many times did you ascend and descend again? How much air did you use? Did you get lightheaded?” I answered these the best I could. Dana-san grabbed my shoulders and shouted about 4 inches from my face, “You have bends! Bends! Bends!”
Now holy crap. I have what?! Ohhhhh yea. It makes sense. They did tell us in that class that your major joints ache and that you could have joints that swell as an early sign of the bends. Oops. Every hour that night Dana-san made me sit down and let him look at my ankles while I put ice on them. He just shook his head and laughed at me. At least he wasn’t saying, “Hospital. Now.” like he was before. Thankfully my ankles started going down and my shoulders stopped hurting. My elbows had gotten worse, the pain had spread all the way down my arm through my pink finger on both hands, but eventually it all went away too.
Scuba success rate: 50% FAIL.
I said originally there would only be two parts but as you can clearly see, this is going on and on and I still have one more scuba experience that MUST be shared. Part three, and truly the final part is coming at you TOMORROW. For real.