I planned to write about the journey between first breath underwater, to rescue diver—
Truth is, I didn’t quite make it.
Not yet, at least.
I couldn’t sleep on my ear for the last few nights; upon every instinctual switch of sleeping sides, the pillow pushed the swollen lump of fluids deeper, deeper, squished against my brain. Every brush around the ear-cavity skin inflamed it just a little more.
But I’m a diver—
People get water in their ears. People get earaches. Bettina was just telling me this morning: I feel sick, congested, I’m nervous to dive.
Don’t be nervous, I said. It’s fine. I’ve dove with a cough. Clients dive with colds.
But little did I know..
Oh, so little, did I know.
Gear intact and connected, I rolled backward off the side of the boat. My inflamed ear canal ballooned, and effectively blocked the water—that’s great, right?
Water pressure weighed heavier, and heavier..
But my ear was good.
Actually, I couldn’t feel anything at all.
Slight ascends, slight descends, search and recovery success—rescue dive practice.
Then the final ascent– I was tugging Jess’ “unresponsive” body.
I approached limp Jess, floating mindlessly, while clapping underwater.
I assessed her unconsciousness—my fingers wrapped around her BCD chest strap, and I leveraged it, spinning her body. Her tank wedged between my knees, I reached over her left shoulder and deflated her BCD. She sank.
I looped my arm underneath her left armpit, and gently secured the regulator in her mouth. Two bodies attached—we sank, then I kicked and we floated, and we sank, then I nursed my inflator hose and we floated.
Up and down, until the air in my BCD enabled a final, gradual ascent of doublebodies—
Upon breaking the surface, my ear screeched.
It cried a little bit.
But I reached over her shoulder, and inflated her BCD and mine. Georgia’s voice echoed in the back of my mind, behind its wimpers.
Just follow that voice, I thought—the pain will subside.
Floating on the surface—one hand under Jess’ tank, my other palm on her forehead with fingers pinching her nose, I high-treaded and struggled to blow two rescue breaths into her mouth. But between that electric drill digging deep, into the crevices behind my brain, visual things became fuzzy..
So there’s a mask now, see-through plastic over her mouth.
So breathe– one thousand, two thousand, three thousand, prepare..
..but breathe. PHEW. Hmph it out.
One thousand, two thousand, three thousand, prepare..
Try to ignore me, it screamed.
You can’t ignore me.
And after that, I couldn’t.
My ear continued to screech, and howl, and I felt the bubbles like kidney stones boil through my blood. Through my sinus passages in depths of my head. And I couldn’t do anything, but just sit there, and feel it.
The tension squandered my mind, creased my eyes and forced them into slits.
And I felt the drill dig deeper, then deeper, creating a passage for those bubbles in the crevices of my mind. I layed, I walked. Painful energy emitted from my body—I released it through constant movement, adrenaline, continually fueled by the pulsing ache.
I thought it would go away.
But I kicked my legs, and clenched my teeth, and tightened my fists. And let the tears run and slip behind hands that shaded desperate expressions.
..And finally, it did. Go away. It disappeared.
But I took away something—
Despite my squinted eyes, and inflamed ears, body expanding with pain pressure.
I managed to laugh.
I managed to smile.
I managed to have grace with myself.
My ear told me that sometimes, people need a break. And it’s not weak.
I want to dive—I want to be in the water.
Taking a break—does not invalidate this passion, or dedication.
Admist the ache, and the pain—I feel this passion.
This desire to float weightless, amidst the underwater creatures.
And this dumb earache can’t take that passion away.
Diving isn’t to blame for an incident like this—
I need to take responsibility.
To take a break.
To respect my body.
So although I may need to rest, I will- because my rest, is my fight—my fight to continue. My fight to dive.