Ever thought you were gonna die?
you ever been so frightened you thought you were going to
die? Not just a little scared, but the kind of fear that
your brain says "oh my God, this is it. This is how
I'm going to die!"
I had that kind of terror. Today. Down at sixty feet. I
had a wee bit o' panic. Ok, I had a full blown panic attack
and I thought I was going to be another statistic, another
page 12, small print headline, "American Woman Drowns
Scuba Diving in Honduras."
When we arrived yesterday it was too late to go diving.
This morning we went to the dive shop, signed in, got our
equipment and went out on the boat we were assigned. The
dive master had us do a buoyancy test and I was having problems
from the beginning. My fins were too lose and fell off in
the water. My new mask was leaking. I couldn't decend and
the dive master gave me another weight. Finally he determined
all was ok and we were ready to head out.
Usually, the first dive of the day is the deepest and this
one was planned to drop down along a reef wall down to about
80 feet. Right away I was nervous; I had really wanted my
first dive in 2 years to be a shallow one. We went in and
I was breathing kind of heavy and shallow. I was very nervous
and had problems descending again. Finally, I was able to
go down and had no problems equalizing my ears. David held
my hand and I tried to remain calm. We were swimming along,
but I wasn't really enjoying myself and was just trying
to keep it together, but water kept leaking into the bottom
of my mask. Then, it seemed that water was coming in my
regulator and I wasn't getting enough air. I tried taking
deeper and deeper breaths and it wasn't helping. I could
feel the panic starting to set in and I tried (really, I
tried) to squash it, but it just took over.
I looked at David and tried to signal to him that I couldn't
breathe and that I was having problems. I kept getting lots
of salt water in my mouth and I had this overwhelming urge
to get to the surface. He tried to calm me down and for
a few moments I tried to just stop and breathe, but it wasn't
working. I truly believed I was going to drown and that
I had to get to the surface. The dive master tried to stop
me to do a safety stop, but I wouldn't listen. I was absolutely
terrified. All the while there was a small, conscious part
of my brain, that was telling me that what I was doing was
wrong and dangerous, but the beast called panic overruled.
Once at the surface, the dive master called the boat over
and I got out and back onto the boat. I could tell he was
angry, but thank god he didn't yell at me. He did tell me
it was very dangerous to come to the surface so quickly
without a safety stop and that I couldn't dive again without
a refresher course. Then he told the captain to give me
some oxygen and went back down to join the others.
David had come back up, a little slower than I had, once
the dive master was there, and was with me on the boat.
I was mortified at myself, horrified that I had put myself,
David, and the dive master in danger. At that point I never
wanted to dive again.
When we got back to the dock, they insisted that I see the
doctor, and when I explained what happened he said I was
probably ok since we were only down 10 minutes or so and
only down to 60 feet. He told me to take it easy for the
rest of the day. So, I went and signed up for a refresher
class for the afternoon, which is something I should have
done from the beginning.
The Old Man and The Sea