Monday, October 09, 2006

Turtles breathe through their butts....

... one of the infinate wee pieces of information you get glean from the emails that circulate... a fascinating peice of information don't you think?

So.... how was my first foray underwater for my dive course?

Oh Lordy... it was a bit... scratch that... it was exceptionally traumatic!!

First there was trying to get into the wetsuit... Cripes, that was a workout in itself. The only other female on the course slipped into hers like an eel in comparison to my pushing and prodding... a crow bar would have come in handy!! My... ummm... wide... legs meant the suit I had was a large... you wouldn’t know it but apparently if you wear a large you must be 15 ft tall... not 5ft4!! Gak!! Okay, so I exaggerate a little but you try moving about in a suit that is at least a foot too long in the legs!! When I got to the pool our instructor looked at me critically and said... "hmmm it seems to fit okay in some places... but others....?"
I thought he was referring to the crotch being halfway to my knees but he was more concerned about my "Bulky ankles"... like I said there was a lot more suit than I had legs!

It was the first time in the pool with all the gear on. They have a platform on the side where you practice stuff like clearing your mask and using each others regulators etc before we go deep. First our instructor had to put loads and loads of extra weights in me because every time I tried to kneel on the bottom I popped back up to the top like a cork. Then while the other 2 on the course were practising something I fell over of my knees and over onto my back... oh god... it was all like......

shit I’ve fallen over, under the water I can see the surface, aaarrrggghhh, I can’t get up, ok, ok don’t panic you can still breathe remember <> aaarrgghhh... I still can’t get up... aaargh!! Panic panic... NOOO! DON'T PANIC!! BREATHE!!!... what do I do?... ok... keep breathing... that's a good start! Someone will have to help me up... Breathe... breathe... Breathe... oh now the instructor is signalling to see if I’m okay... what’s the signal for "help me"?? Oh shit I cant remember... I can’t remember... and they sure as hell haven’t taught me the signal for... "Oh god I’m stuck on my back like some sort of deformed weeble-who-wobbled-and-DID-fall-down and I’m fucking terrified!!!"

I can laugh about it now but in the moment I was nearly shitting myself (except that the wetsuit was not mine so I had to restrain my bodily functions in that regard). After practising on the platform for about and hour and a half we went out into the middle to descend to the bottom. I was still feeling a bit shaky from the turtle incident (and it doesn’t help to hear turtles breathe out their butt... because I only LOOKED like a stranded turtle!! Butt breathing was NOT an option for me). I went down about 2 feet and AAAAAH!!! Wicked vicious cramp in my calf muscle... owie owie owow!! Managed to remember to signal I was going back up again... so felt as though I had progressed a little since my previous... er... misfortune accident. The instructor massaged (read "squeezed the livin’ shit out of") my leg then said "Right now? Okay lets go... if it happens again on the bottom point to your leg and I’ll massage it again"... HUH???... WHAT!!! You mean I have to stay underwater while I’m in major pain? Waaah I want my mummy!!

Once I’d been down for a minute or two (without the cramp returning) I started to relax a bit... (mental note... the regulator stays in your mouth without you having to bite down on it like a pitbull with lockjaw) ... okay... breathe... floaty... breathe... maybe this wouldn’t be so bad... floaty-float float...breathe... Ha!! I think I'm getting the hang of this... hang on... oh no!... Oh crap what’s that?... My flipper has fallen off! Here we go again!! Okay breathe, relax... there’s no way I’m going to get that back on underwater with all this gear on... not without doing the turtle thing and lying on the bottom... and how much fun will that be? Okay, for now lets just try and recover it and worry about getting it back on later... Kick (the remaining flipper)... zoom in a circle... Kick... zoom in a circle... Kick... (you get the idea...)
The instructor was busy watching the chap in our class practice clearing his mask... in the finish the other girl in my class saw my predicament and helped me out…. So I gave her a big doubled handed "OK" signal because thankyou is not in the sign vocabulary.

After that I managed to get through the further practice runs of "losing" the regulator and retrieving it as well as filling and clearing my mask without losing my shit yet again... So I guess some of the lesson had stuck to my brain! But I have to admit I was really quite relieved when we got the signal to ascend... If I say so myself I think I managed to ascend really well... but in hindsight I probably just didn't want to have to do a repeat perfomance if I mucked it up... I guess I was ready to get the hell out of there!!

I am hoping like hell that this is not someone telling me "Diving is not for you" and at this stage am putting it down to being so nervous. Hell, there is so much to remember... a bit like when you learn to drive... you have to know where everything is, how it works, when to use it, the signals and protocols, the check of gauges, watch the mirrors, watch out for others, look in the mirrors, not bunnyhop and look like a dick (Heh!)... except when you learn to drive a car you do not rely on tank with a hose attached to provide you with the vitals of life!!

Anyhow, I am pretty confident that it can only get better... And have my fingers crossed that all the scary things have already happened (bad things only happen in 3's - don't they?)... from here on it’ll be a piece of cake, a doddle, easy peasy... PLEASE GOD!!!

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