Blind Buddy Carry

Scuba class last night was a serious challenge. In the last four weeks I have made it through the basics of learning how to assemble, check and don (and doff!) the equipment, both above and under water. I can clear my mask, remove and replace my regulator and even buddy breath. But last night. Wow. Last night Bob said the terrifying phrase “And now let’s do our blind buddy carry.”

I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like it, but I had to raise my hand anyway and ask what it was. (I have had a lot of reluctance to researching the test, so stuff keeps coming as a surprise. This is not good. I’m not good with surprises.)

A blind buddy carry is when one diver has lost their mask and is led to safety by their buddy. Sounds pretty  good. I mean it’s nice to know that if I lose my mask to some plastic eating fiend of the depths, my buddy will step in and guide me back to shore or the boat.

Holy freaking panic, Batgirl! I was in shallow water at the time and just the thought of the high school girl who was my partner being responsible for me while I was BLIND freaked me out. Then there’s the whole putting your naked open eyes in water thing. And last, but not least, I am one of those people who dive into the pool holding my nose. I swim with a nose clip. I HATE having my eyes and nose exposed to water. Plus, I was really blind. Without my mask, I couldn’t really even see my hand, just a blur a few inches from my face.

I asked if I could practice in shallow water, since the other fools/heroes were going straight to deep water to try this. I took off my mask and tried to put my face in the water. Nope. Again. A little longer, but maybe 5 seconds. Again. I asked Bruce for some suggestions and he said to just sit down in the water with my mask off and my regulator in my mouth and breathe. But for some reason, this just freaked me out and I started to hyperventilate. I got really panicky and couldn’t breath.

Bob came over, which ordinarily is the key to my relaxing and getting whatever it is, but that just made me want to cry and the panic attack got worse. So off comes the weight belt, the gear, the mask, the snorkel and I had to unzip my diveskin and sit down (head above water) and cool off. Wow. That was NOT fun. It probably took me 10 or 15 minutes between the beginning of the attack and the end to get control. Underwater, that probably would have killed me, as my reaction was to strip down all the protective gear keeping me alive. Hmm. Interesting.

Okay, so then I got my head in the game and kept saying mind over body. Mind over body. So alone (well they were a few feet away) I did put in my regulator and started over again. Without the mask and underwater. First, don the gear. Without the weight belt it was hard to stay under, I bob. Then, mask still off, I laid down on the bottom and put my weight belt on doing the roll-over technique. So there I was lying on the floor of the pool (shallow end) with my mask off and pretty much blind. I decided it was actually better to be led around by a high school girl than to be on my own!

Bob came back over just as I finished taking my regulator out and replacing it (both methods) and had practiced donning the mask and removing it underwater a few times. He said he was going to be my buddy and take me through the drill. Okay, soldier up!

He suggested we go in to the deep end and start there, but I was afraid I would panic, so I countered with the suggestion that he lead me to the deep end with the mask off so I could get used to the feeling. It worked, but I got so disoriented that I had no idea I was on the bottom of the pool until my fins touched bottom. Then Bob gave me back my mask and I put it on, cleared it and got back my vision. Then he made me take it off again and we did another circuit. Then, mask on, I did the doff and don, mask clearing and weight belt replacement roll. Then the crazy bastard points to his mask (which means watch me) and he did a complete flip/roll in the water on the bottom of the pool. Then he points to me. Seriously? So I decided not to think about it and I just did it. I was disoriented, but it wasn’t so bad. He said later I did it perfectly, which just showed him that it was my head that was getting in the way.

Duh! That’s always my problem. I could have told him that!

I was a little shaky by the time we got back up – it was 9:30 pm and I hadn’t eaten for 4 hours. Not good. So I got my protein bar and had a bite (still in gear and in the pool!) and kept going. Spent the rest of the time under water with the class and regaining my comfort in the water.

I really need to practice more. Now that boot camp is ending I can start swimming (without my mask and without my nose clip) to increase my confidence in my sense of direction and ability to not inhale water. (Did that on one of the mask clearings and managed not to shoot to the surface. Not as scary as I thought it would be to have water up my nose at the bottom of the pool.)

So I guess I need to google the SSI dive test and see what else I have to do to get certified!

Gotta get going – yoga starts in a few minutes – have a great day!

Scuba

Had to reschedule my scuba class on Friday to deal with the car repairs (and of course, the stress eating). But they very nicely let me attend last night’s class. That group is in about the same spot and one of the instructors is the same – Bruce. Got in the pool late and had some problems with my regulator during the “doff and don”. This is a completely insane maneuver where you sit on the bottom of the pool and take off your gear and put it back on. Well I did it above water, I did in shallow water and when we got down to bottom of the deep pool, I was ready! Took off my stuff but as I was taking it off, my regulator broke. Or I thought it did. Well, I panicked and shot to the surface. THE EXACT thing you are not supposed to do. Fred said you can get an embolism and die doing that in only 4 feet of water. That’s comforting. But I went back and did some deep breathing and did all my skills again. Damn thing broke again. This time I didn’t panic and was just reaching for my alternate breather when the instructor sent me up to the surface. I thought it was because he thought I was going to panic again, but he said he saw the mouthpiece break off and wanted to fix it. So – we fixed it, I went back down and ta da! I did my doff and don.   I can now flood my mask and clear it, take out my regulator and put it back in both with a full breath and no breath. I can do buddy assisted breathing (have only tried this in shallow water as we ran out of time last night, but I’m not so freaked out by that one for some reason).

I’m starting to think I can finish this and get certified. There’s a certification trip to Cozumel in a few weeks. I would LOVE to go, so I’m going to see about juggling the budget and see if Fred and I can go as a slightly late anniversary trip. It is only three days, but costs about $1500. With only one job, the big ski trip is a huge part of our budget and doesn’t leave room for much else. But I’m determined that we are going to be healthy and skiing is something that Fred LOVES to do, so he gets out there and exercises for 4-6 hours a day for a month. It really cranks his fitness level up a notch and gets him in shape and then he manages to maintain it it up for the year. I figure he’ll get to ideal weight in about 6 years! But that beats going the other direction.

Gotta jet – I’m meeting my sister this morning to see her new bar. I can’t wait!

Scuba Class

Had my first scuba class on Friday night. Not as scary as I remember. I easily passed the treading water and swimming tests. We geared up for snorkeling and spent a couple of hours learning to surface dive, a step dive off the size and basic snorkel and mask clearing.

The mask clearing is my challenge. As soon as the water hits my eyes I want to suck in air thru my nose. Not sure why. I need to keep repeating to myself “I do not breath through my eyes”!

The instructors were great. Bruce, the store manager, very funny and entertaining in addition to knowing his stuff. The other instructor was something surprising and very special. He’s been diving for over 50 years and spent 10 years as a professional treasure hunter. He started in the days when they took fire extinguishers and screwed on regulators, then found someone to fill them with air. He’s very knowledgeable and patient and I think just what I need to get me through this.

I need to catch up with the reading – apparently the others knew they were supposed to read chapters 2 & 3 before class, but I didn’t know and didn’t have the book. I had plenty of time to read it Friday night – the class started about an hour after I got there while the three high school girls in the class were fitted out with snorkels and fins and masks. I still have all my stuff from my honeymoon in 1998, and I’m determined not to buy anything unless I finish the class.

To pass I have to complete 4 open water dives. That means a trip somewhere in the next month to do the dives. That will be fun and should work out well as a little anniversary trip for me and Fred, which was the whole point of this really. Although funnily enough, Fred asked me last night why I was taking scuba right now. Duh! We talked about it in that therapy session with Rebecca that Fred came to and he didn’t remember AT ALL. Ha! Who’s got memory issues now, bucko?

Anyway, I’m taking it. I like it and despite being completely exhausted and starving after the class ended at 10:30 pm, didn’t do too badly.