I Really Hope I Didn't Just Give Myself The Bends

One of the coolest things I’ve ever done was get scuba dive certified. It even has a cool ring to it. Plus it was in Thailand, so...I’m the coolest.

That was totally a joke. Keep reading.

For anyone who’s done it, you know it’s an absolutely insane experience; you’re practically entering another world that we rarely get to see first-hand. It’s amazing. For those of who you haven’t tried it, there’s quite the learning curve. You start off getting familiar with the equipment in a pool, letting your body get used to staying underwater for longer than it should, let alone breathe underwater. It’s so weird. Like, crazy cool kind of weird.

After your pool sessions are complete, you’re ready to set out into the big blue sea. !!!!!!

In our group, there were about eight people including the instructor, give or take. A small group for the school’s standards, which was really nice, but also made my ordeal a little more...interesting. I should also add one of my best friends was with me, just so you know she had the best seat in the house, which makes the story even better because even years later, we still laugh about it.

Before I dive into my little underwater debacle (heh), let me first explain a little thing you get warned about before you even get in the pool: the bends. More scientifically known as decompression sickness. Divers’ disease. Caisson disease. The next worst thing to happen to a diver besides getting eaten by a shark, mk?

They go into the specifics of what happens to scare the crap out of you, but it’s basically underwater anatomy science in combination with depressurization during a too-fast ascent that causes bubbles to form inside of ya blood and tissues. And then you could die. Sike, you get bad joint pain. And then you die.

ANYWAY, this mainly occurs during an ascent, meaning when you’re coming back up from below after a dive. When you ascend, you go vewyy, vewyy slowly, even stopping to float at times so your body doesn’t get overwhelmed and bubble up inside because, like I mentioned before, science. Don’t mess with it. Also don’t ask me to explain anything ever again.

Now that you’re basically an expert thanks to me, we can dive back into the story. Heh. Last time.

We slowly descend as a group and sit on the ocean floor in a big semi-circle. I forget how far down we were because it was in meters and we all know how great Americans are at converting to the metric system. It wasn’t *too* deep, though. That’s all I got.

Our instructor had us go through our drills we did in the pool. Fill up our face masks with water, clear the water. Take out our breathing apparatus, throw it behind us, find it, put it back in our mouths. Basic things. We reach a point to do another drill where we kind of bob up and down gently, so we’re all on our knees breathing in just a tiny bit to go up, then exhale a little bit to go down. Simple, right?

Nope. Not for this girl.

Somehow, and I don’t remember even intentionally doing it, but I took wayyy too big a breath like a NOOB and started to rapidly ascend back up to the surface of the water. Fast. Like a Jetson. With my cool backpack.

I was kind of panicking, but also not too worried because granted, this was our first lesson in the ocean so we weren’t that deep and also weren’t down there for too long before I messed everything up...but still. Body bubbles. The bends. I remember thinking that too, almost a little too calmly once my head appeared above the water and I saw the sky: Man, I really hope I didn’t just give myself the bends.

This is where Casey had the best seat in the house. Imagine doing this, like a normal person, and seeing me in your peripheral going up, up, up. Where is she going? Wow, she really went for it. Andddd...yep, she’s actually gone.

So again, genius over here, gazing up at the sky I shouldn’t even be looking at, and my stellar body control, to counter my mistake, I exhaled the hardest I’ve ever exhaled in my entire life. Harder than when a cop brought in a breathalyzer test during health class one day in a lesson to scare us out of ever getting DUIs. As fast as I ascended, I descended, which is just as dangerous because, again, you’re supposed to descend slowly and gradually because *underwater anatomy science*.

I didn’t even look down first to wage it out, but I was coming up on the group below me fast. The one thing I’m grateful for is at least I ascended and descended in a straight, vertical line. Casey had her metaphorical popcorn out; she watched me go up, and then watched me fall back down. I crashed down on my knees on the ocean floor, back in my rightful place in the semi-circle like I meant to do all of that, sending a giant mushroom cloud of sand up all around me and those in close proximity. Just for good measure so they knew I was back.

The sand slowly settled back down and I could see the group and the instructor trying their hardest not to do a face palm underwater. They were all still properly bobbing like good little divers.

I wanted so bad to give the underwater symbol for “cool,” but I refrained. I could be dead on the boat going back to shore.

Needless to say, I didn’t get the bends. We carried on with the remainder of the session, pardon my RUDE interruption. Afterwards, Casey couldn’t stop laughing. I couldn’t stop laughing. More so because I was grateful I didn’t kill myself. And in that case, it was actually really fun. Plus, I wasn’t embarrassed, but I totally would’ve been if I died. Or got really bad joint pain.

- Diana

Diana JoinerComment