Monday, March 4, 2013

Just Return To The Basics

My son I recently completed our open water SCUBA dive training.  We signed up and took the course through a wonderful near-by diving shop with some trustworthy diving instructors, George & Pete, and a group of master divers that we quickly came to admire. I have always want to SCUBA dive, however, living in landlocked Arizona makes this hard, and when the opportunity presented itself for my son and I to get trained, we jumped at the chance.

It was a wonderful experience. I came away with a sense of awe and the realization that there is an entirely new world below the surface yet unseen by most.  My son and I made a pact to begin discovering this new world. I look forward to some time with my son in this adventure.

I learned something else. Just like most things in life, safe SCUBA diving requires that you master and frequently return to the basics.  We spend about 30-45 minutes in the water with each dive and most of the time was spent reviewing and refreshing simple techniques of breathing, regulator recovery, mask clearing, following the buddy system, preparing for emergencies.

On our last dive, we descended to 45 feet and demonstrated that if we lost our mask, or our air regulator, we could recover or assist our buddy in these emergencies. You don't realize how easy panic can set in when you loose your air supply 45 feet under water. 

While demonstrating that I could safely remove my regulator by dropping it to my side,  I had to lean over and reach behind myself to find it.  It the process, my mask filled with water and I ended up getting water up my nose.  This caused me to cough and empty my lungs.  I was still searching for my regulator during this experience and panic set in.  My first instinct was to dart to the surface, however, I recognized this is a bad idea as we were below 33 feet and I was now at 2 atmospheres of pressure. A shot to the surface could easily rupture a lung or cause decompression sickness.  I've treated those problems in other patients before, and it isn't pretty. 

So, with a little concentration, back to the basics.  I located my regulator, cleared it with the purge button, took a deeply desired breath, and cleared my nose.  I then followed the techniques I was taught to clear my masks and within a few seconds, life was good again.  I gave my instructor the "OK" sign and we moved on to our last few skills checks.  

This little experience drove home the message about how important it is to just return to the basics. Life is like that.  Weather in SCUBA diving, medicine, relationships, marriage, weight loss, driving, sports or any other life experiences, when all goes south, just fall back on the basics and get yourself grounded.

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