So the story of the diving... Dave and I went diving Monday afternoon for the first time in a year. Last year we got one dive (a shore dive with the same dive operation) in during our vacation before Hurricane Wilma sauntered by and ruined the weather (and diving) for everyone. This year we had high hopes for a lot of good diving, but that was before I got sick. Monday was the big day.
First dive, the divemaster said before we got off the boat "Don't go below 130 feet, don't stay down more than an hour, and keep at least five minutes on your time to decompression." I guess he figured that since we all had dive computers (provided as part of our dive) we couldn't kill ourselves. The dive was billed as a cave dive, but what it really was was a dive through a series of twisty coral overhangs and swim throughs. If I wanted to do agility, I would become an Australian Shepard and develop a taste for kibble. We emerged from the tunnels (those of us who did them--Dave was not one, he swam above) and soon after had to turn around as one of the divers was at the halfway point for air. The diver was Dave and the divemaster made me ascend with him after only 20 minutes of diving as we were "buddies". I thought we were all a group of divers and I was surprised to be forced out of the water with 1200 psi of air out of 3000 left in my tank. I understood the necessity of just swimming around the anchor point and not heading off, but I saw no need to get out of the water completely with two divemasters in the water with us.
The story only got worse as the next dive I couldn't get below six feet. I was too congested and my right ear wouldn't pop (the Sudafed I took before diving had worn off). So Dave buddied up with the divemaster and he got a good long dive in (as did the other 13 divers) while I tanned grumpily on the boat.
I know they say you have to get right back on the horse, but I was depth-shy. Tuesday we talked about shore diving but I weenied out. I wanted to give my cold and my ear one more day. We were scheduled for another boat dive Wednesday, but I still didn't think I was well enough and canceled Tuesday afternoon. I tried to cancel the boat dive we had scheduled for this morning, but I called too late and they had already sent the van into town for the night to pick us up in the morning. So I was guilted into trying a dive.
I barely slept at all last night. Nyquil doesn't have a decongestant so I took Dayquil instead. My heart raced from 2 am till 4 am and I had nightmares about the dive. Note to self: no Dayquil at night. We finally got up at 6 (Dave wasn't sleeping too well either) and I was still severely congested. I was resigned to dying on the dive, or at least blowing an eardrum. Not being able to regulate the pressure by popping your ears can keep you from diving. But what about inability to regulate pressure when you are already down and need to come up? We learned about it in diver certification. It's not pretty.
So we get on the boat and out to the first dive site. I suit up and get in first. I get down to 15 feet fine and have hope. I hang out there and wait for everyone else to get in the water and we head down towards 100 feet. However the ear balked and could not be coaxed any lower than 70 feet so there I stayed. The rest of the group was spread out below me, but I had the last laugh: the deeper you go, the more air you use. So by staying at 70 feet I was bothte first one in the water and the last one out. I actually ran out of time before I ran out of air and got in an hour dive.
The second dive was shallower and at first I couldn't get past six feet down before the ear pain was unbearable. I ended up going back to the surface to get out, but the boat captain convinced me to try one more time and that time I made it down! And I got another 60 minute dive in. Too bad there wasn't much to see. But I made it up and out alive, and that's what counts. Tomorrow: Captain Marvin and Stingray City!