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Posted on May 30, 2012 | 0 comments

Dan and Kyle Needed a Rescue Victim

Six staples later and still smiling!

…so I volunteered.  As you will note from our last post, we all were in Bull Shoals, Arkansas this last weekend for a fantastic scuba diving trip. It was super fun, and we’ll probably have a post on it very soon. This post, however, is about my first (and hopefully last) dive accident which happened Sunday night. The story goes something like this: Dan and Kyle couldn’t finish their rescue diver certifications without completing a real rescue… so they needed someone to sustain an injury in the water to be able to fix. So I volunteered, and Kyle hit me over the head with his scuba tank so we would get some nice blood and potential spinal cord injury to practice on. Okay, not really.

So this is what actually happened: Dan, Kyle, and I were completing our advanced scuba certifications through PADI this weekend on our trip. Sunday night was my last dive, which was going to be our night dive. You basically do some underwater navigation and swim around with a flashlight when it’s dark. It was around 9:00 when Dan and I got in the water with one of the instructors on the trip and he started explaining to us what we needed to cover. We started swimming on the surface and suddenly I was shoved under water and had an intense pain on the crown of my head. I knew almost instantly that someone had jumped in on top of me and hit me in the head with their tank. Note to audience: getting hit in the head with 250 lbs of weight is not pleasant, please do not try this at home. I learned later that it was Kyle who had jumped in on me. He *claims* he couldn’t see me as it was pitch dark outside, but my theory is he was trying to kill me. Totally just kidding. He would never, ever do something like that on purpose.

It was at this point where the fact that there were four newly certified rescue divers on our trip, including Dan and Kyle who were in the water with me, became a really great factor. I shot up out of the water- luckily I hadn’t lost consciousness and my BCD (scuba vest) was full of air- and started screaming bloody murder. Dan and Kyle were both extremely calm, but focused, and literally had my gear off and me out of the water in probably 10 seconds flat. Another of the newly trained rescue divers was there stabilizing my head and neck against further potential damage to my spinal cord. Someone had already called 911 as well as the boat dock to get a rescue boat out to me. It was truly well done and I am very grateful to everyone on the boat that helped me so professionally and quickly.

The rest of my evening was spent waiting on various medical professionals in the emergency room of Baxter Regional Medical Center. To their credit, they did get to me fairly fast to do a preliminary assessment of my spinal cord, etc. After the doctor determined that I just had a big cut in my head, however, I pretty much got reassigned to the bottom of the list. I really believe that it was a miracle that I didn’t sustain more damage after such a heavy impact. I could have had a serious spinal injury, cracked skull, concussion, etc. but I didn’t. I did need 6 staples in my head, but I didn’t even get a headache!

Truthfully, there’s nothing like a serious accident to remind you of your priorities. Things like this happen to people every day, and yet so many of us waste our dreams by telling ourselves we’ll get to them later. What if there isn’t a later? Don’t be complacent with your time. You don’t know how much you have to work with, so make the most of it while you can.

Follow your Dreams. Follow the Horizon.

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Posted on May 26, 2012 | 0 comments

Our Little Secret

We aren't quite at this level...

So, for those of you who are keeping count, Dan and I have been sailing this year a grand total of… three times. Well, actually he’s been three, and I’ve been sailing twice and trying frantically to find somewhere to land the boat once. Seeing as it is almost the end of May you might be wondering where all of our sailing stories are. There are a couple of reasons (see: excuses) why we haven’t seen as much wind this spring as we had originally anticipated, but hope to improve over the summer.

  • First, the weather has been crazy. All week it will be beautiful sailing weather, then its freezing and rainy all weekend.
  • Also complicating our plans is that our boat is not currently in a slip. This might not sound like a big complication, but it takes significantly longer prep time to have to pick up the boat and step the mast before heading out on the water. It pretty much limits our sailing time to weekends except for in the middle of the summer when there is a lot more daylight time to work with.
  • Finally, Dan’s brother Kyle has been working most weekends, and due to my status as resident weakling, we need help stepping the mast.

Now that I’ve got all of the logical reasons out of the way, here’s the embarrassing one: we’re a little afraid of another disaster. Our confidence has been somewhat injured by our failures so far. (Though one of our 3 days was actually perfect.) Kyle, Becca, Dan and I actually had the boat down at a marina on Sunday, but we chickened out after watching another boat glide peacefully out of the harbor, only to get practically laid down as soon as they hit the 20 mph winds on the river. We just aren’t ready for dealing with that yet.

No worries, though! We haven’t given up, we are just going to get a little confidence boost before doing anything else crazy. Dan and I are taking a sailing class starting in June that should get us right back to our good-old-selves. Nothing like a little hands-on where the most experienced sailor in the boat isn’t the one who took the free online class! In the meantime, we’re going on a sweet dive vacation to Bull Shoals, Arkansas…full details forthcoming.

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Posted on May 23, 2012 | 1 comment

Divemaster Update

As you might know, I am in the process of becoming a PADI divemaster. I have finished the class portion of PADI Rescue Diver in addition to being certified as an Emergency First Responder. I had completely overlooked the EFR class and didn’t know what to expect. SCUBA classes make sense, the things you are supposed to do or not do are intuitive. The methods we learned for rescuing someone underwater are challenging… but I feel that they are a valuable tool for both SCUBA and sailing.

The lessons on the EFR class were completely new to me. CPR? Emergency Response? I am a non-medical staff member at a medical practice… that stuff has always been for the “medical” people. The skills learned in the EFR class are not taught from a SCUBA perspective but from a general “emergency” perspective (think car crash). Nonetheless, the lessons are extremely valuable. There will be times when Michele, Carter, and I will be far into a crossing and it is definitely a comfort to know that I have the skills to at least stabilize an emergency situation.

We will be at Bull Shoals, AR this weekend diving off of a 60 foot houseboat with Kyle and Becca. If all goes well I’ll pass my Rescue Diver certification! Next class: Divemaster.

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Posted on May 16, 2012 | 0 comments

Brotherly Love

It turns out Kyle is as crazy as we are.

I’ve talked about my brother Kyle previously when discussing various sailing adventures as well as my SCUBA progress… What I haven’t talked about are his and Becca’s (his wife) plans and dreams. I’m not going to try and articulate their dreams… no one could except them. Suffice it to say that they are planning on joining us in casting off and following our cruising dream. On their own boat, of course.

Kyle was the first person other than Michele that I discussed my crazy idea with. We were extremely excited about our newly hatched plans… almost giddy. Each time we researched cruising we became more convinced. We needed an outside opinion (We’ve since met with our friends Scott and Brittany from Windtraveler for one). Before approaching Kyle, I expected to meet resistance and a multitude of reasons why following my dream was impossible. Amazingly, I found nothing but support. Well… support and mutual interest. He began to express many of the same sentiments that Michele and I have about materialism, time freedom, and life in general.

I am not going to talk about the whys, the hows, whens, etc of Kyle and Becca’s plans… their story is their own. They have become part of Michele and I’s story in some ways, however. It is a huge comfort to know that we will be sailing with people we can implicitly, and without hesitation, trust. Not only will we have double the amount of spare parts, dinghies, tools, etc but we will have partners to experience the wonders of cruising with. I am sure there will be times when we wonder “What are we doing here?” Thankfully, we will have Kyle and Becca nearby for support. One of the things I am most looking forward to is meeting new people and new cruising buddies while we are on our adventures, but I am extremely lucky to have a brother that shares the passion and dream of cruising.


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Posted on May 13, 2012 | 1 comment

Happy Mother’s Day

The day I became a mother.

As an employee of a local children’s hospital, I regularly hear testimony from families who have been changed forever by an illness or accident that has happened to their child. This Mother’s Day, one mother of a long time patient wrote a blog post for the hospital that I would like to share with you. She reminds us to celebrate every moment with our children, even those that seem “ordinary”. Enjoy and have a Happy Mother’s Day!

“I celebrated Mother’s Day 2011 by begging my then three-year-old son to let me sleep-in as my Mother’s Day present.  That was at 6:47 in the morning.  By 7:06 AM I was awakened by a trumpet solo from my dear, dear, baby boy.  Yes, a trumpet solo for my Mother’s Day present.  A trumpet solo right in my face as I lay in bed.  I actually felt the toy trumpet hit the tip of my nose several times during the performance.  Okay, okay, I’m up.  With a hint of sarcasm, I thought to myself, “happy Mother’s Day to me” as I shot up and out of bed at 7:07 AM.  I could either send Noah away with a stern mommy-look and try to fall back to sleep or…I could…dance.   By 7:08AM on Mother’s Day 2011, I was dancing in gleeful circles with my little trumpeter swinging from my arms.  I felt so blessed to be celebrating another Mother’s Day, and especially this particular Mother’s Day.  Here’s why…

Seven months prior to the Mother’s Day trumpet solo, I was a mother who held her second child, her four-day-old daughter, as she lay dying in my arms.  I was a mother who was going to spend hours upon hours in a tiny chapel on the first floor of the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, begging God to let me keep one of his angels here on earth; while the doctors upstairs tried desperately to save Ella’s life through science and medicine.  I was a mother who would be defined through living nine months of life with one child safe at home and the other fighting for each of her next breaths in a critical care unit, hours away from the safety of our home.

I would come to realize that the title “mother” is the greatest of all gifts to be given and received.  It is the gift of song.  It is the gift of dance.  It is the gift of unimaginable strength.  It is the gift of a love so pure, and yet, so powerful.  It is the gift of setting priorities and defining what moments truly matter in life.  It is the gift of belly-laughs.  It is the gift of overcoming fears.  It is the gift of finding yourself through loving someone else unconditionally.  It is the gift of never-forgotten memories.  It is the gift of understanding that the ordinary moments of life are all actually the extraordinary ones.  It is the gift of a celebratory perspective of life.

Last year, not only did I celebrate an early morning trumpet solo by dancing to the tune, but I also celebrated many of the most common and ordinary moments of motherhood.  I celebrated washing a batch of pink, girl laundry at home.  I celebrated washing Ella’s hospital blankets because at one point in our journey, I was told my daughter probably would not survive the night.  Here I was, months later, with my first batch of pink laundry.  I was celebrating laundry!  I celebrated every midnight moment where I was awake comforting my daughter through dealing with the pain of pervious surgeries to try and fix her broken heart.  I celebrated even though those midnight moments were shared with critical-care nurses.  I was celebrating lack of sleep!   I celebrated being able to once again hold my daughter in my arms.  It would be the first time in several months I was able to hold her after the moment I held her as she lay dying in my arms at four days old.  I was celebrating the numbness in my arms because of holding a chubby baby!  I even celebrated baby poop.  There was time when no one knew if my daughter’s bowels would ever work normal.  I was celebrating poop!

I realized that not only were we gifted the title “mother” from our little ones, but through that gift we were given ordinary moments to either take for granted or to celebrate as extraordinary ones.  I call it CellaBRATING LIFE.

I wish you an ordinary Mother’s Day 2012 full of laundry, midnight shenanigans, numb arms, normal bowel movements and maybe, if you’re lucky, even an early morning trumpet solo!”

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