Friday, July 20, 2012

The Incomplete Diver

In retrospect I was probably a terrible diver. I could never quite figure out the correct weight I needed for buoyancy in salt water and as a result, I usually ended up slowly sinking to the bottom. It might not sound like much, but buoyancy is a critical skill for divers, both for the prevention of stuff like the bends, and for the protection of the plants and animals that don’t appreciate some idiot in a hundred pounds of gear crashing down on their heads.
But I love the smell of neoprene and salt water and had I had always planned to getting into it more seriously. I was getting close too; through ebay, kijiji and some generous donations, I had almost a complete kit. The only thing left was a couple of good tanks and then I could go whenever I wanted and all I’d need was an air-fill.
And therein lies the rub.
Chemotherapy fucks you up. My hair didn’t even start coming back until two months after my last session. It’s coming back gray and I’ve still got some bald patches that only my wife knows about. My thumbnails look like they’ve been run over by a bulldozer and by the end of the day my feet and hands feel like they’ve been hooked up to a car battery. Nothing too serious, but I GOTTA get a decent pair of shoes.
But it also took a weed-whacker through my lungs. I’m now at a permanent risk for pulmonary fibrosis and oxygen toxicity; my lungs can turn to tissue paper at any time or cause a buildup of oxygen in my tissues leading to everything from delusionary euphoria to being dead.  As a result, breathing compressed air is not such a good idea and the doctor even recommended I get a medical alert bracelet, which makes me wonder how often she thinks I like to suck on a hose.
I sold the last of my diving kit this morning. It was hard to let it go. Harder than I thought it would be. If you've ever thought about trying it, I cannot recommend it enough. I've had some amazing times and met some incredible people, and then I realize all the amazing things and unfufilled plans that I will now never get to see or do. It sucks and it is not fair. But cancer sucks and as for fairness well, spend some time on a cancer ward, or any hospital for a day and talk to talk about life being fair. It will leave scars, and I’m not just talking about the zipper strip down my chest or my extra belly-button.
Fuck it, there is no sense hanging on to the things you will never use. I can’t dive, but from a certain perspective that seems like a fair trade-off to not dying.
Besides, I kept the wet-suit. Next summer I am thinking about taking up surfing.

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