Saturday, November 14, 2015

Just walk it off, Derrek, walk it off

I have this awesome friend named *Derrek (*all names have been changed to protect identity of individuals). Derrek is fun. Derrek is kind. Derrek is dependable. Derrek is a really loyal, awesome friend. Derrek is one of my favourite people in the entire world.  Derrek is also an aggressive vacationer.

By aggressive, I mean that Derrek takes all vacationing activities to the next level. He is not content with seeing sharks behind a glass…he wants to swim with the sharks - and touch them. Derrek doesn't want to buy the coconuts from the roadside stands, he wants to climb a tree and get his own coconuts. The beauty of travelling with Derrek is that you will never be bored. Ever. Derrek will entertain you with his shenanigans. There is; however, a downside - Derrek has a tendency to hurt himself whilst aggressively vacationing.

Take for example, the Cozumel blowhole incident of 2010. Derrek saw some blowholes. They interested him. While we all stood back to watch the blowholes from a safe distance, Derrek insisted on putting his face directly on top of the blowhole to get a much better vantage of what was about it to happen. Yelling, "Don't worry, I timed it!" we managed to get the camera out to capture this moment that will forever be a memory of that powerful blowhole.

Cue deviated septum.

We laughed as Derrek complained about the saltwater in his sinuses and his painful nasal passage for the rest of the holiday. We all felt slightly guilty for laughing when we returned home only to discover that Derrek required nose surgery for a deviated septum. Oops. Sorry Derrek!

Typically Derrek brings about his injuries whilst vacationing aggressively. This time; however, we can't really blame Derrek for what occurred. He was vacationing at a fairly calm level. Derrek and his fabulous wife had just arrived from Canada. We hopped on a tiny little plane and flew to Little Cayman for a long weekend of diving.

The dives were beautiful - and "normal," in the sense that no one went any deeper than they were supposed to, we all did a safety stop, and everyone was fine when the boat took us back to our rental house.

A few hours after our dives, Derrek began complaining of vertigo. Vertigo is a common problem for Derrek, so we handed him a Caybrew, told him to jump in the pool, and all would be well.

Derrek just wasn't feeling better. Typically the life of the party, Derrek was lethargic, barely sipping his beer and quietly sunning himself by the pool.

"Hey Kirstie, my arms are kinda numb."

"Um, hmmm. That kinda sounds like the bends, buddy."

We discussed this new symptom and Derrek deduced that there was no way he could have decompression sickness, given the depth that we dived and our safety stop time.

"You know what…I think my circulation is just poor. I'm gonna walk this off."

Famous last words. A word to the wise: If you have the bends, you can't just "walk it off."

Within 4 hours, we were all being emergency airlifted back to Grand Cayman so that Derrek could spend some quality time in the hyperbaric chamber. Poor Derrek was on tons of oxygen, IV in arm, laying on a gurney, feeling his limbs get tinglier by the minute. The rest of us were trying not to freak out, as our little plane was flying 500 ft over the ocean (Given that we had all just dived, we were all at risk of decompression sickness if we flew at a higher altitude. Plus, Derrek could have gotten much sicker).

Thankfully, Derrek only required about 3 hours in a very hot claustrophobic hyperbaric chamber before all the numbness, tingling, and nausea was gone. Within 24 hours, he was in tip top shape again, aggressively attempting to catch sting rays with his bare hands, whilst vacationing aggressively. Haha.

I must say, although our diving trip on Little Cayman was cut short, we all experienced quite the adventure, courtesy of our friend Derrek. We were all just so relieved that it had a happy ending. The dive Doctor explained that there are many factors that can contribute to the acquisition of decompression sickness. Derrek may have simply been dehydrated prior to our early morning dives. He did not, surprisingly, dive aggressively. It could have happened to anyone.

Moral of the story: vacation aggressively at your own risk. Sometimes the bends happens. You can't walk it off.

Love you, Derrek!

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