Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wonderous Dreams

Earlier in the week I had some spectacular dreams of adventure. The first was another one where I was scuba diving again. Shipwrecks were one of my favorite things to explore while I was actively diving. So naturally my dreams have taken me on various wrecks.

This one was not too big...about the size of a tug boat and 100-150 feet long The very top of the boat just reached the surface where one could jump down into the wreck through a rectangular hole the size of a large and wide door which was cut into the deck of the ship.

Because I had not dove in 4 years and the tumors had destroyed my sense of equilibrium, I was afraid to jump through the hole into the dark confines of the wreck. In the dream it was my first time diving again and entering a wreck which is an advanced and technically skilled dive. I feared the darkness and overhead environment upon my first reintroduction would disorient and throw me into a spat of vertigo where I would have no sense of which way was up, down, or sideways. Therefore, I chose to enter the water with on the side of the ship where I could swim around it instead of starting directly inside.

Once I entered the water it was magical! Like riding a bike again for most people, memories of my refined skills came flushing back. It was as if I jumped into another realm where my body was restored and physical limitations existed no longer!

As we rounded the bow of the old boat, we discovered another large rectangular hole cut into the side. One could clearly see that through the opening was a large r0om which had been cleared free of any obstructions. Upon peering inside, I watched a few divers pass into other compartments of the wreck. Then on the wall opposite the large hole, I saw it! Clinging gentling to to ceiling rested a giant pacific octopus! Its whole body was exposed within the room which is quite unusual. Normally one has to peek into narrow crevices along a rock wall to find them squeezed within the cavity.

I could not help myself. Any fear completely dissipated and I was drawn to the inside of the wreck like the calling to visit an old familiar place. I entered the gaping rectangular mouth to get a closer look at the magnificent wonder and further explore what was inside.

After awhile my buddy signaled to me that it was time to exit as he was low on air. Disappointed and surprised, I inquired how low on air was he as I still had 1100 pounds of air in my tank. His gauge read 400 PSI (pounds per square inch). OK. My mind was desperate to stay. I was thinking he could stretch to 100 pounds leaving 300 pounds left to use. I suggested to follow the shallows at the nearby break wall.

Then unexpectectly he surfaced. Did he not understand that I wanted to stay longer and the dive plan I proposed? I was not ready for it to end and did not want to leave. I still had lots of air left! But then I remembered the rule is to always surface between 300-500 PSI (preferably the 500). He was out of air and it would not be safe for us to buddy breath off of one tank just for pleasure nor for me to continue on alone. With that realization, I accepted that our dive was done.

In reality, later that day I went to water aerobics which I have not been to for a few weeks. It was great! Since the water provides me a cushion of safety and bouyancy, I am able to do things in the water that I cannot do on land which is sort of freeing.

At the end of the class I like to grip the floatation noodle with both hands, close my eyes, bend my knees so my feet don't touch the bottom of the pool, hold my breath, and just gracefully float. You see, I can no longer close my eyes and jump into water or swim around. If I do, I get disoriented and am unable to find the surface. By holding unto the noodle I can somewhat recreate the freeing experience of diving into water in the absence of any equipment.

The cool water brushes by my face and tickles my hair while my body floats effortlessly. Only my arms holding onto the noodle anchor me to the outside world. All is silent and all is peaceful as I drift among the pool.

I said wonderous dreams (plural). The following night I dreamt for the first time that I summited Mt. Rainier which at current and for the past 4 years has been an impossibility. My balance function degraded following radiosugery and swelling of the tumor which compressed my brainstem.

Prior to starting grad school I was an avid hiker. Becoming a mountaineer and conquering Mt. Rainier and the other Cascade peaks was a distant dream of mine. Due to the time committment of my graduate studies, I was unable to pursue the training when I was getting close to being able to afford the gear. My plan then was to hold off climbing until after graduation. Unfortunately, my dream came to an abrupt close when I received the news the exact day of my graduate presentation (when my work had been completed) that one of the tumors grew aggressively and large, forcing me to address it and choose a treatment. After that the balance quickly disappeared.

My effort has been constant over the past years to get as much back as possible or at least learn to adapt. The loss has been my most painful emotionally and although I have made great strides, it is like a dagger to my heart knowing I will forever be limited from the things I did and wanted to do. Thus, when I have these dreams it is spectacular and wonderous! For it is in my dreams that I am free.

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