Thursday, December 26, 2013

Darling It’s Better Down Where It’s Wetter

Under water, things are peaceful. All it takes to escape the noise and chaos of a community swimming pool during, say, a kid’s birthday party is a brief submersion. Under the water, we’re in our own private worlds into which it’s almost impossible for others to trespass. Sound fades away, while everything moves slower and seems more graceful. At least most of the time. There are some occasions when being under water is far from this kind of peaceful experience. Today’s activities straddled both sides of that line. Well, sort of.

On this, our second and final day in port (this time in Cozumel), we had our second and final excursion onto Mexican soil (actually, Mexican sand would be more accurate). The plan was to go glass-bottomed kayaking in the ocean before somehow transitioning to snorkeling in that very same ocean. Sadly, because of less-than-ideal conditions, the kayaking portion didn’t happen. But because I hadn’t really had any expectations about it, other than an expectation of a certain degree of coolness, I wasn’t all that disappointed by not being able to do it. Sure, it probably would have been worth doing, but since I didn’t really know what I was missing, I got over it rather quickly.

The tradeoff was that we got extra snorkeling time. This, too, was a new experience to me, since neither the Jersey shore nor Cape Cod are known for world-class water clarity.

I was part of a fairly large group of people fairly inexperienced with this sort of activity, but I quickly learned that if I just stuck my face into the water, they all magically vanished and it was just me and the fishes. Well, at least the fishes within 15 feet of me. Anything further away than that was mostly a bluish blur. I had tried my best to fit my glasses inside the snorkeling mask, but I eventually reached a point where I could continue cramming, with an ever-increasing risk of snapping part of the frames, or give up and hope the refraction from the water would get me through. Having recently spent an evening (an evening during finals, no less) gluing my glasses back together, I chose the latter. This choice may have come back to bite me when, about 40 minutes into the adventure, I began feeling oddly seasick. I still can’t tell if it was a result of straining to see, swallowing too much sea water during the “entry” process, or the swelling waves that had precluded the kayaking earlier. In any event, while this never rose to a level that might present a clear and present danger of breakfast evacuation, it still made the tail end of the hour somewhat less than enjoyable.

Still, there is much good news to report from that hour: My camera dry bag worked beautifully. After a few minutes in the water, I stopped worrying about whether it was leaking, as it was holding so much air that it floated. Any problems would have sent a cascade of bubbles from the bag and a cascade of human waste from me. Fortunately, nothing remotely close to catastrophic happened within the bag. A packet of desiccant tore open, but that just scattered little plastic balls of “Do Not Eat” inside the bag, with no ill effect.

Because I couldn’t see what I was taking pictures of, I used the time-tested method of point-and-pray. The result was over 300 pictures, some of which were of subjects I had clearly not intended to capture, while a few were in focus, properly exposed, and of interesting stuff. This “stuff” mainly consisted of fish and coral. I’m not exactly sure what fish I was seeing (although I’m pretty sure the one with the white face is a parrotfish), because I didn’t listen when the guide was explaining what that yellow and black thing swimming along the bottom was. It’s not like I was going to be able to see it anyway.

The coral was different. I could see what I assumed were 10-foot boulders along the bottom, but as I got closer I could see that they were chunks (polyps? formations? I’m not sure) of corals, sustaining diverse ecosystems despite their isolation on the ocean floor.

All around us for most of our time in the water were these blue, yellow, and black striped fish. Some people in the group had to push them out of their way, but for me they only ever came within about 2 feet. Fortunately, that’s just the minimum distance my camera needs to focus on something:

Sadly, towards the end of the adventure my luck ran out. Although the camera was fine, that was my only piece of electronic equipment that appears to have survived. Because I failed to tape it down extra securely, my glucose sensor had just about come out by the time we returned to shore, but the more significant problem was my pump. I’ve taken insulin pumps into the ocean before and have never had a problem. But today, there must have been a tiny thin crack in this one, because when I checked on it after hearing what I thought was its alarm, I found water sloshing around inside it. Despite my efforts at resuscitation (including drying, sunning, and resetting it), it appears to be a goner. For all you non-diabetics out there, being out at sea 2 days from land and having your main insulin delivery device fail is pretty much a worst-case scenario. However, because I’m not stupid, I brought enough syringes with me that I can try to manually replicate the frequent small doses that the pump would otherwise provide, using the same insulin I would have loaded into it. I should be able to survive for the next couple of days like this, but it’s going to present some inconveniences. Because my insulin only lasts 4 hours before it’s completely metabolized, I’ll probably need to get up in the middle of the night to either check my blood sugar or give myself more insulin. Dosing is also going to be difficult. The downside to having the most technologically advanced pump available in the US, which does all my calculations for me, is that I don’t really even know what my insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio is anymore (I haven’t had to use it to calculate a dose in years). So dosing is going to be largely educated guessing for a while. Also, while I know how much to give myself to correct a high blood sugar, it’s going to be very difficult to give precise enough doses to maintain a correct blood sugar. So I’ll probably have to go a little high, correct, and repeat. This diabetes thing may very well the biggest seafaring adventure I have left on this trip.

But woe unto him who spends his entire afternoon fretting over blood sugars that change at a pace that does not require minute-by-minute monitoring. No, I had bigger fish to fry. Namely, getting a nap in before trying to catch another Caribbean sunset. On both of those fronts, I think I was successful:

1 comment:

  1. The glass bottom boat is a cool excursion, for maybe 5 minutes. Then the uniqueness fades and you want to direct the boat yourself. You probably did better off with snorkeling and a nice nap.