My consciousness returns. My eyes fluttering open, as I try to make sense of today’s world. I turn over and check; she’s there and still fast asleep. I reach for my phone to check the time – it’s 7am. I return to a semi-conscious slumber until it’s clear that she’s waking.
We chat in bed and devise a plan for the day; jump on the moped, search for a breakfast spot and then go in search of adventure. We’re thinking waterfalls and beaches. But there’s no definite plan because anything can happen. We’re on an island in the Philippines…life is easy.
Throughout the day I marvel in sharing this time with someone. My mishaps are laughed at, our conversations twist in more directions than the road ahead, and there are no worries cos she has my back and I have hers. We’re in it together.
That’s what I thought our 4 week trip would be like. After years of mostly solo travel, I was looking forward to finally have a long term travel buddy.
I had been SO excited about it. It didn’t feel real. I tried to avoid telling people because when I tell people what I’m doing those things don’t happen.
And of course, it didn’t happen.
Maybe my last dive ever?
2 days before my travel buddy arrived I decided to go diving. I’m a Divemaster with over 200 dives so I’m no novice.
Unfortunately, after a completely normal dive, I got a freak case of decompression sickness (DCS). The dive profile was mild and we did safety stops. But somehow I still managed to get this sickness and it scared the living daylights out of me; I was abroad, alone, with bubbles of nitrogen gas in my body… I wasn’t sure what all this meant.
It took me just over 48 hours to get to hyperbaric treatment after the dive. That was a fiasco in itself.
The hyperbaric specialist said I was lucky because it was a mild case of DCS. I sure didn’t feel that lucky.
If I could take that one dive back, I would. The day before I was happy and slowly getting over my mosquito paranoia.
It feels like the day I got DCS is the day my world quite literally came crashing down. How can the passion that gave me so much life, now make me sick and ruin my immediate future? My only future. A future that I had been so intent on experiencing. A future that I was so innately excited about. How come this happened to ME? Last year I had dengue fever, wasn’t that enough?
I still haven’t been able to bring myself to watch the Go Pro footage from that dive. I know there is some amazing footage of sharks, I just wish it had never happened. And if I don’t look at the footage then in a way I can kid myself that it didn’t happen.
That was the situation in my own world. But simultaneously the entire world was bracing itself for the eventual announcement of a “pandemic”.
Covid-19 Closing Borders
The virus itself didn’t scare me (much). What scared me was not being able to get home. Borders were closing and quarantine measures were being introduced with little to no warning. I was scared of being left alone, getting sick and needing more care.
In a matter of one night, I went from hopefully re-joining my travel buddy in a few days, to booking a flight in a panicked state and not seeing her again in the Philippines.
Sure, we called and chatted, but it wasn’t the same. That future I had painted in my mind was scrapped. My dreams were dashed. Our plans were cancelled. I’ve never felt more guilty and like a worse friend than when I told her I had to leave.
And now I’m struggling to deal with the events of those 10 days and what that means for my future.
It’s not like I plan too far ahead, but if my health and future plans can derail so quickly, how can I ever look forward to something again? And if we can’t work out why I got DCS, then I’m not sure if I’ll ever want to dive again. And there are so many other worries and questions about the events of those days.
For now, the entire world is uncertain and that doesn’t help my cause or anyone else’s.
So many dreams are being dashed. People are stranded in foreign countries, people are losing livelihoods, others are having to work damned hard to help in this crisis, people are avoiding people… and that is the very fabric of humanity; people need people.
Right now, so many dreams are being dashed and mine is a drop in the ocean of tears. I just hope that things get better soon.