Monday, February 10, 2014

This post has been written in sections over the last 3 years. It's a mixture of my diving story, a lesson in listening to your body, and a lot to do with how things happen for a reason.

Written last February: This weekend I went to a diving meet and one of the divers there had blown her are drum which reminded me of the time I blew my ear drum.

 Reverse twister. I hated that dive, and was not very good at it. Here's some proof.

In case you don't know much about diving, this is not what you're supposed to look like. 

 Remembering my ear drum story made me think a lot about how things happen for a reason. This is a long story, here goes.

February 1, 2008 I was at practice getting ready for the last regular meet of the year. I was a senior. We Had the meet the following day and it would be senior day. Then 2 weeks later was Championships, and it was a home meet, which was different from my previous three years of diving, during which we traveled to Champs.

A bunch of the divers were down on 3 meter, myself included. I don't remember who was there or what other dives I had done. I climbed the ladder to do my twisting dive. I remember balking once (that's when you do the approach and then wuss out and don't go.) I just told myself to do the stinking dive, so I did. I'm not sure if I freaked out or got lost, or confused or what but I screamed mid air and then pretty much stopped doing any twisting or rotating and fell into the water ear first.

The pain wasn't that bad but the first thing I thought was "Crap I just blew my eardrum." My coach, Jaret, asked if I was okay. I said yes but that my ear/head hurt. I climbed out the water, laid in the gutter for a while (that was quite typical for me when I had hurt myself). I think I made a comment about blowing my ear drum and Jaret told me to go under water and see if it hurt. Real scientific right? I did, it kind of hurt. Then I decided to go to the trainer and have them take a look. I put on shorts and a tee shirt and walked dripping wet to the training room. No one besides the trainer in training (a student) was there since it was late on a Friday. She looked in my ear, said it was red but not perforated and told me I could dive the next morning but that I should go home. So that's what I did.

This is where I learned a very important life lesson. Just because someone tells you something about your body doesn't make it true. I should have listened to my gut and gotten a second opinion. Oh well, live and learn.

The next morning my ear hurt but it just felt like there was water in it. I went to the pool and warmed up, every time I went to the bottom of the pool I felt a lot of pressure in my ear. I had dove before with a double ear infection so I just brushed it off and kept my warm up short.

The real reason I think I didn't say anything was because my Mom, Grammy and Aunt were all coming to the last meet of the year to see me dive. My family was always very supportive of my diving, my Grammy was the one who forced me to do it to begin with. She and my Grandfather lived about 45 minutes away and came to lots of my meets. At the end of my Junior year my Grampy's health, which was already not great, started to go downhill. At on point he fell in the bathroom and hurt his neck, we didn't discover until about 6 months later that he had actually broken his neck, this discovery came shortly after my blown ear drum. I was very excited for everyone to come and see me dive, and I didn't want to let anyone down.

 At the beginning of the senior meet all of the seniors get announced and run onto the pool deck and a younger member of the team gives them flowers. The way the schedule worked out we ended up diving before the meet actually started. I did all 6 dives on three meter, I can't remember my score but I am sure it was lower than my already not so great average. I remember trying my best to just get through the dives and to not go all the way to the bottom of the pool because that hurt my ear. Being the superstitious person that I am I kept my list of dives the same, meaning the twister was 5th out of 6 dives. Just thinking about that dive makes my palms sweat 6 years later, I have no idea how I managed to pull it off, but I did.

After three meter was done I started feeling dizzy but I ignored that feeling. Then the meet "started" and all of the seniors lined up to run onto the pool deck. When they announced my name I ran out and hugged my friend Meg who gave me a flower. The running made me even more dizzy, again a good sign something was up. After the national anthem the swimmers started and I retreated to a quite corner of the pool and laid down hoping that it was just water in my ear that was causing the pain and that the water would drip out if I laid on that side.

Jaret noticed my general distress and told me not to worry about doing 1 meter. I went up into the stands to tell my family that I would not be diving for the rest of the meet. I expected them to be sad, but in fact they seemed relieved. All three of them quickly packed up their things and left. Now, knowing the whole story, this makes total sense, unbeknownst to me Grampy was not doing well and Grammy, and my Mom and Aunt, both nurses, wanted to get home to him as fast as they could, but did not want to cause me any worries so they hadn't told me.

So they left and I just stayed at the pool and my general discomfort level rose. I guess I watched the whole meet, sideways because it continued to feel like something was in my ear and needed to come out. I went to the trainer again, again someone looked in my ear and told me it wasn't perforated but just red. This person told me if it felt like there was water inside I should put hydrogen peroxide in my ear to dry out the water.

Once the meet was over I went home, showered, and asked Charlie to put hydrogen peroxide in my ear to dry it out. I had asked him to do this 50 times before and we both thought nothing of it. I'll spare you the details, but tell you that this was the most painful thing that has ever happened to me. It felt like 1 million tiny knives stabbing my ear, head and brain. I screamed and cried very loudly and scared Charlie. You'd think this would send up a huge red flag! Hello go to the hospital Lauren! No, I ignored this sign just as I had all of the others before. I took some tylenol and went to bed.

I don't remember what happened on Sunday, I am assuming not much. We had morning practice on Monday at 6 am so I got up and went. I remember doing part of the workout and still feeling like something was in my ear so I kept tilting my head. *Warning, this is gross* Then one of my teammates said, "Eww, Lauren what's on your shirt?" A yellow substance had, for lack of a better word, leaked out of my ear, and continued to do so. Once again I ignored it and hoped everyone else would as well. Unfortunately for me at the time, this did not happen. Jaret made me promise to go to a doctor later in the day and get it checked out.

Later at the appointment I was surprised when the doctor looked in my non-injured ear. I said "oh no it's this ear" and he told me that he wanted to look in the good ear to get an idea of what a healthy ear in terms of me looked like. He looked in my left ear and said "Yep it's perforated" He also mentioned that my ear was very infected, due to the pool water and other bad stuff have gotten in there during the past four days. He put me on antibiotics and told me not to dive or go in the water for a month. That meant no Championship meet for me. Champs was 3 weeks away and I was a senior so on a Monday morning in the health center my diving career was over.

I didn't even cry until a few hours later. I guess not telling anyone had something to do with that. I just kept it to myself because I didn't want to think about it. Being on a team however where the coaches get calls from your doctors means that my coach knew and told my good friend Kiki who was in my class that afternoon. She brought me a lemon poppyseed muffin (my favorite) and I cried my eyes out sitting in Dunn Hall waiting for class to start.

Over that week I kept going to practice, since I had nothing else to do, but just sat on the pool deck trying to keep my attitude positive for my teammates. Unknown to me my Grampy was getting sicker. I guess no one told me because they thought I had enough to worry about. The week passed uneventfully.

On Saturday morning, February 9th 2008, my Mom called me and said she's like if I went to Pittsfield to visit and mentioned that my brother was coming to visit as well. Being kind of out of the loop I just thought that it was a surprise he was coming up and packed a bag to go see everyone. When I got there lots of family members were already at my Grammy and Grampy's house, and someone informed me that Grampy had decided to stop dialysis and go on hospice care. It seems like every woman in my family is a nurse so he had plenty of people around caring for him, as well as the nicest hospice care nurse ever. She did a great job of explaining everything to us and keeping Grampy comfortable. Everyone sat around in the living room with Grampy, family members kept coming. We watched some stupid shows on TV and everyone took turns sitting next to Grampy and holding his hand.

*This is where I stopped writing in February*

Later that night my Grampy passed away. It was very sad, and I didn't realize it until later, but I was so lucky to have been there with him and my family in those last few hours. 

So how does this related to my blown ear drum? Well his funeral, which was more like a roast, since that's the type of guy he was, was scheduled for the same day that I would have been diving in the Championship meet. 

I know if I hadn't blown my ear drum I would not have been able to dive anyways, and probably would have been sad about it. Since Champs was already off the table it wasn't even an issue. I did my best to support the team, cried (and laughed) at his funeral, and was generally sad and uncomfortable. The medicine I was taking for the infection made me sick to my stomach and every morning my ear would heal a little at night so I would have to spend 10 minute in the morning figuring out how to balance and stand up for the day. At the time I couldn't really see or understand why all this sad stuff was happening to me. The one good thing that happened during this period of time was that I got accepted early into Graduate School at UNH. I was so disoriented at the time that I had to call my friend and read the letter to him over the phone to verify that I really got in.  With six years of perspective behind me I am actually glad I perforated my ear drum. It taught me to listen to your body and not ignore huge signs that something it wrong. It also allowed me to be with my family, and go to my Grampy's funeral without worrying about missing a huge diving meet. Six years of perspective has also shown me that things really do happen for a reason.

Yesterday marked six years since my Grampy passed away. I miss him everyday. He was very into sports, especially hockey, baseball, football, and basketball. He didn't know much about diving but that did not stop him and my Grammy from coming to my diving meets and cheering for me every chance they had. I have so many memories of going to visit him and my Grammy on the weekends while I was in college. I always think of how lucky I am that I randomly decided to go to school in Maine even though UNH was potentially a better choice. I met some of my very best friends, had the chance to dive (even though I didn't know how to before freshman year), met Charlie, and was able to spend so much time with my grandparents. Everything happens for a reason.


1 comment:

  1. Oh! I'm bawling my eyes out! What a nice entry, L . . . I love stories that show that what's meant to be will be. Thinking of you :)


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