Look Before You Leap

Looking back there are likely things that happened in your life that you sit and ponder how different life could’ve been. One of those instances for me was the summer before I turned 21. It was one of those actions that completely defy logic. Something that you can’t really make sense of no matter how hard you try, but obviously a time when I wasn’t in the moment. It was something that could’ve dramatically changed my life!

Growing up in Lemberg we had the great fortune to live right across the street from the town pool which wasn’t really the town pool, but actually our neighbour’s pool. Every summer I took lessons there and so did a lot of other kids from Lemberg and the neighbouring towns. I had perfected the shallow dive … to create more drama I would routinely make my shallow dive appear to be a deep dive knowing that I could easily avoid the bottom of the pool.

Fast forward a couple years. It was a nice hot summer day and I was at the Arlington Beach Camp for the weekend. Teen camp was in session and I was 20 years old and the experienced guy on campus. You know the guy with the car, the full-time job … everyone else was just getting out of High School and I already had 2 years of Technical School at SIAST.

I wasn’t thinking clearly … it may have been because my ex-girlfriend from the year before was going out with another guy … I’m not sure if I thought my spectacular dive would get her attention and win her back, but it was obvious I wasn’t thinking clearly. People were hanging out in the water and I decided I would do my patented deep shallow dive. I ran down the beach onto the dock and while letting out a Tarzan yell, dove headfirst into the water. The harsh reality was the water was less than 2 feet deep.

Thankfully I had my hands in front of my face which prevented me from scraping my face open against the gravelly beach. My hands hit hard, but they couldn’t keep my chest and knee from taking on some significant damage. I came out of the water winded and in extreme pain. What in the world had I just done? Only a day earlier I was out in this water, I knew how shallow it was … I just forgot. Ahhh, my knee was throbbing I looked down and it was all skinned up and starting to bleed. My chest was full of little scratches and the blood began to come out of each cut. I hobbled to the beach and slumped down on my towel. What just happened? How could I have done something so stupid?

In the days that followed my hands and chest healed up fairly fast, but the throbbing of my knee lingered much longer until it swelled up to twice its original size. It became clear you don’t look nearly as cool when you’re hobbling around because of doing something so foolish.

They say time heals, and my body and heart did heal up, but looking back on that day I honestly feel I got away with one. According to the Red Cross “Almost 90% of people with serious injuries caused by careless diving are confined to a wheelchair FOR LIFE” Have you ever done something that was so very dangerous and you didn’t even realize how fortunate you were until you look back in time? It’s important to reflect on these types of situations … You’ve paid the tuition, make sure you learn the lesson. I have heard of people who have just entered the water wrong or done too sharp of a shallow dive and ended up as a quadriplegic. I am very fortunate to be able to walk and to be spared the grief that so many other people have endured. Check out these diving tips.

If my story ended there I guess I would have a brush with tragedy, but came up roses. Unfortunately I got caught many years later doing something that I knew was dangerous. I have had people come up to me after my safety presentation and say “Thanks for telling me how dangerous that is … I do it all the time and have never had a problem”. One time I said to myself, “Well I guess it sucks to be me”, but really it doesn’t. Although I’ve suffered through a fairly serious injury I am still very fortunate. As a safety speaker I have really been blessed with an opportunity to tell others to bring themselves back into the moment … examine the risk, be careful with what they are doing and encourage them to “STOP Cutting Corners”.

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