Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Follow Your Dreams; Exceed Your Own Expectations

Coral Reef Researchers (I am on the far right); San Salvador, Bahamas 05.2005

At the end of my Marine Science Minor program I had the chance to research coral reefs in San Salvador, Bahamas in 2005. The trip lasted through the week of my birthday; not a bad present! One of the requirements to participate on this trip was to obtain a full body physical, which focused on scans and x-rays for the main organs such as the heart and lungs. Since I had my hopes set on getting my Scuba Diving Certification this was a necessity for me. 

The most unfortunate news that I was given by the doctors during my visit was that I had an Acute Lung Disease. I remember thinking to myself how can this be? What does this even mean? Will this affect my ambitions to discover a new species? Will this hinder me from diving to the great depths of the unknown? Is this something really serious? To answer all the above questions, I am limited on the depth of diving that I can excel to, but if I descend deeper than the amount of air that my lungs can hold I will have serious problems develop.  This disease is defined as the decrease in the total volume of air that the lungs are able to hold. Often, this is due to a decrease in the elasticity of the lungs themselves or caused by a problem related to the expansion of the chest wall during inhalation.  This disease may have limited my diving time underneath the water and the depth that I can swim to, but it cannot take the passion of my love for the ocean away. If anything, I am still able to snorkel and scuba dive a few times each month. The doctors suggested that I acquired this disease due to the second-hand smoke that I was introduced to as a child. Regardless, after all these tests it was determined that I could still attend my research project off the little island in the Bahamas. Of course, this was the best news that I was given that week! 

Headed to our First Dive (I am on the left with pink tank top); San Salvador, Bahamas 05.2005

I voyaged to the small research island of San Salvador, Bahamas with a few of my other classmates. We had a week of diving, scientific talks from a few researchers on the island, and learning more about the environment that we were in. The first few days of the trip concentrated on diving in both the day and the night, which small pick up trucks placed us and our gear in the back as we ventured to the other side of the island for some great scuba diving! I was able to partake in all of the diving here in the shallower areas of the reefs. I snorkeled a great bit when my classmates were finalizing their last exercise to obtain their certification. I cannot quite describe to you the feeling that overcame my body when I knew that I could not finish my scuba diving certification. 

Girl Researchers (I am on the far left); San Salvador, Bahamas 05.2005

I did not think that it was capable to feel this much disappointment and frustration at once. I can honestly say this was one of the worst times that I felt unconfident about myself and my purpose in life. Alas, the uncomfortable emotions passed and soon I realized that life has much more to offer me. This was just one of the more significant obstacles that I will face in this lifetime.  That night I slept few hours because I was thinking about my future as a Marine Biologist and the goals that I needed to succeed to get reach my full potential in this field. The next morning I was awoken by the news that my scuba diving instructor/ professor wanted to give me my scuba diving certification. He made me promise that I would continue diving, but I would not push my limits too much when I was submerged underwater. I still have the urge to scuba dive into the deep mysterious crevices in the ocean, but I tend to let that feeling pass. For now, I will keep diving to the shallower depths and continue snorkeling my heart out!

Last Photo Taken of Trip (I am on the bottom with light blue shirt); San Salvador, Bahamas 05.2005
The remaining of days on the island was spent with the locals. My classmates and I were presented with the chance to teach 7th, 8th, and 9th graders on how to snorkel in the local bay next to their school. I have included an article in the next post which describes this event and serves as a clear representation of my past when I first professionally started working in the marine world.