Hi, this is Greg Cooley, the founder of 2LIV4. Today, I wanted to share with you how I found one of my 2LIV4s — scuba diving.
Crushed Childhood Dreams
Growing up, I fantasized about being a certified scuba diver, exploring parts of the world that have never been explored before, and seeing new and, in a lot of cases, alien life. I remember lying down in the bathtub when I was a kid with a straw in my mouth so I could breathe.
In the summer of 1991, I had just completed 7th grade, and my dream of becoming a certified scuba diver was unwavering. Unfortunately, life had a different plan, and later that summer, I suffered a traumatic head injury along with a spinal cord injury. Needless to say, my dreams of becoming a certified scuba diver were all but extinguished. On the bright side, I was so focused on relearning basic human activities, such as speaking, eating, sitting upright, and walking, that I did not have any time to see my dream dwindling away.
Diving Dreams Reignited
It was not until college when suddenly, my dreams of becoming a certified scuba diver were reignited and within grasp. During my first year in 1998, I had to select a PE course; not being able to do most physical activities, I was at a loss. I didn’t see a reason to even look at the classes being offered, but then my eyes locked on scuba diving.
The next day, I tracked down the instructor and asked him if somebody with a disability could dive and if I could sign up for his scuba diving course. He said he did not see why not, but I would need a doctor to sign off before doing the pool work. Of course, I had to ask him again because my head was about to explode, and my entire body was tingling with excitement; my childhood dream was coming true!
After sitting through the first few weeks of the class and passing all the quizzes, it was time to get in the pool. Not knowing what kind of doctor I should see, I made an appointment with an ordinary ear, nose, and throat doctor the weekend before starting the pool work.
Crushed Again...and Again
As I pulled into the doctor's office with my mom, I was beyond excited. I can’t remember how long the appointment lasted, but I do remember the doctor’s last
words, “If you go scuba diving, you will have a seizure underwater, and you and your dive buddy will die.” For a second time, my dream was extinguished.
A few years later, my younger brother got certified through school and went on a dive trip. I don’t think I had ever been more depressed, but every time I thought about diving, the doctor’s words reverberated in my head. “If you go scuba diving, you will have a seizure underwater, and you and your dive buddy will die.”
Never Give Up
A few more years passed, and I had graduated college and just started a new job. One Saturday, I checked the mail and noticed a pamphlet with three individuals in wetsuits holding their fists to the sky. This immediately got my attention. Upon closer examination, I saw that the brochure came from Craig Hospital in Denver, where I lived. I scanned over it and read about three Craig Hospital alumni who had gone on a dive trip.
The following Monday, I contacted Carol Huserik at Craig Hospital, and the first words out of my mouth were, “Can people with head injuries dive?” Carol politely replied, “Yes! You would just have to get a doctor to sign off.” She then gave me a list of actual dive doctors to go and see, and lucky for me, one was in Denver. I immediately called and made an appointment for the following week.
Later that evening, I told my mom I had made an appointment with a doctor to see about scuba diving. Obviously, the words from my previous doctor still echoed clearly in her head because she was not happy with me. However, I was dead set on making that appointment and ended up riding my bike to it.
After the doctor completed my physical exam, he signed off on my medical release. I was now closer than ever to becoming a certified scuba diver. That night, I signed up for the next available course at the local dive shop, which consisted of two weeks in the classroom and one week of pool work. My mom accompanied me on my first day of class, and after she spoke to the instructor, she still wasn’t totally comfortable, but I do think she felt a little better.
Open Water, Here I Come!
The classroom and pool work went by extremely fast and without any unforeseen problems. The next step was a trip to Homestead Crater in Utah to do my last two free water dives before getting certified. By this time, a mom felt a lot better and was more than happy to take me to Utah. After completing my last two free water dives, I had accomplished my dream of being a certified scuba diver.
Since having my dream squashed twice and then accomplishing it, I have learned two very important lessons.
Include your family in any major decisions.
When your dream is on the line, do not give up until all avenues have been explored.
This is how I found one of my 2LIV4s, and I hope it will help you find yours as well.
For more information on adaptive scuba diving in the Denver, Colorado area, visit a1scuba.com/adaptive-scuba.