What it's Like to Drown

By Don Bolling

Have you ever wondered what it is like to drown? Probably not. I never did. But now I know what it is like. You just have to become very, very tired while swimming and swallow deep gulps of water after which you lose consciousness and it’s all over. No pain. The reason I am here to tell you about it is because of my loving family and the Grace of God. This is what happened:

On February 28, 2007, Barb and I were in the Cayman Islands with our son Rick and Kim and their children, Katherine, 12, and Adam, 10. We decided to go snorkeling at a favorite out-of-the-way beach and reef on 7 Mile Beach, away from all the motels. Rick, Katherine and I swam out a good distance to look for the coral reef where Barb and I had snorkeled on previous visits to Grand Cayman. I felt tired, so I started to swim back to shore by myself, while Rick and Katherine continued to look for the reef. I became very exhausted and was taking water into my mouth through the snorkel. Before I reached shore, I lost consciousness and was somehow washed ashore and laid there with the waves washing over me. A few swimmers on the beach noticed that I didn’t get up and called, “Are you all right?” Rick arrived at the water’s edge about that time, and he, with the help of other men on the beach, pulled me up on the sand. Also Barb, Kim and Adam, had run down from higher up on the beach. I was still unconscious and gasping for breath in Rick’s arms. A woman pulled out her cell phone and dialed 911, then handed her cell phone to Barb, who reported the accident. The 911 operator instructed to put me on my side. A nurse-in-training, who happened to be on the scene, was taking my pulse, and relayed to Barb that it was rapid and weak. Shortly after the ambulance and paramedics arrived with oxygen, I finally began to regain consciousness.

I spent the night in the Georgetown hospital in intensive care, while they drained the water from my lungs that were full, they told me, “up to my shoulders”. I was released from the hospital the next afternoon, and we stayed for the remaining 4 days of our week’s reservation. I was fortunate that the total hospital bill amounted to only $3000, since none of my insurance covered out-of-country medical costs. I am very grateful that all ended well. If I ever go snorkeling again, I will wear a life preserver!