I am lucky enough to just be getting back from Bermuda. A friend had a great opportunity to go and was kind enough to take Jolene and I with her. I travel whenever I get the chance but I always opt for Europe or Disney or New Orleans. I never even consider going to an island. I cant swim and water kind of freaks me out. I went to the Bahamas in my twenties and didn’t care for it. I don’t really gamble and I get bored sitting in the sun. After Bermuda, I have totally changed my mind.
It was a quick easy flight from Philly, less than 2hrs. The island was like one big garden and the locals where wonderful. It never gets too hot or too cold. Its a year ago this month that I lost my Dad. My Rheumatoid Disease is on the warpath. I have a ton of pain and we are searching for a new drug therapy. I’m having problems walking and I have fallen several times. I thought this would be my chance to really work on Mindfulness and Mediation. I would be in a beautiful place with no itinerary. I could just relax. I could try to stay in the moment, really take things in, slow my mind down, let go of my worries and complaints. I thought if I can’t do it here, I’ll never be able to do it.
We had a couple of bumps in the road but anyone who travels know that is part of the experience. You have to just go with it and consider problems and how you handle them as part of the adventure. If you like control (and I do), travel is a great reminder to how little control you have over anything. Just before we left Hurricane Hermione formed. I thought, no big deal. Bermuda is only effected by hurricanes that run up the east coast. Then Hermione did just that. Did I mention I also hate storms? Thunder and Lightening suck. I do my best to avoid them. Now I had to fly around a Hurricane to get to Bermuda. Can I get a freaking break? I pulled myself together and got on the plane. It was a little bumpy but not too bad. I sucked it up and then I was there in a little piece of paradise.
We stayed at a big fancy resort. It caters to guests who have way more money than I could ever dream of. I had concerns about feeling out of place. I am a casual person and lead a very middle class life. This place belongs in an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. At first I felt like an everyday Joe traveling undercover as a rich person. My intimidation quickly gave way to “How cool is this!” The staff seem to anticipate our every need and except for their beach area, we saw very little of the other guests. The staff made it so easy to relax and feel at home. Just wave the little red flag and they brought another Pina Colada. I was totally into it.
We went to their private beach every other day, alternating with the infinity pool. I usually am not a big beach person. I don’t like to get sandy and I am too nervous to really wade out into the waves. I can’t swim. I am afraid of the waves and even at the pool, all I do is dangle my legs in the water. I am not a beach baby.
The second day we went to the infinity pool. It was so nice and most of the time we had the place to ourselves. When other guest showed up, I cringed inside. Would people this rich be jerks? It turned out that most were friendly and nice. I was very comfortable there and I little by little tried to get into the pool. I got to the third step. I sat there happily and we talked and made fun of Jolene. I always enjoy that. Then out of nowhere a big storm cloud showed up and there was a huge clap of thunder. I realized I was sitting chest deep in water with lightning an thunder. I jumped out of the pool and rushed over to my chair to grab my things. My crappy Rheumatoid leg decided to lock up. Whack! I hit the stone patio like a ton of bricks. I was disoriented for a minute. Jol and our friend rushed to my side and then slowly got me up. I limped back into the villa. Everything hurt. It seems like I jammed every joint in my upper body. My pain level jumped up a few points for the next couple days but I stayed determined to have a freaking relaxing damn vacation if it killed me.
The next day we went back to their beach club. The RA has made my legs wobbly and cant be trusted. Walking in the sand is a calculated risk. The beach staff immediately tuned into Jolene’s cane and put her in a four wheel beach vehicle and delivered her to our lounge chairs. I love denial, so I declined the offer to get a ride down to the water. I walked slowly, carefully and painfully made it to the water without incident. Neither their pool or beach have lifeguards. Maybe because they are private? Maybe because it’s not the U.S.? I did’t really think about it. I should have.
Jolene got right the water. That day the beach had only about 15 families and no one was in the water. (Missed Clue #1) I stood at the water’s edge and immediately started my worry mode. Jolene! Don’t go out so far! Jolene…You have your glasses on, you’re going to loose them! Come back in a little! She says she couldn’t hear me but I think I was being ignored. Finally I sat down and waved for a drink. OK Karri, you are acting like a nut. Just sit down and have a drink.
I know, I’ll take pictures to distract myself until it’s Pina Colada time. Wow, look at how hard the waves are hitting the rocks today. The ocean spray looks great. It’s crashing against those rocks so high into the air! I have to get a picture of that! (Missed Clue #2)
My drink came and I started to relax. The water is so amazingly blue! And the sand is so cool. Even with this strong sun, it doest get hot. Weird. I wonder why? Hey look at that ship out on the horizon. I wonder how far away it is? Jol was in my peripheral vision but I was not going to watch her. I was determined to just focus on the big bright blue waves and the incredibly loud sound they made crashing onto the beach. (Missed Clue#3) No worries. I got this.
Then from the corner of my eye I saw a huge wave crash down onto Jolene. In a flash she was gone. WTF? It seemed like forever before she popped up. Then she was rolling in the surf, totally our of control. She was gasping for air and flailing her arms. Before I could even process what I was seeing, another huge wave hit and she was gone again. Shit, Shit, Shit!!!
A third wave hit her and she was in full panic. She was calling Karri! Help me! Another wave hit and she was gone again. Without thinking, I jumped up and ran into the water. Just like in the movies, I felt no fear and my legs worked. I had no pain. I grabbed her arm firmly and said “It’s OK. I got you!” It was the last thing I said before the wave hit me and I was gone too.
I was underwater spinning over and over in slow motion. I was scraping and banging against the bottom. I couldn’t tell which was was up. My nose and mouth were full of water. I thought to myself, this is the end. I going to die.
I didn’t know the undertow was pulling me out and somehow Jolene had been able to grab my bathing suit strap and was trying to hold onto me. Then I felt strong arms pulling me up. I was coughing out the water and was totally disoriented. Two men had me. They led me to the shore and a woman took me. She brought me to a chair and spoke gently to me. She said , it’s OK. They’ll get your friend. Its OK now. It turned out that men and women all over the beach came running to help. They just jumped up, ran into that pounding surf and helped us. Wow.
I looked up to see Jolene still rolling in the surf among the breaking waves but now she was being held by 5 men to prevent her from being pulled out further. Another showed up with a beach chair and planted it near Jol. They waited for a brake in the waves, then on the count of 3, they helped Jol as she used the chair to pull herself up. Two men put their arms under hers and walked her back to her chair. They all stayed to make sure we were OK. They offered to call an ambulance or the resort for help. We refused everything but the families came by thru out the day to check on us. They were kind and sympathetic. One woman told me the same thing happened to her in May and she to to go to the hospital for Xrays. She had injured her hip from being slammed to the ocean bottom.
First things first. I waved the flag for more drinks. I ran that poor waiter out that day. If you are wondering if multiple Pina Coladas are really a good way to handle anxiety, trauma and pain, the answer is definitely ..yes. Yes,they are.
So except for a high speed face plant onto cement in a thunder storm and a near drowning incident, we had an amazing time. The people in Bermuda were so nice! How nice? A taxi driver who refuses payment because we were too nice to take money from. The grocery store that stayed open 20 minutes extra and still wanted us to take our time and get the things we wanted. The golf cart driver who would not take a tip. It was his pleasure to spend time with us. The concierge that hugged us goodbye and made us promise to come back. The doorman that adopted a blind/mute autistic boy and was so proud to show us pictures of his son. The airport transfer driver who hugged us and goodbye and told us he would be looking for us because how could we not come back? I could go on and on. And how about those “rich” people that I was worried about? They ran from all over the beach and literally saved us. I certainly misjudged them.
What a week. Bermuda’s beauty stunned my mind. The Bermudians stole our hearts. The hotel guests saved our lives. The resort made us feel like celebrities. We really live in an amazing world full of kind loving people. Its so easy to forget that these days. If you need a reminder, save your pennies. Go to Bermuda.
Beautiful Pictures! Scary moments! Thank goodness for Pina Coladas and Kind people!
What a brilliant post and so right too ! I also have never had anything but help and kindness from everyone, even if they don’t know you have severe RA. By the way, I am on Humira and its like magic fairy juice ! One injection a fortnight and it keeps me almost normal ! Keep on writing !
Thank you so much. Writing helps my process my life. It helps me hold onto memories of my Dad and stop hiding my RA from the world. You’re comments mean the world to me.