Just twenty minutes after departing the serene Costa Rican coastline off Tamarindo beach coastline something happened inside of my body that I had never before experienced. The day was perfectly ruined by a disturbance attempting, ever so successfully, to erupt from within me.
To say that it was perfect may seem to be a simple overstatement, but it should be understood that this happened in late July. That is the time of the year when the rain is never missed. The heavens do bless outdoor inhabitants with periodic water shutoffs throughout the day. Well, on this particular morning, the water from the sky had been temporarily shut off.
That moment when all around you is beauty at its peak – all senses enhanced by what nature has birthed. Enjoyment of life with my fellow divers excited with the anticipation of complete submersion into sea life. Shared laughter and shared memories. Anticipation. Blue skies. Wonder and joy.
That next moment when your body tells you that something is not okay. And the moment after that when you know it will only get worse, when the new friend you just met asks if you are feeling alright and you know the answer is the very thing that will ruin your day.
My new friend asked, point-blank, whether I tended to get seasick. The truth is that, at the age of 30, I had never been seasick. Apparently, the sea gods wanted to inject me with a healthy dose of humility and empathy. Check and check. Not much compares to showing the nature of your true humanity to a group of new friends (aka strangers I’d met 45 minutes prior) as you lose it overboard a small cramped dive vessel lacking any modicum of privacy.
Several of my dive mates got sick that day just before we all geared up for the first dive so I had plenty of company on the humanity side of things. The initial purge settled me down enough to put my vest, mask, and tank on with only little help. Still feeling much worse than I preferred to be feeling, I voiced my intent to consider skipping the first dive. The dive leader convinced me of what I now believe is one of the 3 best remedies for seasickness. “Get in the water!”
1. Remedy One – Get in the Water
Please understand that I am not a doctor or medically trained expert. I speak from experience alone, but I understand that what might work well for me as a remedy may cause death in someone else. Any diver will tell you that scuba is serious business. It brings majestic experiences and enhances your life, but it is not without the potential for a deadly range of danger. Diving while sick (even motion sickness) can increase a person’s likelihood for increased disorientation while under water. If this occurs, especially for an inexperienced diver like myself, it can be extremely difficult for the brain to process information correctly and proceed safely throughout the dive.
Okay. That’s out of the way. My dive leader gave me a potential solution when I had no other available or workable option to test. Overboard I went. As soon as I submerged by body into the water (prior to my descent), I felt immediate relief. It was like taking a miracle pill. My dive leader checked in with me to assure that I was comfortable to descend, I gave the thumbs up, and down we all went.
The dive was brilliant and I did not feel an ounce of motion sickness. After a spectacular journey through the awe-inspiring sea life, it was time for our ascent. When I stopped to regulate my pressure for about the second or third time, I felt that feeling again and this time I knew exactly what it was. I was about to feed the fish and began to experience a slight panic. I could not very well swim to the surface without regulating. Yet, I could not simply remove my mask and vomit under water. What was I to do?
I closed my eyes and quieted my mind for a few quick moments to manage the panic. Once I did, my PADI training came back to me from years earlier. If I have no choice and must purge underwater, I can best do so through my regulator. That thought alone seemed to calm my panic. Finally, I made it to the surface and abruptly fed the fish. I also noticed that I was not the only one feeding fish that morning.
Is taking a plunge really a good remedy? Yes, I stand behind it because simply getting in the water relieved me of my punishment. Remember that the remedy is to get in the water, not to go diving. I am pleased with my decision to do the dive, but when we arrived at the second dive site, I chose to get the gear off, skip the dive, and go for a surface level swim.
Please note that I cannot tell you why swimming cured me temporarily – we did have to get back on the boat to make it back to land. It really does not make sense because the same concept to motion sickness while on the boat should apply to the same motion that causes sickness while in the water. Then again, maybe this is the reason why for some people driving a vehicle keeps the sickness they experience as a passenger at bay.
2. Remedy Two – Ginger
Ginger, in any form that you can get, it is awesome. Basically, the short and skinny of the science behind this remedy is that it reduces the electrical activity in the stomach and, thereby, reduces nausea. It is a powerhouse spice with limitless beneficial factors. To name a few, ginger has been known to reduce inflammation, assist in digestion, and reduce muscle soreness.
You can get ginger into your body in many ways. Some people prefer ginger candy, while others may prefer ginger snaps or ginger ale. You can buy all of these items at the store, but they tend to contain high amounts of sugar.
My favorite way to get ginger into my system is by preparing something at home with store bought ginger root. I like homemade ginger candy for on the go. The recipe is simple. Peel and slice the ginger into round discs. Boil them with sugar. Strain the ginger pieces, roll them in sugar and allow them to dry in the fridge before storing them in a mason jar. Grab and go!
Another favorite way for me to use the immense power of ginger root is to include a thumb length of the root in a cold-pressed juice combined with apple and carrot. The possibilities are endless.
3. Remedy Three – Prepare Ahead of Time
By far, the sensible remedy is to simply plan ahead. Before embarking on a dive boat, deep sea fishing trip, car trip, or whatever motion tends to make you suffer please follow a few basic rules of day to day healthy living:
- Get plenty of sleep
- Avoid overfilling yourself with food
- Hydrate with water (not sugary sports drinks)
- Avoid alcohol
- Fill your body with nourishing foods containing vital minerals, vitamins, protein, fiber, and healthy fats
- BUT – even if you cannot do the above, don’t forget your emergency remedy meds like Dramamine (at times we just gotta to keep it real!)
How do you treat or prevent seasickness and other motion sicknesses?