Her eyes frantically searched for the shark she thought had struck. As she twisted to the left, she was held fast. Her eyes sought out and found the cause. A fishing line! I’ve been snared by a fishing lure! Jayme struggled with the increasing pain in her arm. By ingrained response, she reached for the knife attached to her right ankle to cut herself loose, just as Miguel came up to her side, his knife already in hand and reaching for the line. He hooked the notch in the backside of the knife over the heavy test cable. Knowing time was short before Jayme was jerked away again, he pulled the sharp knife downward, severing the line just as the tension began to increase. His body was tense with unspoken anger. No one was suppose to fish around a dive boat… not ever.
Jayme looked up at her dive master with pain filled eyes, and took a steadying pull on her regulator. The agony was tearing at the delicate fabric of her mind as easily as a light breeze would shred a wet tissue. Miguel eased her down to sit in the sand on the ocean floor while he examined her arm.
Daniel looked up, the curtain of fish having already begun to clear. Jayme and Miguel are too far away, he thought, and why is she sitting on the bottom? When is eyes adjusted to the distance, he saw the growing cloud around Jayme. Daniel motioned for the Thomas’ to stay where they were and he quickly propelled thru the water, away from them.
By the time Daniel joined the two other divers, his anger, too, had mounted, realizing what had happened. Jayme had already pulled a plastic tube of Vaseline from her BC pocket. It was a standard piece of equipment for her, to keep the sometimes stinging saltwater off her delicate face. Today it may save their lives. She thrust the tube at Daniel, and pointed to her bleeding arm.
Daniel knew the jelly would be a temporary seal, and began applying it around the large lure that had penetrated her soft flesh. Miguel held her elbow as gently as he could, yet firmly enough so Daniel could do what needed to be done. This had to hurt, big time! His admiration for her grew. Jayme closed her eyes while Daniel worked quickly, time was of the essence.
Daniel tapped Jayme’s mask to get her to open her tortured eyes. He pointed his finger at her, then made a circle with finger and thumb, asking ‘you okay?’ Jayme held her right hand flat in front of her, palm down, and tilted it side to side, replying ‘not good – not bad’. He nodded in understanding. Daniel and Miguel exchanged looks, then Daniel motioned toward her arm, and pointed his thumb downward, meaning ‘not good’. This was not the time to be evasive. Jayme was an experienced diver, he knew she could handle the truth. The Reef Roamer insisted on the truth.
Jayme nodded in understanding. Again, she reached for a pocket in her BC, this time retrieving a slate with an attached pencil, which she handed to Daniel to hold while she wrote. She grasped the floating pencil and printed ‘don’t alarm them’. He nodded, it would only create panic if the Thomas’ knew Jayme was badly hurt. But Daniel also knew they had to surface, and soon, before Jayme passed-out from the pain. Besides keeping the blood in, the coating of jelly would keep the saltwater out of the wound and that part of the pain at bay for a time.. A short time. Daniel had no idea how long her endorphins would hold out, or even if they had kicked in yet. Under the circumstances, they probably had, but this woman was full of surprises. He could tell the lure was imbedded deeply and would require prompt medical attention. Any pain she may be feeling was only the beginning. He had to move them and fast. Daniel and Miguel exchanged another knowing look, unspoken priorities were understood by the two dive masters.
Jayme took a couple more deep breaths with her eyes closed, focusing her concentration. Daniel returned to the waiting couple, while Miguel began a slow ascent with the injured Jayme. A few moments later all five divers broke the surface not ten feet from their boat.
“Get them out first!” Jayme whispered to Miguel as he thumbed the control valve, adding air to her BC to keep her afloat. “I’ll be alright. Just get them out!” Miguel nodded, then waved his arm at the boat crew, the sign for distress, then he pointed at the novice divers and jerked his thumb meaning to get them out of the water.
On board the boat, the crew helped the Thomas’ off with their equipment while Daniel turned his attention back to helping his cousin get Jayme out of the water and safely on board.
“How’re you doing?” he asked gently, taking her fins and weight belt.
“Oh, I’ll live, but I think my diving may be over for the day,” she joked with a grimace.
“We’re lucky you’ve got the new style BC, Jayme. Miguel, unclip her shoulder straps first to free her arm, then the chest straps and cumber bun. Just forget about the BC, Jayme, Miguel will get it. Give me your right hand and just let me pull you up.” Free of all her equipment, Jayme lifted out of the water easily. She collapsed at his feet, exhausted.
“What’s the matter with Jayme, Daniel?” Marge was growing concerned. Even to a novice, it was obvious something was terribly amiss.
“She’s been snared by a fishing lure, “ Daniel couldn’t help but smile at the older woman’s genuine concern. “But she’ll be fine, Marge, honestly. This is far from life threatening,” he reassured her as he helped Jayme to her feet.
“It’s a forty minute ride to Marsh Harbor, isn’t it?” Jayme’s wet face was clouded with pain and memories.
“Yes,” Daniel confirmed, “but we’re not going to Marsh Harbor. It’s only twenty minutes back to Holm Cay, and we’ve got a pretty good clinic there. One of the doctor’s thought it would be a good idea to have a series of small clinics throughout the islands, for emergencies – like this. The one in Holm Cay is the first. Marsh Harbor can be a long way off if you need a doctor in a hurry.”
“Yes,…… I know,” Jayme murmured, as they sped along, clipping the crests of the waves.
Jayme was soon sitting on the deck, her back up against the dry locker, letting Daniel slosh fresh water over her head, the jostling to a minimum now. The fresh water felt wonderful on her salty face.
“Marge, I need you to help me with something before all these men start making an even bigger fuss.”
“Of course, dear, what?”
After Marge retrieved the small pair of scissors out of a pocket on Jayme’s dry bag, she sat beside her. “What do you want me to do with these, dear?”
“Are you squeamish, Marge? No? Good. First, on my right arm, pull the wetsuit sleeve down while I hold my left arm steady.” Jayme groaned as the suit came loose. “Now, at the wound, carefully cut my wet suit up the sleeve about six inches, then down the same. Careful not to cut the dive skins yet.” Marge made the cuts as Jayme indicated, and with Jim’s help, slid her hands into the wet suit and around Jayme’s arm. “Good. Now Jim, pull the wetsuit down over Marge’s hands while she holds it away from that lure.” And with that, they freed Jayme’s arm from the neoprene wetsuit with minimal damage to either the suit or the arm. She stood, and they pulled the suit the rest of the way off of her. Jayme sat down, exhausted.
“Did that hurt too much, Jayme?” Marge was hovering like a mother hen.
“Not as much as if we had waited for the doctor to butcher my suit. Some pain just isn’t physical.” Marge chuckled, patting Jayme’s good hand. “The Skins should be much easier to do.” And they went through the same procedure, only this time, after freeing her arm, Jayme left the Skins on from the waist down for protection from the sun and wind.