July 06, 2011
As most of you know….. in my own journey to health and wellness, I have evolved into more of a holistic approach to life, and so has my blog. My life has become much simpler and it’s amazing how the little things excite me. So you can imagine my excitement when a big thing like a 1200 pound, 13 foot pilot whale comes into my life.
I first heard about the Pilot whales from my massage practicum teacher, Arynette Neal. She had gone down to volunteer and came back to school with the most amazing stories from her day. As soon as I heard her talk about it, I knew this was something I just had to do.
It’s pretty amazing what an experience like this can reflect to me.
My journey has evolved from a physical journey of healing my body from obesity to a holistic journey that includes not only body, but also mind and spirit. I try to view life experiences these days by keeping all three factors in sync.
The ride down to Key Largo itself was interesting. I’ve been wanting to go volunteer with the whales for a month and had put that out to the Universe. Each time I thought I would get to go, something happened. The first time I made plans to go the people I was going with could not make it. The second time the others also canceled but the night before I decided I would drive down alone. Being single and an independent woman with a very strong will, I have driven many places alone. Some people think thats nuts, some people think its brave… I think it’s a case of loving myself enough that I have the desire and will to live my life to the fullest.
I guess my desire and will was overruled that day because I woke up with a severe back ache, so I canceled. What I discovered is that they had to euthanize one of the whales that day because she had gotten worse and it was the humane thing to do. I understood why it wasn’t meant for me to be there now. I don’t think I would have handled that well.
But this day July 6.. I am on my way. My friend Theresa arrived in the driveway at 9:00 sharp. First was first of course as she filled up the tank with gas and she ran into Starbucks to fill up our tank with a large coffee with Soy milk. I very rarely get Starbucks now, but when I do I am grateful and it reminds me to not take for granted even the little things in life.
Back in the car we are South bound on the Florida Turnpike with Kid Rock blaring on the radio. Theresa and I are both singing out loud “I was BORRRRNN Free”…
Only a few obstacles such as taking a wrong turn and getting off the turn pike, and then a huge rainstorm presented themselves. However, we were on a mission and felt like two superheros that day. We didn’t argue who was Isis and who was wonderwoman LOL. We were just two superheros on a mission. 🙂
As we arrived at the Marine Mammal Conservancy area I could feel my heart speed up and I got chills all over. I was so excited to be doing this. Don’t get me wrong, I am very saddened that the whales were beached and stranded. However since they were, I want to do anything I can to help them.
Once we signed in we put on wetsuits. Hello.. have you ever tried to put on a wet, wetsuit? People, I don’t wear pantyhose for a reason. My body by nature’s design is thicker on the bottom, I get pantyhose to my knees and its like wrestling with a bear. Well, that is nothing beside putting on a wetsuit.
So I stand there for 5 minutes struggling with the suit, its a full on battle and I stop to take a breath. Thats when I realize 5 minutes of FIGHTING like a banchee and the wetsuit is just at my knees. I grab hold and start to pull, NOTHING. Finally a lady who is a full time volunteer comes to me and says, I can help you but I will have to stand behind you and stick my hands down the back of the suit and pull up, is that ok?
IS THAT OK??? PLEASE DO!! This is where it hits me, I am standing outside in the wide open, wearing just a bathing suit. I have lost that feeling of being embarrassed about my body or that self body image factor that I carried for so long. Then suddenly I hear her grunt out loud and she strains to pull up the, wet wetsuit.
I laughed out loud but finally I was in. Then I grab a pair of dive booties and wait my turn. Very quickly I was called into a secondary position on the whale. My job to hold the right side of her 400 pound tail above water and to take a sponge and keep her dorsal fin wet. Don’t get excited, I know it seems like too much to lift but keep in mind she is in water. That makes holding her up the easy part, but keeping her spine straight so her blow hole doesn’t go under water when she breathes, now that is a different story.
This is where I think to myself I want to just pinch the whale because this moment is hard to believe, but it is myself I want to pinch. I am fully aware this could have never been possible for me when I was 385 pounds.
It took me a minute to fully come into the moment. I mean, I am holding a whale. The “inner child” is dancing and screaming out loud… I AM HOLDING A WHALE. Yet, the adult me has to be in control here and realize this is not play, this is serious.
It’s time for her assessment by the Veterinarian. All the people who are working here are volunteers. The love and compassion flows in abundance and the energy is amazing. Dr. Micah Brodsky comes into the water to assess Pilot Whale #300. He talks to her and her nose pops up from the water. YES, she does recognize people, and yes she has a personality. She is more aware of her surroundings and her situation than many people are aware of their own situations.
Today is not good day for the whale, as Dr. Brodsky listens to her lungs with stethoscope he finds her lower lung lobes to be quite full. We, the volunteers and Dr. Brodsky give her a nebulizer treatment to loosen up the congestion in her lungs. With each breath she brings up drainage from her lungs.
You see, this is not play time and swim with the whales. We have a 1,200 pound sick baby in our hands and she is still critical. Its obvious to me that she is surrounded by people who are volunteering their time, expertise but mainly their love and compassion. That is is what is helping her heal.
Later in the shift we also got to see #300 exercise by swimming around the holding area chasing one of the staff volunteers. He would smack the water holding a bucket of fish in his hand and she would swim after him. After she exercised she got to eat the fish. But, then we hold her as a tube is put in her mouth that she swallows that gives her hydration and medicine.
It was an amazing experience for me, and I pondered it, took it in, processed it and integrated it into my being.
I remember a time when I could not wait to go to Key West, Key Largo or any of those sunfilled island areas. I santed to sit on the beach in a hammock and sip on margarita’s from the Tiki bar..this is experience was so far from those earlier hopes and dreams. My mind tells me how far my body and spirit have evolved on this journey home.
Until next time #300… until next time