Weighty Matters

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Stress Overload

on April 27, 2016

So, just when I thought the stress was easing up and that I’d turned a corner, I got hit with a big thing.  Not big as in someone died big, but big.

We had a beautiful weekend here in the Florida Keys.  I went to Tai Chi class on Saturday, ran some errands and then stopped in to see a friend at work to firm up plans for a boat outing on Sunday.  While there I mentioned that I was driving up to see the Jungle Book movie and invited her to come along.  That excursion was fun.  We enjoyed the movie and then picked up dinner for ourselves and some other friends who are knew parents.  All around a great day.

Sunday morning dawned sunny and gorgeous with perfect wind and weather conditions to go out on the boat.  My friend came over and we headed out for a favorite snorkel spot.  Along the way we saw wild dolphins three times!  We changed the snorkeling plans when not another boat was moored out there and I felt uncomfortable about us being there alone.  Instead we went to a popular sandbar and anchored up.  We snacked, chatted and relaxed in the sun.  It was nearly perfect.

Great ride home with me loving the speed and smoothness of my practically new boat engines.   We got home when the tide was too low for me to float my boat onto the boat lift, so we tied up at my sea wall.  I flushed the engines and hosed down the boat.  My friend and I chatted for a while more and then she left.  The plan was that I’d go back out in a couple of hours when the tide had risen enough for me to move the boat to the lift.

I puttered around the house, did some laundry, had dinner and actually wrote the blog post that I last posted.  Then i went outside to lift the boat and discovered that it was sinking.

Yes, sinking, as in it was listing to port and water was already filling up.  I immediately called friends on the phone in a near panic.  Seriously, coming out to find a sinking boat is not anything I’d ever previously experienced.  Bless my friends!  They rushed over and brought other people with them to help.  People I didn’t even know jumped in my boat and tried to bail water out.  It was amazing.  Unfortunately, it was also too late.  The tide continued to rise; water continued to fill and before we could believe it, my boat was on the bottom with its hull filled and the engines submerged.  (The water isn’t deep enough outside my house to cover the entire boat, but the parts that were covered with water were bad enough.)

More people came over so we could assess.  I was so stressed I could barely think straight.   It was awful but, again, having a boat sink was a new experience.

Thanks to knowledgeable people, I learned that once engines are submerged in salt water, you want them to remain submerged until you have experienced boat engine mechanics standing by to do something referred to as “pickling”.  So, everyone agreed that the boat was not going anywhere until the following day. At that point, one of the guys who happens to run the local boat towing service and salvage operation would come and raise her from the bottom… after, of course, the insurance company authorized him to do so.

About the most useful thing I did that night, other than thank everyone profusely, tip them some money in gratitude for trying to save my boat, and not pop a clot and pass out from stress, was to call my insurance company and open up a claim.  I went inside after everybody went home and sobbed myself into a massive headache.  Then I called my family and my close friend to warn them before I or anyone else posted the pictures on Facebook.  After a couple more hours of stress and hand wringing, I went to bed where I slept great for about three hours.  I woke up to use the bathroom and that was that.  Thoughts, what-ifs, what nexts and a myriad of other unproductive things ran through my brain like crazed hamsters and my ability to fall back asleep abandoned me.

I spent the next three hours veering between trying to lull myself with going through Tai Chi moves in my head and worrying about what would happen the next day.  In between I had intermittent lapses of confidence where I questioned whether I was competent to have and operate a boat and then more “Oh my God, what happened? Why did it sink?  What if it had happened when we were out to sea???” anxiety.  Around 6 a.m. I dozed again and got in a solid hour before my alarm went off.

After letting work know that I might be late, I sat down and tried to alleviate my stress by working out a detailed step-by-step plan of action.   I find it very calming if I have a plan.  It makes me feel powerful and, okay, more in control.  By the time 8 a.m. rolled around, I knew which boat yard I was calling and was ready to dial the claims rep for the insurance so that I could give him/her the name and number of the salvage guy.  By 8:30 I’d left a message for the claims rep and had spoken to the boat yard owner, with whom I’d previously served on a nonprofit board.  She assured me that she would have a qualified, skilled mechanic ready to pickle my engines as soon as we got the boat to them.

Isn’t the idea of pickling an engine counter-intuitive?  When you pickle a vegetable you put it in brine.  Here we were taking engines out of the briny ocean and then cleaning them of any and all salt water.  Having done all that I could, I went to the office, thinking that falling behind in my work would only heap on more tension and anxiety.  On my way to work, the claims rep called and was terrific.  After speaking to her, I contacted the salvage company and put the rescue of my boat into action.

A few hours later we commenced the operation.  By we I mean the salvage captain and his staff.  Whew, was that a big old undertaking with air bags, pumps, lines, more pumps.  I don’t know how they did it, but they did.  Within a couple of hours, despite a few minor hitches and setbacks, my boat was off the bottom being towed to the marina.

All that was Monday.  It’s now Wednesday night and feels like I’ve lived a week in a couple of days.  I’m exhausted but not as stressed any more.  My boat is in good hands.  The insurance adjuster should be down tomorrow.  The insurance company assured me multiple times that I am completely covered. Good thing on that because raising the boat alone cost between $2500 and $3000.  We still don’t know yet why it sank.  I also don’t know whether the insurance company will simply decide to total it.  However, I’m sleeping better, functioning well, getting things done and not giving in to the inefficient worrying.  I even went and rowed this morning and will do another class tomorrow.

I’m not being terrific with my food, which is a downer, but I’m not being a total disaster either.   I continue to do the best that I can do in the face of extraordinary circumstances.  I’ve decided that, rather than heap additional pressure on myself, I will be as good as possible and treat myself with love and understanding.   It’s the best that I can do right at this moment.

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