Focus PT Oct 2017

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October 2017

Death by Hot Tub? The Day I Almost Drowned

H alloween always gets people talking about the things that scare them. For a lot of people, it’s snakes or spiders. But, it may surprise you to know, the scariest thing that ever happened to me was a near-drowning experience in the hot tub in my parent’s backyard. It was a typical Loma Linda summer day, and my siblings and I were goofing around in the backyard. I must have been about 10 years old. We were all hanging out in the hot tub, playing this stupid (but admittedly very fun at the time) game. One of us would plunge underwater and try to grab the legs of one of the others, pulling them into the hot tub’s “depths.” This was one of those older types of hot tubs with a big hole at the bottom, the main drain for the filtration system. On those types of drains (which don’t exist anymore because of obvious safety risks), there was supposed to be a grate cover, but apparently, this fine summer day, it was not in its place. You might be able to see where this is going. It was my turn to play the game. I ducked beneath the surface, and the warm bubbles washed over me. I sank to the bottom and flipped over, searching with my hands for my brother’s leg.

use — the pressure was too powerful. I grabbed frantically for my brother’s leg, but with my siblings all thinking I was still playing the game, they slapped my hand away, playing around to try to avoid my grasp. Meanwhile, I was thrashing around, still fixed firmly beneath the water. I can’t think of a time that I’ve ever felt that physically helpless, scrambling and struggling at the bottom of the hot tub with my lungs burning for oxygen. Luckily, by the grace of God, my dad was out in the backyard, as well. The way he describes it, he heard the humming of the pump system rise to a rattling roar, as if it were plugged, which it was … with my body. He immediately sprinted over and shut it off. I was free. I broke the surface, gasping and choking. I couldn’t tell you how long I was down there at the bottom of the hot tub — it felt like forever — but I’d swallowed more than my share of hot tub water. Dazed, I tried to explain what had happened to my father, who was now standing over us. But before I could, my brother’s “Oh my gosh!” interrupted me. He was pointing at my back. I couldn’t see, but apparently there was a 10-inch-diameter bubble raised from the skin, red with the blood that had been sucked to the surface. To his credit, my dad wasn’t mad, he was just concerned. Needless to say, I didn’t get back in the hot tub that day or for a few days after. But my near-drowning experience didn’t keep me out of the water for long. Pretty soon, I was goofing around — with safer games — in the pool with my brothers and sister again, and these days, I’m glad to say that this experience has not kept me from going out and catching some waves when I get the chance. If this seems like a horror story for parents who own a pool, rest easy knowing that safety regulations banned these hazardous drains years ago. Again, for obvious reasons.

But right as I found it and began to tug, I realized something was wrong. The vacuum pressure of the pump was sucking at the skin on my back, sticking me against the gaping hole at the bottom of the tub like a suction cup. I shook my shoulders, trying

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to wrench myself free, but it was no

Focus Physical Therapy • Call 949.709.8770 • 1 - Julian Manrique

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