first, and hopefully last SWB story
Here is my first, and hopefully last SWB story. Kayaked a mile with my buddy to a 60-90 foot spot. I was tired from diving the day before (my usual 40 foot range) and was fighting a slight cold, but felt good. Did six or seven drops to 70+ feet trying for some wary mu. My best was 76 ft for 1:32. Felt totally relaxed and in control. At this time, I realized my weight belt was too heavy (8lbs for a 3.5mm two piece). It was fine for the previous day's dive in shallows, but I was working hard to get back up. After swimming on the surface for onos, decided to make a last drop. I got to 71 feet, saw a nice sized hogfish swim right up to me, and I honestly stared at it for about 20 seconds while it swam back and forth in front of me. Finally shot it to avoid going home empty handed, and also wondered how it would feel to bring a fish up from that depth. I remember it getting tangled on the bottom and pulling it free, swimming up totally relaxed. The last image in my brain was the surface just in front of me, with the sun in my face. My buddy tells me I made it to within a few feet of the surface, and then slowly started sinking back down. It took him only about twenty or thirty seconds to swim over and pull me back up. I clearly remember the water rippling above me, and wondered why I couldn't make it to the surface, no matter how hard I kicked. Never felt like I lost consciousness except for maybe five seconds of darkness at the end. My buddy said I was convulsing, with bloodshot eyes, and then I just stopped moving: white face, blue lips, and no breathing for about 25 seconds. I remember coming back hearing "I got you, I got you."

Now for the post-SWB story: I felt weak and dizzy, vomited a few times, and had about a cup of fluid gurgling in my lungs. Felt like a lousy snorkel that traps the water in the mouthpiece and gurgles with every breath. Coughed every few seconds for several minutes trying to get it out, but couldn't. Felt like I couldn't take a deep breath. Every muscle in my body ached, and I wasn't much help on the paddle back. Surprisingly, my mind felt totally normal. We packed our gear and went for lunch, but my stomach didn't feel ready for food. I crashed for two hours, then was a zombie at work for four hours. Didn't eat lunch or dinner that day, but never felt hunger. Got home, still feeling short of breath, and crashed again for about twelve hours. Developed a fever and more shortness of breath. My pee was reddish-orange, so I drank plenty of fluids to flush it out, but then felt like my lungs were getting full of fluid. Every muscle ached, and when I woke up the next morning, felt like I was eighty years old. Went to work for eight hours, again feeling like a zombie. Should have gone to the ER and at least gotten a chest X-ray, but just kept going. I was able to dive about two weeks later, but it took months to a year to get over the fear of going more than 1:40 (the time I blacked out).

Pushing it when you are tired from previous days dive.
Pushing it while fighting a cold.
Looking up while surfacing (pinches the carotid arteries to the brain)
Overweighting. I knew this, but was too lazy to remove the weight.
Just because you feel relaxed doesn't mean you won't black out.
Don't overexert yourself after a SWB or your muscles will punish you.
Seek medical attention afterwards.

The only good decision I made was to dive with a buddy who watched, had the right reflexes, and knew what to do.

Time in Hawai'i: