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Dive Dry with Dr. Bill

#703: You Missed Me... I Missed This

While I lay in a hospital bed for weeks at a time, you my loyal readers had an opportunity to re-read several of my previous columns as Barbara kept them coming at you. If you're like me, it sometimes takes two or three reads of a column for me to understand what I wrote! Here's why you were treated to the vintage articles.

I went in for an emergency appendectomy May 2nd, the day before I was to fly out to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean to film more footage of manta rays, whale sharks and other subjects for future DVDs and columns. Needless to say, I was not able to make my flight and missed out on that incredible opportunity. I'll have to re-book soon before the Maldives sink below sea level (like some of my former students) due to the rising ocean levels.

They discovered that my appendix had a very rare type of cancer so follow up surgery was scheduled for late July. At least I got a month of diving in before that and had a nice weekend diving in our kelp forests with buddy Catherine Ngo before I went in for surgery. My hospital stay was to be just one week, but you know what they say about how to stay healthy. I'm not referring to an apple a day; but to the adage that if you want to stay well, stay out of hospitals.

There was some early cancer on my colon, so a portion of it was removed but the surgery rendered me cancer free. Thanks to complication after complication, I was bedridden for nearly five weeks and had a second surgery. Thanks to this greatly extended stay, I missed out on meeting up with my old friends Jean-Michel Cousteau and Dr. Richard Murphy at Cousteau Family Camp in mid-August. My surgeon did release me on September 1st, but within days I was back in the hospital with yet another infection.

This third stay exhausted my Medicare days so I was dumped into a nursing home for the last 10 days of my confinement. Believe me, this was hardly the place to go to heal... but the dismal conditions did accelerate my desire to get back to the island ASAP. Fortunately my son Kevin liberated me from there and brought me back to the island where I continue to heal here in paradise.

This third incarceration interfered with yet another marine biological event. The BBC had contacted me a few months ago about their desire to film several species in our waters for their incredible Blue Planet TV series. I had given them a number of suggestions about where to find these critters and the best time to do so. Two of the fish they were interested in were favorites of mine, the orangethroat pikeblenny (Cheanopsis alepidota), whose courtship antics are far more interesting than mine; and the Pacific torpedo or electric ray (Torpedo californica), which can be an electrifying subject. They hoped I would be able to dive and film with them.

The film crew came out in September as I lay flat in my hospital bed. I begged with my doctors and nurses to spring me for this project, but it was obvious (even to me) there was no way I could dive even if they did let me escape. I still had a hole in my colon and another in my abdomen. Filming for BBC would have been yet another highlight in my career... but fate interceded. At least I'll be able to provide them with some footage they need.

So I'm sure all my readers missed me over the last 11 weeks. Thanks to many of you for your support. I missed you as well. And I also missed a lot of great opportunities to film more interesting critters. It will be a while before I dive again as there is a possibility of another surgery in my future. I'll really have to be creative in writing future columns until I can once again descend with my camera in hand.

© 2016 Dr. Bill Bushing. Watch the "Dive Dry with Dr. Bill" underwater videos on Catalina Cable TV channel 29, 10:00 AM weekdays and on Charter Communications Cable channel 33 at 7:30 PM on Tuesdays in the Riverside/Norco area. You can also watch these episodes in iPod format on YouTube through my channel there (drbillbushing). Please help me climb out of self-imposed poverty... buy my DVD's (see this link). Yes, take Dr. Bill home with you... we'll both be glad you did!

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Orangethroat pikeblenny male courtship display and female inside male's tube (left);
torpedo or electric ray at Farnsworth Bank, Catalina Island.

This document maintained by Dr. Bill Bushing.
Material and images © 2016 Star Thrower Educational Multimedia