Publisert av: For the Little Prince - Per | april 18, 2008

Back Flips: Can You Do It? Yes You Can!

Back Flips: Can You Do It? Yes You Can!

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From time to time, we look back at all of the great times that

we have had as a kid or, perhaps, as a college student.

We may sit in a chair and daydream about the things we

used to do. On the way to a pool party, I was driving and

thinking that very thing, «I wonder if I can still do a back

flip off of the high diving board.» «Oh, Sandy», I thought

to myself, «That is probably something you just shouldn’t

do…..» A forty year old doing a back flip off of the high

diving board? It’s not going to happen, honey.


I experienced something so very cool on Wednesday evening.

We were invited to attend a ‘Pool Party’ at a local aquatic



I can’t say that I enjoy the transition from wearing street clothes

to icy, cold water. But,sometimes, you have to

do the things that you do not want to do.


This is the first time in three years that I would be swimming

with three cute little preschoolers and early elementary

students. «This is going to be a blast», the oldest one said.

«Swimming is fun», said the middle child. And, the youngest

wearing his Lightning McQueen swimming shorts could barely

wait to get out in to the pool.


We got on our swimming suits and marched out in a row to

the edge of the pool. My two oldest children joined a friend in

the 3′ foot end of the pool. Lightning McQueen and I headed to

the diving board. «Let’s get this over with», I thought to myself.


I alerted the lifeguard and recruited a young volunteer to watch

Lightning McQueen while I did what I always dreaded; simply

getting in to the pool.


I marched up to the low board and climbed the ladder. While

at the top of the ladder, I just started running. Getting to

the end of the diving board I gave a little push off the end and,

«Splash!», I entered the water with the enthusiasm of a sillly

seal at the zoo. I swam a while under water and then,

«Splash!» I jumped up out of the water and cheered,

«I can do this!» Inside of me, my spirit smiled.


It had been several years since I last practiced my diving skills.

I did not think that I should dare to dive again. My muscles

had been very unreliable and at times I would fall or trip with

out a good reason. I had tumbled down the stair way too many

times to count. I had tripped over the corner of a trundle bed

and was sent flying into the wall making a 5″ x 5″ inch hole.

[A nurse practitioner told me not to fix it; «Frame it!», she



It is not that I have a limb missing. I haven’t had a major

stroke or a heart attack. I have all of my senses and can do

most things reasonably well.


I recall one time when I was playing with my little

«Lightning McQueen» in the living room. We were dancing

with the two older sisters. We were simply celebrating that we

were having a great day! I held my little Lightning McQueen

by the area just above the elbows. With both arms, I held him

and began to twirl around, just once or twice, or maybe three

times. We were laughing and giggling. In a second, my

hands simply let go, unannounced, and Lightning McQueen

tumbled to the floor.


His little face asking, «Why did you do this?»

He began crying.

I began crying.

My muscles simply ‘let go’.

They went from fully functional to

jellyfish mode.

I could not understand it.

I was scared. I was shocked.


Months later, I did a sleep test and sleep apnea

was confirmed. I discussed the symptoms with a

neurologist and they tested for narcolepsy. I had

all of the symptoms. The specialist said that

some people don’t meet all of the criteria but, they

still may have narcolepsy. Cataplexy is a tale tell

sign of narcolepsy. It is when your muscles simply

let go or relax when you are experiencing ‘fear, shock,

grief, laughter, or anger’.

Profound cases of cataplexy due to narcolepsy show

people falling down at the mention of something funny

or at the thought of something scary.


Narcolepsy with cataplexy is a person’s worst

nightmare. It is a condition that gives the

appearance of someone being ‘drunk’ without

ever having a sip of alcohol. It is dropping things

that you should hold on to and falling down in the

very worst situations- when you are extremely happy or

when you are extremely fearful.


Diving off of the diving board was just one more

statement to the world that I am not giving in to

Narcolepsy and Sleep Apnea. I am NOT giving in or

giving up.


I have spent a considerable amount of time

volunteering with children. I always make

sure that a back-up is within a short distance.

I have never fallen asleep while outdoors in

the open air. I have never ‘passed out’. I

do fall asleep at the wheel and my doctor

and I have an agreement for my safety. I

drive short distances with my children, I never,

ever offer any one else a ride in my car, and when

I drive long distances, I stop and nap about

once per hour.


The only problem that I have

encountered thus far is a host of police officers

stopping to check up on me; shining a flash light

in my face, and checking on my driving status.

«Have you been drinkin’, Ma’am?», is common place.


Concerning my faith, every time that a police

officer stops to check on me in a parking lot

or stops me for driving too slowly or for driving too

close to the side of the road, I see it as a sign-

that my angels are working overtime to keep me safe.


After several incidents where officers had inquired

about drugs or alcohol, I have resorted to immediately

stating that «I have not been using drugs or alcohol,

I am just overtired.» It doesn’t make for very good

prose or poetry, but it is something that I need to

say every time a policeman stops to check on me.

If I don’t say it, they will ask.

Narcolepsy is exasperated by stress and there is

stress in abundance in each of our daily lives.

Taking time out during a busy week, declining

an opportunity to socialize and taking a nap

instead, asking for help to carry groceries,

refusing to carry fine china or

breakables, simply spending quiet time with my

family, are some simple tools for dealing with

Narcolepsy. I take Provigil, a miracle drug for

Narcolepsy. I don’t think I could be comfortable

with out it. Provigil provides approximately

12 hours of wakefulness and alertness. After

12 hours, it is back to square one. Remember

the phrase, H.A.L.T.=Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired?

Then, halt. I also rely on K.I.S.S. Keep it simple

stupid. 🙂


When did you first recognize the symptoms of


1) My professor during my freshman year asked

me about the possibility of a sleep disorder.

2) I lost the ability to water ski in 1990. I

could water ski perfectly well before that time.

3) In an attempt to water ski in 1999, I noted

that my elbows and knees simply could not get

me up on the water. I swallowed a lot of minnows.

4) Moving from place to place with laundry or

groceries, my muscles are constantly releasing

and letting go. I leave a trail of junk behind me

as I am motivating from point A to point B.

5) Hypogognic hallucinations: When you wake

up or when you are falling asleep, there is a

blurr between wakefulness and sleepiness.

An example would be someone jumping up out

of bed and yelling, «There’s a fire! Get out of the house!»,

when in fact, the person was dreaming about a fire

immediately before this sleep disturbance. It is

a blurr between sleep and awake when someone

is acting out their dreams, and yet are sound asleep.

Yes, it is a bit unsettling to know that it happens.

6) Narcoleptic patients experience dreaming when they

are awake and when they are asleep. Usually, there

is a definite boundary between awake and asleep.

Narcoleptic patients experience a blurr between awake

and asleep. One patient told me that he had to ask,

«Is this real, or is this not real?» «Did this happen or

was it a dream?» That is narcolepsy.


So- being able to do a back flip off of the diving board

and not experiencing cataplexy was a good moment in

my life. A moment when I could say that «This is one

thing that Narcolepsy can not take away from me;

Swimming and Diving.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Journal Entry:
I stood on the edge of the diving board, my back to the pool, clearing
my thoughts, simply erasing fear with a whisper, I prepared to dive,
staring at the wall, my toes gripping the edge of the board, one
leg straight, one leg bent at the knees, generating four bounces,
and I pushed off of the edge…reaching, reaching, reaching,
propelling myself into the icy cold water, and revolving 360 degrees,
four feet above the board, landing feet first into…the icy, cold water.
Ahh! This is life. This is good. I am 21 years old again. Nobody can
take that from me. My greatest fear, doing a back dive, became one
of my greatest pleasures; doing back flips off of the high diving board.

Sandy S. Zoo



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