The documentary ‘Last Breath’ tells your harrowing story of you becoming stuck alone in the depths of the sea. Were you conscious at that stage, and if so, what went through your mind while waiting to be rescued?
I definitely fell unconscious at some stage, and it’s not entirely clear how long I was conscious for. We know that, under normal circumstances, the amount of gas I was carrying on my back should have lasted around 5–8 minutes; however, the intensity of my breathing in panic might have affected that estimate. About 40 minutes passed between my umbilical cord being severed and me getting rescued, so the vast majority of it I don’t actually remember. Those eight or so minutes to me seemed very, very lucid. Right at the beginning, when I was in full panic and survival mode, I don’t remember thinking very much at all, apart from being frightened and desperate to find a way to save myself. If you watch the documentary, you can understand the situation I was in a bit better. There came a point – quite quickly – where I realised that I wasn’t going to be saved; I knew there was no way they could get to me before my gas would run out. It was a very sad moment that, strangely, helped dissolve the fear and panic. Once I had given up hope, I knew my chances were pretty much non-existent, so there wasn’t anything left to panic about. I remember a tidal wave of sadness coming over me – and of loss and grief. Not so much for myself but for those I was leaving behind, and for the life I would never have. I was still relatively young, and my life, hopes and dreams were all ahead of me. I can remember thinking a lot about the devastation this ending would cause to other people: my fiancé at the time, with whom we were in the middle of building a house together, and my mother. For all you know that life finite, you still want to get to as much as possible of it. I am not alone in having that experience, of course. There are people who get illness-related death sentences every day, being told they have a finite time to live. So, I don’t consider myself special at all in that sense; however, in my case there was an incredibly small window of time to process everything. In situations like this, you turn from a grown-up individual back into the little child again. I remember calling out into the complete darkness ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry’ to my fiancé and calling out my colleague Duncan’s name hoping he would come and save me even though I knew it was hopeless. I was overwhelmed with desperation, sadness, loneliness and disbelief that I was going to end my days in this strange and alien place and not in my bed when I am 90. I was astonishingly lucky to stay alive in the end.
“There came a point – quite quickly – where I realised that I wasn’t going to be saved; I knew there was no way they could get to me before my gas would run out. It was a very sad moment that, strangely, helped dissolve the fear and panic. Once I had given up hope, I knew my chances were pretty much non- existent, so there wasn’t anything left to panic about.”
“I was astonishingly lucky to stay alive in the end.”