Ryan - Our Inspiration : Gibbie Stories
July 3, 1995, the summer after my first year at SMU, descending into the murky waters of Beaver Lake was when I logged my first bottom time. I was finally finishing my SCUBA certification. Little did I know that on the following Monday, my definition of bottom time would change.
I was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. I had come face to face with my own mortality. Determined to finish my SCUBA certification and fulfill my dream of becoming a physician, I decided I would not give up without a fight. I came back to SMU in the fall, and in January 1996, I finished my certification in the Bahamas. I was reminded of how beautiful bottom time could be. In February, I withdrew from school and received a bone marrow transplant. After leaving the hospital in a record amount of time and feeling relatively well, I went to my spring formal in my tux with my bald head and a top hat.
Unfortunately, a few days later I was reminded again how dark and murky bottom time could be. I had a severe reaction to my medications and for the next 8 months I spent most of my time at Baylor Hospital. During this time is when I realized how important friend and family were to me. The love my family gave me and the friendship and support of my Pike fraternity borthers and friends helped raise me from the murky depths. I was released from the hospital on December 31, 1996. I began the new year determined to return to SMU to finish my education and to become strong enough to reestablish my positive view of bottom time. I returned to SMU in the spring of 1998 with a stronger desire to become a physician so that I could help find a way to alleviate the suffering of people stricken with this disease.
I finished my senior year and graduated magna cum laude with a degreee in biology. Although this nightmare showed me some of the darkest bottom time of my life, I consider it a blessing in disguise. I can now appreciate the inherent beauty in the world that I had overlooked before. Now when I don my SCUBA gear and descend into the murky depths of the ocean, I consider bottom time one of the most wonderful times of my life.