How Hypothermia Taught Me to Always Trust My Gut

You ever have that feeling when you know something is wrong, but you convince yourself that it isn’t?

Maybe you’re doing something new and you don’t quite know what to expect, so you keep telling yourself that everything is ok.  Or, maybe you bring up your discomfort to a friend only to have them shoot you down and tell you that everything is alright.  And still other times, you convince yourself beyond a doubt that you’re over reacting.

A lot of times those are accurate responses.

But sometimes you need to trust your gut.


One of Those Instances

Last November, we found ourselves in Iceland: exploring waterfalls, skipping on black sand beaches, and climbing to the top of some exquisite churches.





Reynisfjara, Vík

Hallgrímskirkja, my favorite church in Reykjavik


One day we decided to SCUBA dive the Silfra Fissure.

I mean, swimming between the North American and Eurasian continental plates, how could we not?

Being avid divers, this was a must do bucket list item.

What it would look like

In all honesty, I hesitated initially, thinking it would be way too cold.

Come on, glacier runoff in Iceland in November, NBD right?

But then being in a dry suit, I figured I’d be fine.  I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

Staying Dry

The day of the dive, mother earth blessed us with 30 degree air temperature and torrential rain.

To keep warm, we put on our gear inside the dive van.  First came a pair of thick, wool socks, then a big, warm jumpsuit over my leggings and jacket.  By the end, I felt more like an astronaut than a SCUBA diver.

Or maybe a snowmobiler?

When it was time, we emerged from the van and struggled into our massive dry suits.  Having never worn a dry suit before, I was nervous. The dive master cautiously checked all of our seals, giving me a couple extra bands to ensure the one around my neck was tight.

Almost ready!

Then came the weight vests (which looked like something a firefighter would wear), gloves, hood and tank. All in all, I had about 50-75 pounds of weight and boy could I feel it.

The Moment of Truth

We walked down some stairs to the edge of the water.

The channel from above

I braced myself knowing this water was going to be cold, between 1-3 degrees Celsius (33-36 F).

That’s way brrr!

First foot in the water, nothing. I felt nothing.

“That’s weird,” I thought.

Second foot in the water, same thing.  I was able to walk all the way to chest level without really noticing that I was in water.  It was such a strange experience.

I submerged myself under the water.

Immediately, I was awestruck by the clearness and crispness of the water, as well as the incredible rocks around me.  Somehow I forgot about how cold it really was.

I should also mention that it was fresh water, some of the freshest water on the planet. You can drink it, Mr. Wow did and said it was delicious! Imagine diving in an ice cold bottle of Evian.

It was unreal!

This Isn’t How It is Supposed to Be

About halfway through the dive, I felt a chill starting at my neck, slowly descending to my stomach and then to my legs.  I didn’t think this was how it was supposed to feel, but since I didn’t really know any different, I convinced myself that I was fine.

Really, I’m fine!

I started to get cold, REALLY cold. I couldn’t even focus on enjoying the dive anymore.  Upon seeing the exit stairs, I bolted to be the first one out of the water.

Someone Telling Me It’s Okay

Walking back to the van, I recalled the conversation.

“I’m cold.”

“We’re all cold!” Mr Wow replied. “We just dove in freezing cold water and now it’s snowing!”

“I feel like I’m walking in puddles,” I mumbled.

“We’re all walking in puddles,” he snarked back. “It is snowing, there are puddles everywhere.”

Despite being the first one out of the water, I was the last one back to the van. I was exhausted and starting the shake.  I was cold and wet, but I was convinced that I was fine.

Just like Jack, I was fine!

As our group prepared for a second dive, I couldn’t fathom the idea. I took off my gear.  The dive master pulled off my dry suit and a deluge of water poured into the parking lot. I was completely drenched. Everyone’s jaws dropped as they looked at me in utter shock. I could read their minds:

That isn’t how it’s supposed to work!

I’m Not Over-Reacting!

Come to find out, that chill I felt was actually the seal around my neck leaking, slowly allowing a substantial amount of ice cold water into my suit. The inability to focus was my body conserving energy in effort to stay warm.  The puddles, well they were legit puddles from the water in my suit.

That night, I emailed my dad (a devoted diver himself) and his response really hit home.

Oh my, what a tale!  I hope that proves to be your worst dive ever.  Sounds like you experienced a minor case of hypothermia.  The shakes are not a good thing to have.

“Hypothermia? Me?” I questioned myself.

As much as I do not want to admit it, I do think my experience could be classified as such.

Bottom Line

Sometimes you need to trust your gut! There are plenty of times that people freak out about nothing or over-react to something insignificant or meaningless.  However, sometimes your intuition is spot on and needs to be heard.

I learned this lesson the hard way.  Fortunately, I still have all my fingers and toes, and eventually I did stop shaking (after a few hours and lots of hot chocolate).

The one good thing that came out of this experience, besides being able to write a post about it, was the bragging rights.  I can now officially say that I went SCUBA diving in Iceland in only a wetsuit!!

When have you ever not trusted your gut, only to realize later you really should have?


  • Gwen @ Fiery Millennials August 9, 2017 at 5:45 am

    I’ve definitely ignored the little voice in my head with drastic consequences. I had a feeling one guy and I wouldn’t be a good match but dated him anyways. A few months and a lot of hurt feelings later, I was right. However, I’ve also had good results listening to my gut. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t get to hang out with you in Ecuador! I had a strong feeling I should go!
    Gwen @ Fiery Millennials recently posted…My 10 Year Plan: 2017 Update

    • Mrs WoW August 9, 2017 at 6:37 am

      Seriously, I’m not saying that our guts are right all the time, but they definitely shouldn’t always be ignored. I’m glad you listened to yours about Chautauqua. I can not wait! It can’t come soon enough!

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach August 9, 2017 at 6:17 am

    I can totally picture Mr. Wow saying that. 🙂 Yes, I feel like I’ve done that many times, as well as pursued that little itch of adventure and everything turned out to be great. I have a gut feeling now about something. Not that I can say, but I think it’s what is causing some depression. And I do wonder if it’s gut or just being mildly unsatisfied!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…How Much I Saved Biking to Work

    • Mrs WoW August 9, 2017 at 7:44 am

      Hope you figure it out. Listen to it if is right and ignore it if it isn’t.

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher August 9, 2017 at 6:34 am

    Oh no! I’m glad to hear you were okay! Soooo true. I think too often we like to suppress that “little voice” because we think it’s just worrying or nagging.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…Are commercials bad?

    • Mrs WoW August 9, 2017 at 7:42 am

      I know I am victim of ignoring the worrying/ nagging little voice. Just goes to show you that sometimes that little guy is right!

  • Dads Dollars Debts August 9, 2017 at 7:26 am

    Nice story. It is amazing how we will convince ourselves that everything is going to be okay. It has happened to me before (not hypothermia) and now I try and listen to my gut. It is one of those things that gets stronger the older we get too.

    Still, it sounds like an amazing experience. Maybe I will check it out in the summer one year where it is slightly less frigid.
    Dads Dollars Debts recently posted…100th post- Starting a blog!

    • Mrs WoW August 9, 2017 at 7:39 am

      I would highly recommend it, despite all my troubles. I’d consider just snorkeling since you can see the same stuff without all the equipment. Being that Silfra is glacier run-off, I believe it stays around the same temperature year round. You might have a little warmer air temperature though but not so much with the water.

  • Mrs. Adventure Rich August 9, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Wow, thank goodness you are alright! I have certainly had times where I have (or should have) trusted my gut in both minor and not so minor ways. Call it what you choose, but I think there is a reason we have a little voice telling us one thing or another 🙂

    And those pictures of Iceland… gorgeous!
    Mrs. Adventure Rich recently posted…Are We Addicted to Savings Accounts?

    • Mrs WoW August 9, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      There’s totally a reason! I know I need to listen to it more than I do. Some of the pictures were mine and but most of the pictures from the dive are not. I was too cold to even take pictures. We have a video of the whole experience though, but still have to edit and put it together.

  • Turning Point Money August 11, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Iceland is now a must visit. That dive looks incredible. Intuition is a powerful force. Follow it, but not blindly. Glad you made it out alright.
    Turning Point Money recently posted…Should Investors Care About SIPC Limits?

    • Mrs.Wow August 12, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      Iceland most definitely should be on the list! It is an amazing place and I hope to return soon.

  • Mr. Need2save August 15, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    I’m a total baby when it comes to cold water, so I would have totally freaked out. Glad to hear that there was no permanent damage.

    I usually go with my gut on major decisions, so it’s hard to say if things would have turned out better if a different choice was made.
    Mr. Need2save recently posted…How To Mix & Match Your Retirement Savings

    • Mrs WoW August 15, 2017 at 8:22 pm

      I will probably think twice before going in that cold of water again. I still get chills just thinking about it!

  • kruidigmeisje October 25, 2017 at 3:31 am

    I dive Holland, including some ice dives (long ago). I know about these dives.
    What kind of buddies do you have, that if you complain (in a small voice), nobody’s reacts seriously? I am getting a little mad. At our club we know that when you’re in trouble, you are not the one shouting (anymore). Any remark hinting at trouble should be taken seriously (until proven innocent), especially when it hints about things that can be really problems.
    Sorry, to be mad. Mr Wow seems to be a nice guy in general. But I do not think you are a complainetypaints type either, so it would have been nice if he had eyed you up, in the walking-back-to-the-car situation.

    Ennieway, the desuiting made it all clear, and proper action was taken then. So no real problem.
    And I am jalous of the evian dive!

    • Mrs WoW October 30, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      I totally understand your frustration, but in all honesty, I guess I didn’t really believe it either until the suit came off. Let’s just say that I learned my lesson (the hard way) and will be even more diligent on future dives. If you ever get a chance, I definitely recommend doing this dive, it is a once in a lifetime experience.

  • B.C. Krygowski March 31, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    And here I thought I was the only one who had that experience! Took me hours to warm up afterwards!

    • Mrs WoW April 2, 2018 at 7:43 am

      Glad to know that I am not the only one in this boat. I still get chills just thinking about it.


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