Category Archives: Re-Compression

Getting Decompression Sickness

Dive 4 PADI Deep Diver Course
Dive 4 PADI Deep Diver Course Max Depth 104ft

Here it is almost a week later, and I am still shaking my head.  Sunday morning, I was running dive three of the PADI Deep Diver Specialty course, and as always very much looking forward to the next set of dives.  Deep is what I do, what I love, but things will not be so routine over the next couple of hours.

As we were headed out to the decent point, I was reviewing the procedures for the dive with my two students. What the rock bottom pressure was, when we had to be off the bottom, where our first deep stops would begin, so on and so on.  The decent was picture perfect, checks at 10, more checks at 20, and then the last set of checks at 30 as we decided the dive was a go.  The depths were ticking off on my computer, 80, 90, 100 I could see the beautiful cloud sponges come into view, one at first then more and more and bigger and bigger, 115, 120, 130 we reach the target depth by minute 3.  Beautiful, dark breath taking is the best way to describe it.  The only sound I can here is my breathing.  The wall to my right is gorgeous teaming with life.

We continued on with the dive and at approximately minute 9  one of the students signals me, he is approaching rock bottom so I slowly begin the ascent back to the surface, reluctant but ascending never the less.  We reach 80 feet an begin our deep stops, 30 second holds every 10 feet until we reach the safety stop area and for todays dive the 20 foot mark is our agreed upon deep stop depth.  Once there we execute a min 8 minute simulated emergency decompression stop, where we hang at that depth for 8 minutes and then slowly ascend to the surface from there. The dive was picture perfect, text book if you will.

After a 1 hour 18 minute surface interval we descend down on the graduation dive of the PADI Deep Diver course, and do a total repeat of the the first dive though the maximum depth has been shallowed to 130 feet, and once again things were picture perfect.  Some 35 minutes later we are on the surface rinsing our gear, chatting and reviewing everything that had happened, as we loaded the gear and departed.  Routine it was, the same thing I do time and time again, though the day would not end as routinely as it had begun.

Comex 30 Re-Compression Chamber Dive
Comex 30

We departed Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver, and headed back to the dive centre.  Just as I had exited the highway, I had a severe case of virtigo happen and I could barely keep the vehicle on the road, so I pulled off, and had Greg V drive so we could make it back to the shop. The symptoms seemed to pass within 5 – 6 minutes and life got back to normal for a few minutes, until the severe abdominal pain started with skin itchiness, shoulder pain and numbness radiating over the left side on my back to the shoulder and into the jaw.  I knew then something was not right, so I went on oxygen and called the Vancouver General Hospital Hyperbaric  Chamber where I was told to report to emergency right away.

Once I arrived at VGH, I was ushered in through the Emergency Department, Xrayed, CT Scanned, IV’d O2’d and into the chamber where I did an 8 hour long Comex 30 Re-compression profile.  Things are doing much better, though it appears I will be out of the water for 6 weeks,  I think that is the longest I have been out of the water in the past 6 years, but a little R&R never killed anyone…maybe some travel is in order?  Mmmmm could be fun!

Re-Compression Tour

VGH Re-Compression Chamber

UWE and Ocean Quest Dive Centre, had a tour at VGH’s Re-compression tour hosted by Dr Harrison.  I would have to say it was a very informative evening, though many of the things discussed I had already been taught.  But it is always good to have a review and also to confirm I was taught correctly in the first place.

One of the things I found to be rather disturbing was the number of fatalities were directly contributed to divers not being able to retrieve their regulator when it was out of their mouths.  Now as an Instructor who has taught many many open water courses, it made me think back and remember how many students had been having difficulty with this skill.  I also realized in the training nothing was ever said about just simply pulling your alternate air source off it’s holder and use that until you could successfully find your primary.

The other thing I took away from the tour, was how many people hurt themselves due to poor judgement, and making poor decisions.  The funny thing I see every day, divers who are diving more advanced dive gear, diving to depths they may not be as ready for, and simply take for granted all be it diving is fun, it is still a dangerous sport if not respected.  So, I think what was really being said, check your ego at the shore, practice your skills, and stay current.  Staying current means get out and dive. If you are an open water diver, take your advanced diver course, never stop striving for knowledge, and remember no one person knows everything, be open to learn new things even if it is from someone who is a lower level of diver.

If you ever get a chance to take a re-compression tour go, it is well worth it.