7 Deadly Sins

I recently blogged (https://scubadivingzero.wordpress.com/2017/12/25/1st-fun-dive/) that my first fun dive (non-training dive) sent me to a hospital. Since I never want to feel that awful again, I have been carefully reviewing everything that happened that day.

Here are the symptoms, in order of appearance:

  1. Mental dullness

  2. Vertigo

  3. Nosebleeding

  4. Diarrhea

  5. Vomiting

  6. Difficulty breathing

  7. Chills

Here are the 7 deadly scuba diving sins that I will never commit again:

  1. DIVING IMPAIRED. After my morning dive, I took my Open Water Diver certification test. I scored an 82, which is passing. However, it is well below my personal standards. I could feel that I wasn’t thinking clearly. At the time, I dismissed this as being no different than trying to take a test after running a few kilometers or working out at a gym. Is that the case? I don’t know.

  2. EMPTY STOMACH. I skipped lunch. I never feel hungry while diving or even after diving. And, there was no time to take a test and eat lunch and still get onto the afternoon boat. But, when I started vomiting after my fun dive, very little came up. My stomach was almost completely empty, and that couldn’t have been good. Plus, I couldn’t keep food down for maybe 10-12 hours after.

  3. DEHYDRATION. I am in the Philippines, physically exerting myself on land, and I drank very little that day. I remember having a small coffee, a drinking yogurt, and less than 1 liter of water the entire day. In comparison, I normally drink 3 liters just while sitting at a desk during a typical workday. I wasn’t able to keep water in my stomach until I got to the ER in the evening.

  4. NO WETSUIT. I am more comfortable diving without a wetsuit. However, since I felt freezing cold for about 24 hours after my fun dive, I am going to assume that I lost a little too much body heat.

  5. HYPERVENTILATION. I swam in the strongest current that I have ever been in. I followed my dive buddy’s direction, but at a much higher depth. I quickly exhausted myself. I now know that I needed to have descended quicker. When we switched from trying to see the cave entrance against the current to drifting along the wall with the current, I tried to slow my breathing but could not. If there is a way to do that with a demand regulator, I don’t know it. I don’t know how long this dive was, but I must’ve been hyperventilating for at least 30-35 minutes. In the hours after surfacing, I needed to be administered oxygen twice.

  6. MOTION SICKNESS. After boat diving, I always have some degree of motion sickness. Sometimes it is worse than at other times, but the effects wear off either on the boat or within a few hours. The effects start either immediately when I surface, in stronger currents, or when I touch the boat’s ladder. So, I surely had my regular motion sickness on top of everything else I did wrong. I am going to start trying to take medicine for this.

  7. MILITARY MINDSET. I have heard on YouTube and read online that you should not dive if you are not feeling well, or end a dive if you are not feeling well. In the Army, however, we train to never quit. In my mind, I can finish the dive and I’ll be fine. Besides, there were children in the larger group. How am I going to quit while children are making the dive look easy? In the Army, the only reasons to stop are vomiting and passing out. If you are not up to the physical challenge, everyone will at least respect that you gave 100%. Quitting, however, is not an option. So, I met the Army standard of vomiting, but this seems to be a very bad idea when diving.

I had two other inexplicable symptoms. Soon after boarding the boat, my dive buddy noticed that I was bleeding from my nose. To my recollection, I have previously nosebled only in very dry air. Also, I had diarrhea. I was able to use the toilet on the boat and at the dive center, and I must’ve gone at least 3-4 times in total. I don’t remember if I also used the Emergency Room toilet. Anyway, I do not know at this point what caused either of these two symptoms.

One additional problem, that I am not counting as a Deadly Sin because it was involuntary, was a communication problem. I had so much difficulty with breathing, vertigo, and chills, that I mostly just sat still while wrapped in a towel. I was waiting for the symptoms to pass, and I certainly wasn’t expecting it to take so long. While waiting, I could not and did not effectively communicate everything that went wrong nor all the symptoms I was experiencing. That may or may not have affected my treatment on the boat, at the dive center, and even at the ER.

Anyway, I learned a lot from this experience. I hope I can help readers of this blog avoid feeling what I felt. It took me about 4 days to fully recover.

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