My first “fun” dive put me in the hospital!
For those who don’t know, there are two types of dives. There are training dives, which count toward certifications, and “fun” dives, which are not taken as part of courses.
Dive #5 was my first “fun” dive. I had just completed my SSI Open Water Diver certification, so this dive was not working toward anything in particular. It could have been, but we didn’t have time between dives.
To recap my day, it started with an academic session about Enriched Air Nitrox. We then dove nitrox at Baring, Olango Island. Upon returning to our dive center, we heard about a boat leaving in the early afternoon. I would need to be a certified Open Water Diver to go. So, I took the written test and passed. The dive center manager made it official, and we began to prepare for our next dive.
You may have noticed that I did not mention having lunch. Although I did not feel hungry, that was probably bad. Also, we brought atmospheric gas for this dive.
We boarded a boat destined for Marigondon Cave off Mactan Island, Cebu. We did not intend to enter. Our goal was to descend enough to see it, and then drift along the wall. I just wanted one good photo of the entrance.
Upon arrival, we noticed a strong current. We descended and tried to swim to the cave entrance. I tried to do a controlled descent, like we have always previously done. My dive buddy made it over to the entrance, but I couldn’t get there. My finning technique must not be good enough. I exhausted myself trying.
My dive buddy motioned me to descend more quickly and then try to swim over to the entrance. Unfortunately, I was struggling to descend, and was already breathing heavily.
I followed my dive buddy, and we headed with the current to the wall. We descended down the wall and started to drift.
My dive buddy gave me a choice: go back to the entrance or drift away from it. I chose to drift. I was exhausted.
I’ve been doing some research. I did not want to be a panicked diver. I tried to slow my breathing.
Unfortunately, a demand regulator requires effort to breathe. I could not slow my breathing. I think I was hyperventilating for about 35 minutes. I don’t remember how long our dive was.
I also don’t remember our maximum depth; we had already done 18 meters, so I assume I was hyperventilating 78.9% nitrogen at 18 meters.
As soon as we surfaced I started dry-heaving; I heard my dive buddy say, “that’s not good.”
My dive buddy and the boat crew helped me aboard the boat. While on the boat, my nose bled, I vomited, I defecated (in the onboard toilet), and was administered oxygen. The closest comparison I could make is that I felt like I had been to a party and had one shot too many.
I was assisted back to the dive center. Over the next few hours, I vomited more, defecated more, and was administered oxygen again. I was eventually able to take a hot shower, which is when I noticed my white feet slowly regain their color.
A few hours later I was escorted to a hospital. Everyone suspected vicious seasickness, but I’ve never been seasick that seriously nor that long.
I felt more comfortable going to a hospital than going home. I was discharged around 1:30 AM. They were also treating me for seasickness.
I went home, and woke up feeling hungover in the morning. I was “seasick” for about 24 hours. In fact, I still feel less than 100% almost two full days later.
Either way: lessons learned. No more skipping lunch. If I miss a boat, the house reef is fine to pick up trash and take close-up photos. Also, no more atmospheric air. If I needed pure oxygen twice, it seems to me that having enriched air at 0-18 meters might have been helpful.