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With the noted absence of the three witches, I shall name the place – El Gouna in Egypt. When? 10 years and more ago.
The hurly-burly was done after week one, and the Antinal and Dioralyte had got me back to near normal in readiness for diving in the remaining half of my two-week trip to this fantastic dive destination. It had been a good few months since I had been in the water, so after a check dive and a second sensible dive on day 1, day two beckoned – a proper dive to start the day off with! I jumped in and took a steady descent to 35 metres. My computer tells me that I spent only 4 minutes at depth, and had a very slow and gentle ascent to the shallows, where I spent an hour at between 15 and 8 metres, having a ball on a beautiful reef in bright sunlight. It was one of those dives where I was truly gutted to have to surface and get back on the boat, but battles have to be lost and won I suppose…..
So this is where the next battle began – I got a bend. My peripheral vision became blurred and sparkly (although no dagger before mine eyes I am pleased to report), followed by tingling in my fingers, and then within 10 minutes, acute pain in my elbows, wrists and shoulders, accompanied by tightness across my chest. I suspected that I had a bend, as all of the symptoms told me so, and relayed my suspicions to the boat crew – I was given water, sat in the shade, and was told to wait the 10 minutes that it would take to get back to shore where I could have some oxygen if I still felt less than proper.
By the time we got off the boat, I did feel better – almost back to my norm (which isn’t that good – too much rugby in my youth) so being a stubborn so and so, I brushed it off, went back to my Hotel and clambered into bed with my denial hat firmly in place and some brufen to combat the nasty headache I had also developed. Notice ‘denial’ and ‘dunce’ (to cite just one example) begin with the same letter……
In the early hours of the morning however, I woke up in the same pain in my arm joints, so finally took off my denial hat, and phoned DAN with whom I have always been insured. Within 10 minutes, I had been called back by a hyperbaric Doctor, and referred to the chamber at the El Gouna Hospital. A taxi picked me up (all arranged by DAN) and drove me the 5 minute trip to the excellent facilities there.
And this is where the real issue began – it wasn’t the two sessions I had to undergo in the pot that had the biggest impact, or the pain, nerves, fear or the boredom of being stuck in a metal tube alone for the best part of a day – it was the rehydration ‘therapy’ that I underwent.
Upon arrival at the chamber reception, I was given two big bottles of water, and told to drink them. On top of the 4 litres I had consumed overnight, the vitamin injections, and the saline drip, my kidneys were now starting to float. Then, another bottle was downed before entering the chamber, where there were three more bottles of the same size to keep me company during my first 7 hour stint! By my maths, that is 12 litres of water that I had drunk or had to drink, and this is on top of the ‘self-medication’ I had done with my own bottles! I am sure I had developed the physique of a Sumo wrestler by this stage, but my problems were only just beginning!
However, I was in safe hands, getting treatment (and I must say that after having been at ‘depth’ for less than 15 minutes, I was pain free – amazing!), and had a book to read. Breathing O2 for 20 minutes out of every 30 was a little tiresome due to the weight of the mask, but I was on the mend – that is until my bladder decided to shout at me!
Just like one of those so-called MENSA tests on your social media pages, I now had to work out how to dispose of 6-8 litres of water into the single one litre pee bottle!
So the first ‘drain’ wasn’t too much of an issue, and I am about 45 minutes in to a 7 hour session. That said, the waste bottle is now full, and I still have roughly 6 litres of water in my bladder, and three full bottles of water in front of me. And you know what it is like – once you break the seal….!
90 minutes in, and I am ready to burst again, so I have to drink 2 more litres to free up another bottle, only for me to fill it right up immediately.
By two hours in, I am starting to calculate the PPPH (projected pee per hour) ratio, combine it with the DTFW (Drink the Water) and subtract the HMPCIA (how much pee can I absorb) coefficient.
At three and a half hours in, the doc comes over the speaker and says I only have two more hours to go before they start the ascent, so I am more than relieved (ouch – sorry!) and adjust my calculations – At four hours in, I have drunk 9 litres of water, and disposed of 3, so I am still carrying my core of 6. I have one full bottle of water left, and one that is half full – the third is off colour for water, and not to be drunk, and the same goes for the original pee bottle too, which is sitting precariously on the floor as far away from me as possible – I am super clumsy! So, to be able to pee again, which I MUST do at this stage, I need to drink another litre of water!
This I do of course, and then immediately fill the empty two litre bottle up again – my maths tells me that I now have 5 litres within me, but I have no more PBS (pee bottle space) – the good news is that I only have 2 more hours to go before they bring me up to the surface again. So the next 90 minutes are spent concentrating on my book again (now starting it for the second time) and trying to relax about the pee-bottle situation.
It didn’t work – 40 minutes later, the dam was about to break again, and I had only managed to drink a measly half a litre more (breathing O2 is thirsty work, but not that thirsty!) So it was back to drinking another litre and a half before I could pee again………not the easiest of tasks I can assure you, but I did it, much to the relief of my kidneys.
The problem now came down to the fact that I still had 5 litres in my bladder, and no PBS left, and still had another 30 minutes before the ascent. Manageable perhaps? Categorically, NO! The ascent took over an hour, and I now know more about displacement theory than Archimedes himself.
By the time the doors opened, I could barely walk. My fingers were numb, my spine had been removed, tied in a knot and re-inserted without anaesthetic and my kidneys were screaming at me – this was the most pain I had ever suffered, and I am no stranger to A+E or the orthopaedic surgeon’s blade either………a beaming smile from my Doctor together with a request to come and have a seat got the only response that this story could end with – growled though clenched teeth was a very deliberate ‘Piss Off!’
After all, fair is foul, and foul is fair.
All joking aside, I learnt some very serious lessons through this experience – never doubt or deny any potential symptoms of DCS. Never take for granted that you are OK if your dive profile is OK – I had spent a week with a dodgy stomach, and although I felt better, I had expelled all of the electrolytes, salts et al from my body, resulting in the copious fluids I was drinking (as I always do when diving) not being absorbed properly. I got a bend in my shoulder as a result of scar tissue from a previous injury combined with dehydration, two of the most common contributors of DCS perhaps, and yet my dive profile was as conservative as it could have been. I now pop a fizzy multi-vitamin tablet full of electrolytes and scientific stuff into a bottle of water every day leading up to, during and after a dive trip just to make sure I am able to metabolise fluids properly.
Dive safe everybody!
The Scuba Genies
Reef-World’s campaign is helping dive guides in need receive Green Fins environmental certification
The Reef-World Foundation – international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – is calling for dive guides to submit their application for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship.
As a result of the Scholarship campaign, dive guides working around the world – including Brazil, the Philippines, Egypt, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia and Turkey – have received their certificate proving their status as a Green Fins certified dive guide. Yet, thanks to funding from Reef-World’s partner Paralenz, 149 more scuba diving guides will be able to receive their Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course environmental certification.
Dive guides who meet the criteria (outlined below) can apply for the scholarship at any time through the Green Fins website. To be eligible for the scholarship, guides must:
The Scholarship was created in response to feedback from dive guides who had passed the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course and were keen to download and display their personalised electronic certificate but were not financially able to cover the associated cost (£19 / $25 USD). The personalised electronic certificate can be displayed to entice eco-minded guests by informing them the guide has received this vital environmental certification and is aware of how to reduce the negative environmental impacts associated with diving.
Diving related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or run-off from land containing pollutants and plastic debris as well as the effects of climate change, such as rising sea temperatures. The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course, created with the support of Professional SCUBA Schools International (PSS) and running on their innovative EVO e-learning platform, teaches dive professionals how to prevent diving-related damage to coral reefs by following the highest environmental standards and better managing their guests to prevent damage to the reef.
Sam Craven, Programmes Manager at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We’re proud to be offering dive guides around the world the opportunity to become Green Fins certified; no matter their background. Both the e-Course and the Scholarship have been a great success so far and we’re delighted to see so many dive professionals demonstrating their commitment to sustainable tourism by taking the course. We urge dive guides who haven’t yet taken the course to consider taking this step and welcome Scholarship applications from anyone who meets the criteria. Together, we can protect coral reefs through sustainable diving and we’d love as many dive guides as possible to join us.”
Dive guides who want to be considered for scholarship can visit www.greenfins.net/green-fins-dive-guide-scholarship-applications to apply.
To donate to the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship Fund, please visit www.greenfins.net/appeal/sponsor-a-dive-guide.
Supporters who are interested in helping additional dive guides receive their certifications can also donate to Sponsor a Dive Guide.
There are no longer plenty more fish in the sea! Fish Free February challenges you to help protect our oceans by removing seafood from your diet for 28 days and helping to raise awareness of the issues caused by intensive fishing practices.
Our oceans are in a state of global crisis, brought about by ocean warming, acidification, pollution, and habitat destruction. However, the biggest immediate threat to ocean life is from fisheries. Each year an estimated 1-2.7 trillion fish are caught for human consumption, though this figure does not include illegal fisheries, discarded fish, fish caught to be used as bait, or fish killed by not caught, so the real number is far higher. It is no wonder then, that today nearly 90% of the world’s marine stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. If we do not act fast, overfishing and damaging fishing practices will soon destroy the ocean ecosystems which produce 80% of the oxygen in our atmosphere and provide three billion people with their primary source of protein.
Fish Free February, a UK-registered charity, is challenging people around the world to take action for marine life in a simple but effective way. Take the Fish Free February Pledge and drop seafood from your diet for one month, or beyond. Fish Free February wants to get people talking about the wide range of issues associated with industrial fishing practices and putting the well-being of our oceans at the forefront of dietary decision-making. A third of all wild-caught fish are used to create feed for livestock, so Fish Free February urges us to opt for plant-based dishes as a sustainable alternative to seafood, sharing our best fish-free recipes on social media with #FishFreeFebruary and nominating our friends to do the same.
“Not all fishing practices are bad” explains Simon Hilbourne, founder of Fish Free February. “Well-managed, small-scale fisheries that use selective fishing gears can be sustainable. However, most of the seafood in our diet comes from industrial fisheries which often prioritise profit over the well-being of our planet, resulting in multiple environmental challenges. In some cases, the fishing industry has even been linked to serious human rights issues such as forced labour and human trafficking! Fish Free February hopes to shed more light on fishing practices, create wider discussion around these issues, and offer solutions to benefit people, wildlife, and the natural environment.”
To learn more about these issues and to take the Fish Free February pledge visit www.fishfreefebruary.com
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This is the perfect start to your 2021 diving season… and at an incredible lead-in price of just £885 per person.
Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. This itinerary takes in the wonderful South & St Johns from 26 February – 05 March 2021.
Subject to availability – limited flight seats at this price so don't delay!
Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email email@example.com to book your spot!More Less
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