That we like to take an underwater stroll and preferably as we have planned, is the general rule for us divers. The strange thing is that when we plan it, we also expect and sometimes oblige ourselves to go diving. We don’t want to disappoint our buddy or have been looking forward to the dive for so long and how about I traveled half the world for it. All bad reasons to take the plunge if you feel a sense of doubt before entering the water. Of course it depends on the reason of doubt, for some it’s okay if you go, but for most it’s really better to sit out the dive and get help if possible.
As a guide and diving instructor, I notice that many divers, against their doubts, still go diving and my experience shows that they often abort with a problem, make a not so successful dive or even come out of the water with major problems. And to me, no dive is worth especially causing medical problems or seeking out potentially dangerous situations.
The reason I’m starting this now is that I’m literally writing this article while my open water student Devon is taking her exam. Yesterday we started here in beautiful Egypt and we are right on the sea with a nice spring sun and a gentle breeze. Devon has come to Egypt because she wants to learn how to dive, but from the moment her ears are irritated. She hears less and is also very unfortunate to have picked up a cold. And so she can’t equalize at the moment and we can’t start the pool training sessions. Now we can give her all kinds of medication to force those cavities open, but as we divers know there is a certain danger in that. Because if during the dive the blockage comes back, you can just have a reverse block and therefore not or hardly come back to the surface.
Experienced divers know the feeling of equalization and they know their own cavities and generally know what they can and cannot do. But a starting diver, well he doesn’t know that yet, so I have reason to be extra careful with Devon. I realize very well that I can explain to her, but that she does not know the feeling and therefore may misunderstand it. And so it is time to call in a specialist and we make an appointment with Hyperbaric doctor Doctor Hannaa. We have an appointment this morning and after getting into a taxi we arrive at the hyperbaric center where we have to wait a while for out turn. After a few minutes, the Doctor comes and questions Devon, casting an inquiring look into her ears and throat. It turns out that there is a starting inflammation and the tubes are closed, causing a negative pressure in the middle ear. This lower pressure pulls the eardrums inward and makes them hollow, causing Devon to feel a slight pressure and hear less. If we were to dive now, the pressure outside the ear would increase and the eardrums would come under even more pressure, probably causing them to rupture.
And so I’m super happy that we’re doing the classic ‘when in doubt, don’t do it!’ even though it seemed to go well at first. Dr. Hanaa prescribes a whole raft of medication to deal with the inflammation as well as to open the cavities and tubes, keeping in mind that Devon will be here for another 6 days before she flies home. The Docter recommends that we can try with a day to a day and a half if Devon can equalize it and if that works she can start with the pool training. It’s going to be tight to complete the whole course, but let’s see how the ears develop and not to force the matter. We agree that Devon will keep us informed and that we can plan further accordingly. That this is not what Devon had hoped for for her holiday is certain, but more importantly she learns that going diving is not something that can always be done, no matter what you have planned. And in the end it will all be okay, if not today it will be in two days. As Devon is really excited to learn to dive
Love life… Blow bubbles…