Although diving is considered by many to be a dangerous recreational activity, in reality it is very safe. However, over the past almost 30 years I have suffered some injuries when diving. Despite this, I reckon that I have had less injuries from scuba diving than from 10 years playing rugby league when at school.
Coughing and Breathing Difficulties
In October 1996 I travelled to Madang in Papua New Guinea for a diving holiday with a group of friends from the St George Scuba Club.
On the 11th day of the trip, the day after our last dive, I became quite ill. I awoke at about 2 am with a bad cough. This got worse and by 4 am I was not only coughing more, I was unable to breathe properly. I thought that I had a bit of a cold but it got worse as the early morning wore on. At about 7 am I decided to have a shower as I had been quite hot during the night. When in the shower, my breathing improved dramatically. I thought I was over it.
However, upon exiting the shower, my breathing problems returned. I continued to get worse. Unfortunately it was a Sunday so it was that easy to get to see a doctor but the manager of the Jais Aben Resort where we were staying arranged for a local doctor to come into his surgery.
I travelled to town and he examined me. He said I had bronchitis (inflammation of the lungs). I told him I had never had this in my life. I asked what could cause this. He said something I breathed that might have irritated my lungs. My brain started clicking and I asked if a fine spray of salt water could do this? Yes.
Well, he gave me some antibiotics and said that within a hour or two I would be a lot better. Sure enough, within two hours I was feeling quite good and within four I was almost normal.
Upon returning to the resort, I grabbed my regulators and examined the second stage mouth piece. Well, my hunch was right, I found a hole as small as a pin prick in the silicon. This was enough to let a tiny stream of water through which was then atomised by the high pressure air and which then entered my lungs, causing the irritation.
Lesson learned. If you get a cough about 12 hours after a dive, check your mouth piece for a hole (or a loose mouth piece).
In the early 1990s I was at Kurnell in Sydney planning to do a dive called The Leap. This involves a trek down a very step and windy track that in parts, is a scramble over or around large boulders.
I was carrying my video camera which made it all the harder to negotiate the track. About two thirds of the way down the climb, when trying to get around a very large boulder, my ankle rolled on the uneven surface and I fell over. Luckily I did not fall over the adjacent cliff and did not damage my camera. I did, however, twist my ankle.
After a few minutes rest, I gingerly made my way the rest of the way down as I figured it was easier to get back up the cliff at the exit point (this dive being a one way drift dive) than attempting to scramble back up here. My ankle was not too bad at first but by the time we exited the water, it was extremely sore.
It was a hard job walking back up to the car park. The next day I could hardly walk. I did not dive for two weeks and did not shore dive for about four weeks, such was the swelling and pain.
In February 2004 I did a night boat dive on my boat. After boat dives, we always stop and have something to eat and drink. On returning inside, we went to a mooring and while I was trying to attach the mooring rope to the bollard, I slipped and fell over the side of the boat into the water.
The pain and embarrassment! I got back on the boat and the inside of my right knee was killing me. I thought I must have hit it on the side of the boat as I fell. I hobbled around the next week.
A week later it still hurt and I was still limping. In the end it appears that when I fell I must have twisted my knee and torn one of the ligaments. It took over six months to heal completely.
Round Window Damage - Ear
In October 1998 after a dive on the SS President Coolidge in Santo, Vanuatu, I became dizzy. This turned out to be ear damage and it looks like I burst the round window between the inner and middle ears. See my article on this for more information.
I still suffer ringing in the ear and very minor deafness in my right ear from this.
Sea Urchin Spiking
In June 2005 when diving in the Cook Islands, I managed to spike myself on a sea urchin. See the article on this for more details. As of July 2011 my right finger is still a little swollen and I cannot fully close it. Also, in this month the palm of my hand starting hurting.
In January 2007 after a night dive, I agreed to re-enter the water to retrieve a piece of equipment had lost off a wharf by a fisher near where we had been diving.
As I walked down the wharf to enter the water, I slipped and fell. My left elbow hit the wharf and it hurt like hell. Taking a minute to recover, the pain of the elbow went away but my shoulder was hurting.
I entered the water and collected the item. Back at the car trying to take off my gear, I discovered I had an extreme pain in my shoulder when I tried to lift it above about waist level.
The next day this was worse. It appears I had torn a ligament in the shoulder. It got a bit better over the ensuing days so I did not go to the doctor. However, it took three to four months to return to normal.
Cuts and Bruises
These happen all the time. During a dive your hands get so soft due to the water it is very easy to cut them when doing something on the boat. Likewise, when moving tanks and weights around, it is easy to end up with bruises on your legs and arms.
MORE TO COME WHEN I THINK OF THEM