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Dive into the World of Midlands Diving Chamber: Debunking DCI Myths


DCI chamber
DCI chamber

Welcome to the first of many of the Midlands Diving Chamber Diaries. We aim to dispel the myths, taboos and any worries about your time with us – and not forgetting the laughs we have shared with you. We are all divers – even the doctor! – who run this facility for divers, so we totally understand the reasons for the concerns.

Having decompression illness (DCI) is not all doom and gloom, and very rare will it be career-ending. All sports have their injuries and sadly, one of ours is DCI. Waking up the following morning covered in bruises after a dive trip will need some thought though… UDI – Unidentified Diving Injury, or Unidentified Drinking Injury?

The last 12 months have brought us some interesting cases and some interesting conversations. Not only do we treat divers, some of our work is treating injuries, illnesses and lately, long Covid. So, you can imagine the topic of conversations, especially when shut away in a steel tube for hours, especially if you end up with our resident New Zealander. Most conversations start the same, similar to being in a hairdressers, barbers or in a taxi.

‘Where have you been on holiday?’

‘What do you do for a job?’

‘Married? Children?’

‘What equipment do you dive on?’

‘Who you know in the diving world’, etc…

Once that ice has broken between the patient and chamber attendant, then the barriers start to drop and so does the level of conversation, too. Below are just some of the daft questions we have had, there will be more to follow in the coming editorials – this is a taster.

Patient – Where is the trap door?

Attendant – What trap door? Patient – You know the one that’s like on Thunderbirds, that opens and it’s where the chamber gets lowered to depth?

Attendant – Sigh……

Patient – Where’s the crane?

Attendant – What crane are you referring to?

Patient – The one that lowers the chamber into the ground?

Attendant – Sigh… again

During a 50m dry dive, a diver asked the attendant why their computer read deeper than one of the other computers? Attendant – because your computer was at the bottom of the bucket…

Patient – Can I log this dive?

Attendant – if you want to, but why?

Patient – it will be the deepest dive I’ve ever done!

Let’s set the scene, the chamber is full – six middle-aged women and two men in their 20/30s. After all the usual subjects were discussed and the barriers had dropped, the topic of conversation turns to the menopause. The symptoms they were experiencing, some were graphically discussed, will hyperbaric oxygen help, and what did they forget to do today? The characters of all these ladies came out, the level of excitement increased as their barriers came down, and that they could freely discuss this topic without being judged. They laughed loudly and with confidence. When finally, there was a break in the conversations, two very faint male voices from the back of the chamber said ‘get us out of here’ – not sure who laughed the most, the ladies or the chamber operatives on the outside!

Our aim with our patients is to make them feel welcome, feel at ease and that you can come and talk to us about any concerns regarding DCI. For emergencies only, our phone is on 24/7, for anything else, please ring the landline – and the kettle is always on if you are passing!

his article was originally published in Scuba Diver UK #69.

Subscribe digitally and read more great stories like this from anywhere in the world in a mobile-friendly format. Link to the article

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