OK, so. Yesterday, I finished the last two open-water dives necessary to obtain my initial certification. Woo hoo, right?
Well, I had another little glitch. At one point, long story short, I ended up sinking like a stone from the surface to the bottom, a drop of roughly 20 feet.
Doesn’t sound like much, does it? A mere 20 feet. Except that the pressure on the human body DOUBLES at 33 feet. The first 15 feet of depth presents the most significant and noticeable changes to the body during a normal dive. Plummeting just that little bit is actually a big deal.
So, I sunk. And I went so fast and unexpectedly that I didn’t properly equalize my ears. So, I had the sharp pain of pressure followed by a pop and slow hiss that normally accompanies the perforation of an eardrum.
Turns out, though, that my eardrums are fine. My doctor (himself a diver) examined my ears today; I got a same-day appointment after minor hearing loss and feelings of fullness persisted 24 hours later. My thought was that, with eardrums punctured, my middle ear filled with bacteria-laden lake water, and I’d prefer to just get some antibiotics to avoid a possible nasty sinus infection.
Nope. My eardrums are fine. My middle ears, however, are packed full of blood. As are my deep sinuses. It’s a condition called barotitis media — provisionally diagnosed pending review by the specialists.
So, I’ve got an ENT referral for next week, and I get to enjoy the weekend feeling as if I’m wearing improperly fitted ear plugs. Oh, joy. Looks like I get to pop decongestants to drain some of the blood into my throat. Delicious!
That notwithstanding, the second set of dives was great. We went to a max of 30 feet and got to experience thermoclines, decent visibility (roughly 20 feet, which wasn’t bad for an inland lake with boaters and swimmers), small-boat wrecks, and all sorts of small fish that seemed perfectly comfortable with divers getting close.
And, I successfully completed the required proficiency tests. So, except for some minor paperwork, I’m now a certified scuba diver!