Wednesday, 15 June 2016

My Experience with Decompression Sickness by Michelle O’Flynn

by Michelle O’Flynn

I am a conservative diver having only taken up scuba in the past 3.5 years, and in my later 50’s.  It was something that I always wanted to do but was out of my reach until then.  I am however, pretty active and healthy – I swim, walk and do pilates.
I have 80 dives to my history and have gone on several dive holidays locally and overseas.  My dive profiles are always within no-deco limits.  Two years ago I went to Thailand and dived for 4 days when I had my first encounter with DCI, although it wasn’t recognised as such at the time.
After two dives, and on the hour long return boat trip to the mainland I noticed that I had a rash.  It appeared first on my upper torso around my breasts and lower abdomen but then spread around my hips and towards my back. I then experienced some changing symptoms as one symptom left another emerged.  At times I felt a little dizzy, I noticed my throat was very dry causing a dry cough for a few minutes and some wheeziness - not bad like struggling for breath but slightly shallower breathing was preferred. This then changed again and the dizziness returned. Just as we approached port after the hour trip back from the dive site, I noticed that my left arm around the elbow region felt numb, but this went away after about 1 minute.  The main after affect was extreme fatigue and weakness.
As I had been wearing shortie wetsuit with holes in it, the consensus of the dive instructor and the others from the dive shop was that I had an allergic reaction to stinging plankton that may have been trapped in my wetsuit.  This theory was upheld because I had dived this location three days earlier and had experienced a similar rash although not as widespread, and a lesser degree of fatigue.  I had dived other locations on the days in between with no ill effects or symptoms, so it appeared that there was some dive location specific marine life as the cause.  I did not dive the next day and sought medical advice.
My most recent experience was in the vicinity of Bundaberg region at Easter this year.
What did I do wrong?
Well firstly do not dive too soon after surgery of any type!  I was keen to dive and was well ahead of my recovery from a knee arthroscopy, but in hindsight 4 weeks after surgery no matter how well you are recovering is far too soon.  Only dive after getting clearance from your surgeon! 
The next factor to my DCI was that the first dive was across a scattered artificial reef and unfortunately there was strong current, which the dive instructor took us against for most of a very long swim.  It was very strenuous for me and as I was also trying to take video I was often struggling to catch up with the others.  The exertion was compounded by a long surface swim to the boat as well.  The dive operator was aware that I was recovering from surgery so they were quite helpful in that I did not attempt to climb on board wearing my full kit, removing it while on the surface and my dive buddy handed it up for me.  In all, the first dive was not well planned with poor visibility and unnecessary swimming and against current.  The second dive for the day was considerably better but still required a lot of swimming.
Later that afternoon I noticed that I was a little itchy around my waist but I had thought that perhaps the band from my BCD was a little too tight.  Don’t ignore the itch!
The dive shop announced that they were going out to the wreck the next day and my dive buddy was very keen to dive again.  I wasn’t so sure about whether I should dive again because of my surgery (I did not at that time suspect any DCI), but agreed to go.
Both dives on the day were terrific – so much marine life and no adverse conditions, and as usual dived a conservative profile.  However, on the return journey in the small boat, it was a pretty rough kidney punch trip back to the mainland for about an hour.  About halfway back I felt a little out of sorts…at first I thought it was that I was sitting in the corner and a little uncomfortable but began to realise that under my arms were aching.  Then the slight cough began and the need to breath somewhat shallower.  I did not feel ill at all but discomfort was increasing, and the itch around my middle was more pronounced and my breasts were aching.   I realised I was not doing so well when we got ashore and I was trembling with weakness and fatigue.  I could barely walk the distance to the toilets without puffing and feeling faint. 
After consulting with the dive operator I went to hospital where the staff there had no idea what to do.  Intake at the hospital is a slow process and finally when taken to emergency, I was given the usual tests – blood pressure, blood taken (but not tested for several hours), heart monitor, ecg.  I didn’t see a doctor for two hours.  Finally we told her that I just need to be placed on oxygen.  In hindsight we should have just told the nurses straight away.  We also told the doctor to contact Divers Alert Network (DAN) Asia Pacific but for some reason she only go the number for the USA. 
The doctor called the Hyperbaric Medicine Specialist at the Royal Brisbane Hospital and we both spoke with him and I was to be given oxygen and to stay overnight. I felt relief about 30 minutes – the itch, and the pain in my breasts and under my arms were gone and after one hour I discharged myself against the hospital recommendations.  They wanted me to stay for at least 6 hours.  That was another error – I should have stayed!  While I stayed overnight in Bundaberg I was extremely exhausted even after a good night’s sleep.  I was still too week and fatigued to drive to Brisbane the next day and had to stay a further day.  Even now, two months later, I have not regained my stamina despite exercising regularly. I find the weakness to be mainly in my arms and my swimming is still not as strong as it was before this latest DCI incident.
The following week after my return home I saw Dr. Ken Thistlethwaite at RBH Hyperbaric Medicine Specialist Centre who gave me some very good advice.  I had an overseas dive holiday booked and paid for, so I was encouraged by several people to get a dive medical, for which I would need a chest Xray.  My GP in writing the referral also ordered me to get the echo bubble cardiogram.  This test revealed a sizeable patent foramen ovale (PFO).  Consultation with a cardiologist resulted in the prognosis that I was not to dive until I underwent the closure procedure later this year.  I tried to see if a dive medical specialist would disagree, but my attempt for a dive medical was not successful with the specialist agreeing with the cardiologist.  I am booked in for the procedure in July after I return from my overseas holiday where I shall only be snorkelling.  Three months after the procedure, I will be required to undergo a further echo bubble cardiogram to detect that the closure has been successful and if so, after another 3 months I will take the dive medical so I can get wet again!!! (6 months after the procedure).

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Marine Life Abounds 11th January 2016

Mark and Di have been working hard on the upcoming 2016 season planner, with finalization on weekend trips to Wolf Rock and SS Yongala. Find Details online at
Report from DiveQuest - Friday blew out, bringing behind it some great weather and exciting conditions. Our Open Water students  enjoyed some lumpy water on Saturday, and then were rewarded on Sunday with diving heaven! Sunday was busy with the Open Water students completing their course and the afternoon trip on Sunday had great conditions and amazing marine life!

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Cheeky Weather - 7th December 2015

This Week on DiveQuest
After Friday and Saturdays dives being cancelled with safety and comfort in mind, the winds dropped fast on Saturday afternoon, allowing fantastic dives and great visibility on Sunday. Sundays Dive Quest Photos Here
Open Water - A busy Open Water course staring with 13 students in the pool with our instructors Tim Simkin and Ben Kriss, assisted by Divemasters Stefan & Aaron. Looking forward to getting them out to sea next weekend to complete their training.
Search & Recovery - starting later this week we have some excited students completing their Search & Recovery Course this weekend coming. Break out the Lift bags and the ropes!
Instructor - Peran, Emma and Troy have been working hard and achieving goals throughout the last 2 weeks of their Assistant Instructor, Instructor Development and Emergency First Response Instructor Courses. Their Instructor Evaluation with PADI begins tomorrow and runs for 2 days. Best of Success crew!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

9th November 2015 - Unexpectedly Brilliant Weekend

The weather was looking fairly ordinary at best but proved to be magnificent on both mornings, so Dive Quest headed out over the weekend for some fantastic experiences at Flat Rock, Shag Rock and Manta Bommie.
Amazing to still see a Grey Nurse shark, and then loads of Mantas were on the cards. So with calm and clear conditions we now have 3 new Advanced Open Water Certified Divers and 3 new Nitrox Certified Divers!

Monday, 25 May 2015

25th May 2015 - Friday fables

Our 2 IDC Candidates are making great headway on their journey towards becoming PADI Instructors! 3 weekends down and 2 more to go then off to the Instructor Exams mid June!
Super Course SpecialsLAST WEEK TO NAB THESE AWESOME SPECIALS!!!!!!! For Open Water Course and Advanced Open Water Course for the Month of May Only, massive sales on these course. Tell your Friends about it cause spots are selling fast and won't last long. Visit our website for more information!
Nigel Marsh PADI Photography Course!
Join us for a very special PADI Digital Underwater Photograhy Course in July! Run in conjunction with on of our Digital Underwater Photography Instructors and good friend Nigel Marsh, this is the perfect opportunity for any budding photographers to not only learn the ropes from one of the best in the business, but also earn the PADI Specialty! With theory on Thursday 9th July starting at 6pm and 2 Boat dives on the 12th July! Prices start at only $285! Spots are limited!

Dive Update
We managed to sneak out early Friday morning for two awesome dives at shag rock! Bait fish galore met us as we descended for our dives! So many bait fish that it was hard to see more then 2m infront of you! Pods of dolphins could be seen close on the surface, big pelagic fish making the most of the easy feeding, and even a flash of a big shark looking shape was seen on the first dive! It was a rough trip back in as the winds started to pick up, seeing Saturday and Sunday's trips being cancelled.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Amazing Manta Action- 20th April 2015

This week at Go Dive we have an Advanced Course, with theory starting Thursday night and Diving Saturday and Sunday, and Open Water Course starting on the weekend ! Courses still have a few spots left on them if you want to book yourself on!
DiveQuest is running Friday, Saturday (3 Dive Trip) and Sunday! With limited spaces available all 3 days so book yourself on so you don't miss out!

Dive Update

Manta Ray Bommie on Friday goes off!!!! DiveQuest ventured out to Manta Ray Bommie on Friday and we had some of the best diving we've had in MONTHS! With up to 5 Manta Rays in a very inquisitive mood, 15 - 20m viz, as well as Guitar Sharks, Leopard Sharks and a Leopard Whipray. All around fantastic day of diving!

Saturday we had a look at Manta Bommie again, but unfortunately a big current meant we had to dive Shag Rock. Sunday we managed one dive at Coral Gardens off Flat Rock, with 20m viz, before a current whipped up, ruining our chances of a 2nd dive there. So we ducked back to Shag Rock to finish up our day. 7m viz and a bit bumpy on the surface but still a nice dive.

We would like to congratulate the following people who completed their courses with us over the weekend!

Natalie and Jeff who completed their PADI Open Water Course and Rowan, Peter and Jayden who completed their PADI Rescue Diver Course. Huge effort everyone and massive congrats! We're looking forward to diving with you all again very soon!
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Monday, 29 December 2014

29th December 2014 - Happy New Year !

We trust that everyone had an amazing Christmas and Boxing Day and are all well and truly on the way to having a safe and enjoyable New Year! We would like to thank you all for your continued support during 2014 and we look forward to seeing everyone out on the boat diving with us again in 2015!
Over the weekend we got in some awesome dives! After weeks of waiting we finally had some luck with the weather and snuck out to Manta Ray Bommie on Boxing Day! And what a treat! MANTA GALORE! Our favourite Summer Rays are back in strength!!! Saturday and Sunday the weather picked up meaning Shag Rock was our destination of choice. 10m viz and an abundance of fish life, we truly had an awesome weekend of diving despite the rainy conditions.
We would like to congratulate Lucie, Darren, Chris and Leyton for completing their Open Water Courses and Ian and Ted who we welcome back to diving after completing their Scuba Tune Up!
Our next run to Flinders Reef is set for Saturday 31st January!!!! 9 Spots Left on this 3 Dive Day!
 Our next Bubble Maker program is on Sunday 11th January so if you have some kids aged 8 to 12 then this will make a perfect Chrissie present for them!  

Go Dive and Win! Once a month we will be giving away a PADI course of your choice, excluding Professional and Technical Courses. All you need to do is complete a course with us to receive your entry, which gets drawn at our monthly social. Terms and Conditions do apply. Enquire today!  
Remember to check in at for all the latest information.