For those of you who are not familiar with my daytime musings, I am a fulltime contract diver. I went down this path as a means to face some personal fears and anxieties that I had about being in the water. Suffice to say, I am well past that, and now use my daily undersea exploits, to some extent, as self-experimentation.
On an average week, I am spending more than 30 hours underwater. On some days, I don’t see daylight. On others, I put in my 8 hour shift underwater just like you do at the office – coffee and lunch breaks but otherwise right back at it. On the positive side, I find that I have a significantly heightened self-awareness and am more cognizant of personal space. There is a downside however, and this begins to expose itself when you’ve approached what may be ‘too much’.
Spending this much time ‘under pressure’ takes its toll. The number of physical issues faced at the surface are difficult to discern as diving-related without a keen appreciation for doing this daily. I’ve never suffered any of the commonly discussed diving maladies such as DCS or other severe pressure related injuries. However, here’s my list:
.: chronic tinnitus
.: minor loss of peripheral hearing
.: chronic athletes foot
.: severe subcutaneous mycobacterium marinum infection requiring surgery
.: an assortment of rashes that are not responsive to conventional treatments
.: softening and loss of toe and fingernails
.: noticeable weakening of structural muscle at surface due to constant weightlessness
.: pinched nerves in neck and back from divers helmet
Clearly its not all fun and games.
So, how much is too much? Well, I’ve certainly had days where I’m ready to call a quits – like any job. What keeps me going is an appreciation for taking part in projects that few people will ever experience, and being able to call a part of the planet that is often out of touch for the masses my home. I also know that by sharing these experiences, including the personal health risks, that my efforts, though small in the grand scheme of things, will contribute to steadily advancing humans push towards a new life in the sea.