Comments from DAN Asia-Pacific’s John Lippmann
after my last dive, nothing could be done about it even if it was DCS.
But Dr Wong wasn’t buying my denial. He wanted me to be at the chamber in 30 minutes, explaining that my symptoms indicated cerebellar DCS, and that, untreated, they could be permanent, and could even lead to earlyonset Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders. That did it.
EVIDENCE OF BRAIN DAMAGE
At the chamber I had to write down some personal data. It was the first time I had written anything by hand since the trip and I found it extremely hard to form the letters. Dr Wong administered a Sharpened Romberg Test, checking my balance. With one foot in front of the other, heel to toe, eyes closed and arms stretched out to the sides, I had to balance for as long as I could. In that position, my body shook – spasmodic, jerky motions that let me balance for all of 10 seconds. The serial seven test was next, counting down from 100 in sevens. I was allowed to use my fingers, but even then I couldn’t count backwards.
It was frightening to see evidence of how impaired my cerebral functions really were. There were no more objections. Dr Wong gave me a sedative and put me in the chamber.
After a USN Table 6 treatment, Dr Wong administered the tests again; the results were incredible, a massive improvement.
DAN Asia-Pacific’s John Lippmann called me that night to see how I was, and was on conference call with me and Dr Wong for my next few sessions. I had another treatment in the chamber the next day, a USN Table 5, and a final one two days later. John was calling to check up on me every day, sometimes several times, constantly reassuring.
For the next few months, I was tired a lot. I would have regular spells of extreme vertigo, and a sensation that I can only describe as having a head full of damp, electric bees – an unpleasant buzzing sensation. I would have to lie down with no stimuli for 15 minutes until it passed. Gradually these episodes became less frequent and less severe. John Lippmann recommended I get tested for PFO, which I did. Unfortunately the test was inconclusive, but I plan on being retested.
It is now almost two-and-a-half years on, and my long-term memory is not what it once was. I forget how to spell words, tasks I have completed, things people have told me. Thank God for spell check, calendars, and understanding bosses!
I could never have imagined that something so subtle could end up being something so serious. The whole episode taught me a number of valuable lessons:
1. Denial is the most common symptom of DCS
2. Even if hyperbaric treatment is delayed, it can
still be effective.
3. DCS can be atypical and even if it seems minor, you should always seek medical attention and advice.
But perhaps the biggest lesson was the value of DAN Asia-Pacific. My DAN Asia-Pacific insurance meant that they covered the costs of my treatment immediately; I didn’t have to pay and then claim it back. But more importantly, they were with me every step of the way, providing support at a time when I needed it most.