I recently had to renew my scientific diving physical. It was my second over age 40 and while I had a few new aches and pains to report to the doctor, I figured it would be pretty routine. I mean, they say you’re only as old as you feel, so I was expecting the diagnosis of a semi-healthy 75-year-old. I breezed through the first tests where they weighed me and measured how tall I am. Check. The heart rate and blood pressure were a little above average, but I’ve always felt it good to be above average. Check. Reflexes? Check. Eyes, ears, mouth, throat? Check. I told him both of my hands seemed to ‘fall asleep’ faster and easier than at any other time in my life, but that it hadn’t been debilitating. Without missing a beat, he said I likely had carpal tunnel syndrome and would refer me to a specialist. Then, they hooked me up to the EKG. It came back with an anomaly; something called a right bundle branch block. I would need an echocardiogram in order to find out more (and get clearance to dive). The doctor reassured me it was likely not a problem, and that if it had been the left side I would have been brought upstairs immediately.
It’s been almost 25 years for me, so it seems realistic that I should be experiencing some fatigue for the mileage I’ve gotten out of this body. But I also know many DSOs and scientific divers, young and old alike, that have experienced acute and chronic pain not directly associated with pressure-related maladies. We need to do more to inform divers and administrators of the hidden long-term risks associated with the nature and repetition of the tasks we all perform to advance science. Many people complain about having to get medically cleared, but I for one am happy to know as much as I can as soon as I can. I‘m happy to report my echo was totally clear and I’m having a procedure this month to alleviate my carpal tunnel syndrome.
I’d also like to congratulate Jessica Keller on her election to the Secretary position on the Board and Jason Jones on his election to the Director-At-Large position. This is our organization so please consider getting involved by running for a Board position in future elections!