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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy - Self Treatment

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The Complete Story

coming to my home, and still is, three days/wk for 4-hour therapy sessions. She also learned how to operate my chamber to relieve Polly when I am in a treatment cycle. I have a 20 X 45 ft room devoted solely to my chamber and recovery therapy with all kinds of Physical and Occupational therapy gadgets with pulleys and harnesses (typical cave diver jury rigs) to get the heavy O2 cylinders safely up and down the stairs in my home. Less than a year after the neuro team told me I would never walk again, I was walking even without a cane. I now once more drive wherever and whenever I want to within reason; I go out to dinner, shopping, etc with a cane; I danced two dances with my wife at my 50th HS reunion, and all my bodily functions have finally returned to nearly normal. (Hurray!! I actually take great pleasure in peeing!) I am still left with some significant difficulties; however, which I am still battling.  1) I have a perpherial neuropathy condition termed hyperpathia from my waist down (extreme sensitivity to very light touch), and 2) I have muscle lock-ups (far worse than a cramp or Charlie horse) of all muscle groups below my waist after walking or standing for 10 or 15 minutes. This also limits my bike riding to about one mile.  Both these conditions are extremely painful which makes pain management my biggest challenge at the moment. Rather than become a “dope head,” I am working with a Comprehensive Pain Management medical team to get the best pain management I can without going into narcotics of any type. I had one Dr. recommend an implanted morphine pump which I rejected, of course. However, It “ain’t easy” by any means. A couple months ago I finished a 38 treatment HBOT series in which I picked up some additional sensory capability in my right hand. Improvement comes quite slowly, a little bit at a time, but it is still coming. Patience is not my long suit, but I am learning it the hard way. I am on break between treatment cycles now which is TBD but probably will be several months. No one can explain the science of what I have been doing, but one can’t argue with results and the myelin cellular healing theory of two of the docs I’m working with.

So far, this little episode of being “bent” on a simple, shallow dive has taken over four years from my life, and I still have much more hard work in front of me. I began diving at age 13. I will be 69 next week, 11 Sept. 2001. I have logged nearly 3500 legitimate dives (many teaching), nearly 900 of which were cave dives. I did not do anything stupid or careless during my last dive to cause my “hit.” My wife and my computer dive log substantiate that.  I have never had even the slightest symptom of any kind of DCS in my entire life. So why did I get a DCS II hit, and why did I “crash”after a one-hour commercial flight when I was recovering so well? No one knows, and no one will ever know.

However, I have a theory which goes as follows:  Over a number of years, I think I accumulated minuscule amounts of N2 in my myelin tissues which you might think of as the insulation around the nerve “wires” in the central nervous system & critical to proper nerve function. You might also consider your spinal cord as a twisted bundle of myelin insulated wires integral to your CNS. I accumulated more of my technical diving (deep, long, multi-gas, multi-stage deco dives) in my later years - the 20 years after I was 45 yrs old. I did more and more teaching then as I had more time for diving which increased the frequency and accumulation of my dives.  Normally, doing 16 O/W teaching dives in 13 days, none extreme, is well within the generally accepted safety envelope with plenty of margin. Hundreds of instructors do it. 54 hrs of out-gassing is certainly considered conservative, especially following the last two dives in two days of less than 60 minutes and less than 30 fsw. And ... I had gone a couple weeks without diving at all prior to this trip. So what happened? DAN called it “hit and run” DCS with no explanation. Personally, I think I accumulated residual N2 over a very long period of time (years) and never absolutely, totally “out-gassed” my myelin tissues. Then, on a virtual “non dive” for me, I absorbed just a teeny bit more N2 - enough to cause the residual N2 in those tissues to create a “shower of microscopic bubbles” in my spinal cord in spite of an 8 minute ascent. That one, simple shallow dive put me over the top.  With 20/20 hindsight, what have I learned that I can pass on to you for your safety? This is the purpose of my sharing this experience with you - even the personal stuff, and I’m not ashamed of it if it will help you.

For those of you putting more and more candles on your birthday cake, you cannot be too conservative. When I first began mixing my own Nitrox, eons ago, Nitrox was a dirty word in the O/W