Big Bugs & The Bends

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Posted by Labugman on December 14, 2013 at 23:12:09:

Diving is such an Adventure! The excitement and surprises never end. I recently went out with some good friends for a day of bug hunting off the coast. My son Logan came along for the ride. It was to be his first overnight trip with dad on a hunting expedition. We were both very excited! Our friends Kerry and Del met us at the dock and we shoved off. We went to a deep spot and I went in first. I dove an old favorite and ended up with a nice 8 lbs Bug. Logan & I released it back to the Sea. Logan's Bug Release is on the video below. The next dive was Kerry's. I stayed on the boat with Logan fishing. Kerry came back with one bug but was amazed at how many fish there were on this reef. On the next dive I went to revisit the recently discovered Area 52 to learn more about it's secrets. I ran the length of the reef with my underwater scooter while I scoped out it's layout and structures, paying special attention to where the fish and their co-tenant lobsters were. I peeked into a small undercut hole with a sandy bottom and saw five Huge orange lobster legs!! I knew that was the one that I wanted. First I looked in and saw the big bug sitting about 5 ft back in the ledge. I could see a faint light behind it so I went over to check it out. I saw that even if I could grab it from behind, the bug was too big to fit through the back hole. I went back to the front to see if I could fit into the opening if my tank was off. It was tight but possible. I took off the back pack and pulled my coiled regulator hose to lengthened it to about 5 ft long. I slid in on my back, belly up, back on the sandy bottom....my eyes were closed and I worked entirely by feel. Reaching my left arm straight over my head I could just barely feel the bugs antennas. I was into the hole up to my thighs. I pushed in for a couple of inches more and was able to grab one of it's horns with my fully extended left hand. I had a solid grip but I could not pull it out.....It was locked in and I could not get the needed leverage. I scooted over a few inches to my left and was just able to barely slide my right hand into the hole...reach up and grab the other horn with it. Now both arms were fully extended, I was laying on my back and deep into this hole with both hands on the bug.....but I could not get enough leverage to unlock him. I tried for awhile but it wouldn't budge. I decided to scoot back over all the way to the right of the opening and use the different angle to push the horns from more of a sideways angle.....one hard push and it moved! I pushed and pulled a couple of times and it finally lost it's lock in the hole. I pulled it out 3-4 inches and I new he was coming out now. I let go of him with my right hand and used it to help me wiggle out of the hole on my back......I dragged the bug out with my left....When I finally got out I put him in the bag and caught my breath. I had been breathing hard with all that effort and I was down to 600 psi. I put my tank on and headed back up to the boat. The Bug weighed in at 11.6 lbs. Here are the pictures below. On my last dive of the day Del and I went in off in different directions on the reef. I spent 45 minutes on an 85 ft bottom. I had been using 32 % nitrox all day. I only found one bug. I found out later when I checked that I had surfaced with my computer's graph into the yellow caution bars..... and that , as I usually do, I had surfaced faster than my computer's recommended ascent rate...I never looked, but I'm sure it was blinking as it always did when I went up. I did this thousands of times without any problem so it never even occurred to me that today would be any different. After that last dive I was pretty cold and tired. The water temp had been around 55 to 56 on the bottom. I couldn't wait to get a hot shower and have dinner. We were planning to then go to Catalina later for a couple of night dives. After a long hot shower I got dressed and began to heat my food when I developed a sharp pain in the right side of my low back near my kidney. It got worse to the point where I was doubled over on the floor with pain. Then I noticed that the entire area of the pain was numb. "I think it's a decompression hit!" How could this be? I had done this same dive profile hundreds of times before with no problem! But this time was different.... I could not deny the symptoms of pain and numbness. I got up off the floor to go get my DAN oxygen kit. As I walked to get it my right leg was giving out and felt almost too weak to support me. I knew this was serious!!! I wobbled over to get the kit, pulled it out and laid down on the salon floor to breath pure oxygen. After 10 minutes I felt the area tingle like when a leg is awaking from going to sleep. After 20 minutes the pain was completely gone and there was no more numbness. I finished off the rest of the oxygen as my friend Del piloted my boat back to the harbor. By the time the oxygen ran out my back felt fine. I thought I had escaped more serious consequences. Then my left wrist began to ache. It got worse and worse. After some debate with my buddies I was out voted and it was decided I would go to ER at a local hospital for a checkup. I had a vague memory of spraining my wrist during one of the dives and felt that this was the explanation for my wrist pain. I didn't want to believe that I was still suffering from a decompression injury. After waiting at the ER and going through lots of test to rule out wrist fracture or a kidney stone they finally sent me to the UCLA hyperbaric chamber. I didn't want to go but I knew I had to. It's funny how the mind wants to deny the obvious when it's bad news!!! I really wanted to find good reason not to go, but I went. Deep inside I knew it was the right thing to do. Six hours later, I emerged from the chamber with my wrist pain reduced from a 6 to a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. This morning I woke up to practically no pain at all. I'm sure glad I overrode my pride and went to the chamber. It's embarrassing to get bent. No one wants to admit to making such an obvious mistake. Well I did! I Expect that it will result in some new safety habits for me that can help ensure that I can keep enjoying this unbelievably fun and exciting sport long into the future. It's also good if others can learn anything from my story..... In the future I will be watching my computer more closely. I will try to create a wider safety margin.....I will try not surface in the caution zone, try to do safety stops and try to comply with my computers pathetically slow ascent rate......But the one thing I won't even try is to forego the Extreme Bug Hunting techniques I love so much. Sure, that sort of stuff might kill me.......but with out it I'd hardly be truly alive.........Labugman
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