Alan completed this portfolio since his return to diving following his heart surgery. His first dive was in Stoney Cove. The remainder of the portfolio was completed during a 12-dive trip to Nuweiba, Egypt.
BYPASS THE PROBLEM AND DIVE ON!
Life has a way of springing the unexpected on all of us from time to time, My day started off with a perfectly normal early morning dive trip to Babbacombe. It finished with an early evening blue light ambulance chase to a Bristol hospital Coronary Care Unit with an estimated 10-minute life expectancy.
During my first postoperative day in intensive care on Saturday the 8th September, I came round from the anaesthetic feeling as if an express train had hit me. But just four days following surgery, I exited the BRI Hospital in Bristol to complete my recovery at home. I was amazed at the bodies’ powers of recovery, which was aided by masses of dog walking up hill and down dale. We now have a very tired shorter legged Staffordshire bull terrier but I was feeling just fine and could begin to set my sights on claiming my life back and of course getting fit to return to diving. As the days of recovery rolled slowly by, dates for diving were considered and set for a Red Sea trip on 24th November, This was of course excellent therapy to spur me on and to get my itching shutter finger back into action. Where better to refresh age-old skills than at one of our favourite dive locations, The Nuweiba Hilton Dive Centre in the Red Sea, which has been well organised and run for many years by Andy and Steffi of Emperor divers who had so willingly helped Heather following major cancer surgery in the past.
My surgeon cleared me for diving earlier than expected on the 8th November so following a couple of days swimming around Sea & Sea’s pool doing my best bored goldfish in a bowl impressions, I arranged to join Ian Towers at Stoney Cove on the 10th November. Ian, an instructor was running a photography course for a young lady called Gemma to HSC standards so I was in good company for my first dive with an additional safety diver to keep an eye on me. It was great to be back behind a camera system again and I was impressed with the fresh water life that Stoney Cove has to offer and was quite pleased with my first pics a few of which are included with this article.
What a joy it was to spend a week back in Nuweiba where so many marine subjects present themselves to your camera. By our third day I was up to speed to complete three dives a day and working my camera on subjects from “Barney” the resident turtle, red mouthed groupers, coral trout and lunar tail groupers at cleaning stations and on this visit Heather found a beautiful ornate ghost pipe fish to add to our list of rarer Nuweiba encounters. When not in the water I worked on some competition entries for the BUPG and Bsoup end of year open portfolio competitions, this enabled me to fine tune the colour and content of images taken on following dives to blend in with completed work. All very absorbing and time consuming to the extent that before I knew it we were back on the aircraft and on our way home, “mission accomplished”!
On reflection in summing up the above circumstances I have noted that before this event I had never suffered from any sort of “Heart” problem and that I had been very slow to recognise the problem on the day.
I now know that people can suffer from ‘Silent’ heart attacks without even knowing that they have had one. My conception had previously been of someone rolling around on the floor clutching his or her chest in agony, as indeed I had personally witnessed happening to my father.
So, take heed if you find yourself considering diving at any time that you might be experiencing unexplained clammy feeling, light-headedness or dizzy spells and of course ‘indigestion’ type chest pains. Take my new-found and, of course, hindsight advice and forgo your diving and seek medical attention immediately.
I had always been fit, strong and active and on a reasonably healthy and mixed diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Okay so I had a liking for a couple of beers most evenings & blue cheese, biscuits & a glass of port to cap off weekend dinner parties, but it came as a complete bombshell to me to find myself in my current medical condition. Perhaps ignorance is bliss, but I had never really been aware of or perhaps I had not listened to suggestions that Heart disease had such a strong possible genetic connection and of course I now recognise the fact that both sides of my family heritage had heart disease related history’s whereby genetically related cells within the body can cause ruptures, blood clots and heart attacks that might cause death or serious heart chamber damage.
It was pointed out to me by Ronald Press, a university lecturer that I had the pleasure of sharing a ward with. that it might be worth mentioning for the benefit of any non-diving reader thinking of taking up diving, that in no way was my heart attack either caused by or contributed to by my diving activities,
Looking to the future, this has been one of life’s experiences that I just want to put behind me while still taking the opportunity to make it a known problem that can be overcome. I am very grateful to Dr Skyrme-Jones, my consultant, and his team at Southmead hospital and to my surgeon Mr Mark Yeatman and his skilled team at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, as for the NHS waiting list perhaps in a perfect financial world things could be improved by better funding. My ongoing outlook will be to continue an active diving life style along the same lines as before but perhaps with a little less port and stilton.
So the moral of this story is:
Bypass the problem and dive on!