This week in The Cozumel Sun: An Experience with the Bends in Cozumel, valuable information on the symptoms of the bends, treatment, and the importance of Dive Safety and DAN Insurance, as shared by Cozumel Resident Mr. Joseph Li, The Weekly Crime and Arrest Report by the City of Cozumel’s Public Safety and Traffic Department, Reminder Cozumel Humane Society Annual Sterilization Campaign September 21, 22 & 23, United States Consulate Town Hall Meeting and Passport Fair to be held September 22nd, RSVP required! and in Aurita’s Corner, my coverage of Mexico’s Tragic Earthquake.
An Experience with the Bends in Cozumel
The following is a copy of a post to Facebook by Betti Li on behalf of her husband Joseph Li describing a recent diving emergency in Cozumel. I want to thank both of them from the bottom of my heart for sharing this experience that has lifesaving information for other divers:
By now I guess most of our friends and family already know that I had a diving incident last week, Tuesday September 5. Since then I have been slowly recovering and now I am able to (healthy enough) to discuss the details.
On Tuesday September 5th we did a normal two tank dive with 6 divers in a group. The first dive was the deepest at 78 feet (started off) and we saw reef sharks in about 20-15 feet deep. The dive was 1 hour and 14 minutes long. My dive computer did not make any alarm sound and we did the safety stop accordingly. After then we had a surface interval of one hour & 16 minutes we proceeded to the second dive. On this dive, the deepest was about 57 feet (started off) then leveled to about 35 feet for most of the dive.
At the end of the second dive a thunderstorm had started so the boat captain drove fast and we got back to the marina in just over half an hour. Until then I was feeling fine and drove the car home, stopped to buy some Chinese food for lunch.
After getting home then we are having lunch. Half way through the lunch I suddenly feel very dizzy so I stopped eating. In about a minute I could no longer hold my head up and had to rest my head on the counter. Then my 10 fingers became numb and electrified. At that point I knew I am in trouble and asked Betty to call an ambulance for me. (I still can’t lift my head or walk a single step). Before the ambulance arrives I started uncontrolled vomiting. After the ambulance paramedics put me on the stretcher they can’t move me more than two feet without triggering me throwing up all over the floor. When I am finally in the ambulance they put the oxygen mask on me and that stopped my vomiting.
After we arrived at CMC hospital, we are met by Andrea and Doctor Dario Gomez who is the DAN preferred doctor in charge of the hyperbaric chamber. They take off my oxygen mask because they have to question me about what happened. The doctors have to make sure that it is the “bends” (decompression sickness) and not food poisoning. In about five minutes, my uncontrolled vomiting is back then they knew it is indeed neurological decompression sickness because oxygen helps me. The doctor then ordered and injected anti-vomiting drug into my IV and immediately schedules me for a hyperbaric chamber treatment.
The first chamber run was for the length of 4 hours and 45 minutes which is US Navy Table 9 treatment (60 feet). That went smoothly and I was feeling a little bit better (but still very dizzy). Doctor Dario said he must keep me in the hospital overnight and then reassess my situation again next morning.
Next morning (Wednesday) Doctor Dario made the assessment and told me I will need 3 more hyperbaric chamber runs (US Navy Table six treatment – 45 feet for 2 hours). He scheduled the first run at 10 o’clock. During this run I was having problems equalizing the right ear so the run was aborted. Dr Blanca Esquive, an ENT (ear/nose/throat) specialist was called in to evaluate me. She gave me medicine to help clear the area for a second try but said if that doesn’t work then they would have to drill a hole in my ear drum. This scared me because it is for the rest of my life. After that then I can’t swim or shower or walk in the rain without plugging up my right ear (of course no more diving). I insisted drilling a hole would be the last resort and I will try again at the 1pm chamber run. This time I will sit straight up and that should help me to equalize my right ear. Thank god sitting straight up works and I was able to equalize fine.
This chamber run was exhausting. One, I couldn’t sleep well in the hospital bed the night before. Second, the chamber operator increases the air pressure very slowly for helping me to equalize. So it takes a long time (like forever) to achieve the 45 feet mark. Plus, my ten fingers were electrified again. Thus, I was still having nitrogen bubbles in my blood stream.
After the compression I was falling asleep in the chamber a few times during the deep breathing exercise. While I was asleep the second time, I suddenly heard someone knocking on the port hole trying to get my attention. I looked over and saw a beautiful blonde face. At first I couldn’t recognize who that was (I just woke up) then I realized that it was our dear friend Karen Bloemhoff. Thank you Karen for your words of encouragement as that really lifted my spirit. Karen, you are an angel.
The third (of the day) chamber run scheduled at 8pm and this run was uneventful (went smoothly). Before this run Dr Dario told me that I will need another chamber run tomorrow (Thursday) morning scheduled at 9am.
Thursday’s chamber run also went smoothly and after that I was able to stand up (still needed support from Betty and the nurse). I was finally able to have a shower. Doctors then reassessed me and said I could go home and start the recovery process. I was discharged around 2:30p from the hospital. Since then I have had follow-up appointments with Dr Dario at CMC hospital last Friday (when I was about 70% better) and this past Monday (when I was about 90% better). The doctor told me I should be fully recovered by the end of this week. I have a visit with him tomorrow (Friday the 15th) that he said most likely he could discharge me completely (i.e. I am 100% covered).
I was struggling through this ordeal (my first time in a hospital) and want to say thanks for all the support and good wishes I received from everyone. Special thanks goes to my wife Betty for all the care and support, Doctor Dario who is a specialist when it comes to diving, Karen B. who woke me up in a chamber run and raised my spirits, our friend and neighbor Myrna Gleghorn for the many visits in the hospital, Rene Mena (DM extraordinaire) for going above & beyond visiting me in the hospital the first night and keeping tabs on me with texts to Betty, diving friend Joyce Larsen for visiting me on my first night home and bringing some of her delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies, and last but surely not least to Andrea Sakula who is our friend first and works at the CMC as a Patient Liaison who went above and beyond the call of her hospital duties by checking up on me every day and making sure everything was good.
One last thing. It was good that we had DAN insurance. They covered everything! We still meet the odd person that doesn’t have any type of diving insurance and we ask “How can you dive and NOT have it???” This didn’t happen because of anything I did. It just happens sometimes as we get older.
Cozumel Weekly Report by Public Safety and TrafficWeek of September 11 – 18
Arrests made by Seguridad Publica Translated in Order:
Ebriedad (Drunkenness) 27 , Alteracion (Altercation)23 , Toxicamano (Graffiti) 08, Rinas (Quarrels) 04 ,
Faltas a la Moral (lack of Morals) 03, Otra Faltas (Other Offences) 00.
Arrested for Crimes
Robo (Robbery/Theft) 02, Allanamiento (Weapons) 00 , Salud (Health) 01, Otro (Other) 01.
A Total of 165 calls: 102 Positive and 63 Negative ( I assume the 102 where actual emergencies and 63 were false alarms)
30 Total Robberies reported of which 29 are reported as positive, I assume the one was not confirmed
Cozumel Transit Report
08 Accidents, 06 Failure to drive with Caution, 01 Alcoholism, 01 Speeding, 64 Infractions Realized.
22 Motorcycles, 06 Automobiles, 0 Bicicles for a Total of 28
Aurita’s Cozumel Corner
I have been glued to the television the last thirty some hours watching the rescue efforts all over Mexico. As of this moment, the death toll is 250. There are many tragic stories, inspirational rescues, and the urgency is ever present that the clock is ticking for the many still buried alive. The process of digging them out is done by hand, as heavy equipment can cause further damage not to mention the noise would hinder the rescuers from hearing calls for help. Many in Mexico have answered the call to help their neighbors, there are volunteers everywhere in Mexico City, many stories of people sharing what little they have left. Thank heavens many countries have sent their experts to help and many, many more are on their way. Panama was on the ground yesterday, the Israeli team arrived not too long ago. Mind you, Oaxaca and other areas hit by the 8.4 earthquake last week are still suffering, in the recovery stage of digging for bodies, demolishing damaged buildings before they fall on people, and caring for so very many homeless. There is poor coordination and reports of many volunteers and supplies in one town, while another town has no help and no supplies. There are places that cars cannot get to, they need volunteers on bicycle or motorcycles. It is just overwhelming.
As I write, they discovered a 5 year old alive in a town (Taxqueña ?) and are asking for hammers and picks to break the cement to get to her. This was followed by an update of two children they had located alive in the rubble, but by the time they got to them they had perished. It is heart breaking. There is a lot of waiting around for equipment, tools and materials.
They reported that children were still buried and alive in a private school in Mexico City. I was up most of the night anticipating their rescue. There was a false report early yesterday morning that a young girl hiding under a desk spoke to a rescue worker and let him know that she had communicated with five other children in her proximity. They stated that authorities used a heat seeking scanner to confirm that yes, there are six distinct body temperatures in the area. Heavy rains moved in hindering rescue efforts. Once the workers got to a certain point in the excavating and reinforced the multiple tunnels and entrances they made to reach the area, they stopped further action and waited for further direction from the experts. The body of a teacher was pulled out in the early hours. Today they reported that all the children, alive, dead, and injured are accounted for.
Hundreds of volunteers stood outside the entrance of the school that we were watching live. The Topos (tiny guys that bravely go in to tunnel in the rubble) call for silence so they can listen for victims. Immediately, a worker in the entrance gives the signal for silence, a raised fist. Immediately there is a ripple of raised fists in the crowd followed by respectful silence. Collectively we all seem to hold our breath praying for word that they have heard someone alive.
They have plenty of manual labor volunteers in Mexico City, last night they were asking for volunteer experts, engineers, and other professions that can provide the expertise on getting the people out safely. There is a huge number of buildings that need inspections before they can allow people back in. Tragically, a bad call was made yesterday and a building collapsed on people that had just been given the clearance to enter. They miraculously got everyone out except for one young man named Eric. In the last hour, a rescue dog gave the signal that he found him and volunteers are digging frantically in that area. (There has not been much hope until now, Eric has not been heard from since the collapse.)
Each area needs different things at different phases of this disaster. They are asking for medicines (insulin, paracetamol, antibiotics, syringes, bandages, rubber gloves, Tools (shovels, hammers, cement piersing things, special boots), and non-perishable food (Canned tuna, sardines, rice frijoles. etc.) powder milk, baby diapers, etc. One person suggested blacking out the bar code of food products to ensure that someone in the future does not try to cheat the victims and resell your donations. (There is always a rotten one or two in every barrel).
There is so much that has been happening simultaneously in so many locations that it is impossible for me to share everything with you. The television jumps from location to location and it is very hard to keep up. I am watching FORO TV channel 104 on Cablemas live, even if you do not know Spanish turn it on. I will post collection donations on the Facebook Group and page as they are announced.
The Cozumel Sun Garage Sale
The Sun Garage Sale, formerly known as “The On-Going Garage Sale” was started as a means to collect gently used clothing and goods to be donated to the poor and/or sold at low cost to raise funds for our many projects in Las Fincas and our immediate neighborhood. WE WILL BE SENDING SUPPLIES TO THE EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS THROUGH ONE OF THE LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS AS MONEY ALLOWS.
WE ARE REMODELING:
I am in the process of remodeling our front terrace/entryway into a permanent area for the garage sale. It has been difficult finding storage space that does not disrupt the household. Bringing the merchandise out and setting up the display is hard, many times having to repack it due to weather. The work involved and weather condition has limited the number of days I can have the sale. (Mind you this is a one person operation.)
The remodeling will enable us to be open daily to the public. I am putting in a high roof and will need to remodel the front section accordingly for security. The rain has prevented us from making any progress in weeks, and preventing us from raising funds when we most need it. I have been attempting to sell larger items pn Facebook.
Our Papeleria is in the RED, we have had so many families in the immediate neighborhood without the funds to pay for school supplies, uniforms, and enrollment fees. We cannot turn down helping a child with educational expenses. School just started last month and people are coming in daily asking for help. PLEASE assist us by donating your gently used clothing and household goods or make a cash donation.
Drop off the items you no longer use or need at our home/store #1081 35 Avenida between Calles 17 & 15 Bis. You can also call at 987-118-4453 or 987-120-5902 to arrange a pick up at your home. All Clothing, Housewares, Furniture, Appliances, etc. will be greatly appreciated. Your donations or proceeds from your donations are guaranteed to go towards a family in need.