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Don't do this at home

by Kate Blenkin

Reproduced from in focus 77 (Winter 2003)


Are you sitting comfortably? Well you can be sure I am not, I will relate to you a tale of suffering the likes of which are incomprehensible to non divers and will bring tears to the eyes of us more enlightened neoprene addicts. I am only sharing this story with you because my fellow travellers felt it a cautionary tale that should serve as a warning to others.

Picture the scene, the Red Sea, bright sunshine, fantastic crowd of fellow divers, five dives behind me and another four days of underwater bliss to look forward to. I was doing my hundredth dive off Jackson Reef, I had had my photograph taken with a plastic bag carefully marked with 100, and had drunk a bottle of Pepsi underwater (I know, but apparently you have to), returning to the boat then I couldn't have been happier. There was a fair swell which involved the boat pitching about rather alarmingly and try as I might I could not get my fins off whilst trying to cling to the boat ladder. As it was one of those ladders carefully designed to allow one to climb them wearing fins, I was not unduly worried, this was a mistake. Just as I pulled my not inconsiderable bulk from the water, fully kitted I may add, the boat, heaved suddenly about five feet vertically, my hands lost their precarious grip my right foot slipped through the ladder, and I fell, pause for sharp intake of breath.

Now anyone who has tried riding a mans cycle which is too large will totally understand that cross bars are to be approached with extreme care, and the injury I suffered was very consistent with this, not to put too finer point on it, I gave my fanny a bang which had it not caused so much pain, would have kept a smile on my face for weeks.

Obviously I needed medical attention and fast, having got back on the boat finally and removed wetsuit, all did not seem too bad, however, half an hour late when the swelling had had time to fully develop, things were going from bad to worse. Luckily amongst the party were a trauma specialist (raise the affected part and put ice on it), a radiographer (when you move your hips can you hear grinding) and a pharmacist (you can take two of those and four of those).

We sped back to our base, well I say sped, I lay rigid with pain for two hours while rest of party finished the next dive, then I was rushed to Sharm International Hospital.

This is where it all got slightly surreal, not only did I get my first ride on a stretcher (cool), I was also very surprised to find there was no neon sign warning of a four hour delay, as at my local A and E. Immediately I was whisked into a side room, where a very dishy doctor smiled beguilingly at me, until I pulled my bikini bottoms to one side that is. Sadly he suddenly paled, stepped back and muttered
gynaecologist. Ten minutes, a rubber glove and some KY jelly later I was told that I had done no lasting damage. However, and this was the worst bit, my diving was over for the week (pause for bottom lip to wobble). I was of course hugely spoilt for the rest of the holiday, though the smirking and bad jokes did get to me after a while (yes, the ladder was fine), and now cannot wait to go back out there again. I mention all this because, while for a woman this was an unpleasant and unfortunate experience, you only had to see how carefully the men got back onto the boat to realise that for a man....

Reproduced from in focus 77 (Winter 2003)

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