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  1. #1

    Default Honest Self Assessment?

    I don't want to pile on to the topic about the recent EN incident, so I thought I'd start a generic, but related topic here. Let's start with a look in the mirror. Are there rolls of fat hanging over the waist of your pants? Is your shape generally round? If the answer is yes, you should not be diving. Period. When hauling your tanks and scooter from your car to the water's edge at JB, are you huffing and puffing and out of breath? If the answer is yes, you should not be diving. Period. Are you 5'8" and need an XXXL drysuit? Do you exercise regularly? And I mean really exercise, not just go to the gym and socialize (I see A LOT of that at my gym). Are you a couch potato? Steady diet of fast food, sugar, and junk? Need I go on? Anyone in these categories should not be diving at all, much less Tech Diving. How did we get to this state? To paraphrase one of my favorite comedians, we have it too easy. We have evolved to the point where we no longer need to avoid predators. And in so doing, we've become lazy, increasingly more so with each generation.

    There are some other sources of blame I can point to for the apparent mass delusion that anyone can dive. Dive equipment manufacturers and Training Agencies are all for profit enterprises and encourage growth (profit) through volume. As such, they market to an ever widening (pun intended) group. NAUI standards for initial open water training entry are diluted to require satisfactory demonstration of 15 continuous stroke cycles as its pre training surface swimming requirement! Seriously? And NAUI is supposed to be the Gold Standard (at least according to them). We've reached the point now that we are training children to dive! 8 year olds on open circuit? And statistically, the current batch of 8 year olds are the fattest segment of our populace. But enough bashing of agencies and manufacturers. The biggest source of blame is you.

    Honest self assessment is what is really needed. We are all supposed to be adults. When we undertake any strenuous activity, in the condition described above, we are putting ourselves at risk. So look in the mirror. If you cannot honestly say that what you see is in good condition and able to withstand the rigors that strenuous activity demands, step away. There are myriad opportunities and facilities available to fix the problem.

    See a doctor. Get a physical. Do a little P.T. Have a salad, some fruit, and healthy food. Quit smoking! Figure out what a healthy, optimum weight is for you and get there. There are groups out there to help you - Weight Watchers, T.O.P.S., and Metabolic Research, just to name a few. These all work, but they wont come looking for you.

    Sadly, I don't see any of this happening on a large scale. So what we're stuck with is more diving deaths, and more wringing of hands about the causes. The Sylvesters and Kellys in our little world will have to continue to fight an uphill battle for access to sites that we all enjoy. We are our own worst enemy and all the preaching we can do probably won't change it. If this pi$$es you off, it's likely because I described you. Maybe you're mad enough to do something about it.

    In closing, lest y'all think I'm preaching from a lack of firsthand experience: I'm a former smoker and former obese person. I have to wrestle with this stuff everyday. It's damned hard but it can be done.

    Bil Lindstrom
    UCLA

  2. #2
    Member
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    Dec 2013
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    southeast of disorder
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    Default

    Excellent post. There was some discussion recently about adding physical fitness/medical condition as a 6th rule of accident analysis. Curious as to what the tipping point for this would be considering recent casualties.

    "Cave diving is for grown ups. Make grown up decisions."
    -AJ

  3. #3

    Default

    Captain Bil: I resemble those remarks. Yes I am round. And Yes, I do use a XXL wetsuit. I eat too much, and probably should go to the gym more often.

    But I have also lost almost 100 lb over the past 15 years. But when you meet me, your first thought will be "Tub of Lard". Truth be told, no matter how much I lose, I will never meet society's vision of fitness and health.

    I have had multiple stress EKG, dye contrast studies and Echo-cardiograms. My heart is in almost perfect health. Old but at much lower than average risk for cardiac "event".

    When I prepare for a cave-diving vacation, I spend a couple months diligently swimming miles in the pool, doing frog-kick with my fins. I go to my local dive shop and join their dive classes, just so I can go over to the corner of the deep-end and run thru all my skills and drills.

    What I lack in "Superman" body type, I make up for with my mind. I am Mensa, and to the rest of the world, I am annoyingly anal about safety, rules and preparation. As a 40 year firefighter I am well aware of the concept of "risk assessment" and have NEVER had any qualms about aborting or cancelling a dive because "it just did not feel right".

    I recognize my shortcomings and keep my dives WELL within my physical and mental limits.

    I cave dive because I have never seen ANY man-made structure that that is as beautiful and magnificent as the caves. My cave diving is more worship than admiration of the underwater environment.

    If you see me on the dive site, please try not to judge me too harshly. If you don't want to partner with me, I respect your comfort level and would never suggest that you not be allowed to dive.

    But I find your suggestion that cave divers should "weigh in" on a scale before diving a bit shallow and superficial.

    From what I have read of fatalities, there are all too many physically fit divers who die because they GOT STUPID in the water.

    Instead of a scales at the water's edge, maybe we should have a pop-quiz of knowledge and judgement skills?

    Take only photos, leave only bubbles, kill only time.

  4. #4

    Default

    Gschaut, there are exceptions to everything, and you may well indeed be one. If so, congratulations. My comments are meant more in a general sense, based solely on personal observation. My intent here is to examine one aspect of diving in general, not specifically cave diving. I've been teaching Open Water (NAUI) for almost 13 years and most of what I am describing I see in that area, as opposed to cave diving.

    I don't think I advocated "weighing in" at water's edge, but rather I suggested that one be healthy enough to pursue strenuous activity by maintaining good physical fitness and physicality BEFORE approaching water's edge. But then, I'm not MENSA - perhaps I communicated poorly.

    And again, I only brought up up one aspect of overall diving fitness. Getting stupid in the water, knowledge, and judgement are all great topics but not the point of this post.

    As for being shallow and superficial, I hope not. It certainly wasn't the intent.

    Bil Lindstrom
    UCLA

  5. #5
    Member
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    Jun 2005
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    Chelsea, VT
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    3,498

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by gschaut View Post
    ...I have also lost almost 100 lb over the past 15 years.
    Me too. The same 10 pounds at least 10 times...

    As Mark Twain said, "Quitting smoking is the easiest thing in the world; I've done it thousands of times." I'm the same way with food.

    It's a good thing I never started smoking. With the amount of trouble I have keeping myself from eating too much, if I'd taken up smoking I'd probably be a two pack a day man. Fortunately the half a cigarette I smoked at age 12 was disgusting enough to keep me from ever trying it again.

    Mike


  6. #6
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    Default

    The problem Bil is that you are advocating doing self assessment, at the same time you are fat shaming people and being judgemental of them.

    While there is statistical validity to your thesis, it is by no means the entire story of heart disease. It overlooks risk factors such as stress, genetics, smoking (do we reject all smokers from diving?), high cholesterol (yes skinny people have this also), hypertension (also in skinny people), and age risks, unless you advocate anyone over 60 not dive (and Forrest would probably not like that). And that's not to mention sudden cardiac arrest, which can and does regularly happen in athletes. Remember Jim Fixx?

    Also, you are starting off with the conclusion that the accident at EN was a medical problem, and in a way, all accidents are. Death is a medical problem.

    Self assessment is just that. It is a series of decisions that we all make, which includes risk tolerance. As example, I have given up doing deep or long deco diving. Why? Its not because I have forgot how, just that the reward from it is no longer worth the personal risk.

    Self assessment should extend to where we dive, who we dive with, the equipment we choose to use, gas we choose to breathe and where we buy it, how tired we are, what we ate,..... which gets back to our overall risk tolerance. Just telling someone to look in the mirror is shallow, and it focuses on only one aspect of self assessment, which may or may not even be the most important one.

    "I believe Ronald Reagan can make this country what it once was... a large Arctic region covered with ice."
    "We had gay burglars the other night. They broke in and rearranged the furniture"
    "Reality is just a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs"
    "We've had cloning in the South for years. It's called cousins"

    "Carpe per diem - seize the check."

    Robin Williams 8-11-2014



    "There she was - the cave. Like a big craggy jaw, waiting to snap at anything that came along." Lloyd "Mike Nelson" Bridges 3-10-1998

  7. #7

    Default

    The problem Bil is that you are advocating doing self assessment, at the same time you are fat shaming people and being judgemental of them.

    I am advocating physical fitness self assessment. I'm not exactly sure what "fat shaming" is. If I call John Doe fat, is that shaming? Probably. If i make a generic statement without singling out anyone, and someone takes offense, is that shaming, or is that a case of the shoe fitting and not liking it? Ditto being judgmental. Admittedly, I should have been clearer. Perhaps better said would be "....shouldn't be diving while in poor physical condition. If walking to water's edge stresses one out, think what exposing oneself to increased pressure for extended periods of time has the potential to do..." Something like that?

    While there is statistical validity to your thesis, it is by no means the entire story of heart disease. It overlooks risk factors such as stress, genetics, smoking (do we reject all smokers from diving?), high cholesterol (yes skinny people have this also), hypertension (also in skinny people), and age risks, unless you advocate anyone over 60 not dive (and Forrest would probably not like that). And that's not to mention sudden cardiac arrest, which can and does regularly happen in athletes. Remember Jim Fixx?


    It was never intended to be an entire story, but one aspect. And for the record, i addressed smoking and diet. These are controllable factors. I also mentioned doctors, which should catch medical and age risks. As for Forrest, I never mentioned age as a limiting factor. And yes, I do remember Jim Fixx. And if he came to me as a potential open water student, I would hope that the physical and/or medical questionnaire would have identified and disqualified him from participation. He was a time bomb waiting to go off.

    Also, you are starting off with the conclusion that the accident at EN was a medical problem, and in a way, all accidents are. Death is a medical problem.

    No conclusions regarding that unfortunate incident - I'm not privy to anything regarding that. This was started in my mind by the incident, yes, but it's something that has been eating at me for sometime. I see it all around me and i wonder how it can be fixed. As illustrated, i believe there is a fix, but I don't think most will be receptive - also stated. Truthfully, the leading cause of death is living. The question is how to best enjoy the ride. My personal belief is that being healthy and fit lends itself to quality of life well into old age, genetic and uncontrollable factors notwithstanding. To undertake risky physical activities while physically unhealthy doesn't seem right, at any age.

    Self assessment is just that. It is a series of decisions that we all make, which includes risk tolerance. As example, I have given up doing deep or long deco diving. Why? Its not because I have forgot how, just that the reward from it is no longer worth the personal risk.

    Commendable. Kind of what I'm advocating.

    Self assessment should extend to where we dive, who we dive with, the equipment we choose to use, gas we choose to breathe and where we buy it, how tired we are, what we ate,..... which gets back to our overall risk tolerance. Just telling someone to look in the mirror is shallow, and it focuses on only one aspect of self assessment, which may or may not even be the most important one.

    Again, I'm only talking about physical fitness as it relates to diving in general and tech diving in particular. Dive sites, partners, equipment, gas, etc. were never touched on by me initially and are unrelated to my "thesis", as you put it.

    Bil Lindstrom
    UCLA

  8. #8

    Default

    more directed to OFG-1, but I think gschaut did exactly what Bil was asking, whether Bil worded it well is not really the point of the discussion.

    He admitted to being overweight, but also said that he has had heart tests to make sure that he is not falling into the realm of heart problems, physically prepares prior to dive trips, and keeps himself well within his limits.

    I think part of the problem that we face though is going to be finding doctors that are able to actually determine whether you are fit to dive. I have friends at Duke and DAN, and make sure that every other year, they look me over to clear me for diving *they're still 4 hours away so it's a bit hard to schedule time*. I know by going to these guys, that they are the most qualified to actually determine whether I am clear to dive or not because they actually know what to look for. How many physicians know anything about diving and how the stresses that it puts on the body will cause it to react? That's half the battle in my opinion.

    Personally? I think GUE has something with not allowing smokers to dive, the industry sure as hell won't go for it, but at least for the instructors out there, I see no problem making it a barrier to entry if you want to go deep.


  9. #9

    Default

    I've been told that the heart attack victim in Ginnie last April was a long distance cyclist who worked out regularly. As one of the four people who carried him out of the water, I can assure you he wasn't fat.

    I also believe cardiovascular fitness is incredibly important and do my best to get in a minimum of 3 hours a week.

    Ken Sallot

  10. #10

    Default

    I will also add having a good honest relationship with your doctor(s) is equally important. Most people who look at me would never know that I've been dealing with cancer at the chronic level for the past few years. I am able to do the things I do not only because I eat right and exercise regularly but also because I have a very assertive interest in my own health. However, those things can only go so far and having a second, or third, or fourth set of eyes looking you over and giving you an honest appraisal can help keep you on the right track.



 

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