This is something I wanted to write about ever since I completed my Padi open water course in Thailand this winter. I have not seen much out there in the vast world of the internet before I decided to dive, so maybe my fellow Asthma people will find it helpful.
DISCLAIMER! You need to get a permission from your doctor as you will have to fill out a health questioner at your chosen dive school and I guess its pretty obvious that you should not lie in the questionnaire and pretend that you have no Asthma.
So I completed an open water course which included studying theory and pool sessions before we were aloud to get into the sea.
My asthma is usually triggered by stress and I am not gonna lie I was sacred more than I showed before my first pool session, however I love water and being submerged feels nice to me, it’s breathing underwater though, through a “machine” I didn’t really know was more terrifying. But since I am writing this, it obviously went well and I AM ALIVE!!
All jokes aside, diving when you have asthma is no joke, it can be dangerous even if you are fit and healthy, but you panic underwater, so always follow your instructors orders.
However there were few things I found interesting in a way where I felt that perhaps I had an advantage over “normal” people.
Firstly, I felt that I was more aware of my breathing. I live with asthma since I was 7 and I am 27 now. I had a fair number of bad days as well as bearable and ok days. Sometimes I feel every breath I take, usually because it is not an easy one, but I have learnt that it doesn’t matter how slow I breathe all what matters that I stay consistent and don’t rush or overcompensate my slow breaths with some extra quick ones. As it turns out that’s what you are supposed to do underwater as well. You are supposed to breathe slowly and consistently to maintain stable usage of the air in your tank.
Secondly, in regards to the air in the tank, I found it easier to breathe underwater than I do on land sometimes. The air tasted fresh and I felt that I was using more of my lungs than I normally do. It’s weird, I wish someone would give me a more expert explanation, because the only thing I can think of, is that because I was breathing from the tank the air there was more concentrated and as a result I was breathing in more of it than I normally pick out from the air around me, if that makes sense? (Anyone can help with that?)
Also there was an interesting moment during the pool session, when the instructor had to close our tanks underwater in order for us to feel how our last breaths of air would feel like if we were running out of it during our dive. I was particularly worried before this exercise as I though it could potentially trigger my asthma (you know, stress and all). However to my surprise, the last breath of air from the tank felt a lot like some mornings, on a not such a good day, I have had.
My dives in the open sea were pretty eventful due to the raging storm and 1.5 meter waves. I was sea sick and it wasn’t really enjoyable being on a boat or on the surface, but once I was underwater my sea sickness just disappeared and the dive itself was nice until I resurfaced that is and it all came back up again. Anyway I won’t disgust you with the details, but the moral of the story is, that I didn’t not feel like asthma was preventing me to dive even in the rough conditions. So if you are asthmatic and thought that you cannot dive because of it. You can. Just breath.