If you’ve ever been diving, maybe on vacation as a tourist, you’ll have heard of The Bends.
It’s probably a condition that all of us have heard of, but we probably don’t know a lot about it other than the name.
Well, maybe you also know it has something to do with rising back up to the surface too fast. But apart from that, what do most people know about the bends? Probably not much.
Well, it’s a another name for decompression sickness, and it does happen when a diver comes up from a deep dive too fast.
It can actually be really dangerous and it’s far more feared by divers than most other obstacles they can encounter under the water, like predators or running out of oxygen.
It’s potentially a condition that could kill, so of course it’s something that divers learn all about, and are trained to avoid and deal with it, so they can avoid getting decompression sickness when coming back up after a dive.
Even in non-fatal cases, the symptoms that come with the bends can be incredible painful. Divers with the bends can experience horrible things including swollen joints, mottled, itching skin, brain damage, paralysis, headaches, coughs, dizziness, loss of balance, and shortness of breath.
Why does all of this happen? Well, these symptoms arise due to the rapid release of nitrogen gas from the bloodstream. It’s caused by bubbles forming in the blood when a diver ascends too quickly to the surface, so rising too quickly from a long way down can prove fatal due to the build up of nitrogen.
But former diver Alejandro Ramos Martinez’s decompression sickness is so unique that he has decided to bare all to show the horrific effects that the condition has had upon him.
Former fisherman Alejandro fell victim to the bends when he rose too rapidly after diving to the sea floor off the coast of his home country Peru, in one of the ocean’s deepest areas. However, Martinez’s case of decompression sickness became unique when the nitrogen released from his bloodstream got suck in balloon-like pods around his muscles.
He’s definitely lucky to be alive, but the condition saw him suddenly gain more than 50 pounds and caused his body to swell up to twice its original size. His diving error nearly cost him his life, but it certainly cost him his job.
Martinez now has difficulty walking and suffers from constant pain due to his condition, which requires him to undergo routine oxygen treatments in a pressurized chamber.
Martinez’s doctor Miguel Alarcon works at San Juan de Dios Hospital and has revealed that his team have managed to reduce the nitrogen in Martinez’s body by 30%. However, the unique nature of his sickness means doctors will have to keep researching his case in order to cure it.
Surgery to remove the nitrogen from Alejandro’s body has so far proven to be incredibly difficult because the nitrogen bags are attached to his flesh.
Despite the treatment he has received, Martinez still suffers various symptoms of the disease as well as from constant pain.
Alejandro Ramos Martinez’s near fatal accident actually occurred four years ago, so he has been living with the consequences ever since, but has come forward now to highlight the dangers of decompression sickness.
Meanwhile, doctors are still searching for ways to eliminate the nitrogen bubbles from his body, and they estimate that Martinez still has at least another 100 sessions in a hyperbaric chamber ahead of him.
It’s unclear what caused Alejandro to ascend so dangerously quickly from his dive.
Luckily, cases of the bends are becoming increasingly rare due to divers using wearable computers and waterproof tablets to help calculate a safe ascent speed.
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