Here is the most unusual situation I’ve seen in the strange news recently: A shellfish diver in Peru was left with massively swollen arms and chest in an accident when he came up too fast from a dive, causing nitrogen to be deposited in his tissues.
“I let go of my lead belt, I went up like a bullet, I started to lose all my senses… I opened my eyes, everything was blurry. I kept swelling and swelling. My arms swelled to an incredible size… It didn’t go down. It didn’t go down.”
Alejandro Ramos lost his job and was unable to pay for treatments due to the effect of compression sickness or “the bends” on his body, but he was recently seen by Dr. Raul Aguado, a Naval Medical Centre specialist in hyperbaric and underwater medicine, who confirmed the swelling is due to nitrogen bubbles trapped in his tissues.
Dr. Aguado said, “I’ve seen patients who has subaquatic illness and arrived completely swollen but with the hyperbaric chamber these have disappeared in one to three hours.”
Unfortunately, typical treatments in a hyperbaric chamber have not been able to reverse the process in this unusual case.
Alejandro ‘Willy’ Ramos, 57, was deep sea diving for shellfish four years ago with a colleague and his son when a huge cargo ship cut across his vital air hose.
This was Willy’s only source of compressed air and though he was able to swim to the surface, the change in pressure caused irreparable damage to his chest and arms and added 30 kilos to his frame.
… Because Willy needed air he did not have time to climb up slowly as divers must do to prevent damage.
The newspaper reported that before the Naval Medical Centre looked at his special case, Willy had been embarrassed to leave his home.
The bulky frame he had acquired made him feel uncomfortable in public and lack of funds meant he was unable to seek much treatment.
The father-of-two had to endure aching bones and his chest hissing when he breathed, the Venezuelan daily said.
Willy followed his father into the fishing business at the age of 30 and said that back then divers only had to go down about half the distance that he dove to on the day of the accident.
But shellfish had receded to the deeper waters due to over-fishing and that made things more dangerous. …
Willy said he gets depressed about his deformity but thanks God that he is alive.
He said: ‘I became very depressed, I was close to killing myself. One day I bought rat poison and my son said “Dad would you like to die like a rat?”, After all I’ve been through?’
Willy’s sister, Mary, added: ‘People ask question, kids too. They come up when he is sat down and touch him when he is sat down and grab his swollen shoulders. They laugh and say “look it’s Popeye.” …
Recently the diver travelled to Naval Hospital in Lima to meet with Dr Raul Aguado, a specialist in Hyperbaric and underwater medicine.
After examining Willy’s blood and tissue, Dr Aguado confirmed that Willy does have nitrogen bubbles lodged in his fatty tissue.
Now that he has the answer he has waited four years for, he can undergo a serious of treatments including reconstructive and aesthetic surgeries to cut off the tissue.
Willy said: ‘There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe one day I’ll go diving again and see the islands.’
He added that for a long time he was also too embarrassed to leave his home in the southern fishing town of Pisco, Peru.
… Caisson disease occurs in scuba divers or high altitude or aerospace events when dissolved gases (mainly nitrogen) come out of solution in bubbles and can affect just about any body area including joints, lung, heart, skin and brain. …
For every 33 feet in ocean water, the pressure due to nitrogen goes up another 11.6 pounds per square inch... As the pressure due to nitrogen increases, more nitrogen dissolves into the tissues. The longer a diver remains at depth, the more nitrogen dissolves. Unlike the oxygen in the air tank a diver uses to swim underwater, the nitrogen gas is not utilized by the body and builds up over time in body tissues.
Missing is any explanation from experts as to why standard treatment has not worked. Why can’t nitrogen rich Willy be safely deflated?