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Deep Diving in a Sea of Oxygen.

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Happy New Year dear readers, may we all support each other and stand strong in these challenging times. May 2017 nourish and feed those who conciously try and make the world a better place for everyone.

For myself – I am starting the new year with some fresh air of sorts. But not air from some exotic place and a 15 hour flight unfortunately – or fortunately if you think of the pollution gifted by the jet engines to the earth’s atmosphere, but air from a cylindrical tank. Kinda like diving, but not in water.

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Despite the dry diving aspect of it I am still terrified. Guinea-pigs to my knowledge don’t swim, and they certainly don’t dive, yet it is my luck to have found a relatively local hyperbaric chamber on an industrial estate near Chingford where I, along with five other intrepid dry divers can be wittingly locked into a metal tank and taken to a depth of 24 feet worth of pressure charge whilst sucking oxygen through a large pipe attached to a plastic face mask.

So off I trecked last Thursday 5th january complete with all necessary bits and bobs one would use on a plane namely earplugs, chewing gum and sinutab to deal with the air pressure, and much intrepidation.

Yes dear reader I will be attempting to enter this cute looking chamber daily for the whole of January – Sunday is my only day off.

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I didn’t actually realise we would be locked into aforementioned chamber until I went for this first session which added to my fearful disquiet. Despite the fact that the chamber looks incredibly cute there is no escape. It takes 15 or so minutes to increase (or is it decrease) the air pressure.  An hour breathing in the oxygen under pressure, and then 15 minutes to decompress the chamber. It is very noisy. I had to buy a £70 mask and then we were off.

I was going straight in at 24 feet as recommended by the centre as a cancer protocol. I was  nervous and couldn’t fit the mask on very well. My companions inside the chamber were 3 older humans, nice ladies who gently encouraged me and gave emotional support and advice. At 14 feet depth I started feeling quite panicky as my ears had sharp pains in them and my jaw and sinus was throbbing. I had taken sinutab ten minutes before going into the chamber and then went into some catastrophic thinking about the effect of oxygen on pseudo ephedrine and paracetamol. I was kicking myself that I hadn’t researched it before.

There were strange noises. I was scared my mask wasn’t working properly. The lovely woman operating the chamber was keeping an eye on me from outside, and when the others indicated I was in pain she spoke to me through the intercom and stopped the pressure until me and my ears had calmed down. She did also give me an option to get out even though it would have ruined the session for everyone else. I stayed in and it was fine.

On the second day I chickened out of going inside the chamber. (Hey wait a minute where did those chickens come from?) I didn’t want to go in without decongestants but felt weird about the effect of oxygen on the sinutab so hadn’t taken it. There was an option for one person to sit outside.

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I sat outside. It felt good. No anxiety about pseudo ephedrine, and no ear popping. Not having to have my earplugs in meant I could  relisten to a really old Louise Hay hour thing on cancer. I then delighted in Nas and Damian Marley, as macho as their album is it has some nice messages. Then all of a sudden I was in floods of tears all the way home. A highly unusual occurrence. My heart felt tugged as I thought of how my father would have loved this album. If he was still alive I would have given him a copy and he would have listened to it top volume in his car with the bass on full like any respectable youngster. On the bus with tears streaming down my face – which felt cathartic – I took the book out of my bag I had been lent by Mr Lib and Mrs Tiddles  – Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari and lo! Endless tragedy and persecution of the late great Billie Holiday by the obsessed and racist Bureau of Narcotics, and how she died alone, cruelly chained to a hospital bed and denied visitors, flowers or her radio. At 44.

Day three: Cancelled. Exhausted. Needed a day of self care.

Day four: Chickened out again of going into the chamber again and took oxygen sat outside.

Day five: I decided to try again. I took the sinutab tablets and went in at 16 feet. There are two depth options – 16 and 24 feet. There were 6 of us in the tank. I was sitting next to a lady who told me that decongestants were not good but that nasal spray was. I made a mental note to research that when I got out. There was a boy in there with his mum. He looked a lot older than his 3 years. Despite the woman’s patient, best and clever attempts to get him to breathe the oxygen through the special childrens mask he refused. It was heartbreaking but also ear deafening. Oh imagine the irony of having your eardrums burst by a screaming human child. The air pressure on your ears paling into insignificance with potent sound wave noise assault. It was though a heartbreaking situation and we all dealt with it as best we could.

I came home and after a coffee enema decided to research sinutab and the affects of oxygen on pseudo ephedrine. After checking some diving sites and medical things I decided that I was right to feel uneasy about sinutab and hyperbaric oxygen chambers. As a one off it was okay but daily use for 26 days was not well indicated.

Day Six: Second session in the 16 foot HBO. No decongestants or pain killers. Candy Crush and Papa Pear on the iPad on airplane mode. Nothing heavy. Minimum ear discomfort.

So after initially experiencing both anxiety and terror I am determined to make friends with this oxygenating process and persevere in my quest to take the tumour down this year. It is time to match my body to the health and wellbeing that I feel, feed and live on a daily basis.

Thank you for reading this blog

Love and power

Calliope xx

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