On just the 2nd day of a one-week lock-down in SA for COVID-19, I was looking through some old magazines. I came across a couple of old photos, which prompted me to write about a past dive of mine. I just needed to find some more photos on my computers. Whilst going through my photos, I found other photos, which prompted me to write about my nose surgery in 2017 instead. Perhaps you can see just why I’ve titled this article “Lock down Story No.1”.
My nose in June 2017
I retired from (employed) work at the end of 2016. This gave me more time for diving and kayaking. Everything was going well in 2017. I had logged some 36 snorkels and dives by the end of June that year. I was surely going to break my record of 60 dives in a calendar year
The spot on my nose in June 2017
Unfortunately, however, I had been having a few issues with my nose. I had been doing many of my recent dives with former GP, Dr David Muirhead. We would often discuss the redness of my nose following our dives together.
My last dive in June 2017 before surgery
(I’ve just noticed the small band-aid on my nose!)
I had been seeing other doctors who were never concerned enough about a spot on my nose. They would first ignore it, then they would freeze it off for me. They eventually decided to do a biopsy on it. The biopsy led to me needing surgery to remove the spot. By the time that I had the surgery, it had taken about 30-36 months to have something positive done.
The day after my nose surgery
I wasn’t prepared for the trauma that followed my surgery. My surgeon later advised me that there was still some cancer in my nose and I either needed more surgery or radiotherapy. I opted for the radiotherapy treatment, every workday for 3 weeks.
My nose is just starting to recover from surgery
The only good aspect was that this all happened in winter. It wasn’t a good time for diving and kayaking. I went 3 months without doing any diving at all. I had to miss out on a trip to Whyalla to see the giant cuttlefish breeding aggregation there.
Tony Isaacson & Carl Charter leaving for Whyalla without me
By the end of September, I was getting itchy fins. I took myself down tom the local beach and gave my nose a “short introduction to saltwater after a 3-month layoff due to nose surgery”. It was as brief snorkel to see just how I would cope.
I was visiting the swimming pool at Marion the next day and I was confident enough to spend more time swimming and snorkelling in the chlorinated water. I now felt ready for my first dive since 24th June.
Snorkelling in the Marion swimming pool
David and I went for a dive at Second Valley jetty on 7th October. David had not done any diving for the same period as me due to the lack of a ‘suitable’ buddy. We had both done our last dive together at Moonta Bay jetty on 24th June.
Society member snorkelling at Moonta Bay jetty in June 2017
This was to be a ‘test’ dive for me and my nose. I was using a new facemask and a new shark shield for the dive. It wasn’t much of a dive due to low vis and equally low temperatures. We barely left the area of the small jetty. Despite stretching the dive out to more than one hour, I “hardly saw any fish or much else. Maybe 2 crabs and 1 starfish”.
It was a start, however. I managed two more dives that month, one in West Lakes (more poor vis) and another at Port Noarlunga. My next dive in November was for basic freediving training in the shallow Westminster School pool. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite up to the rigours of breath-holding at the time. I only got to finish my breath-hold training in the same pool exactly nine months later.
Diving at West Lakes in October 2017
I didn’t get to do another dive until the end of the year. I had gone just over two months without diving again. The water at Port Hughes was now much warmer and the vis was now excellent. I finished the year with 43 of what I call ‘water entries’. The next two years were not quite so ‘productive’, but they were satisfying enough.
My nose at the end of 2017
My nose will never be the same as that of pre-surgery. It still suffers from equalizing during diving. I have to equalize often due to congested sinus issues. At the time of writing, I have managed exactly 100 ‘water entries since my nose surgery. My aim now is to do another 100.
Me diving at Port Noarlunga in 2020
(Taken by Mark Pierson)