Up until now, you might be following this blog thinking that I have the best job in the world. Sun, sea, fish and getting paid to dive. No downside that you can see? Let me introduce you to the part of the job that absolutely sucks…. being sick. This week I have been told to stay out of the water due to an inner ear virus. No amount of antibiotics are going to help this one, it’s just a waiting game, so while my kit festers in my box and I watch all the guests coming and going from the beach, let me fill you in on the life of a sick diving instructor!

Being sick as a diving instructor has many downsides, the main one being that you get no money. If you can’t dive, you can’t work and therefore you don’t get paid. Now in the UK if you break a leg you’ll still go to work (admittedly slower than normal!) and more importantly you’ll still get paid.  Unfortunately break a limb in this industry and that’s it – 6 weeks off. At this point, you accept the inevitable and start loading up the hard drive to ensure you have enough to watch on TV…. if you time it well, the new series of Breaking Bad might be available!

With less dramatic illnesses, possibly when we should be tucked up at home, we are out on a boat, determined to see our courses through, dosing ourselves up with a multitude of over the counter remedies at regular intervals (Instructor dedication or stupidity – it’s a fine line).

Not a space ship….. the new Chamber in Sharm.

So, being the sensible instructor I am, as soon as I realised the world constantly spinning was not normal, I took myself off to see the lovely gentlemen at the Hyperbaric Chamber, who thoroughly checked me over and diagnosed my ailment.  A prescription is issued, along with an alcohol ban (which I thought was a bet, but apparently it was for real) and a week out of the water was ordered.

What to do?  After a few days of relaxing on the sofa, I got a bit bored and decided to go for a swim. It turns out (quite logically) that swimming confused the inner ear further and resulted in an afternoon of bed rest and motion sickness. Oh Joy.

While I ‘relaxed’ in a darkened room, I pondered something that has always struck me as one of the weird things about being ill in this job..  The ability to be classified as ‘sick’ yet still able to make it to the bar for a sun downer (or 4!).  Obviously if you can’t equalise you can’t dive, but not being able to equalise causes no noticeable problems when drinking a beer! Imagine being off work in the UK and then sauntering into the local to join all your colleagues after work for a swift one. It just wouldn’t happen, well not if you wanted to keep your job!  Anyway, not something that I had to worry about – I still had 3 days left of my ban (only 4 days gone…really??)

Fast forward and, as requested, I returned to the Chamber to get the final once over.  In between the paying customers – Dive master medicals and students with ‘yes’ answers on their medical questionnaires, the lovely doctors took time to ensure that I was fully recovered before sending me on my way.

The Chamber is a non-profit facility whose main purpose it to provide hyperbaric treatment to divers.  It’s just handy for us that they are happy to act as a GP for the locals! 3 week waiting list? Grumpy receptionist to battle with? Nope, just a staff t-shirt and a smile required!