Cave Diving, Cave Exploration and Cave Mapping in Yucatan, Mexico
Caver Diver at Little Brother Cenote at Chac Mool Mexico

Fifteen Needles Later and I am Still Not Trimix Certified.

A Broken bed, Whale Sharks, A Pregnant Doctor and Injections, The Real Dive Life!

Where do I start?  Some time in the end of June, when I sat down into bed, I broke the bed frame.  I broke it right where my lower back rests while I am sleeping.  On top of that, add the fact that we were sleeping on a very tired mattress through which I could feel the springs.  I knew that the bed was broken but I kept using it.  My thought was that I could live with it, though it was really starting to bother me.

Then my parents came to town for a whirlwind tour of the Yucatan in my 4Runner.  Their visit and the accompanies stress eliminated all exercising for about two weeks.  Then we drove around the Yucatan at break neck speeds which was followed by some competitive whale shark snorkeling and photography.  The end result was that my back was completely messed up.   I had a lot of pain in the lower back and was unable to bend over.  I stretched and took Aleeve but nothing was working, it was getting worse by the day.

Now for the kicker, I was scheduled to take my CCR Hypoxic Trimix with Steve this week. I had been looking forward to it for a couple of years.  The whole reason I got the Meg was to dive Trimix.  I emailed Steve to let him know my condition and we agreed that mixed gas diving and lower back injuries sound like a terrible combination.   We decided to postpone class.  A TOTAL AND COMPLETE BUMMER!  But, it was the only reasonable and prudent course of action.  It would be awful to take a lower back hit because I was greedy.

It is really a kind of win for both of us.  I was nervous about taking the class this week and Steve wanted to get some exploration done.  I hadn’t been putting enough time in on the CCR and I was planning to put a bunch of time on it in the week between my parents and my class.   With my back out of whack, I couldn’t put the time on the unit.  Plus, I think the universe was telling me I needed to slow down a little.  I have really been packing in the training and not doing enough practice.  Now I have my reprieve.

Acupuncture needles in my leg.And now we are at the needles part of the story.  On Friday, my back was killing me and I couldn’t find a chiropractor or a masseuse to look at it.  I had two separate appointments, which resulted in no call no shows from the masseuse.  I blew off ice cream waiting for this guy.  The best Chiropractor in town, which at least 5 people referred me to, had broken his ankle.  And the next chiro doesn’t work over the weekend.  So there I was, when Sol saved the day.  He suggested I go to the clinic where he went.  I complied and we stopped in.

Acupuncture needles in my back.We were seen immediately!  We entered the office and there was a very good looking small young girl behind the desk.  She asked if we wanted to do this in English or Spanish?  Which was immediately responded to by Sol, who was wearing a huge shit eating grin, with, “Your a doctor?”  She replied, “Yes, I am a doctor and I am pregnant. I have thirty years.”  I asked, “30 years practicing medicine? You look great!”  She smiled and replied, “No, I have been practicing medicine for 6 years.”   The consult went well, and she told me I needed to see a specialist and she wanted to get me out of pain.  She prescribed three injections and a three day course of anti-inflammatory.  I was nervous about both, but we talked about the drugs.  The injection is B12 and something else and the anti-inflammatory is just that.  I agreed to the course of treatment under the assumption she was going to give the shot.  Well, that isn’t how it worked out.  She left the room and brought back a nurse, who was a much older and rounder Mayan lady.  I got my shot and went on my way.  She gave a great shot, it just wasn’t the girl behind the desk.  That was the first needle.

On Saturday night, I needed to get my second shot.  I was informed that the pharmacy would give me the injection if I asked.  As it turns out, they wouldn’t.  I could buy my needle and my drugs there, but had to find someone else to inject me.  The pharmacy sent me to the Red Cross.  The Red Cross charged me $5USD or 50Pesos to inject me.  I skipped right to the front of the line.  It was surreal.  I watched the Para-medic prepare the drug.  It was two glass vials that needed to be broken open and mixed in the syringe.  Sol took a picture, which I will withhold.  And the medic laughed his ass off.  Needle number two down.

Acupuncture needles in my back.On Sunday evening it was time for injection number three.  At this point, I was emboldened by our experiences.  So, we hit up the pharmacy for the supplies and we went home.  This time I mixed up the drugs and gave the needle to my wife, Allie, to inject me.  I wanted to save the $5 and risk of airborne staff that can be found at the Red Cross.  Allie had had two glasses of wine prior to being handed the needle, so she was a little nervous and so was I.  She pinned me and pumped my rump full of the drugs.  Everything went according to plan and needle number three was finished.  She did a great job!  I never expected my wife to need to inject me.  I guess that is one of the wonders of the self serve medical system here.

That brings us to Monday!  Today, I went in and had a consult with a physician, a real MD, who specialized in pain management and acupuncture.  We talked about my condition; he examined me and then prescribed a course of Ozone Therapy and acupuncture.  The Ozone is to resolve the herniated disk; the acupuncture is to relieve the muscle tension/spasms.  My homework is to read up on the Ozone treatment.  In the mean time, he stuck 12 needles in me making the count 15.  I had never done acupuncture before, so I was a little skeptical.  However, I have heard good things about it.  It didn’t hurt.  It did put me to sleep.  And it gave me a funny taste in my mouth like my body was detoxing.  I have another visit scheduled for Thursday morning.  I am not exactly sure how I feel about it, though I am willing to give it a shot.  I am going to couple it with a return to my yoga practice and some walking.

I am desperate to get active again.  I hate getting off the beam, acupuncture needles in my leg, and feeling like a slob.  I think I am going to dive this week a little, maybe 2-3 dives, nothing deep.  Though that will really depend on how my back feels.  As of tonight, it seems to be well on its way to recovering!  Hopefully, I will be in tip-top shape shortly.

Plus, Allie, Sol and I have agreed to start a training program to train up to running a half-marathon.  I don’t want them to get too far out in front of me.

Have you tried acupuncture or other holistic or eastern approaches to your pain?  How did it work for you?


1 Anna { 07.18.08 at 5:32 am }

I sprained my back a couple of months ago and can attest to the misery of back pain and not being able to do anything. I went every day to my chairopractor and he actually managed to get my insurance company to pay for one of those machines that shoots electric waves through your muscles to make them relax. That thing is awesome. I hope you back will be well recovered by September but if not I will lend it to you.

Have you thought about investing in a new bed? Now may be a good time. Yoga is also great and now I do lots of strength work on my lower back in the gym because I don’t want to go through that again.

2 Hans { 07.18.08 at 8:56 am }


One of the first things I did was buy a new frame and stiffer mattress. A buddy of mine, Sol, has just opened up a consignment store here in Playa and had a set. I think the bed has made a big difference. I also got some new chanclas (flip flops) that had some cushion. My old ones were walking on concrete. I also started to stretch again. Just a couple of the steps I took to try and get things back into shape.

Lastly, I rejoined the gym. My membership had expired on the 18th of June. This time I opted for the full membership. I am planning on hitting a yoga class a week. I just want to give myself a couple of more days to recuperate before I take a stab at running and lifting.

Thanks for the advise, sounds like we are pretty in tune.