Coping with Embarrassment – The things tech divers have to do……

Now, most people’s impression of technical divers is adrenaline fuelled, risk taking dive ninjas, dressed in black, talking PO2’s, Equivalent Narcotic Depths and CNS percentages. We even build a bit of an image of being a bit rock and roll, or a bit sci fi… Welcome to the Dark Side etc. We cultivate this imagery because frankly the reality is way too embarrassing. If we actually had to own up to the indignities we suffer in and out of the water, we might not get so many recruits! The whistle though, is about to be blown!

Firstly we usually have at least 6 pharmacies we can visit to buy essential supplies separately. This is because the list in its own right, Baby Powder, KY Jelly, Adult Nappies / Diapers, Catheters, She Wee’s, Hair Depilation Cream and the quantities in which we use them, make it look like we are running a very specialist house of ill repute catering to some pretty weird fetishes.

Outside of the pharmacy the shopping list doesn’t really get any better…. Bungee cord, lines and reels, metal clips, cable ties. It frankly looks as if 50 shades of grey is the book for beginners.

So, as a technical diver what indignities do we suffer and why? What do we actually use all the items on the shopping list for? And, what excuses can we give the shop assistants?

So, firstly, hydration is an important issue in both mental actuity and potentially decompression sickness or DCS. (By the way, DCS doesn’t actually stand for – Deadly Cake Syndrome, as suggested by a recent student of mine while sitting outside Gozo’s best cake shop in Xaghra!). Our longer dive times and the need to be hydrated mean tech divers need a way to urinate during a dive. The two palatable options are a pee valve or an adult nappy. Hence the shopping list. P valves are a nifty bit of technology that allow us to plumb in and wee at our leisure during a dive. This for men means buying catheters or open ended condoms, that unroll down the old chap and are glued at the base. This raises two further issues….

Sizing and pubic hair. Now, no bloke wants to admit he is smaller than the average, but catheters come in at least 5 different sizes and, if it doesn’t fit right you are going to have a wet, briefly warm, then very cold dive and a drive back to base that smells like a cheap nursing home. Account for the cold and potential nerves and most fellas would be better off going down a size. Sadly manufacturers of these devices play a straight(ish) bat and give exact measurements. I suggest they rebrand and start the smallest size with large, going up through extra large, bloody hell and “that will make your eyes water”. Sales will literally rise…….. In the meantime the invention of an incontinent older relative, who is unable to shop for themselves is essential. I suggest carrying a picture of Nigel Farage as no-one will have trouble believing that.

Secondly public hair…. I recently headed out on a trip and not having done a long dive for a few weeks the jungle wasn’t as trimmed as it should have been. I caught some stray hairs in the glue at the start of the dive and was literally crying in my reg and flooding my mask with tears as a result. Taking off the catheter I gave myself a full Hollywood around the base of my best friend and screamed like a 6 year old whose been told Elsa from Frozen was run over by a sled. Hence the need for hair Depilation cream, a good shave, or for the very brave, a trip to the beauty parlour for a waxing. The very dedicated might consider laser treatment. Now, what do you say… Well cream etc is ok, it’s for my wife’s legs….. But be careful, the leg creams are somewhat stronger that the “bikini line” products and a trip to A&E for blistered balls will be even more embarrassing and will likely lead to a psych evaluation. It’s the beauty parlour visit that’s the problem. I suggest claiming that you are going to audition for a porn movie is probably the least mortifying option.

Now, the other option for urination is the adult nappy. It works well, but two pieces of advice.
Firstly, never ask a mate to change you, I guarantee that will be the end of any friendship you may have had, or it will take the friendship places you really didn’t want or expect. Secondly, put it on somewhere no-one can see you, or more importantly, where no one has access to a camera or phone. Whatever you do, buy the adult nappies at a different store to the one you buy the KY jelly at. There is no explanation on earth that won’t have the shop assistants discussing the disgusting pervert that’s just left, very loudly over the lipstick counter while you wait round the corner for your sea sickness pills. I don’t think the Nigel Farage picture will double up for the adult nappies though so I suggest a good image of Ed Milliband, unless larger sizes are needed then Ed Pickles will work well.

Now, as tech divers we do have a fairly well publicised latex and rubber fetish. Latex, Silicone, rubber and neoprene work great on Drysuits, wetsuits etc but need care, maintenance and to get on and off either a wet or dry lubricant such as baby powder and / or KY Jelly. This is why we need a broad source of suppliers. Buying adult nappies, KY Jelly and Baby Powder in the same store will lead to suppressed giggles, outright laughter or disgust, or, worse case scenario, a request for a phone number and cost per hour! Of course it may for some be a way of defraying the costs of meeting our diving kit obsession needs and a few hours in a latex suit for a new reg is for some a small price to pay.

Talking of kit obsession, as Christian Grey himself might have said, one can never have too many cable ties or rolls of duct tape. Whilst our uses as tech divers for these products are more esoteric, running repairs, stage cylinder band retainers, cylinder content marking…. getting knocked down on your way home with one bag of KY jelly, adult nappies and hair depilation cream and another bag full of various thickness bungee cords, 3 rolls of black duct tape and assorted cable ties will have the police photographers pension secured, a double page spread in the Daily Star and the hospital staff in the hazmat anti infection suits double quick.

Add in the selection of dog lead type stainless steel metal clips (we call them bolt snaps and double enders, purely to avoid confusion of course!), cylinder cam bands and jubilee clips, plus the various sizes of reel with bits of cave line or for the exploration cave divers 5mm or 7mm nylon rope, well, any doubts about our perversities will be well and truly removed. Luckily we can buy most of these products in our local dive store or online, only needing to ensure the plain brown bag in which these are to be wrapped is not going to break in public.

It would be nice if perhaps we could carry our diver cards as proof that we are in fact normal well adjusted people who happen to enjoy a sport that has some proclivities that can easily be misjudged. Sadly that’s not the case for two reasons.

The public including the majority of recreational divers really doesn’t understand the challenges and embarrassment we face and secondly….

2. Most tech divers I know are in fact sexual deviants of the worst kind…. You know who you are……