My husband is a scuba instructor so I get lots of people who ask if he can teach them to dive. First, he’s a pretty good instructor so the answer is probably yes but before you decide to even try diving, you need to find out if you can dive – if you are medically cleared to go.
PADI has a questionnaire that every new student must fill in to determine if they need to consult a physician before diving. If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the questions, the instructor has to dig deeper to see if something about the condition is an impediment to diving. Sometimes, you just have to answer a few more questions.
In other cases, you may have to see a physician to get a final clearance. You should always try to see a specialist in hyperbaric medicine or a physician who dives and understands the issues. Some physicians will be overcautious because they don’t understand.
The one thing you should not do is lie on the form. A few years ago, my husband and I were taking out students and one of them (a young man) lied on the form and did not tell us that he was diabetic. His legal guardian who was accompanying him lied too (I woudn’t trust my kid with that guy again).
The young man went into insulin shock under water and started acting crazy. Luckily my husband is eagle-eyed with his students and realized before it was too late that he wasn’t just acting up. They got him on the boat and to a hospital before serious damage had occurred.
The doctor told the young man (after giving him a severe talking-to) that he was very lucky – if it wasn’t for Dave, he might be dead. Nowadays, they even have programs where diabetics can safely dive but lying about it can put you in grave danger.
In fact, lying about medical condition means that the instructor may not know what to do to help you if something does occur. The most dangerous thing you can do when learning to dive is lie to your instructor.
Diving is a safe sport if you do it right. Be aware – plan the dive – dive the plan – be safe.