Attack of the Sinus Squeeze – The Day I Became Rudolph the Reindeer !


In a Squeeze

In the midst (of winding down) of a major life event, I realized that an outlet to vent my emotions positively was paramount. Something which would not tax my spine, but still be enjoyable. Of course, I began to plan my next dive trip on the West Coast of the country.

After factoring in sufficient time for physiotherapy (PT) and R&R, I was finally en route to…GOA! I touched down on the Dabolim tarmac late in the night and proceeded to enjoy a nice sandwich with one of my closest friends. He was kind enough to pick me up and let me stay over for the night!

Early Morning

After a beautiful and scenic drive, we embarked the dive boat and reached Grande Island. The Island is located approximately 02 Nm from Goa’s coastline. A quick but thorough briefing later we were all ready to break the surface.

Really Grand, Really Grande Is.

Bloody Mary Suzy Squeeze

I was elated when we dropped anchor over the Suzy’s wreck. I had been keen to dive the Suzy’s Wreck since the time I got my certifications done. Steamship Rita, had sunk in 1931. It was transporting railroad equipment and other cargo. Although much of the wreck has been salvaged, the fo’c’sle is still there to explore.

Before I got squeezed
No teething troubles. Just nosy issues.

The Sea State was 1 (very calm), and the visibility was 01 meter. After some time we finally got underway and reached the spot at a depth of 11 meters. During the descent, for the first time ever, I had difficulty in equalizing my ears. It was a typical pain, concentrated above my left eyebrow. Was it a squeeze ?

I didn’t give much thought to it and just tried equalizing with more pressure. Although there was still a throbbing pain, things seemed under control. After a half hour, I noticed that the water in my dive mask had taken on a reddish hue. Weirdly, I just cleared my mask, nothing more. After satisfying ourselves with the ship, and vice-versa, we finally got back to the boat.

Rudolph the Reindeer

As soon as we broke the surface, my friend RG motioned that I had a stream of blood in my mask. A quick check on my mobile selfie mirror confirmed that my nose was bleeding heavily. I took a dip to wash the blood off my face. Sat there during the Surface Interval, I wondered about the blood.

No pain, no sensation. It had never happened to me before, either at high altitude or underwater. The second dive would be near the corals further up the shoreline of the island. I had already been there once. A quick discussion ensued with RG and we decided that he’d let me know about the rate of blood flow a few minutes into the second dive.

Rockets and Gears’ when he’s not busy with…rockets and gears!

In case the flow rate would be high, I would abort the dive and pass my time snorkeling. If not, then I would indulge myself to more minutes under the sea! I had realised by then that the Sinus Squeeze had struck. Two minutes into the dive, my friend made the signal and we both ascended. I ended up calling off the second dive, much to RGs chagrin but luckily he paired up with one of the DMs and went back in.

The How, Why, and After

I had realized during the Surface Interval itself that I had been struck by Sinus Squeeze. A super duper very minor injury, which usually occurs due to incomplete equalization of the ears. I think it was the heavy blow into my nose while trying to equalize, which did the trick and got me a red nose.

Although very minor, an improperly managed squeeze could lead to lasting damage. As the second dive was only up to 06 meters and that I had two days of diving in Murudeshwar left in the tank, I decided to snorkel.

Murudeshwar and Beyond

Since my camera had decided to play dead for the day, I didn’t lose out on much photography either. It was a lose-win-win situation! My decision was a wise one, as I enjoyed my dives in Murudeshwar, over the next two days. However, the nose bleeding and tenderness didn’t stop immediately. I was regularly passing bloody mucous every morning (body cleansing itself) for the next forty days or so.

Eventually, though, the tenderness above my left eyebrow decided to sleep and the mucous discharge stopped altogether. I know many people who continue diving with a sinus squeeze, and they report no long-term problems.

In fact, to recall correctly, the DM in Goa told me that he once suffered the same squeeze for sixteen days, but he continued diving. After not so recent experiences, I prefer to err on the side of precaution (when it comes to health and potential injuries) and hence stopped my dives for the day.

All’s Well That Ends…

Luckily for me, the wound did not fester into something serious and I rather enjoyed playing the part of Rudolph the Reindeer during my dives!

Looking back, the experience I accrued over that dive-cation has proved to be invaluable. It’s a minor detail in the larger scheme of things, but such minor incidents only help for the future. I now make sure to equalize well during the initial meters of a dive – however shallow.

All in all, I had fun, I met some friends, and I did some diving. I now carry ‘Vicks Vaporub’ in my ‘save-a-dive’ kit. I also re-christened Suzys Wreck as the Squeeze (s?) Wreck.

Have you ever had a similar or a minor incident whilst diving? I would love to know more about it and enhance my own knowledge. If yes please contact me or leave a comment, if not then you’re good! (either way, Hope you enjoyed the article)

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