Of course, since we were in
a dry chamber and not under water, the dive was unlike an SCUBA
dive that I had ever been on before. We had to wear special anti-static,
fireproof clothes due to the increased risk of fire in a higher
partial pressure of oxygen environment. Once the pressurization
began, I immediately had to begin equalizing the pressure on
my ears and due to the increased gas pressure, the air inside
heated up to 45 degrees C (113 F).
Once "on the bottom"
we had just under 20 minutes there before coming back up. One
strange phenomenon is the high pitched "sucking on helium"
voice that you get due to the increased air density and effects
of pressure on the vocal chords. It is hilarious on its own,
but add to that the effects of nitrogen narcosis and laughing
becomes totally contagious. At these depths, the normally inert
nitrogen in our air becomes a narcotic and was acting on my body
like the equivalent of about 3 dry martinis on an empty stomach.
This impairment could be fatal if you were under water and had
to perform critical tasks.
On the way back up, as the
gas expanded, the temperature dropped to around the freezing
point and the moisture in the air condensed into thick fog inside
the chamber and we had to stop at 9 meters (30 feet) to decompress.
We waited there for 16 minutes while breathing pure oxygen. This
allows most of the nitrogen that has built up in our body tissues
to slowly dissipate, preventing the painful and sometimes deadly
decompression sickness "The Bends"
After the dive, They performed
a doppler scan of my blood to see if I had any residual gas bubbles
in my blood, and even though there were nitrogen bubbles in it,
I did not get sick. Nevertheless, I was still put on 24 hour
"bends watch" just in case I developed any symptoms.