Narcosis

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olalladiver
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Narcosis

Post by olalladiver » Mon Jun 17, 2013 6:05 pm

Think I met my first Narcosis Angel. Do they all have such pretty wings?

I think it'll take me a little while to get used to these little visitors. A bit disturbing at first when you have 110fsw above your head and it's pitch black...

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Desert Diver
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Re: Narcosis

Post by Desert Diver » Mon Jun 17, 2013 6:47 pm

How did it affect you?

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Re: Narcosis

Post by WaGigKpn » Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:49 pm

I got Narc'd at 55fsw. I experienced vertigo, and a fantastic high! Took about half a min to get my head on straight. Was it similar to that? I realize that a shallow water narc may be very different than 110 ft one!

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Re: Narcosis

Post by Nwbrewer » Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:26 pm

olalladiver wrote:Think I met my first Narcosis Angel. Do they all have such pretty wings?

I think it'll take me a little while to get used to these little visitors. A bit disturbing at first when you have 110fsw above your head and it's pitch black...



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Jeremy
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Re: Narcosis

Post by Jeremy » Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:27 pm

I don't think of narcosis as a sudden event once you are deep enough.

More of a gradual loss of your mental functions as you go deeper. You can be quite narced and not even realize it.

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mz53480
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Re: Narcosis

Post by mz53480 » Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:30 pm

olalladiver wrote:... A bit disturbing at first when you have 110fsw above your head and it's pitch black...


what mix were you using?

usually only happens to me when I have between 0-5% argon in my mix.
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Re: Narcosis

Post by Linedog » Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:37 pm

Edit
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Jeff Pack
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Re: Narcosis

Post by Jeff Pack » Mon Jun 17, 2013 8:43 pm

mz53480 wrote:
olalladiver wrote:... A bit disturbing at first when you have 110fsw above your head and it's pitch black...


what mix were you using?

usually only happens to me when I have between 0-5% argon in my mix.


argon makes my underwater grunting sounds too squeaky
=============================================

- I got a good squirt in my mouth
- I would imagine that there would be a large amount of involuntary gagging
- I don't know about you but I'm not into swallowing it

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Re: Narcosis

Post by olalladiver » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:03 pm

Yeah, it kinda came on gradually, yeah... Nothing severe, just a flightiness slightly drunky feeling... Could just feel "something was different" which is weird... Actually first thing I noticed was my perception of sound changed, which was weird. Then I noticed I felt a bit different in general... so I'm guessing it's narcing... not sure, I guess... got no baseline... which is why I'm posting/asking....

EAN27... so just slightly enriched..
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Re: Narcosis

Post by Desert Diver » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:14 pm

mz53480 wrote:
olalladiver wrote:... A bit disturbing at first when you have 110fsw above your head and it's pitch black...


what mix were you using?

usually only happens to me when I have between 0-5% argon in my mix.


So...always?

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Re: Narcosis

Post by json » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:20 pm

Helium is a wonderful thing. Expensive but wonderful.
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Re: Narcosis

Post by Jeremy » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:22 pm

I joke about getting narc'd....and it is kind of fun.

But all joking aside, diving narc'd is not a smart activity. You are in an environment hostile to human life...and if shit goes south at 120 fsw and you can't mentally function well due to narcosis...it can be game over.

If you are going to dive deep, it's much smarter, albeit more expensive, to get the training you need to dive with a clear head. Plus, you will enjoy the dive that much more. :)

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Re: Narcosis

Post by Mortuus » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:40 pm

Jeremy wrote:I joke about getting narc'd....and it is kind of fun.

But all joking aside, diving narc'd is not a smart activity. You are in an environment hostile to human life...and if shit goes south at 120 fsw and you can't mentally function well due to narcosis...it can be game over.

If you are going to dive deep, it's much smarter, albeit more expensive, to get the training you need to dive with a clear head. Plus, you will enjoy the dive that much more. :)


And be able to stay long enough to actually do stuff

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Re: Narcosis

Post by GearHead » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:47 pm

Cold water narcs are definitely different from warm water. The first I felt noticeably narced was at the man in Mukilteo, using air. Things sounded different, sort of metallic, and I couldn't process the depth display on my depth meter, as it had chosen that dive to exhibit its blinking inverse video feature.

A few months later I made multiple dives to 125+ feet on air in warm water with 80 feet or more visibility, and just felt pleasantly mellow. Slower response time, yes, but still able to execute a valve shut down drill at depth without completely cutting off my air supply.

So the environment definitely plays a part in the effects of narcosis.

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Re: Narcosis

Post by olalladiver » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:48 pm

So here's an question that kinda goes with this all... Is there a magic number for a particular person and gas mix where they generally start to feel narc affects? Or is it real dive dependent and variable? I've heard people say they start feeling narc-y at 60fsw, which I've never experienced at all... so curious if it's very person dependant

Yeah, that was the time I was heading shallower for that dive and as luck would have it, it was the end of the pipe, anyway... And while I pepper it with humor, too... I am probing for info because I'm acutely aware that the stakes are too high to take it lightly... I'm in no way planning to continue down when I feel my sharper edge dulling up, for whatever reason.

I promised myself and others that I'd do this as safe as I could, so costs be damned... but when you say "get the training you need"... you talking trimix-y sorta stuff?

I'm happy exploring not as deep if that's what's required at this time... Lots to see above 100fsw and while greater depth may come with time, I''m not in a huge hurry to push that depth gauge to it's limit...

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Re: Narcosis

Post by Jeremy » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:51 pm

GUE recommends limiting rec dives to 100 fsw. I generally dive in line with that.

Virtually all of my bad experience dives have been in the 100+fsw range and have taken place at Mukilteo or Cove 2.

Even in my PADI deep diver course...things went wrong at 120 fsw. The dive leader (a master instructor) actually aborted the dive at 120 and left his class behind. Fortunately the other divemasters guided us back ok.
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Re: Narcosis

Post by mz53480 » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:54 pm

:popcorn:
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Re: Narcosis

Post by Joshua Smith » Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:14 pm

olalladiver wrote:So here's an question that kinda goes with this all... Is there a magic number for a particular person and gas mix where they generally start to feel narc affects? Or is it real dive dependent and variable? I've heard people say they start feeling narc-y at 60fsw, which I've never experienced at all... so curious if it's very person dependant

Yeah, that was the time I was heading shallower for that dive and as luck would have it, it was the end of the pipe, anyway... And while I pepper it with humor, too... I am probing for info because I'm acutely aware that the stakes are too high to take it lightly... I'm in no way planning to continue down when I feel my sharper edge dulling up, for whatever reason.

I promised myself and others that I'd do this as safe as I could, so costs be damned... but when you say "get the training you need"... you talking trimix-y sorta stuff?

I'm happy exploring not as deep if that's what's required at this time... Lots to see above 100fsw and while greater depth may come with time, I''m not in a huge hurry to push that depth gauge to it's limit...


Nope, there's no magic line. It just happens. By 100 fsw, most people are narced to some degree. But that narc feels completely different depending on the conditions and the individual. Worst narc I ever had was with a new diver in 80', when we got silted out by another crew of divers behind us, and he started to freak out and bolt to the surface, and I had to grab him and drag him back down. We were breathing air. But I had been....well, let's just say I had been *A LOT* deeper than that on air under different circumstances, and felt fine. The stress of the silt out, combined with the stress of having to take care of a panicky newbie, combined to make me feel like I had had 3 or 4 drinks too many, and had red lights flashing in the rear view mirror. It wasn't a great feeling. Other times, narcosis feels real warm and happy.

I did a fair bit of deep- well, deeper than 100', air diving, up until I bought a rebreather. I'm in the minority around here, because I don't think it's really such a big deal to get a little narced. I'm talking about diving within the recreational limits, above 130'. If you find yourself doing stupid stuff on air below 100', just don't go that deep.
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Re: Narcosis

Post by H20doctor » Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:28 pm

sometimes i get narked at 80 feet.. some times it doesnt come on till 110 ... its different all the time, just depends on the person.. what is GUE ?? :penelope:
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Re: Narcosis

Post by olalladiver » Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:35 pm

So does stress affect it, then? Not my most comfortable dive for sure... Too big of a group and had a few stressors at the beginning with low vis and lost people in the group... we ironed it out before we descended deep, but if stress affects it a lot, there was a bit earlier in the dive.

Thanks for the advice, all..

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Narcosis

Post by spatman » Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:02 pm

olalladiver wrote:So does stress affect it, then? Not my most comfortable dive for sure... Too big of a group and had a few stressors at the beginning with low vis and lost people in the group... we ironed it out before we descended deep, but if stress affects it a lot, there was a bit earlier in the dive.

Thanks for the advice, all..


Stress definitely affects narcosis, often by adding CO2 loading if you are working harder or have an elevated heart rate and breathing pattern from the stress/panic.
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Re: Narcosis

Post by Mortuus » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:01 am

What Spatman said. I am actually surprised that no one brought up CO2 narks earlier. CO2 is much, MUCH more potent than Nitrogen, and most of the times when people are experiencing heavy narcosis it is because of the CO2, which is caused by heavy exertion. Its potency and dependence on physical activity (or poor ventilation of the lungs) is what accounts for why some people will go to 165 ft on air one day, but get narked out of their minds at 90 ft on another. That is just my basic understanding of CO2 and narcosis. Obviously the entire field of study is very detailed and the information quantity is immense, but for all intents and purposes, that is the gist of it.

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Re: Narcosis

Post by kdupreez » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:23 am

olalladiver wrote:So does stress affect it, then? Not my most comfortable dive for sure... Too big of a group and had a few stressors at the beginning with low vis and lost people in the group... we ironed it out before we descended deep, but if stress affects it a lot, there was a bit earlier in the dive.

Thanks for the advice, all..


Very near and dear topic to me, this whole narcosis thing. :luv:

Yes, its very unpredictable and happens at different depths to different people and also affects you individually differently on different days and on different dives.

There are a LOT of factors, but the more stressful the dive, it appears that the more severe the influence.. usually new divers are affected worse, mostly due to exertion and anxiety in these different (deep) environments that they have never been in before.

Look at this video.. this guy is on air at only 130ft in a dry chamber, under controlled conditions.. no stress, nice and cozy.. And the person narrating is the SAME person in the video..

Watch for slurred speech, being giddy and general signs of being drunk.. I cant imagine what kind of decisions one can effectively make at depth when being this inebriated..

[youtube]http://youtu.be/9zqAfcRPC0U[/youtube]

The problem is not so much that you get slightly inebriated feeling at depth, the problem comes that your nero muscular responses are affected, as is your sound judgement and the deeper you go the more narced you become the worse it gets..

And the real issue is where do you draw the line as to what level of narcosis is acceptable when you need to make a life or death decision to save your or your buddy's life.

My opinion is that since i cant predict how badly any of the divers in the team will be affected on any specific dive and I stand as much chance of being a potentially fatal risk to my buddy or he/she to me, the only prudent thing in my opinion is to do, is to be conservative.

So, the general rule is that line in the sand is drawn at around 100ft with any non helium mixture, as it will become potentially narcotic enough under the right circumstances that the risk is too high with regards to narcosis.. So we (GUE) cap that depth at 100ft..

As Spatman eluded to, CO2 is an evil evil beast.. because as you exert, Narcosis is known to be elevated, but whats worse is that when you exert, you produce CO2 and the narcotic potential of CO2 is 20 times more than that of Nitrogen!! Thus, if you will be working against current or exert at depth and produce CO2, I would even be more conservative..

The other issue at depth is that Air/Nitrox is sufficiently dense to make your lungs work harder to breathe and that in turn also produces CO2.. and CO2 is the body's stimulant to breathe.. so the more CO2, the faster you breathe.. the faster you breathe at depth, the harder you work, the more CO2 you produce.. and this vicious circle continues.. all the while keeping in mind that CO2 is 20x more narcotic than Nitrogen AND its poisonous to the human body.. so, CO2 = bad.. i.e. rapidly breathing thick gasses at depth = bad.. By way of example, Air and Nitrox at 100ft is equally dense as a helium+Oxygen mix at 1,000 feet (Yes, one THOUSAND feet)

Incidentally, some people discount Oxygen not to be Narcotic because the human body metabolizes it.. The problem is that you only metabolize a very small percentage of Oxygen and also, the piece you metabolize is partially exchanged for CO2!! And guess what, Oxygen is about TWICE as narcotic as Nitrogen.. So Nitrox is not less narcotic that air by a long shot.. We treat all non helium mixes as equally narcotic.

Long story short; There is enough evidence to suggest that Narcosis is a real risk in diving deep and in my opinion thats not a risk worth taking.

Other people have their own opinions and I respect that and of course anyone can dive any way they want and I won't judge.. But this is my opinion based on my training and personal experience and what I am comfortable in doing.
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Re: Narcosis

Post by olalladiver » Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:53 am

OK, first... Thanks to all of you for weighing in with your expertise and thoughtful comments and experience on this... It's been helpful for understanding and that's really what I want most -- Because in this sport especially it's those things you don't acknowledge or know about as dangerous that probably are, in fact, most dangerous... simply because you don't know best how to look out for them or mitigate any hazards.

The CO2 part may well have been a very significant factor for me here... I'm understanding now for a number of reasons, I was probably primed for a more narc-y dive than most...

- I'd been doing yard work (mowing and yak) the day before and had a couple IPA's in the course of it (can't mow in the sun without a brew in hand fer cryin' out loud). Nothing extreme by any stretch, but also decidedly non-zero.
- With the exertions from the previous day, a short night due to an early splash time after an hour and a half drive, and being quite a gear heavy trip to the water (hp130 with a 30ft^3 slung stage)... even though I didn't feel tired, I probably was more than I realized
- The stressors from earlier in the dive, near total darkness at depth and a frankly all too weak divelight, and I suppose residual stress from earlier with group separation, and a late start and decent to deeper areas due to it and associated minor anxiety (Not "I'm going to die anxiety"... more like "I'm going to miss the bus to work that I planned on" type anxiety.)
- The additional time lost from earlier, had some trouble finding the pipe and fellow divers, and a bit of current, made it a dive that we were SWIMMING through throughout (WAY more so than I like to do normally... I'm finding I'm into the chill dives... Sitting on the bottom like a boomer rather than cruising at high speed through underwater canyons like an attack sub)... I have absolute NO DOUBT, the finning we were doing SIGNIFICANTLY upped CO2...

Anyway, I think that CO2 portion might have been a significant factor this time through, so found that particularly elucidating. And also the validation that others have experienced a change of perception of sound was useful... that was definitely a new one for me...

It's a sport with non-zero risk for sure, no matter how conservatively you dive and how trained you are, so am all about keeping it safe and sane and additional knowledge definitely helps me tune in to the risk/reward factors that I feel are warranted for me personally. All factors we must decide for ourselves since we are, ultimately, the ones that benefit or pay the price if we miscalculate...

Anyway, what a great community and my thanks to you all...

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Re: Narcosis

Post by LCF » Tue Jun 18, 2013 8:31 am

You are lucky that you recognized your narcosis, because one of the subtle and terrible things about it is that many times, you won't notice anything. Like the drunk driver who insists he is fine, the diver thinks everything is hunky-dory, right up until he has to make a decision or handle a problem he hasn't encountered before.

There ARE signs of narcosis that precede most people becoming aware of it -- things like checking your pressure and then checking it again 30 seconds later, because you can't remember what the gauge said. A mild, pervasive feeling of discomfort or anxiety can accompany the "dark narc", which is both N2 and CO2.

But there are research studies that show that you can detect measurable decreases in function as shallow as 50 feet, and it IS variable from person to person and from day to day. Anything else that degrades mental sharpness -- fatigue, distraction, emotional distress -- will add to the narcotic effect of what you are breathing. I know that, when I was taking some of my classes when I started diving, I would make mistakes I really couldn't believe I was capable of -- things like completely forgetting the order of skills we had briefed to do -- and this was in 30 feet of water.

It is a constant matter of discussion and controversy, where to draw the line on an "acceptable" amount of impairment. It is also somewhat controversial, whether a diver can adapt to narcosis. Some studies have shown that you can attenuate the effects by carefully training the behavior you want to be able to perform at depth; to my knowledge, NONE has ever shown that that kind of pre-training aids a diver in coping with the unexpected.

I have now made three errors, on three separate trips and in three different places, that could have killed my entire team, had someone else not detected and corrected them. For this reason, I do not go to 100 feet in a cave any more without helium in my tank. I'll go down and look at the logs in Cove 2, but I know darned well that if some urgent problem came up, I would probably not recognize it until it was really in my face. And I'm not alone. Some years back, I was diving with Bob Bailey, who at that time had a couple of thousand dives in the Sound and was already, for several years, a dive instructor. My tank came loose from one of the cambands down by the logs. I didn't know what was wrong, but I knew SOMETHING was awry on my back, so I signaled Bob to come and look. He looked, signaled "Okay", and swam off. I got ten feet before I stopped him again, and emphatically told him to take another look. At that point, he realized the bottom camband had come uncammed, and my tank was sitting at about a 45 degree angle across my back. We got it fixed, but the delay in recognizing and correcting the problem ended up running us very low on no-deco time, and eventually rather low on gas.

I tell this story so that we don't all tell ourselves that these dives we do are so simple that we don't have to worry about narcosis. You just don't know when something will come up that, although perhaps not dangerous in and of itself, will result in getting lost (some friends of mine got narced at Mukilteo a few weeks back, and ended up going the wrong way and getting MUCH deeper than they had planned, which of course affects decompression AND gas supply) or delayed, with implications for safety.
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