Managing anemia and scuba diving

Over the past year, I had picked up my Padi certification Open Water and Advanced Open Water through a local dive shop, Seminole Scuba in Lake Mary, Florida. One of my immediate concerns getting signed up was medical clearance for a reoccurring stomach ulcer. The reason for the heightened sense of awareness about the ailment was anemia. With periodic changes in my blood’s ability to carry oxygen, I had thought I might be unable to enjoy exploring this endeavor.

After reviewing my results with my family physician, I was provided written clearance for scuba diving; however, a piece of paper was the first hurdle to managing my anemia. For those unaware of your blood’s hemoglobin count, I had encouraged getting this number checked out periodically if engaging in this activity or any other athletic adventures. For myself, my hemoglobin had floated around 9 grams (gm) per deciliter (dL). Here are some posted normal ranges from per

    • Children: 11 to 13 gm/dL
    • Adult males: 14 to 18 gm/dL
    • Adult women: 12 to 16 gm/dL
    • Men after middle age: 12.4 to 14.9 gm/dL
    • Women after middle age: 11.7 to 13.8 gm/dL

Here were few additional thoughts I had learned up to my last outing in the big blue Atlantic.

  1. Eat your iron. Always keep a bottle of iron (OTC) or medically prescribed version available in your gym or scuba bag. For myself, this was paramount to making it through Open Water course.
  2. Get a thicker wetsuit! For myself, this was exceedingly apparent on my outing for the Advanced Open Water class. When underwater getting hypothermia, you had reduced your chance to relax while shaking like a low power vibrator. Think I had lost few pounds on that Saturday but, worse still feeling like a burden to my dive buddy and instructor(s). After trying to get by on the cheap with rentals of 3MM suits, I had conceded the point. I had shelled out about $400 bucks on 5mm Aquaflex medium from Seminole Scuba. The dividend after the fact was a more calm and fun dive time.
  3. Know your limits. Sounds obvious, though, I had understood a man’s ability to hold onto his maverick independent streak. The smarter person, the better diver, had kept themselves self-aware about their limitations including fatigue, alertness, and pain.
  4. Avoid anything that might exacerbate your anemia. In my case, avoiding irritating an ulcer was important before a scheduled dive. Recently, I had marked off the list alcoholic beverages (i.e. margaritas), caffeine and spicy foods few days in advance if in the midst of a flare up.

Again, if you were interested in scuba diving and anemic, talk with your family doctor. Safe travels!

Read More:
Overview of anemia and diving – Diving Medicine Online (
Understanding Anemia — the Basics (WebMD)
How is hemoglobin measured? (Medicinenet)



dying @ your desk

Nicolas Tesla had obsessed over numerology, specifically the number 3. This past week, life had thrown 3 challenges my way, a radiator leak, my cat not leaking (i.e. urinary blockage) and a reoccurrence of anemia. With Tesla’s obsession passing through my mind, my car headlights had illuminated 333 on a mailbox while driving at dawn to the gym. I had believed in coincidences before, on the verge of turning 42, maybe not. Recalling my father’s passing at age 65, I had surmised doing good health wise with my birthday around the corner; however, the anemia had really caught me off-guard. All I can say, I hope you never had known the sensation of blood pumping into the capillaries of your fingers, straining to maintain adequate oxygen flow. Luckily, leveraging most of my tricks in my health playbook, I had avoided missing the first part of scuba class this past weekend. An appearance in class of being intellectually daft, I had concluded unflattering but, small penance for staying on task.

Last night, I had reflected that staying at my desk last week, unwise. Yet somehow, I had rationalized subconsciously, nothing more romantic and honorable than dying at your post. Perhaps, Star Trek and my dad’s service in the military had communicated that idea to me in one medium or another. So today, I had read some intriguing job openings at work. Interested yet, in light of recent events, I had quickly dispensed with those ideas, in lieu of sticking to a plan towards personal endeavors.

The reality, if reading this and a US citizen, more than likely, you had slim chance of retiring by age 65, more like 80. With an inevitable budget crisis, corporate welfare (i.e. oil subsidies, etc.), maybe a war for good measure, I had deduced an inevitable hard correction for the Dow Jones.  All the above had reinforced avoiding staying at work.  So, I had requested for some last minute time off. In earnest, I had wanted to catch up on lost time for some Padi Scuba studying. I had chosen to embody the tattoo on my right arm, a star with the letter M inside. It had served as reminder putting myself, yourself first. Nothing in this life had offered the ability to undo regret. Again, recalling my father, I had wanted to leave you with that idea and a country tune from Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying.”

Read More:
Find Your Inner Tortoise  (
Nicolas Tesla (Wikipedia)