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Posts Tagged ‘caving sickness’

Be careful – Ontario caves

IMG_8233, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Just a word (2) to would-be cavers – “airborne pathogens!”

I suppose I suspected the worst at my very first breath. I think I wrote something about 6 weeks ago about exploring an underground shelf that was heaped with animal feces to either side of my crawlway. I cant say it was necessarily the most pleasant section of underground terrain that I have ever travelled , but it was the end result that I had in mind.

As I was crawling along I was certainly breathing in some kind of fungus or spores – I could feel it – like that smell of damp freshly turned earth. And as I breathed there was this feeling that left your throat tickling. Anyway when I got home I told my wife that if I came down with something “lung related” and was unable to express myself to the doctor she was to suggest to them that I had breathed in something from the caves. I know of several cave air related illnesses – histoplasmosis and hauntavirus spring immediatly to mind – but those are associated with more southerly environments (it makes for interesting reading if you follow up on the internet).

Anyway – sure enough, about 3 days later I started coughing with a dry rasping choking feeling. It got so bad that I could not sleep at night. I have for the last month slept 3 hours max each night and upright at that! Every time I lay down I felt like I was choking and would cough myself until I was almost vomiting. Aside from the fact that my family doctor has retired and a cough at emerg usually takes 8 hours to get attention I left the situation to run its course for at least 3 weeks. I realize you must be thinking that I am missing a few brain cells – guilty as charged!

At six o clock one morning one week ago today I could take it no more and headed in to hospital. There was one guy in the waiting room and they managed to see me by 09:30am. I can imagine the wait if there had been 2 or 3 people in the waiting room. The doctor was very helpful though and on a prescription of steroid puffers and zithromax I am vastly improved.

Above is a picture of the entrance to a tunnel that we were investigating this past weekend. I had been there before but for the tunnel’s water filled appearance just kind of wrote it off as interesting but going nowhere for me. (I still keep caving despite the lungs) Today the tunnel was water free and Jeff and I crawled in some short distance to feel air flow. (picture to follow soon)

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