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Hyparbaric Diving
Nitrogen Narcosis
by Dry Dive
Citation:   Dry Dive. "Hyparbaric Diving: An Experience with Nitrogen Narcosis (exp47063)". Erowid.org. Oct 15, 2007. erowid.org/exp/47063


One doesn't need to actually dive into the dangerous aqueous depths to experience Nitrogen Narcosis; knowing someone who operates the hyperbaric chamber (competently) at the local hospital can suffice.

I was a medical student and asked the operator to page me when he could squeeze me into a 'dive.' They use this thing for many reasons, such as carbon monoxide poisoning and to help injured folks heal faster. I didn't want to dive with a critical patient, so when an opportunity arose and my pager went off, I ran down to the Hyperbaric Medicine Chamber.

The chamber is a made mostly of a clear plexiglass (1.5-2.0 inches thick) tube, about 3-4 feet in diameter and long enough to have a patient laying down and some equipment in there as well. I had to valsalva (equilize inner-ear pressure) on my way down. I crawled through an air lock and sealed the hatches behind me (like the small round scuttles on Navy ships). There is a remote control for a TV just outside the tube. I guess some patients and nurses spend hours at a time in there.

The operator slowly increased the pressure and read off the equivalent pressure in Feet (underwater). There was a minute hold at 33 feet or so, to check for headaches/ sinus problems, and to pinch my nose and lightly blow my eardrums to match the surrounding pressures. Also, since the air is compressing, the little tube gets hot and condesation begins to appear on the walls.

By the time we reached 60 feet or so, the operator mentioned that I should be feeling the effects of nitrogen narcosis pretty soon, and no sooner had those words left his lips, than I felt that peculiar head & face tingle that was identical to Nitrous Oxide. I think I could have performed some simple tasks, but nothing too complicated. I think it is amazing that the worker who routinely goes in with the patients (and has to perform well) is able to do so.

I stayed down there for about 5 minutes, laughing often and just about on the verge of hearing the mwa-mwa's that prelude the loss of consciousness. The operator then slowly decreased the pressure. Just as with actual diving, you need to go slow and blow off any extra nitrogen to avoid the bends. I slowly returned to a normal mental state. There was a mild state of confusion when I crawled out of the chamber (What the hell just happened?) and maybe a little fatigue as well.

In my opinion, the effects of nitrogen narcosis feel identical to those of nitrous oxide.

Exp Year: 1999ExpID: 47063
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: Not Given 
Published: Oct 15, 2007Views: 12,661
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Nitrogen Narcosis (189) : First Times (2), General (1), Alone (16)

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