This is a journal about my Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) dives to help heal my TBI.
Gordon Brown Founder/CEO of Team Veteran, LLC
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No part of this journal may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles.
On September 21st, 2015, I started a series of 40 hyperbaric oxygen therapy dives.
Sept. 21: Today will be my 1st dive. I arrived at the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy of Arizona, LLC facility around 0930, filled out some paperwork, had my blood pressure checked.
I entered the chamber and just before 10:00 AM there were three other patients in the chamber with me. I was fitted with a mask and similar to one a pilot would wear. A session in a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber is known as a “dive”, this comes from the extensive use of these chambers in both recreational and commercial SCUBA diving industry for treatment of the Bends. (The bends, also known as decompression sickness (DCS) or Caisson disease occurs in scuba divers or high altitude or aerospace events when dissolved gases (mainly nitrogen) come out of solution in bubbles and can affect just about any body part or area including joints, lung, heart, skin and brain.)
Once the proper pressure is reached, which for this dive was 1.5 atmosphere I was breathing 100% medical grade oxygen. The chamber got a tad bit warm and I wasn’t sure if it was because of the number of people or if the AC wasn’t being utilized. As we were beginning to exit the chamber we found out that a workman had inadvertently left an outside door open which caused the AC to be less than effective.
I was told after each dive to drink plenty of water to re-hydrate the body because of cells throughout the body being activated. The sensation that I felt after I left the chamber and started driving home was kind of a buzzing feeling not painful in any way just a buzzing or tingling sensation. From now on I will be doing the dives at the 8:00 session. By 8:30 that first night I was exhausted and in bed.
Sept 22: Today I started my 2nd dive at 0800, there were two additional “divers” there with me and as we started the compression I had some trouble with equalizing my ears. I strongly suggest chewing gum during your dive. The chamber was a little warm after the compression period that takes you to the level of 1.5 atmospheres.
For me, it has become obvious that I require a little higher pressure of the oxygen on the intake hose. That was adjusted almost immediately and the rest of the dive was very routine. This being my second dive of the 40 consecutive dives that I will be receiving to attempt in healing my traumatic brain injury. I am working on a routine so that it becomes very natural. Since I was a Master Scuba Diver a lot of this is very familiar to me, reminds me of starting a dive in Guam as you would slowly equalize your ears as you continued to greater depths. Stay hydrated.
Sept 23: Today was my 3rd dive and there were three other “divers” with me. The time passes fairly quickly between doing several “word find” pages and watching the American History channel. They used the booster A/C unit today and I was much more comfortable than yesterday when I was sweating quite a bit. After I returned home I felt extremely energized and as soon as I finished several medical orders I went to the gym. I cannot stress enough to stay hydrated. I did my normal 5,000 meters rowing and a full resistance workout and felt very good. I’ve noticed that I am retiring earlier than normal, 8:30 to 9:30 however my normal time is 1130 to midnight.
Sept 24: Today was my 4th dive and there were four other divers for this session. I am using my word find magazine during the dive to keep my mind focused while being flooded with oxygen. Again for me the temp was a tad bit warm however that is just my situations because of my previous issues with heat stroke in the engine rooms on ships in the USN. Left the chamber around 0915 and spent the rest of the day taking care of PMSE orders and answering questions about Team Veteran’s mission. Stay hydrated.
Sept 25: Today was my 5th dive and there were three other divers for this session. I am beginning to get into a rhythm with the dives and work on the word search magazine or watch the American History channel. (In this chamber there is a TV located outside the porthole at the end of the chamber, great distraction.) After the dive I was extremely energized and after finishing several medical orders I hit the gym. Did my 5,000-meter rowing and a full resistance training program. I have completed five dives and went through a period of adjustment.
Sometimes at the beginning, middle or towards the end of the dive you might feel a little claustrophobic. Although I spent many years in very close quarters aboard ships and spent many years as a Master Diver that feeling can surface at any time. In my situation there is a technician in the chamber who is continually checking on you AND that is reassuring as you get use to the routine.
Sept 26: No dive today
Sept 27: No dive today
Sept 28: Today was my 6th dive and once again it was a full house and I discovered another use for my word search magazine, it makes a good fan. Uneventful dive, I felt better after the dive than I did this morning. After the dive I drove to the west side of Phoenix to support a fellow Veteran in a domestic court case. I then drove back to Scottsdale for a radio interview with the Non Profit Journal and Dee Suomala.
Sept 29: Today was my 7th dive and again I was sweating though not nearly as much as my second dive and there were a total of five “Divers” and Lori the technician. Some dives are just a dive and except for the sweating this dive was just routine.
Sept 30: Today was my 8th dive and again I was sweating and I noticed again. The sweating starts as the chamber is pressurized and I never seem to cool off so I just continue to detox. I have been told the sweating is very common for people exposed to chemicals such as those I was exposed to during my years in the USN.
Oct 1: Today was my 9th dive and I felt really tired after this dive had the same detox sweating. I’ve been told when I feel this tired the best recourse is to TAKE a nap AND don’t fight the tiredness because the body is working on healing itself. You wouldn’t be doing these dives unless you believed that the oxygen has a healing potential when used under pressure. So don’t fight the tiredness, just take a short power nap.
Oct 2: Today was my 10th dive and I have gotten use to the sweating and just use my word find magazine as a fan. Today being my 10th dive, I have now reached 25% completion and I’m really excited about the healing the next 6 weeks will bring. Today and yesterday the dives really took a toll on me emotionally, physically and I had been thinking about quitting. I spoke to Sid and Lori about my feelings and they both told me that is common especially with the detox I am going through. I felt very discouraged until I spoke with them and learned this is not unusual so maybe the weekend will be a good period of rest.
Oct 3: No dive today.
Oct 4: No dive today.
Oct 5: Today was my 11th dive. Every day is different some days after the dive I am really energized and other days I am exhausted and want to take a nap. Today was one of those exhausted days AND I took a long nap. Made for a tough time winding down later at night so in the future the nap will just a 30-minute nap. Last week there were several days when I got very discouraged, probably from the detoxing and the weekend helped with resting and getting myself ready to complete the mission, adapt and overcome.
Oct 6: Today was my 12th dive with three other divers and I left the facility so fired up I would have thought I had just downed a pot of coffee. Had a great workout at the gym after 3,000 meter rowing I did a full resistance workout with the weights. Feeling FIRED UP!! Today at was at 2.2 atmospheres. I am not sure when they shifted me to a 2.0 or 2.2 atmosphere dive HOWEVER I am very pleased they have, because I feel so much more energized.
Oct 7: Today was my 13th dive with one other diver and I left the facility as fired up as yesterday and had I not a meeting to attend right after the dive I would have been back at the gym. Today I was at 2 atmospheres.
Oct 8: Today was my 14th dive with one other diver. I left the facility very energized and after finishing some medical orders I went to the gym. I rowed 5,000 meters and did my resistance weight workout. Today I was at 2 atmospheres, super hungry! I definitely feel better when I am at the slightly higher pressure.
Oct 9: Today was my 15th dive with two other divers and this dive I had a lot of trouble with my right ear as I was clearing both as we descended and also on the accent. I left the facility with my right ear plugged and headed home to run some hydrogen peroxide in my right ear. HP always works, something I used for years as a scuba diver. After I had cleared my ear I ran a number of errands. I also visited with James Carey at the AZ Veteran Nursing Home. Today I was at 2.0 atmospheres.
Oct 10: No dive today
Oct 11: No dive today
Oct 12: Today was my 16th dive with two other divers, I had a little trouble with my right ear so I kept the mask off until we reached the dive level. I was able to clear my ear successfully both on descent and accent. Make sure you bring some gum. After the dive I finished several medical orders and went to the gym and did my normal workout with the 5,000-meter rowing and then the resistance weight routine. Went to bed around 10 and slept straight through till the 0615 alarm.
Oct 13: Today was my 17th dive with one other diver, I have been keeping the mask off until we reach the dive level to assist in clearing my ears. Good dive felt energized throughout the dive and as soon as I finished a few phone calls I went to the gym. Just did a 5,000-meter rowing routine, felt a little anxious not from the dive just from life issues and decided not to do the weights.
Oct 14: Today was my 18th dive with one other diver, kept my mask off again until we reached the dive level just to make clearing my ears easier. Just a routine dive, the temp in the chamber was much nicer and has been for the past 4 or 5 dives. Had a Chiropractic appt. after the dive.
Oct 15: Today was my 19th dive with two other divers, had a slight problem with right ear on the accent. Good dive felt energized throughout the dive and as soon as I finished a few phone calls I went to the gym. Just did a 5,000-meter rowing routine and then the resistance weight routine. Tomorrow I will have completed the halfway point and I am excited of what the next 20 will bring.
Oct 16: Reached the halfway point today because I finished my 20th of 40 “Dives” in the HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy) chamber for my TBI (traumatic brain injury). If you are curious about HBOT I have been keeping a journal of the dives since the first dive. Since the 15th “dive” I have noticed greater mental clarity, improved memory and definitely greater energy. Even with the increased energy when going through these dives you may feel at times tired, so take a nap! You have to recognize a lot of internal healing is happening and you might feel tired. Stay HYDRATED, drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Oct 17: No dive today
Oct 18: No dive today
Oct 19: Today was my 21th dive with two other divers, I didn’t have any problems with either ear on this dive. A good dive, I felt energized throughout the dive and the temp was very nice in the chamber.
Oct 20: Today was my 22nd dive with one other diver, I didn’t have any problems with either ear on this dive. A good dive, I felt energized throughout the dive and the temp was very nice in the chamber. Some days are almost mirror images of the day before, make sure you are keeping hydrated, even if you do not feel thirsty you NEED to hydrate.
Oct 21: Today was my 23rd dive with three other divers, I didn’t have any problems with either ear on this dive I did have a problem with the heat because of one divers and his leakage issue. “Divers” with beards will have a problem with getting a good seal and they have a tendency to increase the oxygen flow causing “blow by” which can heat up the chamber. I felt energized throughout the dive and the temp was very nice in the chamber.
Oct 22: Today was my 24th dive with 1 other diver and was a good dive in the sense I didn’t have any ear problems and I felt very energized after the dive. People ask me how I feel and one thing I have noticed is the frequency and intensity of my daily headaches is diminishing.
Oct 23: Today was my 25th dive with 2 other divers and I left the chamber feeling like I hadn’t eaten for days so I treated myself to breakfast. Hydrate whether you feel thirsty or not your body is using a lot of fluid with the increased oxygen and cell activity. I did a 5,000-meter rowing routine and then the resistance weight routine.
Oct 24: No dive today.
Oct 25: No dive today.
Oct 26: Today was my 26th dive with 3 other divers so with Sid the technician that made 5 total in the chamber. When I mention the number of other “divers” I don’t include the technician so just add one for each day. To me, having a technician in the chamber with you adds an additional sense of security. I know a lot of my brother and sister Veterans may have a sense of claustrophobia because many of the situations we have been exposed to we felt trapped. Having the tech in the chamber eases that feeling. No gym today just never found the time, very busy.
Oct 27: Today was my 27th dive with 3 other divers for a total of 5 people in the chamber. These dives are becoming very routine and I am leaving the chamber feeling very energized. No gym today.
Oct 28: Today was my 28th dive with 2 other divers for a total of 4 in the chamber. These dives are becoming very routine and I am leaving the chamber feeling very energized. No gym today.
Oct 29: Today was my 29th dive with 3 other divers, a good dive nothing exciting or boring to report. No gym today
Oct 30: Today was my 30th dive with 5 other divers for a total of 6 in the chamber or a full house. The temp was a little warmer than yesterday however still pleasant. I have reached the 75% completion point with today’s dive. No gym today. This whole week I have not been able to get the gym because of a failure of my Dell business computer and having to deal with computer techs that have NO idea what they are doing.
Oct 31: No dive today
Nov 01: No dive today
Nov 02: Today was my 31st dive with 2 other divers and I left very energized. and excited about getting back to the gym. I went to the gym and did my 5,000-meter rowing and then the resistance weight routine.
Nov 03: Today was my 32nd dive with 4 other divers and I noticing my bad headaches are less severe and frequent. Prior to my brain surgery and since I joined the US Navy I had experienced almost daily migraine headaches and since the surgery I have had daily headaches though NOT migraines, BIG difference. Since starting the HBOT dives the headaches have been lessening. I went to the gym and did 5,000 meters rowing and a full resistance weight routine.
Nov 04: Today was my 33th dive with just 6 to go. Today was a very good dive with two other divers. After finishing some medical company business, I went to the gym and did 4,000 meters rowing and a full resistance weight routine. I felt very energized throughout the day. Tomorrow will be my 13th year of survival after my brain surgery and dying twice that day after two post-op grand mall seizures.
Nov 05: Happy Birthday 13 years and counting! Today was my 34th dive with 1 other diver. Good dive. I went to the gym and did my 5,000-meter rowing and then the resistance weight routine. Fired Up!
Nov 06: Today was my 35th dive with 2 other divers, I felt energized throughout the dive and the temp was cool in the chamber. Some days are almost mirror images of the day before, make sure you are keeping hydrated, even if you do not feel thirsty you NEED to hydrate. I went to the gym and did my 5,000-meter rowing and then the resistance weight routine.
Nov 07: No dive today
Nov 08: No dive today
Nov 09: Today was my 36th dive with one other diver, I have noticed over the past week or more that the tingling in my feet has dramatically reduced if not completely disappeared. Had a number of meetings and calls, felt very energized throughout the day and even went to the gym and did my 5,000-meter rowing and then the resistance weight routine.
Nov 10: Today was my 37th dive and the dive was just myself and Sid the technician. Very good dive felt very energized and spent the rest of the day attending a number of Veteran support meetings well into the early evening and ran out of time to hit the gym. I am coming to the end of my 40 dive program and have been talking to several friends about what changes they have noticed if anything. I will be adding those comments as they are finalized. The areas that I have personally observed has to do with mental clarity, a greater calmness in my interpersonal communications, word searching is almost a thing of the past instead of an almost daily occurrence when speaking. Make sure you hydrate, your body is going through some very positive changes and doing a lot of work so keep HYDRATED.
Nov 11: Happy Veterans Day and today was my 38th dive with 3 other divers. It was very interesting to watch one of the diver’s skin color change from grey to a more normal flesh tone
by mid dive. This diver was originally lying down and at mid dive sat up and remained that way for the rest of the dive. This was probably the most enjoyable dive so far, not only watching the physical change of the above diver and the episode of NCIS created much laughter.
Nov 12: Today was my 39th dive with 1 other diver. As my program comes to an end and as I listen to friends tell the incredible changes they are witnessing I am very grateful to have been sponsored for these dives. As I move forward with Team Veteran and as we create the sustainability funding for charities and organizations treating Veterans I can now speak from a “been there, done that” position. If you are a Veteran (or know someone) suffering from a TBI or PTS I without hesitation would recommend you commit to the 40 dives, first heal the brain BEFORE you investigate other therapies.
Nov 13: Today was my 40th dive with 2 other divers. Today was my last dive for the recommended treatment program for a TBI. The dive was pretty much routine and my thoughts were focused around the first week when I started this program. For someone reading this journal contemplating the 40 dives for their TBI, my suggestion would be DO IT! Keep in mind you MUST make a commitment to yourself and your family that you will be consistent, no excuses, you MUST be consistent with the program. Your days off will be the weekend.
Post Dives Update: As the weeks have gone by after my last dive, my cognition has improved dramatically. I have noticed that I am remembering my dreams and the dreams are very pleasant and rewarding. Skills and memories I thought were a thing of the past have returned which is bringing a more fulfilling day to day adventure as the oxygen and stem cells continue to work.