Tribulations

Diary of a Scuba Instructor on Koh Tao

I find myself a bit gutted today.

I arrived, bright as a button, at Simple Life to meet my student this morning. We got our kit together and went down to the pool so they could do the ten minute tread in the deep pool.

I sat on the edge of the pool with my feet dangling in, I quickly noticed that my skin was beginning to burn where I was sitting by the pool and my ankles had gone a bit red. My student appeared to be absolutely fine, though.

We jumped out the pool, got into our kit and did the buddy check. I suggested that we do the confined skills down at our private beach, but the timing of the long-tail going out to the WeTravel Snorkel Boat coincided, so we had no choice but to return to the swimming pool.

As soon as I stepped down to the third step and sat in the water, my whole body began to burn. My legs and arms went bright red and developed large swollen bumps everywhere. I knew I couldn’t possibly submerge and had to apologise profusely to my lovely Scottish student (who was exceptionally understanding) and take myself promptly to the clinic!


Still dripping wet, I entered the clinic and was handed a towel and a packet of blue scrubs and sent to wash and change. I asked that the nurse take some pictures of my body as I’d never seen anything like it – I was covered from neck to toe in huge red patches with raised whitened bumps all over. It was a teeny bit itchy, but mainly just burning hot and painful.

urticaria on my arm

I washed, changed and hopped onto the bed where they lay me down and took my blood pressure and temperature. The resident doctor, Dr Thongrak came through to see me, listen to my chest and assess the situation. After a few prods and questions, he gave the diagnosis of urticaria, and recommended both IV antihistamine and IV corticosteroid, to bring the reaction under control – luckily, I wasn’t presenting any signs of difficulty breathing or they would have had to ramp the treatment up a bit.

In went the injections, and I actually fell asleep for about an hour after that. The doctor and nurses popped in a couple of times to check that the rash was subsiding and, thankfully, it was. I rested for a little longer, then got home and fell asleep on the couch for most of the afternoon, with a nice selection of tablets to keep me company.


I’m pretty disappointed, though. Not least because it costs me an arm and a leg if I go to the doctor here, but also because I have to give up my lovely student on this course. I know they will be in excellent hands with my friend and colleague Sig, but I really do enjoy watching my babies progress. Into the bargain, I have to spend a minimum of 5 days out of the the water which is an additional slap in the face.

Oh well. On the bright side, it gives me lots of time to work on some more featured blog posts!


Additional Highlights:

  • Tomorrow is the start of the IE (Instructor Exam) which takes place over two days.
    My fabulous flatmate Elle is involved and I hope it’s a real success for her and all of the candidates. It’s a truly nerve-wracking experience but I know she’s got the skills!
  • Remembering what Sig said to me while I was sitting my IE and wishing to share this sentiment with all involved tomorrow:

“I’m not going to wish you luck because you don’t need it. You’re a brilliant instructor, you’ve got the skills, and I know you’re going to smash this.”

Sigurd, December 2019

song of the day: LCD Soundstystem – Tribulations

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