Scuba Diving with Type 1

@Katers87 I’ve been diving on and off for about 29 years now. My favorite location is in the Bahama’s, near Bimini Island. Water clarity is between 50 and 150ft. My deepest dive was to a depth of 119ft with a visibility of 50 to 70ft. I have found on deep dive (i.e. below 100ft that the nitrogen narcosis starts at 109ft, and can affect my judgement of where my BS is. IF I’m diving, I have found that if I am planning on a long dive, that I have to go just outside of traditional limits with my BS, if I’m planning on being under water for more than 45 minutes I’ll start my dive with a BS of 200ml/dl(Disclaimer: I worked with my Endo and got a lot of info from Divers Alert Network a.k.a. DAN.) DAN is located at Duke University, and has a lot of great, smart and helpful medical staff, research, and information on Hyperbaric Medicine.

You would need to get certified to scuba dive. The process has changed a little bit since I started, but the requirements will be mostly the same. You will need to start with a pool class (they will teach you the basics of scuba in a pool where it is a safer environment to learn. After you complete the training in the pool, you will have to take a Basic Open Water Course that will review everything you learned in the pool class, and help you get comfortable in the open water.

To get started, find a local scuba diving shop near you. Tell them that you want to learn about scuba diving, and let them know that you are a diabetic. You will need to take a medical clearance form to your doctor to take the pool class and probably each class you go through after that. I have taken the pool class, the Basic Open Water, the Advanced Open Water (This means that I have two specialties Boat Diving and I had additional training Limited Visibility Diving a.k.a. Night Diving), Assistant Dive Instructor Training, Deep Water and Dry Suit Diving and I have had to get a doctor to sign the medical release forms for each of the classes I’ve taken. It is a little bit of an inconvenience, but it is what you have to do to get the certifications I have.

I also dive around the Great Lakes because I live in Michigan, and they are close, but colder water than the Atlantic Ocean.


Thanks for all this great information! It looks like there’s a scuba diving shop really close to me :slight_smile:

The many medical release forms sound a bit annoying, but probably still worth it. I love swimming - I usually workout swimming a few times a week. I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was really young. It’s always interested me, but I didn’t really think it was an option with D.

It’s good to hear you’ve had so much success :slight_smile: Diving in the Bahamas sounds dreamy.


Don’t ever let the D slow you down. It is not your life, it is only a condition in your life. Like any other challenge you can overcome the condition. Marine Biology sound like a great career. Do you have any thought about trying it? The diving will make it a lot easier to get into the field. There is so much to learn about diving that overlaps with Marine Biology, you may as well look into it.

If you have any more questions about diving, please let me know. We can start a new topic if it doesn’t already exist.


Welcome! Glad you joined, your hobby list is amazing! My son is a teenager, so it feels more like we occasionally have everything working correctly, and that time is linked to issue and problems…With that said my son is playing high school baseball this year, and in the band, and managing his diabetes, and pulling A’s in all his classes so I should be more grateful. But it does seem D takes more time that it should.


Welcome @MichaelS! So great to have you here! looks like you’ve got some amazing life experiences. I bet many would be curious about your experiences with scuba diving and diabetes. My husband’s a diver, but we live in California so he does more cold water diving near places like Monterey.


I’d be more likely to make diving a hobby now probably. The idea is tempting, but I don’t have any background in biology. I studied math in college, and I have a related career now (that required many challenging certification exams). I’ve read marine biology is a fairly competitive field too.

I think that’s an awesome idea.

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@Chris Diabetes at that age for me was a hard time. There wasn’t a lot of info public about diabetes back then. My approach was to teach my friends about my diabetes. The more they learned, the more comfortable they were with the diabetes. With all the info out there now, I hope it’s getting easier.

I’m glad to hear that your son is playing baseball. The activity helps with the D. I don’t know if your son’s school has a class in biochemistry, but I found that I learned a lot about my diabetes from my biochemisty class in high school.


@TiaG Have you thought about taking up diving? I know a few couples that have one spouse with diabetes that dive together. Th big pro is that you always have a dive buddy that knows the diabetes. The con is that you get less time to do your own thing.

I have one female dive buddy that I met in college. She has type 2 D. The knowledge she has acquired has been helpful, she can understand when I say I need about twenty minutes before I can dive to manage my BS.

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I am hugely claustrophobic. I tried putting on scuba gear when I was in Australia more than two decades ago and promptly had a panic attack. My husband really wishes I could dive but it’s not to be. He is not T1 (our son is) but he still has trouble finding scuba partners given how busy life is.

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@TiaG I understand how hard it is to find dive buddies because of life issues. I only get about 11 hours of bottom time a year now. I would love to be able to get 50 hours, but it’s not in the cards at this point.

Sorry about missing that it is your son that is T1. I should read a sign or something.

The claustrophobia is a bummer. Is it a problem with the mask? Is it a problem with having the gear on, and then putting your face in the water? If you want some suggestions on how to work with the claustrophobia, I have a few things that have worked for a couple of student I’ve helped over the years.

I started scuba diving to overcome a fear of drowning in an ocean from an event that happened when I was young. Once I overcame the fear, it became very easy for me. I don’t know if this is an approach that would help you, but if you pursue it, try very small steps.

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I’m claustrophobic generally. With scuba diving it was the feeling that there was all this water above me and I can’t just go up. Other things that freak me out are MRI machines and low ceilings when I sleep.

I’ve thought about doing some kind of exposure therapy because I don’t like having an irrational fear of anything. But practically speaking it’s not impacting me much day to day so it’s low on the priority list.

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@tiaG I understand the issue with MRI machine, I think they design the machines that way to make you minimize the number of time you’l go through something that will put you into an MRI.

If and when you get ready to tackle this, let me know. It is an open offer with no expiration date.


I’d also make sure the dive shop is reputable. My husband says this can be one of the big variables when it comes to safety.


That’s cool that you have all of those certs!

I did my first dive way back in '79, and then got my open water basic and advanced certs in the 80’s. It was easier back then, I didn’t need to tell anyone I was a diabetic and didn’t need to get a doctor to do anything.


Those were the good old days. With all of the new data they’ve collected about diving and Hyperbaric Medicine, it has helped alot to advance the sport.

It was fun to find out why I lose track of where my blood sugar should be with nitrogen narcosis setting in.

I got to go in a hyperbaric chamber for a simulated dive to a depth of 150 with a hyperbaric nurse to monitor my blood sugar under pressure. Learned that I start to feel the nitrogen narcosis at about 109ft. It leaves me feeling disconnected from the diabetes (not always a good thing) and that my BS is just as stable, it is just me feeling disconnected.


That is a great point @TiaG Check out the rep of the dive shop. Ask if you can stop by one of the classes and see if you can talk to people already in the class.

Also, check to see if there are any local dive clubs or groups that dive together. Ask Divers what shops they prefer.

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ERic, I’ve got a question for you. When you got your Basic Open Water cert, what was the ascent rate? When I got mine the ascent rate they taught you to use was 60ft. per minute, then they dropped it to 30ft per minute about ten years after I got my Basic cert.

I’m kind of curious to see if the scent rate was different before I learned to dive.


When I got my certs, the rate was 60 feet per minute. They changed it in the '90’s. But since I never had an air embolism at 60 feet per minute, I stayed with it.

The funny thing about these tables is that they came up with them through years of trial-and-error. The Navy would test a depth/time, and if a diver had a problem, they would adjust it. Seems like a lousy way to make a table! :smiley:

For training, I did an ascent from 60 feet without a regulator. One minute without inhaling was easy. If I had to do it for two minutes, that woulda been much harder.

I still use my old tables. They have made changes to them, but like I said, since the old tables never gave me a problem, I just kept them.

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First the disclaimer, if anyone is starting to get training for scuba diving PLEASE use the dive tables and instruction provided by your diving instructor.

I know that in the late 80’s, they had advanced the methodology of the dive tables. They started to use doppler sonograms to check the blood stream and joints of those Navy divers.

I do understand using the same table that you learned with. I’m doing the same thing.

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I think a lot of the changes might be the idea that while maybe 60 feet per minute is safe, they now say 30 feet so that you don’t go faster than 60.

Sorta like if you tell your kid to be home by 10:00 just to make sure that he is home by 11:00.

A lot of the new watches have everything automatic. They tell you your residual nitrogen. I know some divers who don’t even know how to use a table! :roll_eyes: