Ultrasounds, Indian food, Rebreathers..and Volleyball?


I worked with the research department at DAN today with Dr. Neil Pollock and his two interns, Jenna and Stephanie. I learned about some of the different projects they are researching for and working on, and the procedures that they use for gathering their data. Some of their projects include the flying after diving study and setting fitness to dive parameters. In both studies they use ultrasounds to look for nitrogen bubbles in the hearts of the divers. Bubbles occurring on the right side of the heart get cycled through the lungs and are not harmful. However, if there are too many bubbles, some of them may end up on the left side of the heart wear they end up flowing out into the body. Which is bad, and indicates a case of the bends.  While explaining these concepts to me, Dr. Pollock actually had an ultrasound machine with recordings of hearts with various levels of bubbles in them. It was really fascinating. I never knew that ultrasound machines were used for anything other than looking at babies. After we finished going over their projects, Jenna and Stephanie actually showed me how to use an ultrasound machine, and I got to see Stephanie’s heart! It was SO cool. But, don’t ever let anyone tell you that performing an ultrasound is easy! They practice for hours, and I would not have been able to get the picture I wanted without them showing me what to do!

After lunch (I had Indian food for the first time! It was spicy, but really good!), Dr. DeNoble gave a presentation on the hazards of closed circuit rebreathers. I really enjoyed it, especially because I don’t really know anything about rebreathers. Once he finished his presentation, everyone gave him feedback and critiques, which was another really good learning experience for me.

A little later I spent some time with Jeanette, who explained how DAN gathers data on dive profiles from all over the world. There is this little keychain device that records depths and times that divers can take down with them. And then, once they have finished their dives, they just fill out a form with the who’s, where’s, and I’m ok’s, and send it back to DAN for processing. I had never heard of this, but I now have my very own device, so I’m going to test it out in Newfoundland next week!

We actually finished today off with a few rounds of volleyball. (Which, by the way, is probably the sport I fail at the most). Every Tuesday a bunch of the DAN employees, and a few of their cohorts from Duke, get together for some friendly competition. I was no where near the best, but, I had a ton of fun playing with everyone, and I even scored a few points!