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A cautionary tale for all of you


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#1 bobjarman

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Posted 07 August 2002 - 06:07 AM

A quick story and note of caution to you all......

On my trip to the Coco's last month, I got my first sea urchin stings. I got swept into a rock ledge by a current, and although avoinding most of them, I got stung in the hand about 8-10 times.

No big deal, did the hot water soak, vinegar wash, all the right things, and all but one or two of them were gone by the next morning.

Whe I got back, I had developed a tender spot on my pinky and some swelling in my ring finger. A quick trip to the doctor, xrays, and a prednizone med pack and I was off, swelling went away most of the tenderness left, and I felt great.

Than the prednizone ran out, swelling came back, tenderness, etc. I called DAN who suggested I see a hand surgeon and have a soft tissue xray done, that there was probably some of the stinger left in, and that no it would not go away eventually.

I did that yesterday, result.....I will be having a pretty complicated surgery on my hand on Friday. Aparantly, the urchin stingers on these two fingers worked they way into my tendon sheath and have started a mirocbactrerial infection that is travelling up my tendon sheath through my hand and up my arm.

He is hopeful that the infection has not spread very far and that it can be scraped out and treated with a coupl of 1-2" cuts into my finger and palm. But he told me of one person who went six months before treatment for a similar problem, and ended up with a 16" cut from his finger to his elbow.

Anyway, I post this story as a caution to all of you, #1 Dont get hit by urchins, #2 if you do get hit, of course do the immediate treatment, but DO NOT treat a persistant small pain lightly, if it doesn't go away, call DAN, get treatment, and if you doctor doesn't know what an urchin is, find another or ask them to call DAN.

My left hand will probably be out of action for 6-8 weeks. YUK. Be safe, dive safe...and trust me, no potential shot is worth what I am going to go through. :D

#2 MikeO

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Posted 07 August 2002 - 07:36 AM

Dang Bob,

A flooded strobe and now this? Since when did UW photography get so dang difficult and expensive? Oh, wait a minute, now I remember :D . Best of luck with the surgery -- knock wood, I'm still on track to make good on my New Year's resolution to get through 2002 without going under the knife . . .

Mike Oelrich
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#3 Dee

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Posted 16 August 2002 - 09:59 PM

I'm gonna be a little more careful poking around for those macro shots!

Hope everything works out for ya...

#4 bobjarman

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 03:21 PM

Just thought I would let you all know. The surgery went well, and after 4.5 months of rehab, I got a full release and no permanant damage.

Turned out the infection had spread down from the middle of my finger to the base of my palm. Fun times!

Dive save!

#5 Cybergoldfish

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 03:31 PM

Bob,

Do you know the species of Urchin?

Had you suffered from anything that may have made you vulnerable to this particular sting?

This could be useful knowledge.

I have had some nasty incidents with these critters so much so I think I could have been a pin cushion in a previous life. Seriously, I hope you fully recover and back in the water ASAP seeking suitable revenge!

#6 bobjarman

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 03:56 PM

Actually I am not sure of the species. They were everywhere in the Coco's and were referred to as the "Flying urchins" due to the incredibly long spines. I think we had 5-6 people get hit on the trip.

The problem I don't believe is in the species, its where you get stung. Almost all sea creatures carry this particular infection. It is called "fish TB" in laymans terms. In some cases, if the cultures grow a certain way you will get put on TB drugs for a year. Most stings occur in fleshy parts of your body. The stinger is encapsulated and will do no damage there. Its when it gets to the bone or tendons you have to be concerned. (All this from my hand surgeon)

My surgeon said the worst case he ever saw was caused by a catfish spine that went untreated for 6 months.

http://www.rkjarman....o/whitetip6.htm

Not a great shot, but all of the black spots you see on that photo are the bad boys. I started measuring them, some of the spines grew to over 14" long.

#7 Newbibranch

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 06:56 PM

Yikes! Glad to hear you now have a clean bill of health and thanks for the cautions.

Like the shark shot.

#8 MikeO

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 07:00 PM

Cool, glad it worked out OK. I got hit in Bonaire -- eight spines in my little toe (I slipped on a rock and my foot went sideways into a hole). Swelled up good. I remembered your story so I had it checked out. After a soak in really hot water, a little pounding to break up the spines and the application of some alcohol, I was able to dive again. I did keep an eye on the joint for a couple weeks though. Thanks for the posts -- made me pay a bit more attention!

Mike Oelrich
Canon EOS 40D in Seatool housing, 100mm macro, Tokina 10-17, INON Z-240s.