Skydiving with respiratory condition...should I try it? Is it safe? Am I batshit insane? Skydivers and medical sorts are most welcome to reply!
A friend wants a few of us to go on a tandem dive from 11,500 feet next weekend for his birthday.
As somebody who is mortally afraid of heights, but kinda likes to experience life, this is simultaneously both mind-numbingly frightening and really, really neat. (We have this plan to land, strip out of our jumpsuits to reveal dapper black suit-and-tie combos, and have bikini girls run up to us with martinis, cigars, and guns on silver platters. This probably won't happen in actuality, but it is
fun to dream...)
My question specifically is not about the safety of the sport itself, but about breathing and how it pertains to my specific condition.
I have about 17% average lung capacity due to a physical restraint on my breathing, and all of my breathing is done via my diaphragm.
Will I be able to breathe up there? Is this safe for me? I can get around basically OK on the surface, minus exertion. How will I breathe at altitude? Am I utterly crazy for even thinking about this?
*footnote*: To give some background for the medically inclined out there, I was born with a more-or-less average case of pectus excavatum. Not too, too severe, but not too light, either.
At the time, the doctors thought my recurrent respiratory problems were due to that, and decided to operate. A Nuss procedure was performed when I was 2 years old -- at the time, it was the youngest such procedure on record. Usually, it is performed on teenagers.
Turned out they were wrong. The PE wasn't affecting my breathing so much as my asthma was. I grew out of the asthma eventually, but unfortunately the doctor who rushed hold the title of "youngest Nuss procedure" botched the operation and destroyed the cartilage around my sternum -- resulting in the fusion of my front chest wall into a fairly good and solid mass.
This also had the effect of hindering proper growth of my ribcage as I grew up -- I basically grew into a cage, and breathing became more and more difficult as I got older.
These days, I have about 16-18% normal lung capacity, but because I grew into that so gradually (giving my body basically 19 years to adapt), I can carry on just fine, barring strenuous cardio exercise. I can't run, swim, sing on key, etc, etc.... I look forward to finally having a chest wall expansion surgery in the next couple of years.