Friday, October 09, 2009

Hawaii Adventure 09 Day 5: Life Threatening? Volcano 1 Beth 0

I have been feeling poorly more and more. Admittedly, we did in 2 days in Honolulu and the Island (going to the lookout, the temple, waikiki beach, the town, the mall, the 61 and 63 drive) and already have done 3-4 big things on the Big Island, more in the first two days than most people visiting see in a week.

So I was sleeping four hours a night so I could blog each night. So when I started bleeding from my nose, I ignored it. The next day I had blood from my nose and my mouth. This morning, blood from my mouth and nose and on my pillow too. But those did didn’t stop me from pushing on to a FULL day where visiting Waipio Valley yesterday, the scenic drive of one lane bridges and seeing old plantation towns besides getting postcard project supplies (like into three figures!). After all, this was IT! The big trip to two Hawaiian Islands. What did I have to look forward to but a winter of frostbite and staring at a wall in my apartment? I had a few days of this before months of discussions with care managers on how exactly if I learned how to make a hospital corner bed at camp, most of my care workers couldn’t make my bed?

Besides, I wasn’t coming back, right? Well, except for that trip to New Orleans maybe.

They emailed me today: I missed the breast cancer 5K, it happened while I was over here.

So today was supposed to be a low key ‘Scouting Trip’ which means I ignored the sign coming into the Volcano National Park saying, “Warning: Air Quality Hazardous.” I kept feeling nauseous but pushed on, it would be an hour tops! (it was 6-7 hours). I always push on, until I feel like I am about to fall and never get up. I have feeling that a lot the last couple days.

The Crater view of Kilauea (Volcano’s Name) was amazing. It erupted a recent thanksgiving, shooting lava hundreds of feet in the air before cooling to a lake of solid lava..or so it seems. Beneath this is the lava which runs down the lava tubes to erupt into the sea. At night you can see the glow of the lava as the steam plume of Sulphur and other gases continue to pour upwards. Over half of Crater Road was closed due to the toxic nature of the gas, and the visitor center, where we stopped, was the edge of the closed road due to toxic fumes. As long as the wind blew we were fine, but if it stopped and the plumes drifted, then it was a different story.

See that is what I would have know IF I had read the material. Instead, I was all “Hound of the Baskervilles” and dying to get out into this fog that they had inconveniently roped off.

Visitor Alert - Kilauea is currently emitting elevated levels of sulphur dioxide gas and an ash-laden fume cloud from a new vent within Halema`uma`u crater.

So2 is a hidden volcanic hazard. Exposure to the invisible gas can aggravate pre-existing heart and breathing problems such as asthma. Elevated volcanic gas levels are dangerous to everyone.
Plus there are acid droplets in the ash plume, which is why all the plants which are directly in the path of plumes are dead or dying.

But the Park service puts up these nice warnings about how the fumes can be life threatening: “Do NOT enter this area if you are a person at risk: heart problems, respiratory problems, pregnant or children.” You can see me doing the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ (the black and white silent version) in front of the after I said, “Well, I’m not pregnant.” Earlier, Cheryl had checked me over because I had to stop for a while in the van because I was feeling so bad. She found that my heart was extremely erratic. After a brief rest, Onward!

Here we are at the edge of the rim. No problem. But, Beth asks herself, is this DRAMATIC enough a picture? No! I needed a picture from when the wind stalled and the plume would stall and drift over a corner. So while Linda and Cheryl stayed at a safe distance off I roll.

And roll
And roll...
Until Linda has to Zoom on me but still you can barely can see me giving the fist of victory! Victory over what exactly? I have met the volcano and won!?

We crossed over to see the individual sulphur holes, again passing a very large sign saying that people like me shouldn’t go. I said, “What? How can I have a breathing problem when I have my prosthetic lung here?”

Here are two roped off potholes, you can see the accumulation of various acids and minerals as well as the plumes coming up with the sulphur, straight out of cracks down at the lava level. It was very warm. I asked Linda and Cheryl for a picture in the sulphur pothole area. Here they are, and having fun. Also quite a distance from the fumes.

I was having fun, of sorts, also. I asked Linda to hold my camera while I rolled along the fence of the pothole area, and again, not to take a picture until the plume was completely covering me (it was oh so mysterious and very Edwardian!).

With oxygen behind on the back I head off alone.

By this time you may wonder, “Is Beth THAT brain damaged?” Well yeah but not about this. I don’t have any excuse except that that I had done so many things that people said I couldn’t do, I was just barely surviving a sudden heat wave which made using our house in the day a death trap. So what could a bit of mysterious fog do? I mean, they put up those signs just to cover themselves don’t they? Just because a few people have died at this volcano from the plume (I didn’t know that at the time, honest) is just juice to go further in. To me, whether it was sulphur and acid or dry ice, what difference? A LOT it turned ou

I am now raising both arms in a victory symbol, but you can barely see me. I was pretty punked and had to be helped back into the van. In the van we noticed that my hands were blue, like BLUE, not the fingernails but the palms. Plus I had blue lips. I went, “What?” and looked in the mirror and it was true, both of them completely blue. But….but….but….I was ON oxygen, what was I supposed to do now?

Well, I could have headed off and rested BUT at the visitor center they said that at night the plume glowed from the magma below. And it was only an hour until dark. So we looked at the gift shop and I went to the bathroom and tried to stop passing out. Even now, after sleeping and 12 hours later, I can barely move and if I move my head or close my eyes, around the world goes. But I hung on until night. And the plume DID glow, but too faintly for my camera to pick up. Just as we were giving up there was a flash of light! It was a thunderstorm erupting behind the plume and I happened to be taking a mini film as the sky is erupted in electrical light showing the plume in the fore. It was pretty cool. There were a few more lightning discharges but we couldn’t get them on film. And soon, feeling very punk we headed home.

Guess what, I AM human. And being human I am one of those people who the big Yellow Signs are talking to. I am not saying that I can't go see a volcano in action. But do I need to do thing so dangerous that the healthy people who are not lung and heart damaged don't want to even think of doing them? I could use this new word I looked up: Caution

I told Linda the truth while I was in the bathroom. And she told me the truth: that the previous day, she was a second or two from starting mouth to mouth. Bu I was thinking not once but several times to tell them to take me to the hospital (this was AFTER the valley tour, and the town tour, and the shopping). And that now, I felt far worse. I felt in a jam, that if I didn’t push myself to see the BIG things, like a volcano or the stars, then what was the point of coming to be an hour drive from one? I would be letting them, the AB’s down. But right now, I said, if there was a coffin nearby, I would crawl into it just to lie down, I felt so bad.

Back at home, even after a sleep, I was still in bad shape. My blood pressure and heart beat erratic while my reserves were zero. Cheryl looked in my ears with her little device and my left ear, which was mostly deaf, had burst from a blood pressure spike and there was blood behind the ear and down in the canal behind it. Sigh. So a slower day tomorrow. Maybe going to a beach, or if I can go in the car, seeing a waterfall and then back to lie down. I feel a bit of a failure but looking back on the pictures also a BLOOMING IDIOT! Turns out those signs aren’t a joke. I guess I should make educated choices instead of just ignoring them. I am not the same Elizabeth of a few months ago, I don’t have the reserves, I am not that strong, I HAVE deteriorated in several areas central to my health.

But the visit isn’t over yet. And if I am up to it, one of the rangers think I can manage the wheelchair over the lava path to see it drop into the sea. For that, I would drag myself on the ground.

I am not sure what I fear more, letting Linda, Cheryl and my readers down or pushing myself so much that I am dying in plain sight and everyone is used to it. That feeling so bad I can’t eat (I am losing a pound of weight a day) is just what I am. But I better figure it out soon.


FridaWrites said...

You will never let us down in any way. Please take care of yourself so you can enjoy as much as possible each day of your trip.

Holding a bit of ice in your mouth against the roof of your mouth can help some with nosebleeds.

Thank you for sharing the pictures of the volcano and you in the fog--that photo of the plume illuminated by lightning is cool. Please heed other caution signs!

And if you travel to New Orleans, I will meet you there.

Gaina said...

Take us out of the equation. Make informed choices about how far you can push yourself and find the balance between feeling as well as you can and seeing and doing the things that make you happy.

And for goodness sake, have at least ONE day off from blogging to enjoy Hawaii will ya!? :P

desdemona said...

Hi, yes, hello, hi, Beth uhm, you realise we LIKE you, right? We're not reading your blog for the stunts and the "OMG she survived THAT?!" message ;-)
I'm going away tomorrow. For a week. With my kids and my best friend. You know what I told a friend when she asked me "So, what are you planning to do?" "Well, I'm going to take baths, knit and relax." Sure, I'll bee looking out at the sea, too. But mainly I'll be taking a week off of being a full time single parent.
Maybe you should take a week off of being a full time entertainer for your blog readers? I know this is probably not very tactful and really too blunt, but honestly, we LIKE you, we don't want to see a message from Linda or Cheryl saying "The bad news is, Beth died, the good news is she died because she decided to dive into the Lava to see if she could survive it and we took pictures." (Seriously, this is not a dare or inspiration, this is pretty much a "Don't you dare or I'll come and give you a talking to and I'll use the mum voice!") :-P

So please, have some quiet days, just sitting still, relaxing, looking out at the sea! At least you'll be nice and warm while we'll be freezing our butts of at the North Sea ;-)

wendryn said...

I know you feel like you have to cram everything into a few short days. I know you weren't expecting to come back. I understand those things. I would prefer, however, that you at least try to survive! You don't do low-key very well...I'm not trying to beat up on you, but it does worry me.

The pictures are very cool. I am glad you are getting to see all kinds of neat things, and it looks like you are enjoying yourself when you can.


JaneB said...

Hi Beth, that was a report from a little TOO close to the edge! Having a few easier days will NOT be disappointing to your readers - honestly! We want to see what cool things you do with the postcard supplies. Do, do, do try and come back!

thinking of you - and of Linda and Cheryl too.

Baba Yaga said...


OK. You are not letting anyone down by resting, even by letting a whole day or two of the holiday go by with nothing but manga (you must have some with you?) and sleep. (Secret, courtesy of a friend's bad back: sometimes the notional ABs benefit from slowing down, too.)

You are not letting anyone down by not seeing Everything On the List. You got there, you've already seen more of Hawaii than I ever will, & you've relished it magnificently.

You may not be letting anyone down by being an infernal idiot, either. One has to, sometimes. But I suggest that the reflex to push *all limits might better be directed at the limits which matter. Volcanos don't have much 'give' in them.

Right now, rest sounds a really good idea. I hope you're all three getting some.

SharonMV said...

Dear Beth,
You don't let us, your readers down! Slowing down a bit & taking care of yourself would make us happy! I already know that you can push harder than anyone else, that your spirit is adventurous, that you are not daunted by any challenge. So take it easy, this is a vacation. I love all the pictures of Beth in the midst of the volcanic plume, but I want to see pictures of Beth back home again, of Beth & company feeding the squirrels, of Beth in New Orleans.

The big things are exhilerating (even vicariously for me & your other readers) and great accomplishments, but small things are good too. Just look around you, the sky, the plants, the ocean - so much you can experience just looking , listening & breathing in the fragrance in the night air.(Another reason it is important to keep breathing. And you can see the stars there, many more than in the city and with the naked eye.

Yes, the lava path is a priority & I hope you can make it all the way. Rest beforehand & after. And then do some easy stuff. Too bad the house isn't cool during the day, but find somewhere you can be still & relax a bit. And enjoy that lovely house in the evenings.

I will do all I can to help get you through the winter.

Love to the three of you,


Raccoon said...

I'm scared for you. I mean, I'm down today and possibly tomorrow because I over did things the last three days, and you are voluntarily rolling into toxic waste?

I know you want to make the memories, for Cheryl and Linda, but good memories or bad?

And you two -- stop encouraging her from doing things like this!

Lene Andersen said...

Sweetie... you don't let us down by not having an Epic EFM Adventure every day. All I hope for when I come to read about Hawaii is that the three of you are have a lovely time, whether by looking at volcanos or sitting on a patio with funny drinks, taking in the scenery (while seated. Not doing anything. Just sitting). Adventure is relative - the mere fact that you're in HAWAII in your current state of health is a freaking adventure. And I'm sure Linda and Cheryl would rather share a little less adventure if it meant they could share it with you.

Good thing you realized the blooming idjit aspect. Slow down, enjoy. Sometimes adventures can be quiet things.

yanub said...

Beth. Dear.

Yes, doing foolhardy things is pretty much what I expect of you, but that is just because I accept that you are EFM, and always have been. That doesn't mean I need you to be foolish. If you stick with daring, that will be plenty in keeping with your reputation, 'kay? What's the difference?

Foolish: disregarding health hazard signs.

Daring: Being close enough to read the health hazard signs.

Now, all that scolding aside, I can't believe you found such a wonderful place to stay! How absolutely gorgeous! Now that you have done reckless stuff, I look forward to the parts where you do luxurious stuff. Oh, please do luxurious stuff! Someone I care for should be getting pampered, since it isn't me. So why not you?

Veralidaine said...

Hey Beth, you know what adventure I would like you to have in Hawaii?

A relaxing nap on the beach. That's the adventure I would be having if I was there. It would make me very happy if you would rest for a day and enjoy the relaxing sound of waves and people playing on the beach. Or, just a nice nap in that beautiful rental home you found for a fantastic price (my very frugal grandmother would be so proud!)

A day of rest is a lovely thing to have when you can do it somewhere so beautiful that even while sleeping you feel you are absorbing something amazing.

I want you to do what you want to do in Hawaii, but you're no disappointment if you take a day of rest--I would be very PROUD of you taking some relaxation time in a beautiful place! Believe me, I love a good climb up a mountain as much as the next person (I'm in Colorado, remember?) but there is no need to do that EVERY day. You are on vacation. Take a nice nap surrounded by beautiful sights and sounds, and don't try to have any near-death experiences, just for one day, ok?

Joan K said...

Don't worry about letting us down. You can only do as much as you can do. I am enjoying your posts about Hawaii but don't do more than _you_ feel comfortable with.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I might have to try that ice trick as I had another today while sleeping. Yes, it turns out that signs for warning are put there for a reason.

Oh, now another reason to try for New Orleans.

I want people to have a vacation they want, to see all the desires of the heart, but do I push them and me to far? I don't know. Will Cheryl remember this vacation? I hope so, and for good reasons, not bad.

Wendryn and desdemona - even resting is needful to do something, to catch up on what needs to be done. I have never, it seems accepted my limitations - and that is good...and that is bad. I am now living to live. There is only one Valley of the Kings, only one seeing of Lava in my life. They cost, yes, they almost took me to a hospital and ended the trip with a trip back with airmed but I experienced what few have.

To me, if I want to do it, what others consider impossible means I just have to figure out a new way. Another way. I can't rest - resting is when I stop breathing.

Yes, maybe if I was a bit more cautious and restful I wouldn't stop breathing every time I relaxed. My heart is out of control, blue lips, and the pain, oh how I wish for a pacemaker, as the pills I take a day are already on the edge of pushing me into eternal unconsciousness.

JAne: I am doing postcards, and somethings should be with you in a few days, something to relax you too! I have seen your lists, you make me look rather relaxed by the lists of "to do".

I do love the forested streets and roads, the groves of papya, and bananas. I have searched for a shell for you, and the only one I found, the crab inside wouldn't give it over, and ran off carrying it on his back.

Baba, what you say makes sense. But I won't remember this all in a week. A care worker will see a screen saver and go, "Oh, wow, where is that." And I will look at it go, "I am not sure." That is just the disease. At least today I got to 'glow'.

Lene: I agree, I am starting to realize that not everyone can or wants to push as I do and that I am not doing anyone any favors by having them support me or try to keep up day after day. I have to change because I love them. And I do, I love my family.

Neil said...

(NOTE: This is my stern Internet Uncle voice:)

I should introduce you to the idea of safe risks, dear. Do the activity, but wear the seatbelt, get the training, follow the safety instructions. All very boring, but suggestions that lead to a longer life.

And yes, Elizabeth Not Effin' Dead Yet McClung, that IS a dramatic enough shot, with the three of you against a nice, safe, reassuring, FENCE. Those signs and fences are there for a reason, girls; please take care and don't come home in a special medical fight.

Linda, Cheryl: you let her roll through a cloud of sulfur dioxide??? [Well, no, now that you ask, I HAVEN'T tried to stop Elizabeth with only one helper...]

Beth, I know you're cramming all the living in that you can, but would you please slow down enough to stay alive while you do it?

I do love you, dear, though it be from afar; and I want you to enjoy the holiday, but I also want your partners to enjoy it. And more to the point, I want you all to be able to look at photos and talk about how great the trip was. And yes, I know that's a little difficult for you, but work with me here.

Enough nagging. Those are beautiful photos from a place I'll never see, and I'm envious that you're able to get to Hawaii at all. Thank you for taking us with you!

Love and zen hugs,

Dawn Allenbach said...

Your readers are more interested in you taking care of yourself! Silly woman! We love you showing us all these wonderful things, but we want you to be smart and safe while you're doing it.

Elizabeth McClung said...

desdemonia: that thing about me diving into lava is very funny and I have thought of it often!

Gaina: Thanks, I am happy you are reading and I have tried to make informed decisions for the rest of the trip.