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.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.
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.
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.
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.