Friday, October 30, 2009

Autumn and Fall, Wheelchair Badminton, Squirrel Siblings and loot!

Fall has arrived, and the trees are sending the leaves down in bushels. Which make some kids happy. I am trying to remember that delight of seeing big leaves instead of automatically thinking “Oh no, this means every leaf blower in town will be on my block forever!”

Sound-wise today was extremely noisy. I did not know why as I had a medical appointment. When Cheryl came she said the Coho – the 50 year old tilt back and forth ferry had carried over the Olympic Torch. Not only that, because of the ‘political target’ it could make, the slow moving, waddling Coho Ferry was escorted by the US Coast Guard until Canadian Waters and then by the Canadian Coast Guard. I am not sure what the plan was because the Coho was built back in the days when LARGE amounts of steel was put into ships, enough to make those giant Caddies that go through brick walls seem wimpy. So was a speedboat supposed to hit it with explosives? Because of the Olympics? And would the Coho notice? Or was one of the cars aboard supposed to go off, and then the Coast Guard would what? Shoot all the potential suspects swimming toward the Coast Guard vessel? I am not clear on the logic of most things security related, like why U.S. citizens like Cheryl can come to visit me with a driver’s license but cannot as a CITIZEN of the US return to her country/gated community with one, but MUST have a passport.

Anyway, the torch arrived, and according to Cheryl, the ‘Torch Run’ of the Olympics (which is supposed to be about ‘amateur sports’ and not ‘whoring ourselves to media and corporations’ is the ‘RBC and Coca-Cola Torch Run” – because moving the Olympic Flame certainly can’t be done without sponsorship! So Coke and Royal Bank had been using this as several million in advertising having contests on who would run with the torch, and so the torch was jogged 300 yards, then lights the NEXT person, in order to get all the people in who Coke and RBC sold the spots to. AND then afterward, you can buy the torch you ran with. Surreal. I was about to make a joke about how probably Pepsi is sponsoring the Torch Run in Real World or one of the Virtual Worlds. But then I thought I should check to make sure that isn’t actually happening; since many big brands are now opening shops in virtual worlds (Yes, I realize how insane that last sentence sounded – are you being served in your Nike Virtual World shopping experience by penguins? Who knows? Does someone purple carry the torch with wings?).

Back to reality, after my last blog about heaven help those who try to stop me going to badminton, I got 30 minutes sleep, and then in the rain I rolled to badminton (I am not a political target either!). I ended up in my first game facing the badminton coordinator and one of the other very good players. But I was not daunted! In fact, here you see an early point where I am using one hand to push myself up onto my clothing guard while I reach for the birdie. This caused the wheelchair to tip over, but I HIT the birdie, pushed the floor with my fist and the chair bounced back as I called, “In play, still in play” and we went on to win the point. Most impressive for someone who has a 17% chance when trying to scratch their nose of hitting it.

When serving, the important thing is to serve LOW over the net so they cannot slam it back at you – this was a VERY good serve I managed, and Linda got it. I did confuse them a bit with my serves. And they came back at me and my partner. It was a match to 21 points. We were ahead, then behind then ahead. Here you can see me wheeling past after guarding the front and probably blocking a tipped in birdie, I seem pleased, or in concentration.

While in this shot I am about to send the birdie into the far back corner. The problem is that I can only be so many places, as I have a chair that does not move sideways, and the opponents learn to NOT hit to those places – very vexing. But I still got some hits in, here I moved back to cover my partner while he was serving and hit the responding hit (you can see the birdie at the VERY top of the screen, that bit of yellow) which I hit backhand to boot!
Well I played tough, or honestly by the end I was mentally exhausted and a little confused but I tried hard and we ended up losing 23-22 or 24-22, I am not quite sure, all I know is we were tied 21-21 and so could not finish but kept going. I like close games and this one was close.

After another game I wheeled home and then got too little sleep due to two cement trucks, a crane, two chainsaws and a few other handy noisemakers the next morning starting at 6:56 a.m. Ug.

Remember those two squirrel siblings I told you about. Well here they are. You see one is bounding toward Cheryl, while the other is finding and digging up where the sibling just buried the last peanut. Then, as the squirrel gets the peanut, you can see the other in the background, having found the last peanut is now eating it. Then they move aside so the happy sibling (the poor clueless one who you end up tricking to do your chores) goes around to find a new burying spot while they finish the peanut – then as the sibling bounds off to get another one, they dig that up too. Sad but oh so familiar.

I also got some postcard loot for the postcard project in Hawaii and on orders which finally came in – here is one of the Postcard Books that I have been looking forward to getting and sending out. I used to spend my hours as a youth in the old Pasadena Public Library which looked a lot like this one but a lot bigger (it had lions too outside). There was hard wood everywhere and the old card catalogues, and the information/answer desk where you used to be able to go and ask a librarian a question like, “How many moons does Saturn have?” and they would find the answer for you.

I also got this set of Escher cards which I can send out with little gifts or just as cards while the hand lasts. I like Escher because so much of it seems a metaphor for disability; the way medios think and work and so much in life. What doesn't go round and round in disability land?

Also here are some of the stickers we picked up at a store, I think just outside the Waipio Valley called Honoko. We have already sent out several of them (half?) on the postcards we did last week – about 30+ in number. I liked finding these touches of Hawaii and bringing them to the postcard, because when they are gone, they are gone. And that is the point of a postcard, isn’t it?

For those who are going trick or treating tomorrow, good luck. If you are in doubt whether to go trick or treating this is a little measure I use: If you are carrying a bottle of beer or liquor and take hits from it between houses, or have to put out your cig before asking for candy – you are TOO OLD! Sorry.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This is now: survival, eating ashes and going on

A picture from last night. My head resting on INDY’s headrest I am passed out and not breathing. I am wearing a eye-patch as during my conscious states my eye finally had opened but the image had not integrated in my brain (just garbage). I am my sleepwear, which I lived in much of this week. On a 3 or 4 setting of oxygen and ‘Rabid’ my squirrel is on my lap. If you want to know why I call the squirrel ‘Rabid’, he tends to vibrate at very high speeds, is easily bored and well, look at those EYES! My fingertips are purple and my entire arms and torso is in secondary Raynaud’s (I lost consciousness due to lack of oxygen in the brain). I had pushed the panic button because I could not call Linda, without oxygen to my vocal cords. My heart had just stopped long enough to cause a major problem of loss of oxygen to my system, and I would soon need reviving, so I pushed the button while I could.

People see me with squirrels. People see me doing things like going to lava. And yes, my hair is falling out and I look like crap and I am visually ill an on oxygen but I am still out there doing stuff! Right? Wrong.

From ‘Anticipatory Grief Package’: A Patient’s Perspective “It is important for people to pace themselves and save their energy for the activities that are most important to them.”

I spend 99% of my time looking like this (the unmoving paced person), feeling like something scraped off the side of highway that stinks and sticks. I am in INDY, supported in my back and body by the Wheelchair INDY or the hospital bed, with head support. I do that so I CAN send postcards, and so that I CAN send emails and packages. I am now in constant oxygen deprivation, low saturation levels and so I have to focus and stay focused to get what I want done. Like blogs and like going out and feeding squirrels. This is my life.

“Loneliness increases as family roles change and the patient becomes more dependant on care.” Well, why don’t I continue as I was in Hawaii? Well first off, I didn’t have much longer that I could have lasted in Hawaii, and have been bleeding from somewhere, nosebleeds, spontanous bruising, anal, oral, lung bleeding ever since returning. I hope to build up reserves, and I am happy I went to Hawaii but there was a calculated cost beyond the financial (which cleaned us all out). This is another picture of me, here, I am not sure, maybe in pre or post seizure as my eyes seem open but rolled back. I am on the face mask, continuous flow oxygen at maximum with a ‘rebreather’ mask to increase the percentage of oxygen. See, I could BE in Hawaii because I had two people to bring me back from the edge of death and they did, they did many times a day. I have permanent damage from the trip, and I am LUCKY to have it limited to the areas it is. It was a great trip. But when I only have one or two hours of care a day, then trying to be at that level of activity is a good way to fall over due to lack of oxygen and stop breathing. And when Linda comes home four hours later, that is still how I will be. I know that because every week, even without 24 hour caregiving, I still have to be resuscitated or assisted in breathing, in stopping a seizure cycle, in regulating my heart about a dozen times a week.

You, the reader, you get a massive pain spreading across your back, or in your chest, it is hard to breath, it is spreading down your arm. You look down and you see a hand that has purple fingertips, and now blue fingertips and purple to the first joint. Someone calls 911 and you go to the hospital. This is a MAJOR event in your life, this is a heart infarction and the next one is going to be if not lethal, then will likely trigger a stroke. This is an event people often experience ONCE in their life. When they die.

I experience that almost every day.

After the squirrels, after the nice pictures, and the eagle, when Cheryl went home; I had gone without much sleep and pushed myself without reserves. Not low on reserves, but no reserves. So my legs stopped, and my arms. I sat there in INDY and waited for wetting myself. Linda was exhausted, my fingers were dusky and turning black, my thumb was black, my palm was black. That is how bad my circulation was. Linda got me into the bathroom and on the toilet. I had retention (I was too weak to trigger the muscles to allow me to pee – if you are older, these wear out and you pee yourself, if young sometimes, this happens, you are stuck, until it backs up into your kidney). Linda was too weak to be able to move me. “Beth, you have to help, PLEASE, please.” she begged me.

I couldn’t. I couldn’t move my legs, my hips, my arms. I was barely hanging on to conscious. I had been expending energy to hide the amount of care I needed. Part pride, part love I thought. Now I wondered if leaving Linda with an unrealistic idea was love or not. And when the reserves are gone, they are gone. So, I am stuck on a toilet, she is exhausted. What now?

She went and slept. We had, she had, NO ONE we could call. My parents response has been a combination of distancing and pretending that everything will work out so long as they don’t see it. We were alone. She gave me a drink to drink and when that was absorbed in 20 minutes I had enough strength to help drink the rest of it. Eventually I peed. Two hours later, she was stronger and so was I, and together we got me into bed. We also used a word to look into: Sling.

The amount of energy that most people expend making a nice Sunday breakfast is what I have for a week or half a week. That’s why Linda takes pictures of what I do. So, yeah, I’m really ill. REALLY ILL. Now does that mean that Hawaii was it? The last hurrah?


I am a calculating and ruthless bitch. Because my opponent is Death. Death feels no remorse, no feelings at all. There is no sorrow at taking me too soon. So what if I want what other people have as a sign of adult: understanding mentally, a job, goals, dreams, friends, to be treated as an equal? So what? If I ever miscalculate and I have, and Linda or some person at a place where I am usually banned afterward catches me, and I end up in hospital and that’s a mistake I can’t make again. So it happens right now I have minimal medical care. But I have oxygen and pills. I have a computer and wheelchairs. Sometimes I have both eyes, sometimes just one. It is what it is, and I have to win anyway.

So if it takes me 40 minutes to get out of bed, and it does, most days, takes 10 minutes to get a hand moving and under control, then that is what it takes. And if I miss the wheelchair, then I drag myself. Because that is what it is. This is it: life. There is no replay, there is no retake. If I want to live, then I have to keep going.

Most of the time I grin when I am in pain like when your skin is peeling the next day from a bad burn, a real bad burn. I grin because someone just told me that “Oh you won’t be able to take your wheelchair...” As I roll past them. The amount of times I have calculated the odds of just surviving getting to my pills in time, something like using up three days worth of energy to show some AB person who articulated that I must live in the box is nothing. It is so nothing, I give it a fierce grin.

I think back to Fredrick II, or ‘Fredrick the Great’ in Prussia, who grabbed Silesia from Austria, starting wars lasting 20+ years and resulting in the ‘Seven Years War’ which pitted the small Prussia against France, Austria, Russia and every other land power. Fredrick, one of the last great leaders to fight as not just the King but the General, in the field of battle, faced odds of 2 to 1, 3 to 1, French Armies, Austrian Armies and he won. Because he had to win. If he lost a SINGLE battle his small country was not doubled in power which Silesia would do, but lost. Only Britain was helping then financially. In 1759 it seemed that everything that Fredrick had fought for was lost. 47,000 Russians beat 26,000 Prussians; the French forced the surrender of Prussian Troops and Fredrick lost half his army in one battle, his worst defeat. He considered giving up and abdicating. I consider giving up. Giving in to the pain. Not coming back when they push and prod me to ‘breath’, and I start to follow that, but I do come back.

Fredrick considered suicide. And looking at what kind of death I have in front of me, I consider suicide a lot. It is not pretty, in the same way I am not pretty. I was never beautiful, but I was pretty, a strong woman and cute in my own way. But I won’t look like that again, I won’t be getting stronger. The arrow has pierced my breast, the saber is thrown from my hands. I was looking at pictures of me fencing last night and my goodness the power I had. Fit and strong. But that was then. Now I am mortally wounded. And so that is where for most the story stops.

I am not most. Nor was Fredrick. He went down among the people, and raised another army. The next year at odds of 3 to 1 Fredrick won, but the battle raged on, literally the entire continent of Europe was against him. And in the next year Prussia lost its last port to the sea and thus help from the British. Everyone believed that Prussia’s end was here, the army down to only 60,000 men. And then…..again, considering suicide, Fredrick found out that the Empress of Russia had died and Peter III ascended. Now Peter III LOVED Fredrick, because Peter III thought he was like a hero from a storybook, and in many ways he was. A King who risked everything for his nation, who every year took on the worst attacks and won, who faced the worse conditions and when it seemed that wounded in so many areas, Prussia was done, Fredrick went to the countryside and showed the people that THEY are Prussia. And he rose again, in front of a victorious army. Peter III withdrew the Russian troops and got Sweden off Prussia’s back and so Prussia took on and won the Austrians and French. It was the miracle. A miracle that had been hard fought for.

This did not last long as Catherine, Peter III’s wife (know later as Catherine the GREAT) thought her husband an idiot and killed him, then ascended the throne and settled the war, having everything return to what it was BEFORE the war. Prussia remained, Fredrick remained, and Silesia was part of Prussia, part of what would become Germany.

So, some interesting history, so what. The so what is that in two hours, after spending 4 hours with a doctor, and up late last night ill, I am going to badminton. Because at badminton I sweat, and if I sweat another week. I live. Or my chance of long term living increases. My chance of going to New Orleans increases. And heaven those, including the parts of myself screaming, “No, no, let us rest!”, heaven help those who try and stop me.
Because I haven’t exactly got over into ‘acceptance’ yet in the grief cycle.

One of the reasons I was at the doctor was medication, including more heart medication (we are now MAXED out Ms. Heart, okay?!) and florastor, my probiotic which is a prosthetic intestine for me. We are down to 12 days of florastor and then, though I am malnourished, I will have no way to absorb nutrients. That is on my wishlist. And unashamed so, because if I have to beg in the street…I have a cup. Yes, the needs seem high now: another wrist support and a book or something for Linda to have down time with. Linda, who alone, waiting for the help from Beacon and VIHA has not had a night off in over six months. She is always and ever there for me. I wish I could cradle her. I wish I could give her rest. Give her a weeks vacation. And I can’t even give a book. We need wireless phones (because sometimes like I couldn’t get off the toilet, I can’t get out of bed to let the ‘caregivers’ IN), Linda is figuring out which ones, and then they will show up on the wishlist. By Nov. 2nd, I have to sign up and I am signing up for Boxing because the longer I sweat, the more my skin, the largest organ in the human body, heals. And I need that. I am also signing up for badminton and volleyball. I have no money to sign up with. We found out today that I need to get oils, as my body can absorb the oils of the vitamins it is malnourished in having while it cannot absorb the vitamins. Boxing is $55, Volleyball is $45, the oils I don’t know. To some it may seem little to some it may seem doable, this week it is…….yeah. If you want to help, go to the blog, A Girl's Gotta Fly and email Linda. Because I can't REMEMBER, I don't understand the math things that well so she does that, and I try to focus on the surviving (and the flying!). So you can email her over at Girl's Gotta Fly if you are interested.

I am hoping, but I am not asking. I would if I could ask for help for Linda. Help her, but I don’t know how. Come over and watch me for a night, help me with my pills. But that is impossible for most if not all. And for money, I know how many people are having tough times. And look at me, I just went on vacation (a vacation that extended my life from months to over a year - survival). And in time, I will have resources. But now I don’t. I have no income and no health to generate it. And yet, I sell on Amazon, I will sell on ebay, I will create a nest egg and have that emergency money. It is just I kind of used emergency money on loot for people in Hawaii (I was one of those people, I admit it), and then with Tall Girl closing. I would not have the PJ’s in the picture at the top if I didn’t go and get them at the sale, that is how little clothing I have. I am using the same shoes I had when I was fencing.

Enough said on that, because I think I know that those who understand realize I am grateful for friendships, for all the forms of giving, which include even reading and try as much as I can to reciprocate, because that is what friends do. I just know that I am going tonight and I am going to boxing on Monday, I just don’t know how. And I believe that in a week or so, I will be able to eat because I have the probiotic and oils I need. I believe that. Because if I don’t live, then I can’t do what I am meant to do, which is be there for as many people as I can, as many as my energy allows.

I die, I am brought back, I am wounded and bleed, I am in pain and struggle, spending so much energy to survive so that I might sit still and save the rest. I save it so I might spend my energy on others. Making sure that the others who feel the ‘alone’, others will have some way, some hope to get them through the winter. And I will help them find that. I will be with them. That is the other 99% of my life. Surviving on the edges. And sometimes it means eating ashes, like sitting on a toilet waiting for someone to be strong enough to lift you. And sometimes it means dragging yourself. And sometimes, it means getting a letter saying, ‘Your letter/gift/emails made the difference……’

Oh, and I WILL get to New Orleans.

Monday, October 26, 2009

a short squirrel interlude: being home

Hawaii is over, Hawaii is still here.

The trip is over but some memories stay, and the idea that problems are just things to be overcome, that stays. The attitude that I am a valued member of society remains. But the last two memories or ideas are under assault: phone calls daily, from wheelchair sports collecting money, from Triumph who says they have been trying to get in contact (“When?”, “Uh, I believe I called in June.”) as they want $700 to avoid putting a computer unused due to glitches on the loan program. VIHA, Beacon, is there anyone who doesn’t call not giving a damn about me compared to the forms. I still have no GP, the walk-in clinic cancels the specials or tests ordered. I long for the time when people saw overcoming obstacles as something good, when at Badminton a player tries to claim a point because I was wheeling by (off court), “Wheelchair near court! Interfere! My point!” He later looks at me, realizes he will be in a match with a female wheelchair user, and takes his racket out of the line up, then puts it back to end up on the court minutes after me. Try putting ‘Jew’ instead of wheelchair and see how that sounds. I worry I left the best part of my on the Big Island.

Lungs, heart and nerves are withering, are dying. I live a life of oxygen and dusky fingers. I am adept at using my teeth for many things now. And the signals, the heat has increased in my upper spine, above the T-section. And by increased that means I am on 3 pain killers during the day, and at night the strongest, 5 pain killers, 2 sedatives, and then a spray of medicinal marijuana onto my cheek to help it absorb in minutes. I hallucinate. I bite my lip, my tongue. And I scream. How can I hold on to something, squeeze something to help me take the pain when I can’t feel my hands? I live by watching what my limbs are doing, I have gross motor function, felt or not: a crane operator. But the spine, it burns literally, while my body is goosebumped in shock it burns hot as I scream, my voice husky from a lack of oxygen. I don’t know how long? As many breaths until my lungs can’t push out any more.

I asked advice. What to do when the future is here? When it is seen? Spend more time with Linda, spend more time with squirrels.

I can do that. We have polite squirrels who often have a ‘a peanut for a starving squirrel artist?’ look. Yes and peacocks. The ones who aren’t thin are the ones who are bold. We found a pair of squirrels, both blacks (the smart ones) and one was getting peanuts every 30 seconds, running off and burying them. The other squirrel was digging up the recently buried peanut and eating it. Squirrel #1 hadn’t caught on yet by the time we left. I hope they are siblings.

We met an offspring or cousin to Psycho I call Fearless. Fearless is one squirrel who is going to survive the winter. Why? Because as Cheryl said, “That squirrel will be mugging old ladies for Chicklets.” Well, as to mugging, she would know.
As for me, I perfer my squirrels to view me as sort of like the bookmobile, I am the peanutmobile and all they need do is climb up and take a look at what is on offer. Fearless, upon returning, would run across 200-300 yards before leaping at least four feet away and landing halfway or more up my leg. Now I know what a tree branch feels like (and isn’t peripheral neuropathy good as he was using claws). I could feel the whump of force through the wheelchair. But at the end of the day it turns out he is quite picky, Fearless the gourmet? Or just wanting the highest calorie content?

As you can see by the leg, as he starts to eat after mugging Cheryl, Fearless has had plenty of action like fights. There is a claw mark on his back, likely a crow. This must be why he is basically sitting atop the person he just mugged and having a sandwich. Luckily Cheryl didn’t mind. See, we have VERY disability friendly squirrels (the people, ehhh, not so much – as we had been just been to a pumpkin farm and found it hard to find space in the disabled parking full of race cars and family vans, without a single blue badge in sight).

As we wheeled home, since I had frostbite in one hand, after turning off our cameras, a full grown bald eagle flew over us, just above treetop. She had a whole branch in her claws, nest building was my guess. There is one bald eagle at least in the park, but rarely seen. It seemed a good time to go home, falling under the shadow of the bald eagle.

The pain is still here, the fear of living without a net medically, the isolation, the daily times of being helped to breath, to clear the passageway, passing out due to lack of oxygen, the inability to move at all more and more often. I look into a future which realistically has no hope and want what everyone else does: living, a job, a social net, family. On one hand, VIHA has been hinting at a care facility. On the other, I am still planning a new trip while paying for the last, while sending out postcards and thank you’s. The race to use my hands has never been more painful, aching and conscious. No, I haven’t been well but I force myself out anyway. I force myself to do so many things, and now, I force myself to step back and take time to be here, and grieve a little bit.
It was too hard to face things. So my degeneration progressed. Starting today, a ‘Good Day’ isn’t a day when I am mentally like I was, or had a competitive experience, but one in which I didn’t scream, in which I smiled, or just stared at clouds. It is time to stop hating myself for the parts and times of me which aren’t as close to my Able Bodied Life as I could get.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hawaii Adventure Day 6: the Kapoho Tide Pools, underwater views

Again, if anyone wants any of the Hawaii pictures in larger format, just email me and I will send them along. Here are the rest of the pictures that Linda and Cheryl took with the underwater cameras showing, even in this EXTREME lava desolation, how quickly the eight different types of coral found here adapting and so many different type of fish can show up.
Here is a shot of four fish, three different types, from a top view down.
The difficulty of shooting blind (can you imagine if we had snorkels?), is you never know what you might end up shooting in the camera. Here you can see we have captured a rare glimpse not just of our usual fish but the Cameraus Obsessiveus in a crouch (top right) waiting to find it’s prey.

Just in a few inches we see the diversity of four fish (notice the grey one escaping through the lava rocks at the top) in such a small space.

This picture gives us a fish eye view, literally, of three different coral, the potential hiding places, and the ‘deeps’ (about 4 feet deep, not much for humans but a very different view if you are only 3 inches long though). Note the orange fish right at the middle bottom. They do blend in.

Here are four different types of coral in one shot, grown in just a few decades in the slight shelter of a southern tip, warmed to 70-80 degrees due to lava. In another twenty years the diversity will be twice that what it is now, and with a full parking lot (of 8-10 cars) and a dozen people sunning themselves, I think it will be given that chance.

In the end, this is the fish’s world, we just have a chance to see it, thanks to the underwater camera, though their eyes. It is beautiful but also a little alien. Yet definitely worth going to see (and back to see?).

Hawaii Adventure Day 6: the Kapoho Tide Pools, the different angle preview

The underwater camera’s Linda brought with her have been developed (she has also done a blog on part I of II of the wild flowers seen on the trip at Girl's Gotta Fly or click here - I recommend clicking on the white/purple orchid to see it in all the fresh rain dew glory).

What I see below makes me want to head back, get a snorkel or a raft with a window and another couple cameras. Those little yellow fish look completely different when the reflection of water, no matter how clear, is out of the way. These fish are less than a pinkie long.
And that is NOTHING compared to the beauty that a splotch of purple is, when seen as living coral.
In this last picture there is are two of a fish not on the other pictures (the white one with a gold/brown upper tail - any ideas? I recommend clicking on picture to see fish clearly, also the brown coral in background).
and tomorrow I hope to upload another 10 pictures (if the TWO giant cranes, and 15 men working outside my window less than 30 feet away allow me less than a full body headache). I just wanted to share this with you. There is definitely going to be a screen saver in one of these underwater ones. If anyone else wants a larger picture of any of the pictures from Hawaii emailed to them, like the 1.2 meg version, just let me know at mpshiel at More tomorrow!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hawaii Adventure Day 6: the Kapoho Tide Pools and post Hawaii

Apologies on the delay in writing, I have been busy bleeding (yes, that old excuse!). I was bleeding on the trip and continued the tradition back home, some of which (like the sinus cavity nosebleeds) might come from the altitude (but for three days?). There are many, many ways to bleed. Some of the not fun ways are a day or two of anal bleeding from inside. Not nice to look at the toilet bowl, not nice to wipe and come away with “Oh my GOD!!!” We presume that some roughage in restaurant food or the fruits I tried got through and cut me up in the lower intestine. That stopped today and I am not on the mask full time with purple hands in order to breath so time to get to work, no?

Oh, yeah, yesterday was bad breathing and a pink and red froth coming out of the lungs and mouth, which I think was all the stuff I had aspirated the previous days cutting up to the surface. Like I said, lots of bleeding.

Why did I not go to the hospital? Well, because if my intestines are cut up due to some roughage, then sticking a scope up there isn’t going to make it bleed LESS now is it? Also, have you ever had a bleed in your SINUS CAVITY cauterized? If I thought I had lost a pint or two….or three, I definitely would have gone. As for the oxygen conversion and erratics: well, one seems to feed into the other but if I am on a full flow concentrator rebreather mask and that isn’t working, all they can do is increase the flow, which, if the problem is autonomic failure (which it is), then it isn’t going to help. But that was the afternoon. In the morning I went shopping.

I had just gotten off a day and a bit of full time oxygen and it turns out that the ONLY place I can go to get clothes to try on to buy in town is closing. Tall Girl has gone bankrupt and the stores in the US are probably already closed. The one in Victoria was selling out and I have a total of 1 pair of jeans, 2 pair of joggers (you have seen them in the Hawaii pictures, over and over). And it seemed unless I went, that is all I would have.....forever. So off we went, and I tried on about 22 pairs of jeans, trousers/pants, and joggers. I found two pair. Linda of course found lots and had to restrict herself. This is not exactly how I hoped to balance finances post Hawaii (AHHH!), but with only other prospect as flying to the UK over the next year to Long Tall Sally to get any new clothes as I have: no belt, 1 pair of socks, 1 pair of jeans, 2 joggers, some tops, no jacket, and no winter or PJ’s which fit, so we came to shop. Linda is here in front of the store close out (notice it says “UP to 80% off – we never found the 80% off, just the 20-50%) with a t-shirt that says “Organically Tall”

I talked to the workers and they all have jobs, after the store dies in 12 days. As my neuropathy has progressed a great deal, I need clothes that are easy to get on and stay on (Neuropathy means my nerves are dead, a whole lot of them, almost all my feeling nerves, and most of my movement ones, and feedback nerves, plus real problems with hands over the last couple weeks). I have the scary hair of having tried too much on and am wearing cords which I bought (turned out the $34.99 was actually a $64.99 but I could only find two cords/trousers/jeans), and a t-shirt which says, “No, I don’t play basketball.” It is a small because it has better width on the shoulders and length than the X-large. Also, it turned out to be a reduced price of $16 instead of $10 like every other (like Linda's which was $10) because it was the color black. Black t-shirts cost more. Do you now understand why this company was going out of business? When they charge $40 for a t-shirt? I love the shirt because I used to be asked it all the time, in fact one woman while I got this picture taken said, “I love that t-shirt”, so I wore it home. The irony is that I did play basketball, I was just really bad at it. Loved it, and if I had a good coach would have done great. Oh well. But yesterday got that and some winter PJ's and some winter socks, thank goodness!

But back up a week and in Hawaii, after the sulpher at the volcano, I was very sick. You may assume that I rested. You assumed wrong. Before going to see the lava that night, I navigated Linda and Cheryl to the Kapaho Tide Pools as Linda really wanted to go snorkling and see fish. People often think of these fantastic views of scuba divers. We didn’t have that but we did have a series of interconnected tide pools on the southern tip of the island left over from the 1955 eruption. Many of them are still heated from below and many houses along here have closed off some for private pools. But there are still so many, nicely warmed for coral and sheltered that there is an abundance of fish. There are eight types of coral of which if you look for colours you will see brown, yellow, purple and others in the pictures. The underwater camera’s haven’t been developed yet. These were taken with our trusty Canon (which was then double bagged in Ziplocks).

While navigating toward the tide pools we passed the plantation areas from the lava rich soil of the 1790 eruptions. The land is covered with plantations. Linda stopped at this one to take pictures. At first, from the road we thought it was banana’s. Linda was very excited as she had not see these fruits ‘from the tree’ as it were. It turned out to be a papaya plantation and once Linda had taken her pictures, we continued on.

Being again PURE LAVA, Linda and Chery went ahead while I rested and were already deep into gazing. It turns out that fish like to blend in, and so the trick is to look at the water until instead of gazing over them, you see the amount and schools of fish that are passing before your eyes. Down the bottom of the picture is a yellow and striped fish called the Sergeant Major and is seen in most pictures as there are many schools of them. The other fish, like the two blue and orange ones up at the top of the photo are as yet unidentified.

Linda, with her underwater camera, was deep into the hunt. We had not brought masks (and with salt water, don’t put your eyes under, trust me!), so she was aiming and shooting areas. But watching her, I saw these two fast and flighty fish feeding.
Cheryl was watching a puffer fish and we saw a turtle together while Linda took off. Cheryl, as the lava is slick from algae growth atop it underwater used her walking stick to move from area to area, pausing to check out what there was to see.
For example here is a good picture to practice with, as there are 11 or 12 fish, some swimming, some sideways on the bottom feeding, some clear and black striped hiding, all in this small area, only a few feet large. The trick is seeing the fish, not the rocks.

Linda was heading out into one of the larger tide pools which has many different types of coral (very sharp and will cut you if you step on them), look for the different colors on the floor of the ocean. Because that is where these lava shelters lead, right to the ocean waves.

Linda managed to find a shell, which we wanted for a friend, only there was already an inhabitant inside, a little hermit crab which you can see crawling out right now. And about to upend the shell and take off for water. The speed those shells can move with the crab underneath going full tilt is rather comical.

Here, by the purple, green and brown coral Linda got to see a pair of angelfish swim past, the streamers following. Or as Linda excitedly put it, “It is just like seeing fish from the pet stores in the wild!” I am not quite sure I get that but I sure would have liked to see the Angel fish. I however was pretty stuck in one place, and actually ended up with some lava rash on my bum (lava is not a forgiving or soft rock).

Here is a particularly colourful and fast moving fish on the right bottom facing off with a grey and dower looking fish down at the left bottom while the other fish including several Sergeant Major fish take off!
Cheryl has followed the Lava to the ocean waves, where the nice warm temperature starts to drop off. The warm water makes it easy to forget how much reflected and direct sun you are getting and we all ended up getting tanned or in some cases a bit burnt.

Linda, focused again, is carefully watching and stepping around the coral. In a way she is right, it is like being in a giant aquarium, with no one in charge, all the fish just going every which way. There are several who liked to hide under rocks, and others who like the sun. Here is a picture with over a dozen fish but which has five different types of fish in it, this including one large one coming out from under the rocks and one which is hard to spot due to the coloring, made so that it matches the background (hint, click to blow it up and look in the top left).

As for me, using floatation, I was carefully sat above a deep cove of brown and white coral. I just hoped that nothing came out and nipped my heels (not that I would have felt it, just the thought of it is creepy!). Not a great picture of me but yes, I came, I saw, I did the tidepools!

Not only that, I waited and waited and got a picture of this medium sized fish that kept mostly under the rock and coral, only venturing out a little bit before dashing back in. So I waited until I finally got a picture of him.
Here is view of raw lava which makes the pools, only 50 years old but which in a hundred years or so will be rich soil, but for now is desolate but for a few green plants holding on. Beyond that is the rolling surf, one part of the ocean in which no one will surf or swim. The tide pools themselves are a local secret, but we are about a mile from the very southern tip of the southern most island in the Hawaiian chain. That means if you go swimming and there is a rip tide, or a current, then the next piece of land you have to swim for is………Antarctica! Yeah, that’s why people don’t swim here – as a tip, lots of currents and lots and lots of risk. But nice tide pools.

Linda wanted me to bring her just one thing home, a nice little eco system, taken from the pools (here she is enjoying it). "Um, no Linda, I don’t think we can smuggle it onto the plane as luggage?"


"No, Linda, the fish have to stay here, and yes, I know the ones in the shop aren’t as exciting but I suppose we can always come back."