Monday, August 03, 2009

what happens in vagus…

Now that it's a month later, it's obvious that there were no lasting side effects. However three-and-a-half hours into our road trip, we almost called off our vacation to New England. I was riding in the back seat of our CR-V with my feet up on a cooler. When I shifted positions, my left leg cramped up. The pain was so bad that I couldn't speak. There wasn't much room for me to stretch my calf muscle. When the pain eased some, I told my wife and son that I felt lightheaded.

The next thing I knew, my son was saying "Dad, Dad can you hear me?" It was like he was trying to wake me from a deep sleep. I had passed out. By this point, my wife had already taken the next exit on I-81. We were somewhere in the vicinity of Radford, Virginia.

In addition to being lightheaded, I now felt nauseous . My wife called GOOG-411 to find the closest hospital. She couldn't tell them where to look because we didn't know exactly where we were. She had pulled into the parking lot of an office building with no visible landmarks. She called her brother, who was able to access the Internet and give her directions to the New River Valley Medical Center in Christiansburg.

While my wife was on the phone, I laid down on the back seat with both doors open. The cool air felt refreshing and I didn't want to get up. The late David Bloom was on our minds although I thought I had walked around enough at our last bathroom stop to prevent a deep vein thrombosis. I silently said a bunch of Hail Marys, with an emphasis on the line "now and at the hour of our death," just in case.

When we got to the hospital, I got into a wheelchair and was pushed into the emergency room. I was tired and thirsty and honestly thought I might get out of there with a diagnosis of "dehydration and exhaustion." They eventually gave me a bag of saline solution and some anti-nausea medicine that they normally give to chemo patients. The nurse didn't get it when I joked, "you don't mess with the Zofran."

They asked my wife and son if I looked pale when I fainted. It was hard to tell because I had gone to Sun Tan City the night before to get a VersaSpa treatment. Later, when they peeled the EKG electrodes off my chest, a layer of tan came off too.

When the doctor asked me what day it was, I confidently replied "Friday." Wrong. It was Thursday. In my defense, the last thing I did before leaving work on Thursday was to voice-track Friday’s midday shift. I recorded several announcements saying it was Friday and to meet the station staff "today" at a contest registration event.

The doctor diagnosed my incident as a vasovagal syncope. The intense pain caused my heartbeat to slow down. I wasn't getting enough blood to my brain and I passed out. Apparently something, possibly my swimming, has lowered my resting heart rate. The pulse oximeter showed my heart rate to be around 58 beats per minute. Reclining in the hospital must have gotten the blood flowing back to my brain because I thought of the title for this blog post while lying on the bed.

In talking with the doctor, we realized that this had happened to me once before. Several years ago I was trying to help my father-in-law replace the InSinkErator in our Dale City townhouse. We were about to put the house on the market for our move to Burbank. While trying to remove the old disposal, a shard of plastic broke off and punctured my right palm. There was very little blood but a lot of pain. I felt lightheaded and nauseous so I went into the bathroom to throw up. Instead I passed out. I woke up to the upside-down sight of Aunt Dee headed toward me on her walker to take my pulse.

By the time we left the hospital, it was too late to continue driving to my mother's house in Northern Virginia as planned. We went to a Denny's but I was nauseous again and had no appetite. A full night's sleep at the nearby Holiday Inn Express cured me and I was able to enjoy their complimentary continental breakfast. We re-routed our trip from there directly to Saugerties, with a stop for lunch in Hershey.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

this mortal coil

Feeding times are the highlight of the daily agenda at the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center on Hutchinson Island. My son and I made sure to get there in time to see one of the volunteers toss minnows, shrimp and squid to the game fish in the lagoon below.

As soon as that feeding ends, another program begins at the stingray tank. The volunteer there explained that stingrays are fish and that they bury themselves in the sand in shallow water. He advised us to do the "stingray shuffle" when walking in the water. It's a popular thing to do in Florida. I saw a guy doing the stingray shuffle in the parking lot right next door at Publix. The stingrays are de-barbed and can be touched and hand-fed by visitors. We were told to make our palms flat and to pinch a piece of shrimp or fish between our middle and ring fingers. The stingrays swam onto our hands and nibbled at the food with the mouths on their undersides.

Later, we stuck our hands into another of the center's touch pools. It was populated with horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs, starfish and conchs. The milk conch was interested in my son's fingers, sticking out its eyes and mouth to investigate.

We had barely taken our hands out of the stingray tank when it was time to begin the nature walk through the 57 acre compound. The trail must have been at least a mile long. We only saw a couple of small lizards and a fiddler crab. Along the way we passed the gate to a sterile facility where they grow baby oysters in an effort to repopulate the area.

When we saw a tree covered with Spanish Moss, we were told that the same material is sold at craft stores. The volunteer guide said that wild Spanish moss needed to be microwaved to kill any small insects before being used for decoration. She also said that the bugs caused problems in the old days for people who stuffed mattresses with the moss. Another guest on the tour said she had heard that Henry Ford used Spanish moss to fill the seat cushions on his early vehicles until the bugs thwarted his money-saving plan.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

smoking section

An old blog entry helped me finally accomplish something that I wanted to do two years ago. Last night, my wife and I went to the St. Joseph School Fall Festival. As I finished writing about it, I checked my archives to see if I had mentioned the festival last year or the year before. I had, in a 2006 post which told of my dashed hopes to visit the Tennessee State Bar-B-Q Championship in Lenoir City.

I enjoy watching BBQ competitions on Food Network and had a great time at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue a few years ago. A couple of clicks revealed that St. Joseph's festival and the Tennessee state championship were on the same weekend for at least the third year in a row. This year the cook-off moved out of Lenoir City Park to be combined with an antique car show and street festival on Broadway and Depot Streets.

Because of my work schedule, my wife and I got to Lenoir City around 10:30 a.m. and left around noon. We hadn't been there but a few minutes when we encountered Tammy Hudson, the official photographer for the event. I told her that I had recently looked at her photos from last year. She said she would get today's pictures posted as soon as her slow upload would allow.

The only vehicle in the car show that intrigued me was the Doubleheader Volkswagen Beetle. My wife said it was just like the pushmi-pullyu. Unfortunately it has one engine and only drives from one end. She also photographed a radio relic. And a piece of antique cabinetry.

What looked like an eighteen wheeler turned out to be a Peterbilt conversion RV. Just across the way, a friendly contestant told us about the chocolate cherry cobbler he was making. He cooked it in a dutch oven using a Boy Scout recipe.

We found three booths selling BBQ on one of the side streets between Broadway and Depot. One was serving Cades Cove BBQ, which had been cooked in a nearby factory. I opted to get a plate from the Smokin' Rednecks, who were cooking on site. I avoided their "Sissy Sauce" and used a combination of their medium and hot. Before we left, I followed a contestant from 4 Little Pigs BBQ as he turned in his chicken entry at noon.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

auction ends Sunday

The same guy who is building his own Batmobile asked if I had an extra $44,000 laying around. I had met him last June in Morristown and was very interested to hear how he had stripped down a Lincoln Continental and was using it to hold a fiberglass Batmobile body. His finished product will look very similar to the real deal that I saw in 1993.

Since I will never build my own Batmobile, the guy from Morristown wanted to let me know that I could buy one on eBay for a mere $44,000. Unlike the original, this car has a back seat for the Batkids. The auction listing says that the car has been in many parades and that it is currently housed in Burbank. I wonder if I've ever seen it.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

holy labor and delivery!

No matter their age, guys like their toys. For example, I still have the Corgi Batmobile I played with as a kid. I've been a fan of the "Batman" TV series as long as I can remember. Naturally, it was a big deal for me to see the real Batmobile at Barris Kustom Industries.

Today, I spent the afternoon doing a remote broadcast from a car dealership. The time flew by quickly while a listener told me about the Batmobile he is building in his garage. He ordered a kit from CY Productions and found his own Lincoln Continental chassis. He said there are several companies selling do-it-yourself Batmobile parts and accessories. One is called Gotham Cruisers, another is called The Batcave.

For model making on a smaller scale, I found a site offering incredibly accurate resin kits of the actors who played the heroes and villains on "Batman." Like the site says, it's the "best likeness of Vincent Price ever done!"

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

out of my element

The East Tennessee Corvette Club asked me to be the "celebrity" judge at their car show, which was held this afternoon at Reeder Chevrolet. The annual event is a benefit for The Angel Tree. I know nothing about Corvettes. Fortunately, all I had to do was pick out the one I liked best while the real judges ran through a complicated checklist on their clipboards. The older cars impressed me more than the newer ones because it must be harder to restore and maintain the antiques.

Some of the newer Corvettes had unusual additions. One had star spangled engine parts. Another had a picture of the Sorcerer's Apprentice under the hood but with the car owner's face replacing Mickey Mouse's. Perhaps the most appropriate accessory was the vanity plate that read "ADUL TOY."

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