Saturday, May 28, 2011

Getting Healthy On-The-Road: Day 6

Well, I wish I could say I'm better but at least I can say I'm no worse. 


The view from the head of my bed.  Dem trees is tall! 


And my left-over steak and fresh veggies stew.  Yum it was good.



I've spent a number of days in the GA mountains and it was basically all good, until I got rousted out by deputies at 1am-I was sound asleep.  I think if I had not left some of this stuff out overnight, they might not have questioned me. 

They checked my ID.  I explained I was sick and just out of the hospital and trying to rest and heal.  They said I could not park there and directed me back down the mountain about 1 mile.



The new spot was a nice picnic spot with a great waterfall.   Nice sound to sleep to.

I then blew them away with my "I'm kayaking America and have so far done 29 states”... at which point they decided not to ticket me?   The one deputy kept saying, “She is kayaking America… she has kayaked 29 states.”  Then he asked… “are you doing all this alone?”  I said, well, everyone else is dead, so I guess I could either give up and watch t.v. or get off my butt and live my life as I have always dreamed.

So there I am, full of sleeping pills at 1am, climbing onto the roof of my van to lift my big ladder up, tie it down, then lower myself back down through the driver's window (a view you would have to see to believe – David Hair has a photo of this, I’ll try to get it).  It is a task I have mastered, but on sleeping pills???  But the view of the stars was spectacular up there.  I'll have to do that more often.  I designed the roof platform so I could sleep up there... and I will have to "make it so" soon.


But at the new location, the great night's sleep was again disturbed by holiday weekenders and church goers at about 11:30am.   Screaming and hollering like someone just let them out of cages.  Well, I guess maybe that was the case.  But I just couldn't do it... so I drove back into town.  I'm looking for some shade... and will try to go back to sleep.  Tuesday, I might head back up the mountain .... problem is few places up there where I can get internet and I'm working live on doing a genealogy report for someone.

I am here:,-84.77191&ll=34.78483,-84.77191&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

OK...  I'm still way behind on blogging (sorry).

Charlene Swankie -
Malo Periculosam Libertatem Quam Quietum Servitium
("I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery")

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Getting Healthy On-The-Road Again: Day 3

OK, I sit on an overlook, looking back down into the valley that has been causing me so much grief. It has just rained a little.  Chicken is on cooking for homemade chicken soup.  I’m still coughing.


I can get t.v. here…. 52 channels, but only sporadic internet.  That will make laying in bed resting easier.


Soups on….


Spotty National Access internet… but I’m trying to get my blog caught up.  Nothing more on the schedule but to sit right here and rest/sleep/eat.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Getting Healthy On-The-Road Again: Day 2


So… let’s see.  Last night’s sleep was pretty good.  I had the rear door of the van open, the air was cool, the pollutants had settled… it was good.   I was breathing easier and deeper.  I kept waking up asking myself out loud… am I better yet, and when I didn’t hear myself, I knew… I was NOT better yet.  No voice.  I rested in bed and enjoyed the view of the very green trees towering over the van and the birds singing.  Listened to the babbling brook just six feet from my van…. all night long.  That’s good sleeping.  Finally decided to get up about 10am, do meds, breakfast, coffee… walk around a bit, take some photos, etc.  Well walking around outside was good for about five minutes before I was gasping for air again.  It is still very humid here.  So, retreated to the van and turned on the A/C again.  I don’t feel like doing anything… so I will rest.


But I have a really good camping spot, provided I can figure out how to get the van/trailer out of here when I’m ready to leave.  It’s quiet.  A few cars went by on the gravel road.  No one else around.  Cuzzin’
Dick… you’d like this spot.  The brook has several pools large enough for your “rustification” factory.  I took photos and video.  I have no cell or internet service here… only my satellite tracking device, so people do know where I am but I can’t communicate otherwise right now.  I can also call for 911 on the device if I can’t get myself out and need to go to hospital again.


how do I insert the video here???


Today I run out of the prescription meds the doctor gave me… and will be switching to some natural/holistic methods of getting well.  I haven’t had time to research this and can’t get on the internet so, I’ll have to play this one by instinct.  But I’m going to keep notes… and maybe post it here… so others know what worked/didn’t work.


There is beauty here… all about me.  That, in itself, should be healing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Getting Healthy On-The-Road Again: Day 1

So after four months in Florida, and exposure to too many allergens, I left to visit some vandwellers in Georgia… and there I added insult to injury…. and there I got too much second hand smoke from 3 smokers, too much cat hair, too much house dust… and my body just couldn’t fight any more.  But how can I visit with them… without being exposed to things that are not healthy for me?  No way to do it.  And the visits were really good, but now I pay the price.  I can not and will not do it again in the future.  My health has to come first.  I just had no idea things could get this bad, breathing wise.


But, …. a surprise birthday party…. a 7-layer cake and coffee ice cream –sure lifted my spirits.  Nothing better than coffee ice cream as a birthday gift.  Thanks to Hairs and cuzzin Dick and David Jr.  Marvelous, even if I did think I should have gone to the hospital that day.


The vandweller project for cuzzin’ Dick is coming along nicely.  His rig is going to be sweet.  David (and David Jr)… you are marvels.

The day after my birthday, I did take myself to the Emergency Room as I couldn’t breath.   Something about open airways has great appeal to me.  I was coughing so hard, I was loosing control of all other bodily functions, my ribs hurt, my head was splitting, I couldn’t eat.  My blood pressure was going out of sight, and I’ve never had an issue with that before.  So after 8 hours in the E.R. with no food, no water, no relief, they admitted me.  All they did was bruise me…. 3 IV sites… I looked like I had been mugged…


but I found this little guy to keep me company and to keep my mind on the prize… the open road!

Four nights later, at 8pm on a Friday night, the doctor comes to my room and says, lungs clear, blood work good, nothing wrong, just COPD… you can go home now.  I said, but, I can’t breath.  I’m camping out and the air out there is really really bad and I can’t breath in here.   So he waves bye bye and sends me down the hall hacking my head off.  I requested copies of all lab work, and my x-rays on a CD… and he said… what for????  There is nothing there.  You are o.k.  WTF?



Next morning, I headed to Cleveland, TN  in the hopes air quality there would be better.  I have two classmates David and Phyllis Altopp (‘62 high school class with me) who live there.   I was hoping air quality up there would be better but it was only slightly better.  I had a wonderful visit with them, beautiful meal, good company.  Just wish I had had a voice.  That Phyllis, can she cook… those were the best rolls I ever ate.

We visited(as best I could with no voice),  I helped them with the reunion list, our 50th is coming up next year.  The air quality was only a little better there than 30 miles south.  I could hardly make myself understood, but we had a nice visit.  Spent two nights… and most of the time I was in my van… running my Air Conditioner.  I have a new nick-name for ol’ SwankieWheels…. “deIronLung.”   I then returned to Dalton where the air quality had gotten even worse so I decided I had to leave Dalton the next day and seek out mountains. 

Now I’m giving great thought to doing the Midwestern states as I head westward toward AZ and maybe, only maybe, returning to do the Southeastern states during a very early spring or very late fall… or even winter…. just not when it is humid like this.  I can’t see how people live here.

And if desperation overtakes me, I have even considered tabling all my kayaking plans and heading right back out to the CA coast and good old salt air.  Or even the Pacific Northwest.  There is just something about being able to take a deep breath… that I’m rather partial to.  I had no idea what people with COPD and Asthma have to endure before this month.  This is just the worse.  But, I’ll find some beauty in the world this week… and maybe, just maybe become a little less “canary-like.”   Oh, I saw a big Eastern Indigo snake as I pulled in to camp here.  Sorry, missed the photo op.  Will watch for him  and try to get it. 

What to do now?  Last night at Hair’s I had to run the A/C in the van most of the night, and so I got up early in the morning, and headed out for the mountains.  Meds not working, doctors not working, hospital not working, can’t run the A/C forever. Well, let’s see… if I can’t take the pollutants out of the air…. I’ll have to take myself out of the polluted air


Here I sit, about 20 miles outside Dalton GA… in the forest, along a babbling brook… wondering how the hell do I get healthy again.  The past two weeks have been nothing short of hell.  My birthday was 5/16 and it was without a doubt the worst birthday out of the previous 66 birthdays.  I’ve jokingly called myself the “canary” in the coal mine… as I seem to have very low tolerance to environmental allergens. 


Now, I’ve got a lovely camping spot on a beautiful creek…. and the air temps are cooling off.  Still very very humid and I can’t stay outside long. It is suppose to rain… and I pray it does.  Rain, please rain.

And I have projects to keep me busy:  1) compiling David Hair’s wife’s genealogy.   Hope to have a nice report printed out for her in the next couple days.   2) a couple art projects to do… as thank you gifts to those people who have been trying to help me through this.   Basically though, my chosen task is to find my voice, get my lungs clear, and resume my kayaking adventure. 

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.