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.