(older entries, separated by genre or date, are listed at the bottom of this page.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Return to Lake Willoughby and an Epic Day

(and back to regular continuity of being a month behind on posts)

Partly because I used a picture from a google image search that has since disappeared from its original place, and partly because Lake Willoughby is such an awesome place, my original post about visiting Kingdom Trails and Lake Willoughby is my most popular post by a LOT. Plans were made very early in the summer to take a return trip to Kingdom Trails, this time with even more people. I hadn't biked much, but was still excited to make the trip, more for hanging out with friends and visiting the lake again afterwards than biking. 

As the weekend got closer, weather forecasts got worse and worse. Soon, it appeared that it was 100% going to pour all night Friday night and 60% or so through nearly all of Saturday. While I'm all about the YOLO lifestyle, camping and then biking in rain is not what I want to do. SO, I decided to head up Saturday afternoon/night when all of the rain would be done, and just make Sunday epic with a bike ride and a visit to Willoughby. 

It rained a lot Friday night, but according to Kevin, not much up there. And it was ugly on Saturday, but generally didn't rain at all. You can watch some sweet video of their Saturday riding on his blog. So, I missed out on Saturday, but still made the 3 hour trip up through the White Mountains early Saturday evening and met them at the camp site. When I got there, I only saw Kevin, Adam and Jake. "Where's Dustin and his crew?" I said. "This is it" they all said. This trip that was originally going to be at least 9 people ended up just being 4. Circumstances beyond some peoples' control was the reason for some, and not wanting to ride in shitty weather was probably the reason for everyone else. While I can't blame anyone, it was a bit of a bum out to see only 3 people there waiting for me.

But you know what, that just meant more quality time with each other. Let's party. 

We cooked up some hot dogs and random stuff Adam brought (like pasta) and drank beers, listened to music, and, other than Kevin being a raging asshole when I questioned his DJ decisions (playing Bjork), generally had good times. 

Early on, Kevin was possessed. 

And later got way more intense. (That's him playing butt guitar to Piebald)

I had bought a new camera a few days earlier, and this weekend would be the beta test for it. I found out that it has a setting that takes 2 pictures and combines them- not like an HDR, more like a time lapse. It made for some quality results. Adam's face!

This is our table- I don't know what the hell happened here.

Here's me. 

And here's Jake in a rasta colored hammock.

Look at his eye!

The night got weird and sillier, and I was already very happy that I had decided to make the trip. Kevin got better as a DJ too. 

creedance aaaalll night

As always, people went to bed very suddenly and fell asleep pretty instantly. These guys are pros, and they know exactly the moment to capitalize on drinking a lot then finding their bed to zonk out in. I, on the other hand, am terrible at it. I didn't drink that much and was trying to go to sleep on a mattress pad in a lean-to, exposed to the night with 3 people surrounding me, several hours before I normally go to bed. Oh goodie. I still felt confident that I'd be able to fall asleep soon though. And then Adam started snoring. Last year on the night I decided to sleep in the lean-to, Jake surprised me by snoring a lot, but he eventually quieted down and then slept in his car (weirdo). Adam was the last person I would expect to snore. He has 0% body fat, and snoring is usually attributed to a fat guy sleeping on his back. Sure enough though, he was on his back with his mouth wide open, and he was out of control. It began to infect me, and the noise of his snoring was all I could think about. I put on headphones and tried to blast loud but calming noise into my ears to knock me out, but it just sounded exactly like what it was- Sigur Ros with snoring added in. What followed was one of the longer nights of my life- falling in and out of sleep, realizing I had finally fallen asleep only because an album or song ended (which then woke me up again), not being able to get comfortable, and just the endless noise. If Adam stopped, Kevin would shift on his mini cot, creaking super loud. Awful night. But biking and Willoughby would come soon enough. 

Sort of. 

By the time everyone woke up and settled into the morning, it turned out that I was the only one who wanted to bike. They had biked a solid amount 2 days in a row and felt that they got their money's worth. I wasn't surprised Jake was saying that since he isn't the biking behemoth that the other guys are, but Kevin and Adam, freaks of nature who could probably ride 50 miles a day without sweating NOT wanting to bike? WTF?

I didn't argue too much though. I had been nervous about the weekend, since I was going to be riding with people who don't ever get tired. I hadn't ridden much and was nervous at just how tired I would get and how much I would hold them up. Truthfully, I was ok without biking. I mostly just wanted to go to Willoughby. In hindsight, once I saw Kevin's footage, I'm pretty bummed out we didn't ride. That trail looked so awesome and I wish we had done it. Oh well. 

We headed to Willoughby in Jake's car, and it was just as beautiful as I remembered it. 

Here's a panorama I took. Click the pic for the big version. 

I decided that since I had such an epic mullet (what a great feeling to reveal it to Adam and Jake when I got there), I needed to take some pics of it with the greatest backdrop ever. Here are the best photos. Yes, apple people, I'm wearing the apple shirt that promoted the release of the first iphone. OLD SCHOOL.

the mullet formed this lake millions of years ago

the perfect side view. good god.

This one is real weird (how weird is my body?), but it shows just how horrible my mullet was. I had this thing for like 3 weeks. How did I not get beat up every second?

The skinny guys had swimming stuff but didn't seem to want to get in.

I went right in though, and it was just as cold and crystal clear as I had remembered. It felt AMAZING. The skinny guys eventually made it in, then stood around and shivered while I swam around. We played catch with my gopro, which I had hoped would be pretty cool footage, but after already posting a very weird video featuring lots of underwater footage, it just wasn't worth putting any of it together. 

We changed and headed back into town to get a sandwich at the corner store. I had gotten a turkey club last year which was easily one of the greatest sandwiches I've ever eaten, and I wanted it again. It wasn't to be though- they didn't have any homemade bread left. My heart broke. So I got the same thing on panini bread with high hopes, but it was surprisingly not anything special. I was bummed out, especially since everyone else got thanksgiving sandwiches that looked incredible. We got some weird sodas though,

then said our goodbyes and went our separate ways- Jake back to Vermont, Kevin and Adam to Sanbornton NH, and me to... Franklin Falls!

mighty chicken trail

I went back and forth with it the whole way home, and eventually decided that I needed to ride. I had had my mind set all week on riding that weekend, and I had missed out. I still swam in Willoughby and had had an awesome night with friends, but I didn't bike, I had a horrible night of sleep, and I didn't get my sandwich. I needed to make the weekend better, and this would be the start of it all. After fighting sleep for the last hour (and stopping in Plymouth for soda because I honestly didn't see how I was going to make it back), I pulled in to what has become my favorite place to ride, suited up and went for it. 

It was HOT. I was absolutely pouring sweat when I finally stopped for awhile. This was humid riding though, and that's my favorite kind. As my luck/fat guy curse has played out this year though, I managed to get a flat tire at the absolute farthest point away from the parking lot. And as I'm still an idiot, I still didn't have my new pump attached to my bike. So, I got to walk all the way back to the parking lot. I hate myself. 

In the parking lot, I called Kevin for some advice on what to fill my back tire to, and ended up having a 15 minute conversation with some random old dude in the parking lot who was new to mountain biking and loving it. I got my bike all ready to go and put the stupid pump on my stupid bike and decided to go ride again. I had hours left of daylight and wanted to make this trip count. I hit up a trail on his advice (Rogue trail) that I've never ridden before, and it was incredibly awesome. I got a nice instagram of some sweet trees, 

then ended the trip in my favorite way, riding down to the dam and hanging out as a way to cool off. Rogue trail had been awesome, and my lack of sleep and temperature and humidity mixed with me riding really hard twice made me pretty exhausted. My back started tweaking a little bit when I was taking pictures of the insane clouds, so I lay in the middle of the road and just stared at the sky, completely alone on a beautiful day, surrounded by insane skies. Needless to say, it was a very nice moment. Here's the view looking down the road towards the dam from where I lay:

And here's some absurd skyporn- sun rays were shooting out everywhere from cartoon-esque clouds. It was awesome.

I got the hell out of there pretty quickly though, since the sky was definitely taking a turn for the worse. I wanted to swim. 

This was a great stop, since it was the first time this summer that I really felt like the pain was worth it. I finally felt good on my bike, and wanted to attack trails and ride new ones. It was just one of those days where I remember how awesome mountain biking can be, even though it's pretty much the most painful thing I do.

I made it to my post-franklin-falls-riding spot, Webster Lake, without the sky exploding yet, so I jumped in and washed the stink off. I was in the water for only a few minutes before it started to rain though, and I ended up changing right on the beach since everyone was getting out of there so fast. I got in my car right as it truly exploded. I guess this was the rain that was supposed to be happening all weekend.

I took a long exposure shot in my car of the road- it was poooourrring. 

And then 15 minutes later, the sky was beautiful again with a double rainbow.

I hadn't seen one this good in a long time, and I was psyched to be able to get an HDR of it/them. While I wished I had been able to swim more, the experience of lying in the road for as long as I did and taking in the sky was more than worth it. I got to experience quite the show.

I then headed north to make the day even better with a calzone. My bad luck continued when AHOP didn't have power (of course telling me AFTER I ordered- why wouldn't you answer the phone with that? morons), so I headed all the way back to Plymouth to get Manny's Downtown Pizzeria (formerly Toms Brothers). Never question my commitment to getting a calzone or pizza when I really want one. Also, never doubt my commitment to making a day be as awesome as possible, no matter how much driving is involved.

I stopped in at the PE Center at Plymouth for my thousandth shot of the sky that afternoon. It was quite the changing sky.

Manny's delivered. Not as good as AHOP, but these guys know what's up, and this thing was absolutely humungous.

I then drove back to my place, half unloaded my car, unloaded the sandwich I ate earlier, and hopped right back in the car to Newington to go see a movie. Rich and Josh were doing a double feature of Total Recall and The Campaign, and it turned out that I would be just in time for The Campaign. It wasn't good (actually quite bad at times), but it was still quite the way to end the day. In less than 24 hours I had driven to Vermont, partied with friends, camped out, swam in the most beautiful lake ever, ate lunch at a sweet little country store, rode my bike more than I had yet this summer, swam again in a different lake, sat and watched an insane thunderstorm, took in ridiculous skies, ate a delicious calzone, and seen a movie with separate friends. LOTS of driving, and not everything turned out how I wanted it, but I seized the hell out of this weekend (once it stopped raining :))

currently listening to: Man Overboard- Self Titled

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"Holy Shit, I'm Gonna Die On The Toilet"

Taking a brief break from the continuity of this blog for good reason- things got a bit scary this last weekend, so I'm fast-forwarding a month in blogland to write this entry. 



Last Thursday was a pretty good day. I woke up late, hung out in my room and chilled, watching some TV and interneting. Josh and I drove to Jetpack to meet Rich for one of the last of our Swim Thursdays. We stopped at McDonalds on the way up, and ate double cheeseburgers in the blowing wind of Josh's car, freaking out at the heat every time we had to stop (it was uncommonly cold earlier in the week, making it uncommonly warm that day). We went to one of our favorite places for probably the last time this summer- Ellacoya State Park on Lake Winnipesaukee. We threw the B for hours, loving the coolness of the water, and the fact that at any point there were only 3 other people on the beach. We swam until sunset, then capped the day off with buffaques (which sadly sucked), and a session of hilarious Call of Duty with Heath. I went to bed disgustingly full, knowing I wouldn't feel great the next day. But it was a good day. 

I woke up the next day wondering if it would be my last.

I woke up randomly, quickly feeling oddly horrible. My head wasn't on my pillow and I had a splitting headache. As I moved around more, I realized that my teeth absolutely killed. I'm overdue on having some cavities fixed and I had a root canal last year- so occasional tooth pain isn't entirely rare- but this was different. This hurt more than any teeth ever had, and it was pretty much the entire left side of my mouth. As I sat up wondering what the hell was wrong, I realized my chest hurt too. I was breathing kind of deliberately, and I was just very uncomfortable. I went to the bathroom (damn buffaques always make for an unpleasant experience the next morning) and sat down, wondering if I somehow had an infection in one of my teeth. I had learned earlier in the year that the singer of God Lives Underwater (remember them?) died of a tooth infection, so I knew that something like this being very serious was possible. But as I sat there in the bathroom, everything got worse with every minute. My chest hurt in a way I had never felt before. It was like the worst heartburn ever mixed with muscle pain, but I knew that I had taken it pretty easy swimming, and even if I had hurt a muscle, it was odd that it was only happening on my left side. Then I started to feel my left arm growing weaker- somewhat numb. Wait- I thought, was I seriously having a heart attack?

Everyone knows chest pain and a numb left arm means a heart attack. I looked up "heat attack symptoms" and sure enough, there it was: "discomfort radiating to the back, jaw, throat, or arm." Jaw. Another site said that people had reported feeling pain in their teeth. My breathing became even more deliberate and laborious, and I became more and more uncomfortable every second. Nothing I did made the experience better. I was miserable and it was only getting worse. I've probably joked about this before, but it was actually happening. I actually thought to myself, "Holy shit, I'm gonna die on the toilet."


I finished up and brushed my teeth- if my teeth cause me pain ever, brushing usually helps. This was a last ditch attempt of denial, and it did nothing. I went to my room and sat at my desk for a minute, wondering if this was really happening, running over the words on the web MD site over and over again- to not mess around with something like this- that if I was experiencing any of this, don't try to tough it out, go to the emergency room. 

So I had a weird moment of quiet acceptance and went downstairs to Josh's confused face, as he wondered what I was doing up at 11:30, fully dressed and ready to go. "Please don't laugh at me dude," I said. "I think I need to go to the emergency room. Something's wrong. I honestly think I'm having a heart attack."

And off we went. 

Josh drove through red lights, passed people on double lines right before intersections, and went 60 in 30s. I assured him it had gotten less horrible and the websites said as long as I went to the hospital within 2 hours of a heart attack, I would be ok. But he said it was fun having an excuse to drive like that, and he wasn't gonna mess around with me. 

We went to Frisbee Memorial Hospital in Rochester, I checked in, and off I went to an emergency room.

People came in and pretty much immediately shaved my chest in random spots to hook me up to a vitals machine, jammed an IV in my arm and hooked me up to drugs, and within a half hour had taken blood, an EKG and an X-Ray of my chest. 

After time had passed and I felt better, they let Josh in, which explains why I have pictures of all of this. 

loving life

After some time, doctor after doctor came in asking me the same questions. What was I experiencing? Was I still in pain? etc etc. Eventually, one came in and told me that he was confused because my EKG and vitals were fine, but based on my blood work, it looked like I did, in fact, have a heart attack. When your heart is injured, it releases healing proteins known as Troponin. My level was higher than it should have been, so clearly something was wrong with my heart. The doctor was odd- he stood there half smiling, clearly confused and not knowing what to tell me. He said I would need a Cardiac Catheterization to truly figure out just what was going on, and he was going to call Portsmouth Regional Hospital to see if they could do it today, as Frisbee didn't have the tools to do it. He left and I kind of just sat there with Josh, doing the whole "huh. well. guess I had a heart attack. weird." thing. After about 15 minutes of casual talking, a nurse came bombarding in, practically yelling at me to take all my clothes off. 


She took my shoes and socks off, saying "everything has to go- take your earrings out now." I told her that I would need pliers to  take out my cartilage piercings, and she left to get pliers. She meant business. "Um... Why did this just suddenly get so intense?" I asked. "You're in the middle of having a heart attack, you need to go to Portsmouth now." Uh... what? I guess she took "he may have had a heart attack" as "he's going to die any second." Within 2 minutes, there were 3 more people in there with Josh and I, I was butt naked and wrapped in blankets, being put on a cart with monitors and IV drips, being strapped in and wheeled out to an ambulance. 

Have you ever been the patient in the back of an ambulance? Life is all about experience, right? 

I'm in the back of this

Something I'm proud of about myself is the ability to have a sense of humor in awful times. If shitty times last a long time, I'll be the king of being moody and pissed (just ask anyone I worked with), but generally, if something bad happens quickly, I treat it as either "ok, now I know what's up- how do I deal with this?" or I make jokes to make things better. Worrying and freaking out doesn't help. So, actually, my ambulance ride was pretty nice. I chatted it up with the guys taking care of me, made jokes, etc. Luckily, I knew one the guys, sort of. Kevin/Shaun/Dustin, do you notice this guy? The only name he noticed of the 3 was Dustin. I knew he went to Plymouth, but wasn't sure if I just had a class with him or if we played floor hockey against him or something. 

reunited and it feels so good

We finally figured it out while he was wheeling me through Portsmouth hospital- he used to work at Schwendi Hutte, one of the ski lodges at Waterville Valley. On busy Saturdays, I would be sent up to lodges to help out with cooking, serving or taking money for food. He was one of the few people up there. He even remembers eating a sandwich I created, ironically called "The Heart Attack." One of us has clearly done better with his life.


Riding in the back of an ambulance is pretty weird, but it's also exactly what I would have thought it would be like- looking out the back of a car where every car that was following us had pulled over or was going way slower than we were. It was real weird later realizing that I didn't even know what the hospital I was in looked like- I had only seen the inside of back doors. 

I was checked into my room in the cardiac hall, room 244, where I hoped I would only be for the night (hahaha yea right). 

The first nurses or nurses aids I dealt with were super nice and motherly. They gave me a pamphlet so I could learn what was about to happen to me and made me feel a little better. All were pretty shocked, endlessly hitting me with "you're way too young to be in here"s. I found out that a cardiac catheterization usually happens through the femoral artery, but since I had a strong pulse in my wrist, they'd be able to do it there. They still had to prep me in case my wrist didn't work though, so I got to get nice and awkwardly close with the nurse as she shaved and prepped my inner legs and "down there." I had a nice awkward moment with a nurses aid who was clearly gay when he asked me if I was comfortable with him prepping me and I joked "I'm not comfortable with any of this" and he left saying "ok, I'll get someone else then." It was a joke dude, who would be comfortable with this?!

I then realized that I may have had a heart attack and was about to have a wire inserted into my wrist and dye sent through my veins to highlight my heart so they were able to see what it was doing (that's my quick description of what a cardiac catheterization is) and my parents didn't even know any of this was happening. Once Josh came, I called them, reaching both of their voicemails. I left not exactly the best message, and my Mom called freaking out an hour later. They were of course on day 1 of a 4 day vacation to the cape, down in Hyannis, Mass. A bridal shower, my Dad's frat friends and 4 days of golf. Sorry guys.

my new home


After a few hours of waiting, I was wheeled into have the procedure done, and this was also quite a weird and relatively new experience. I didn't know where I was going- all I could see was the ceiling. The doctors joked and were pretty relaxed, and I was ok, but still honestly pretty freaked out. All I thought of was the scene in Vanilla Sky when Tom Cruise is being wheeled to surgery and he's singing like a lunatic to "What If God Was One Of Us?" and decided to make the moment true and sang it quietly to myself. I was moved onto an operating table of sorts and made basically naked other than a towel covering up my down there. I was now very close to these doctors. They made a joke about how this was when they sang and it was a good thing that I would be all drugged up because I wouldn't be able to hear them. I asked them what they liked to sing and one said that their current favorite was "Call Me Maybe," so in true WTF fashion, I slowly passed out and later woke up from feeling like I was aboard an alien ship being experimented on, all with freaking Carly Rae Jepson stuck in my head. Awesome. 

It was really like I was a captive on a ship- I couldn't see anything, I was covered with sheets and burning liquids, I was in loopy land but not fully, I fell asleep then woke up later, asked them how it was going, then fell asleep again, etc. It was about an hour and I thought it was 25 minutes. I remember asking them what the point of getting me naked was if they were just going to cover me with a hundred pounds of operating blankets. I don't think they had an answer. What a weird, weird experience. 

I was wheeled back into my room where Josh was waiting, reading comics. Rich showed up not soon after, and my parents joined them a little later. Here's a weird shot of my Dad watching TV and Rich standing behind him awkwardly.

Here's what my hand looked like. It looks like I tried to kill myself and I bled green blood. I'm still not sure what that stuff is (Iodine?) but my wrist and legs looked like that for days. 

The doctors told me and my parents that they basically had no idea what was going on with me. My heart looked great- my doctor said it was very strong and all my arteries were working perfectly. They were beginning to rule out a heart attack since everything looked ok, but they still couldn't explain the raised levels of Troponin. Clearly we needed House MD to come in and save the day with some unconventional methods. I was told I would be living there until at least Sunday, so I settled in to my new home.

I had asked Josh to get my laptop, some trades, my book and joked to get Poundie, my Pound Puppy and the only stuffed animal in my room (which he then brought anyway and I was honestly happy to see him). I had a TV with cable and the bed was surprisingly comfortable, even though I had 6 sticky things (I think they're called leads) attached to wires attached to an uncomfortably large battery pack attached to me. At least I was taken off the drip of Heparin (used to stop a heart attack from happening/help heal a heart after one), so I was able to move around. Everyone left and I watched TV until I started to fall asleep (at like 11) and decided to not mess around. I had a long day, it was time to go to sleep. 

Sleep was ok- I was comfortable, but I was hot. Insanely hot. My room was set to 55 and it felt like it was 75 most of the time I was in there. Something about that bed just made heat radiate and multiply from my body to my bed and back. I just lay there sweating profusely while (and this was a miserable  surprise) nurses and nurses aids (LNAs) came in every few hours to check my vitals (blood pressure, temperature, heart rate) or take blood. Try staying half asleep (so I could fall back asleep quickly) while being poked with a needle and losing blood, especially when you don't have visible veins. Oh, also- if a sticky fell off me from how much I was sweating, they would come in and put it back on me, since on their monitor I disappeared or flatlined every time this happened. What a great night of sleep. 

At around 7:30am, I turned over onto my left side and suddenly felt it again. Left arm weakness, chest pain, teeth pain, difficulty in breathing, general discomfort. Awesome, here we go again. 


I hit the button to call the nurses and said "I think it's happening again." Within minutes, I had another EKG taken, more blood work, more vitals, a doctor and nurse in there asking me how I was feeling, and now an Echocardiogram, where they can watch your heart beating through sensors that can shoot sound waves through your chest, much like how they see growing babies. It was a very odd sensation to feel like I was having a small heart attack, being completely uncomfortable no matter what I did, all while watching my heart beat on a video monitor. One of my valves looked like a piece of spaghetti blowing in the wind, but I was assured that it was supposed to look like that. 

I was given morphine to kill the pain (which took way too long to get to the room but did the trick), and eventually another doctor came in to talk to me since the doctor I had met with the first day was out that day. This guy was the nerdiest, slowest talking doctor I've ever spoken to. He had the most rehearsed, uninformative answers ever, and he seemed like he was in pure misery the entire time he spoke with me. He told me that he wanted me to have a Catscan, and within a few hours, I was doing that. 

That was weird- I got wheeled down there in a wheelchair, then slid into a giant open circle, like a billion dollar fruit loop. I had dye injected into my IV and it was a similar feeling to the Cardiac Catheterization- just an overwhelming feeling of incredibly hot water washing over my body- just under my skin. It was kind of nice, but it was weird. A machine voice told me to hold my breath while I held my arms up in the air, and it slid me in and out of the fruit loop. 

Now that I'd had every procedure they could think of, I was left to watch TV and FINALLY eat some food, wondering what the heck was wrong with me. All I had had the night before was a ginger ale, apple sauce and one of the saddest turkey sandwiches I'd ever seen (literally turkey and bread), so I was ravished. 

My parents told me they were en route, and then randomly Rich's mom Carmel and stepdad Wayne came in. I had no idea they even knew what was happening, but they were apparently pretty worried about me, so they stopped in to say hi. Wayne did his best to scare the crap out of me by telling me all of the heart problems Carmel had had, and how family had died of heart attacks, etc. On his way out, he said something about how this had happened to him before- that he had chest pains for days, and after every test possible, they concluded that the muscle around his heart was inflamed, and that was it. Should have led with that, Wayne. 

My parents were next, followed by Dave and Andrea which very much surprised me. Not only did I not know that they even knew about this, but I wouldn't think we were close enough that they'd be worried enough to visit. They even brought magazines and a giant book. Thanks guys!

We all talked for a long time- it worked out to almost 5-6 hours of visiting, which is nice, but also exhausting. I definitely just wanted to sit and watch TV or nap- I was exhausted. I finally got up and walked around a little bit with my parents, and my Mom absolutely destroyed me in a game of checkers. They left and I ordered dinner. I was surprised that turkey with gravy and potatoes and stuffing was part of a "heart healthy" menu, but I ordered it and it was surprisingly pretty tasty. I even got frozen yogurt. 


It was crazy how exhausted I was the second my parents left. I fell asleep sitting in a chair 10 minutes after eating, and when I got up and sat in my bed, I zonked out instantly too. Not only had I not slept and had had 2 scary and exhausting days, but I was now on medication that made me drowsy and occasionally dizzy. My blood pressure was super low, my pulse was low, and I was basically not moving. So pretty much any sitting would knock me out.

Too many naps had made me kind of awake when it was bed time though, so I ended up staying up until about 2, flipping channels. I caught the end of Remember The Titans, then watched some of King Kong before finally giving up.

I woke up 3 hours later to pee, and after laying down, a nurse asked what I needed. Apparently my beep-for-help button was broken and it just kept beeping. So an LNA and the blood dude were in my room at 4:45 trying to fix it, while taking vitals and blood. What a great thing to go through when I had barely slept. 


Sunday, I slept in until 8:45, when Dr. Slowtalk came in to mutter about science while I was still waking up. He told me that they had done every test in the world to rule out everything they could, and they were, for now, going with Myocarditis- a disorder/disease (some websites say disease) where my heart was inflamed. Turned out Wayne was on to something. 

And of course, they wanted to keep me for 24 more hours to make sure. $$$$$$$

Thankfully, they were only going to take blood one more time though, and I was allowed to move around a lot more. 

My parents came at around 1:30, and we watched the Patriots game, which, if you saw it and if I really cared, probably wouldn't have been good for my heart. 

As it ended, Josh and Jesse came and brought gifts- collectable lego guys like vikings and Tarzan. It was good to see them, but I was once again looking forward to some quiet time. They left and it was time for dinner. I got pasta with spinach and mushrooms, which surprisingly didn't have any sauce- it was literally exactly what it was called. After the chicken quesadilla with low fat cheese I had for lunch (that was as thick as a small stack of paper because they FORGOT THE CHICKEN), this was a perfect endcap for a disappointing day of food. No wonder I dreamt about eating pizza (why I was eating pizza with Obama was odd though). 

I once again started falling asleep the second after I ate, while watching a football game I didn't care about, and eventually "The Voice." It's odd what can entertain you while you're in a weird medicated/exhausted haze stuck in a hospital. 

I wandered around the hospital for a bit, then sat down to read some of what turned out to be an excellent comic (which I read all of), Locke And Key. I met more nurses and LNAs, I had more vitals taken, and I wandered again. 

Here's a few pictures I took for the heck of it. After having an IV in both arms for 24 hours, on the second night, my nigh nurse Mel had to switch it to my hand. These SUCK having in- you never get used to them, and they always kind of hurt, just enough that they suck. I was squirting blood when she put this in. I made a nice puddle on the floor.

Here's what my right arm looked like on night 2, after she took out the IV (of which I also bled a ton from- I guess I have good circulation).

And here's what I asked Rich to write on the board on night 1. It stayed there for the entirety of my stay. People didn't even notice it until the last day, then everyone asked about it. And yet, none of the nurses erased it. I think they were worried that erasing "DON'T DIE" off a wall might jinx me and I'd croak on the spot. It was still there when I left.


For anyone who has been lucky enough to not have to stay in a hospital like this, let me tell you: It's weird. Not only was I half the age (and sometimes a third- the guy across the hall was 91) of all the other patients, but I lived a very different lifestyle, as they all went to bed at 10 or 11, and got up at 7. My room never got comfortable, and neither did I really. I got used to so much there- the weird hours, being woken up all night, having blood taken, etc. But I never got used to being as filthy as I was (I wasn't allowed to shower and could only scrub areas with a washcloth (and I hadn't showered the day before this all happened, so I was VERY smelly)). I never got used to not having my earrings in. I never got used to wearing the AWFUL johnnies they make you wear. One size fit but was too tight and often hanging open in the back- the next size up was ridiculously huge and uncomfortable because of just how big it was. Once I got some pants, everything was better, but I still craved more than anything to just be able to shower, put my earrings back in, and put on normal clothes. And even if they were strongly strongly recommending I stay on a heart healthy diet and the foods I wanted were out of the question, having to order my food at specific times (the latest they would bring me food was 6pm) sucked. I usually eat dinner at like 830 or 9 at the earliest.

I never got used to not being able to go outside though, or having my 1 window be a view of a roof and other rooms. I wandered the halls looking out windows, just wanting to be able to go outside.

But I got used to having only that space to live in. I got used to switching from my bed to a chair, from TV to internet to reading. I guess I do a lot of that anyway when I'm not out doing something cool, but still. I was surprisingly comfortable for how uncomfortable I was.

Whenever I'm somewhere weird that I'll (hopefully) never be in again, I have trouble just going to bed on the last night. I've always been that way- I want to stretch out the night and really experience my surroundings. So, on night 3, at like 11pm, I wandered far. I even had a nurse panic because she thought I was one of her patients lost and wandering the halls where I shouldn't be. I wandered over to the ICU without realizing it, and things got way more serious than I meant them to be. I found the prayer room, which was small but really nice (and had a CD player with pretty instrumental music),


and the best waiting room I'd ever seen, with huge chairs, a huge TV and plants everywhere. Clearly I should have come here earlier.

I found an unlocked conference room where I attempted to do some trick photography of ghost me giving a lecture to ghost me, but it only sort of worked.

And I did a few of these shots, which I really liked, but were very odd setting up with nurses still walking around.

ghosts of portsmouth hospital

I felt pretty cool wandering a hospital at night. There was TV noise from patients' rooms and nurses occasionally doing rounds, but I generally felt like I was alone in an enormous hospital, exploring wherever I wanted to go. Thankfully, I haven't been to a lot of hospitals, but this one was pretty incredible. Huge rooms and fancy, clean style made for a pretty nice stay.

It also got pretty heavy wandering the halls at night, especially when I found myself in the ICU. That prayer room was neat to see, but it had a heaviness to it that can only come from reality- that this room was where friends and loved ones went to pray for whoever was there's life. That waiting room blasting news of football was where people waited out whatever horrible thing they were dealing with. The 91 year old guy across the hall was being prepped for surgery on my last night, and doctors and nurses spent long amounts of time with him, just talking and laughing, going above and beyond for the only reason I could think of- that he may very well not make it through surgery the next day. He could have been dealing with a routine thing, but at age 91, you never know. And their distracting-me-from-my-comic-book conversations could very well be them spending time with him on the last night of his life. His room was cleaned and ready for the next patient when I got up the next day. He may have just been moved to the ICU or even sent home, but I can't stop wondering if that really was it for him. 


I've watched enough Scrubs to know that although patients can be just like computers we used to have to diagnose and fix back in my Apple days, they can sometimes be a lot more. I've  also seen Carla talk enough about how nurses aren't appreciated enough for what they do to agree with her anyway- but this visit really brought that home to me. I dealt with 3 different doctors while I was there, and while the first one (who thankfully will be the one I see again) was ok, the others sucked. They weren't very friendly, they barely made eye contact with me when I talked, they didn't answer my questions honestly... they just seemed like robots who were uninterested in me and just wanted to move on to the next customer before they went off to play golf. My nurse's aids were all very friendly and although some of them were oddly quiet or over-the-top-trying-too-hard, I liked every one of them. But my nurses were spectacular. They were super caring and friendly, talked to me a ton, showed actual interest in what I said, talked to me like a human being, made jokes, etc. I was kind of blown away at the difference between them and the doctors. Not only were they a thousand times better in every way, but they still knew a lot, often times just as much as the doctors, the doctors winning out only because they had looked at the charts while the nurses were guessing. Sure, the fact that the nurses I liked the most were each pretty cute in their own way helped, but even Brad, who I only met briefly on my last day, spent way longer with me than he needed to, really making me feel comfortable and really answering all my questions as best as he could. 

And with all of the realizations and everything I learned and experienced about being in a hospital, on Monday morning at about 1030, I was allowed to go home. A chest pain I woke up with on Friday had taken me on a scary, uncomfortable stinkfest that will cost billions of dollars, and I was finally out. I put on clothes, Josh and Irwin came to meet me, and I said goodbye to room 244.

We stopped at Walmart to pick up my meds and buy some food that's nicer to my heart than pizza rolls and easy mac, and I came home. I had an all time top 10 shower, scrubbed endless amounts of tape residue off my arms, and sat down to my new, absurdly (doctor's orders) relaxed life. Here's what my arm looked like the other day. My wrist bruise hasn't gotten much more colorful, which I'm honestly a little bummed out about.

So what the hell happened to me?

When they sent me home, they were still going with Myocarditis, which again, is an inflammation of my heart muscle itself- the pump part of it.

Basically, my arteries and all the stuff attached to my heart sending blood to my body were working perfectly, and my heart was too. The only thing that would explain the elevated levels of Troponin in my blood was Mycarditis. They had gone from a 9.5 to a 9.8 on the first day, and on Saturday night they were at something crazy like a 10.8. Apparently they climb slowly within 4 hours of an "incident" and peak 12-16 hours later. I was on my way out of this, and this all suddenly made sense. My heart itself was attacked by a virus, which would explain some of the "ughk... I think I'm getting sick" feelings I had had since Monday- the random times I suddenly felt really hot or light headed or tired. The virus that causes Myocarditis is apparently the same that causes the Flu. Sometimes, it just attacks the heart instead. My nurse Brad would tell me that he only sees this maybe 2 times a year, and it's extremely rare in people as young as me. Being a fat guy who eats garbage and has no right doing the hiking and biking that I do (who also learned that- big shocker here- my cholesterol is higher than it should be), everyone immediately jumped to "oh, you have high cholesterol and had a heart condition, you need to eat better and lose weight and you'll be fine." While those would both help curb any future heart problems, this really is completely random. I always joked that my heart hated me- trying to hike a 6 mile mountain at my size while living off of pizza and potato chips, it would eventually just explode. But apparently, other than high cholesterol, it gets along with me just fine. The terrifying thing is, Myocarditis can happen to anyone, and very often, people don't know they have it and can get into a lot of trouble. One internet stat said that 20% of sudden deaths in young athletes can be attributed to this. Kids exercise like they always do and their hearts beat super fast, but since they're inflamed and injured and unable to handle the stress, all without them knowing about it, they have heart failure and in many cases, keel over and die. 

I said that I thought I was going to die on the toilet, and while I was quite scared that I was having a heart attack and thought that I might be in a lot of trouble, I honestly never thought I was going to die. Maybe I've just learned to not be a worrywort, but even though I did worry and not knowing what the hell was going on with me for 2 days was frustrating and scary, I always kind of thought I'd be ok. But now, I think about what would have happened if I was on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere and had one of these attacks... People say I should never hike alone, but even if I had 10 people with me, what hope would I have had if my heart was beating as fast as it does when I exercise and it couldn't handle the workload while being 3 miles into the middle of the woods? It most likely wouldn't have ended well. 

So while I was extremely unlucky to have this happen to me as randomly as it did, everything else worked out about as well as it could, waking up in my house with this and having a roommate downstairs who could take me to the hospital 10 minutes away. Not to mention that I wasn't a stupid tough guy who tried to tough it out- I knew something was wrong and even though I can be pretty dumb a lot of the time, there's times when you just have to be smart.

I am eating better to help my heart heal and am straight edge again, but the biggest assignment I had was to not do anything for awhile. My hiking and biking life is most likely done for the year. I can take short walks, do light swimming and MAYBE play golf next week, but generally the rule is that I need to keep my heart rate below 90 or so, so nothing that would make my heart beat too hard is allowed. My new life more awesome is going to involve a lot of sitting and lying down. 

This breaks my heart (pun intended) because fall was just starting to settle in, and I was psyched to hike and bike in beautiful fall color. My favorite weekend of the year (Squamtoberfest) is coming up, and I was looking forward to raging the hell out of it. I had also just made plans to go on tour with Caspian for 5 days- literally ride in the van with them, sleep where they slept, carry in and carry out gear, etc. I was going to see them, Cursive and Minus the Bear for free 5 nights in a row, and although I was super nervous that we wouldn't get along as well as I hoped, I was also super pumped for it. It was going to be an incredible experience. Oh well. I guess being alive and not having my heart explode is better than doing all of those things. 

I'm seeing the doctor on October 2nd to see how my heart looks, but judging by how little they were able to tell about it while I was there, I'm guessing as long as I feel ok (which I do now despite the side effects of the drugs I'm on), I'll be told it's safe to slowly bring exercise and cholesterol back into my life. For now, I'm good, and I'm going to use this time to get caught up on my blogs and do some art and music again. 

Let's hope my heart is done messing around, and comes back stronger than ever.

A heart more awesome.

currently listening to: Caspian- Live At Old South Church

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lakerage 2012

Another year, another Lakerage. I'm not sure what year this was, but I'm going with 6 (with one year being skipped). It was another grand time with pretty much the exact same cast as last year, with Primus Dan and his girlfriend and friend from home joining this year. I had thought about hiking on my way up like I did last year, but common sense worked its way into me and I decided against it- but still didn't show up till like 8pm.

Night 1 was pretty quiet. Some odd political sessions, some super fancy beer, and general merriment and fun.

My friends were very impressed with my hair and chopstache.

This picture is terrible but it's like 1 of 3 that I took that night.

2 miserable looking people

After sketchy conversation made people start dropping like flies and it was only Pog and I talking for a good half hour about youtube, I finally laid down and went to sleep at about 4. Knowing that I'd be waking up at 7 the next day, this didn't make me too happy. Waking up 1 hour later and having to pee made me even more unhappy... until I saw what it looked like outside.

No iphone effects, not even an HDR. I forget how glorious mornings can be. People were already up fishing, and the stillness of everything was amazing. There's a serenity in being on a lake at 5 in the morning that's hard to describe, but if you've been up then, you know. It was pretty amazing, and I tried to enjoy it as much as possible while not fully waking up. 

2 hours later, Pog was already up and walking around, with Kevin joining him shortly. I tried to fight it off, but I couldn't- the room was too bright, the heat too hot, and the quiet rumblings of Pog and Kevin made it impossible to even pretend I could sleep. Guess it would be a normal Lakerage, and I'd be doing everything that day on 3 hours of sleep. 

While last year meant swimming across the lake first thing, this year meant me sitting around a lot longer and trying to not feel crappy. It turns out that 3 hours of sleep after drinking is a lot different than 3 hours of sleep sober. Once Pog started swimming (with a GoPro chestmount), I knew I couldn't fight the day anymore, and jumped in myself shortly after him.

(some of these pictures were stolen from Gina- her camera rules)

As with all previous Lakerages, it was beautiful out, and there were loons everywhere.

Kevin looked his best,

and I certainly did too.

The day consisted pretty much of this:


nice shorts dan


and a little of this:

We pretty much just switched between sitting on the deck, swimming around casually, floating on floats, and going out in the boat to swim or sit on the boat. Previous years had been a bit more intense, with more people going out in boats, jetskis, tubing, super in depth explorations down the coastline, endless kayaking, etc. Kevin and I used to have a joke competition to see who could do more activities (I'm the champ). This year though, was much more calm. This year was a glimpse of what summer is to a lot of adults who don't drink a lot: hanging out by the water and drinking all day. Sure, that's what lakerage has been to many since its inception, but this year was the first year I was drinking, and I was drunk at 2 in the afternoon, floating around in the lake and drinking Bud Light Lime-a-ritas. 

Part of me was a little bummed out that we didn't do more, but the other part of me realized that the last few years consisted of me wishing we did more while other people were drunk and perfectly happy where they were, just chilling. So, I'm actually pretty happy that I drank, as suddenly I wasn't the antsy one, wanting people to do more. And being drunk at 2 in the afternoon was pretty interesting and hilarious. It happened right after we got a random visit from Naro's parents and we all tried to get them to stay and party with us. Then we went out in the boat and swam on floats in the middle of the lake, having some very inappropriate conversations probably waaaay too loudly. It was a good time. 

After a few bouts of that and a few separate groups of people going out in boats, Dan got waaaay too drunk out of nowhere and had to take a nap. Mysterio and Masha finally showed up and I finally got in the kayak and owned it on the lake. I really love being in a kayak, and this was no different, except for when Pog and Kevin tried to get me to tow them. That SUCKED.

The continued and I switched to water and soda to prolong my day. Even though it's super rocky and instantly 100 feet deep there, and the boat was right in the spot where I wanted to jump off the dock, it's always fun just swimming around with your friends, laughing it up in summer sun.

As night started to close in, food started to be prepared. We had way too much, and I instead wanted to get pizza. I had seen a sign on the way in that I apparently missed last year- that there was a brick oven pizza place on this lake. The lake is nothing but people's summer homes, and apparently some dude just felt like buying a brick oven to make pizzas. He decided to go for it and start selling them to people, but I guess there was a huge problem with this, since it's all houses and this was a business. I guess he just sold them anyway during the whole stupid argument, but now he's legal, and I decided I had to get some. How often do you get the chance to buy pizza in this situation? They're only open from 5pm-8pm on Friday and Saturday, and it literally is a business run out of a small shack built next to this guy's house. And it was AWESOME. 

It was the smokiest pizza I've ever tasted- it really was very unique, and I loved it, especially the veggie one we got. I decided that next year, if people want to get pizza again, we should take the boat out and eat fresh pizza on a boat in the middle of the lake. If people weren't interested, I'll go via kayak. Even though it's a looong way, the idea of eating fresh brick oven pizza on a kayak in the middle of a beautiful lake is literally too awesome for me to even calculate. It would be the epitome of a life more awesome. Can't wait for next year. 

Dan came back from drunk death just in time to nab a piece of pizza and attempt to rally back. But the damage was done, and he was struggling to stay awake. Like all Lakerages, the night was a lot tamer than the day- people were exhausted from partying and swimming from 7-8 in the morning. Unlike previous Lakerages, Nick didn't set off any fireworks- mostly because he set them off from their neighbors' dock last year and they had to re-stain the whole thing this year. I was real sad about that as I really felt that the fireworks were a huge part of Lakerage, but I get that they had to die. I'm still holding out hope that we can have them next year if we set them off from a barge in the lake or something. We also forgot to take a picture- someone mentioned it early in the day, but we were too stupid to just do it then, because the night brought people dropping like flies again.

(she rallied back though)

Pog and I still partied deep into the night though, and even went for a late night swim, playing catch with a flashlight that he claimed was for water. As it slowly broke, we realized that it was just "waterproof" and not supposed to be submerged for 5 minutes at a time. Oops.

It was a clear, moonlit night, perfect like so many years have been.

Eventually people started to look like this,

and it was time to call it a night. I still didn't go to sleep until about 3 though. By the way, that picture may be my favorite picture ever of Kevin.

I woke up at like 8:30, just in time to see Mysterio and Masha leave (she had to work). Pog and Simone had already left at like 6:30 or 7. Some people just don't know how to take vacations.

Dan and his crew left a little later too, since Dan's friend Mike had like 8 hours of driving ahead of him. Naro, Sara, Nick, Kevin, Gina, 3 dogs and I decided to stay and make the day count though. Last year we all left by like 9 in the morning to avoid a hurricane (which I ended up driving through anyway), so this year we would be having a big breakfast (with beer- a fitting breakfast drink on this, the 1 year anniversary of me breaking edge) and taking the boat out one more time. 

Naro is a breakfast machine

It instantly got really windy and kind of cold when we got out on the boat, but it was nice being out there again. Hey Lakeragers, stop leaving so damn early. Day 2 can be nice too.

when she wasn't freaking the fuck out, she took nice pictures

Nick's dog is pretty cool looking.

Here's a lovely picture of Kevin and Gina with lots of cloudporn behind them.

And here's a super HDRed picture of the view from the dock. I really love this place.

I finally found out what that mountain is, and I will be hiking in next year. With 2 goals already in the books, I am already excited for next year's Lakerage. Hopefully more people will come, but even if they don't, I know I'm gonna have an awesome time again. I love me some Lakerage. 

So this post wasn't too grand- there wasn't a lot to take pictures of and this is the summer of me doing stuff instead of taking pictures or partying too hard and not thinking about it. BUT, I did play with my GoPro for like the second time this year. I wasn't able to make a nice heartwarming movie like I did last year, and struggled with footage of pretty much what I saw underwater and people being drunk. SO, I made a very odd little movie that is either extremely deep or just random garbage. Either way, I enjoyed making it, even though I was rudely reminded how much of a pain it is to edit video. Here you go:

"Lakerage: 2012" from Mike Alexander on Vimeo

currently listening to: Childish Gambino- "Culdesac"