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Round the Bend in 16 Days: There and Not-Quite Back Again

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Round the Bend in 16 Days: There and Not-Quite Back Again
« Reply #270 on: September 14, 2018, 10:24:12 AM »
Very glad to see you posting here again, HMOD.  Your presence was missed.

Thanks, Quatro! Missed you all, too.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline iCe

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Re: Round the Bend in 16 Days: There and Not-Quite Back Again
« Reply #271 on: September 14, 2018, 10:56:22 AM »

West Nile... A friend and coworker managed to catch the first case of WNV in NM almost a month ago. It dang near killed him...


It's a kick in the behind, that's for sure. Sounds like your friend had one of the neuroinvasive forms of the disease. The vast majority of people infected with the virus show no symptoms at all. About 4% of those infected show flu-like symptoms ranging from mild to severe. In less than 1% of victims, the virus jumps the blood-brain barrier and attacks the brain, spinal cord or other parts of central nervous system resulting in symptoms that resemble meningitis, encephalitis, polio or a few more arcane diseases. That's probably what he had. The kicker is: there is currently ABSOLUTELY NO medical cure for any of the forms of WNV. You just ride it out. In the case of the neuroinvasive forms, hospitals can offer supportive care to attenuate the worst symptoms but they can't end the infection. Only your own immune system can do that for you. Apparently, I have a severe form of the febrile version of the disease (confirmed by IgM blood test). It's still an open question as to whether it'll wind up jumping my blood-brain barrier. 1 in 10 of neuroinvasive WNV patients die. I'm watching my symptoms carefully and have so far declined a spinal tap which is the only way to conclusively confirm neurological involvement.  Confirmation doesn't necessarily improve survival chances. A key risk factor is males age 60+ :shock: . But I've been fever-free for four days now, though I'm still utterly exhausted, with lingering joint pain, mild photophobia, and slight hand tremors - which isn't exactly encouraging. The good news is I've lost 10lbs. The bad news is, even in the best of cases, I probably won't be back to full strength for another month, maybe two. That'll probably kill any chance of me returning to the Bend this year.

The irony is, back in the early 2000's I did some work identifying and tracking the spread of WNV in Texas, especially in Corvid populations (crows, jays, etc.). I was frequently in the middle of high incidence areas and, as far as I know, never contracted the disease.  Now I'm no longer in the field and.....BOOM!

I intend to be back in the Bend, but it may take awhile.


You nailed it. That (1% version) is exactly what he had/has. They initially thought he had a form of encephalitis. I haven't had an update in almost a week but the last I heard he was "on the mend". Sounds to me like that was  optimistic.

It sure woke me up. I hadn't given WNV much thought until now.


I hope you get better sooner HMoD
« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 06:56:06 PM by iCe »

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Offline rocketman

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Re: Round the Bend in 16 Days: There and Not-Quite Back Again
« Reply #272 on: September 14, 2018, 06:23:09 PM »
Wow HMoD. You are one tough mf. I will disagree with you about not getting to the Bend anytime soon. You could actually come to relax. Maybe.  :icon_wink:
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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Round the Bend in 16 Days: There and Not-Quite Back Again
« Reply #273 on: September 14, 2018, 11:35:27 PM »
Wow HMoD. You are one tough mf. I will disagree with you about not getting to the Bend anytime soon. You could actually come to relax. Maybe.  :icon_wink:

That's not the first time I've been called a MF, Rocketman, but I appreciate the vote of confidence  :evil:.  However, lets be realistic: it really doesn't take much toughness to get bit by a mosquito and then lay in bed for three weeks. The real test is getting back onto my feet again in the wilderness. Looking forward to it, though.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline tjavery

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Re: Round the Bend in 16 Days: There and Not-Quite Back Again
« Reply #274 on: September 15, 2018, 10:50:44 AM »
Exceptional report, HMOD. I've not been on BBC much in the past year or so and just recently came across it. Excellent documentation and writing of the trip and the difficulties and struggles you faced.

Your plan was a level beyond what most folks would probably call ambitious. I think what you did manage to accomplish (and indeed it was an accomplishment whether or not you met your original goals) was significant. The experiences you gained, both good and bad, are tremendous and just add to your character and person in a good way.

How many people have floated the entire length of the park, solo, then crawled and scratched their way through a remote set of mountains in a winter storm and survived with just a busted tooth, a bum knee, and some scabs? The Big Bend knocked you around, but you made it and proved you're tough and intelligent enough to make it.

Maybe you felt that you made some poor decisions regarding gear and your actions. But regarding what I was saying about being intelligent about it - you were certainly prepared. You had good information. You'd done your research and planning carefully, and I think that contributed significantly to your success. You maybe didn't have the optimum gear with you at times, but you had enough gear to make do and make it work and that's what counts.

Reflecting on what others have stated about metal state and being tired, it makes total sense. I've been to that point many times out there. It sneaks up on you. You get a bit tired and hungry and possibly dehydrated, but are focused on finishing a hike or making camp or whatever, and the small amount of head-fuzz (i.e. lack of clear thought) will get you. I've taken falls, dropped camera equipment, damaged gear, etc. while being in this state. It's too easy to do. And it most certainly sours your mood and starts a negative cycle of thinking and feeling.

It's a tough situation. No one is there to remind you, "hey dummy, eat something and drink some water!" You plod on in frustration trying to just get there.

I don't have a solution to offer. Just empathizing with you and others who've experienced this.

ME is a great guy. Glad you met him. I'm not surprised he showed up on time at your cache and then offered to drive you to your vehicle.  :icon_biggrin:

Regarding the kitty... That was a really, really tough situation. I empathize with you. Many times in my life, I've come across abandoned young cats and kittens and not been able to do much about it.

My wife and I once found a litter of kittens along Hwy 90. They were hidden away in some ruins where we'd made an impromptu stop to take a few photos. Realistically we were not in any position to do anything good. Could we have helped? Sure, but at what cost? We left them to their fate, hopeful that maybe the momma cat was was still around. That was hard, and I still think about it 14 years later.

I've read that out of all domesticated animals, cats are the best at taking care of themselves in the wild and reverting to a feral state successfully and also doing it by themselves. I've seen adult, feral housecats in the rough western hill country where I used to hunt. They can make it.

Looking forward to your next trip report!

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Round the Bend in 16 Days: There and Not-Quite Back Again
« Reply #275 on: September 15, 2018, 12:31:35 PM »
Thanks, TJ.

Reflecting on what others have stated about metal state and being tired, it makes total sense. I've been to that point many times out there. It sneaks up on you. You get a bit tired and hungry and possibly dehydrated, but are focused on finishing a hike or making camp or whatever, and the small amount of head-fuzz (i.e. lack of clear thought) will get you. I've taken falls, dropped camera equipment, damaged gear, etc. while being in this state. It's too easy to do. And it most certainly sours your mood and starts a negative cycle of thinking and feeling.

It's a tough situation. No one is there to remind you, "hey dummy, eat something and drink some water!" You plod on in frustration trying to just get there.

I think you summed up the problem with the trip perfectly. Prior to last December, I had never once bonked while backpacking, not in 40+ years. Biking or running, sure, but never backpacking. Might be age-related. But the important thing is that you and others on BBC have helped me realize what happened. I think without everyone's impartial perspectives and gentle advice, I might never have seen the truth. I kept focusing on my equipment, and to a lesser extent, my technique. I tend to buy too deeply into the myth of my own indefatigability. At my age, that kind of foolishness can get a fella killed. It's probably not overstated to say you guys here on BBC have helped me to learn a life-saving lesson.  I look back on last December's experience from the distance of 9 months and can now see clearly that my failure to keep myself well-fueled was the essential problem. All the dumb decisions and bad stuff that ended the trip proceeded from that one mistake. Well.....maybe that and a little depression from the incident with the kitten......

Thanks again for all the kind words!
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

 


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