Posts Tagged ‘road trip’

The Price of saying ‘Good-bye’

September 16, 2012

So I was listening to my ipod the other day, and bugger me a track comes on that I’ve not heard for a long time .  It was the track that I was playing on ‘the long drive’ across Wyoming.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I was probably on a day or so away from dying.

I’d arrived near Laramie in the summer of 2007 after driving some 2000 miles from upstate NY and I had an ‘upset stomach’.  I figured it was food poisoning or something and drove up into the Snowies, west of Laramie.  The evening and night was all alone in a car park, with a fever, and what I would call ‘low level hallucinations’, in that when I closed my eyes I would see vivid colors that would take the shape of familiar objects and do really surreal things.

The next day I really wasn’t feeling any better, and certainly not well enough to do anything, and so I limped Westwards.  By this time I was getting worried.  If it was food poisoning, it should be getting better by now, and if anything it was getting worse.  I picked up the interstate I80 and headed West.  It was late afternoon by the time I got to Rawlins, and I was weighing in the balance if I should head to a hospital.  In the end I decided I would head onto Rock Springs and if I was not getting better by then I would go looking for medical help.  That drive turned out to be particularly tormentful, with the pain getting progressively worse and in the failing light.  To make things worse, it turned out the GPS was out of date, and inside my head there was a wail of despair that went off as the GPS announced ‘now arriving at destination (hospital) on right’, when it was clear there was no hospital here.  Thankfully Rock Springs was a fairly small place and a little further up the road I found a Hospital sign.  It was only on getting out of the car I realized something was really really wrong.  All the time I had been in the car, all I had to do was essentially set the cruise control and keep the car on the road.  On getting out of the car, I found the movement so painful that I could barely walk.

The tormentful drive across wyoming. Incidentally, a couple of years later I returned along exactly these roads to fly my plane in the snowies. It was really a very traumatic experience as i had so many painful memories of this road. Had a similar experience when I broke my wrist coming off a pedal bike. About a year later I cycled up to the same junction and was again stunned at the power of the involuntary physiological response.

The fever made my stay in the waiting room a really quite surreal experience.  While they were checking my insurance details I sat very still, and very quietly in an almost transidental calm, like I was only watching my life.  The thing that really sticks with me from that waiting room were the parents opposite me, getting progressively more frantic as they went from credit card to credit card trying to get something that would pay for their childrens treatment. It was an unpleasantly disturbing sight seen through the eyes of one whose my mind wasnt quite right and who, by now was dealing with the unconformable realization that there was something very wrong with him.

When a doctor finally took a look at me, it took him minutes to come to the conclusions ‘appendicitis’.  They took blood, and at some did some form of imaging that required a tube to be shoved up my ass and significant amounts of dye to be injected.  I was assured this would be quite painful, although to be honest at this point I was in so much pain, and in such a dazed state that I just didn’t care. Not even a little!

All this confirmed what they had suspected all along, and that they would operate in the morning (less than 12 hrs after arriving).

Now I knew the risk of death in the operation was small, and the chances of death if they did not operate were all but certain, but nonetheless, when they came to put me out for the operation, that this might be the final curtain call.  Complications as unpredictable as they are, it turned out, my appendix was actually fairly far gone and gangrenous and as a consequence my appendix scar is longer than most!

So these were the memories that came flooding back when I heard this track, and then I remembered something else.

-I had chose not to contact my parents, and the uncomfortable things I had weighted in coming to that decision.

I knew that the chances of death were small but real, and in that case, all my parents would ever know of this is that their son had died of complications in Wyoming.

-So how could I not tell them I hear you ask?

Well, I also knew the operation was something I had no control over, and nor would they.  That is that if I told them I knew they would worry terribly, my mother especially as they could do nothing other than powerless wait on the other side of the world to hear if their son was going to live or die.

… and there, as I stood waiting for a bus, listening to my ipod, it suddenly dawned on me that this was the price of saying good-bye to your loved ones.

It also prompted me down the rather uncomfortable line of thought of what sort of risk of death would you need before the balance was tipped from ‘the probability is small, and the matter is out of everyones hands, so I will spare my parents the emotional grief’ to ‘the probability is high, and even though it’s out of everyones hands, I want to talk to my loved ones for maybe the last time.  What would be the tipping point? 10 %? 30 %? 90%?

I’m curious as to your thoughts on this.  What would you have done?

-You are on the other side of the world and with a risk of death, maybe big, maybe small.  Would you spare your loved ones the anguish? Or does the necessity for the closure of talking to your loved ones, maybe for the last time win out?

Advertisements

Monday 18th (To California!)

July 21, 2011

Decided to head to California, picked up gas and a burger and got on the road.  A few hours later I was in Barstow CA.  The brakes have been worrying me for the best part of the last 1000 miles.  There has been an intermediate high pitched whine coming from them (front right), especially at speed as if a wire or something is rubbing against the brake hub.  Figured I’d get it checked out the next time I changed the oil.  Long experience has shown that if you are going to get work done on the wheels, the bigger the civilization the better.  Also turns out that one of my video cameras died.  Worse than that, one of the brand new ones died!  It turns on okay, and off okay, but the second you try to turn it on with the screen open -dead.  Turns out there was a canon ‘walk in express repair center’ in LA.  Figured that would be  a good place to kill two birds with one stone.  Spent most of the afternoon rendering, uploading and writing blog, plus catching up on the mass of emails etc that had accumulated in the 4 days I had been ‘unplugged’.   Then as dusk came on I headed out to the south towards San Bernadino, but turned off before hand for a quiet little place called Wrightwood.  I was v. happy to be heading for LA at this point the brakes are sounding progressively more creaky.  I’ve had a good feel around the back of the brakes but couldn’t find anything obvious, further they look to be carrying quite a lot of corrosion.

Tuesday 19th, saved by grace!

Go up before the sunlight hit the car in the little niche I was parked in.  Some great views heading back to the main road!

View from Wrightwood

View driving back from Wrightwood to the main road.  Those little domes look kinda volcanic to me.

Drive through LA was busy, but not too bad.  Got to the Canon ‘express repair’ at 8ish.  They very quickly diagnosed a ‘LCD’ fault.  250 bucks to replace.  When I asked if it was under warranty (it’s only about a month old, quasi professional 900 bucks canon S20 I think), they said yes, but I would need proof of purchase or similar.  The warranty was an absolute no-go.  I had ditched the paper work to the camera before I started on the roadtrip.  Proof of purchase I could do from emails etc, but they didn’t have wifi.  A little miffed I headed out to find a McDonalds for breakfast and wifi.   Took about 5 times as long as I expected to find the correct email.  I get far too many emails! Like trying to find a fart in a jacuzzi!  Eventually found it (bought in beginning of June, just before I came out!). On returning about an hour or so later there was a significant que, and I had to wait about another hour to get it seen to.  When they did, almost as if to rub salt in the wound, they scarcely looked at the email (sigh).  Then of course it was going to take 5-7 days to repair.  GAHHHHHHH.  I had no desire to hang around LA for the best part of a week.  I handed it in anyways, I mean lets be real, as it stands that month old camera is currently junk to me, and without it I am working off my spare camera.  Maybe best contingency plan I came up with was to get Canon to send the fixed camera to NCSE (IF they need a camera), and just to write it off as a donation from my subscribers to NCSE.

Okay, so order of buisness one in LA concluded.  Next, get the car seen to.  I like Sear for car stuff, most notably after TWICE I had Walmarts engine butchers botch an oil change.  Sear is nationwide, and generally Ive been happy with them.  Nonetheless the first Sears the GPS took me to was ‘out of buisness’.  The second seemed to be some great auto place.  Initally I just wanted an oil change and tire rotation, and while they were at it to see what was wrong with the brakes.  Turns out the brakes were in pretty bad shape.  Much worse than I expected.  Sears also kept coming up with these stories about how the wrong parts had arrived etc.  Looked legit too as it was the same guy working on my car.  In the end pretty much replaced the whole brake assembly at the cost of about 550 bux.  Yup it stings, but skimping on car auto if you’re going to drive your car into the middle of nowhere is what I would go so far to call a suicidal false economy (plus new brakes will make my mother happy! 🙂 ).

By the time they’d finished it was about 5ish, and I really didn’t have anywhere to go or any plan, and had no real desire to drive across LA at rush hour, so I found a cyber cafe and finished the TAM blog.  About 9ish I decided to head up to the Mnt Wilson observatory.  I know the road, it was out of the city and fairly quiet.  The drive across LA was a nightmare, even at this time.  When I got above LA, the view was great, but the sky was washed out with the glow from the city 😦