Sunday, December 21, 2008

Show and Tell--Sunday, December 21, 2008

Have you ever returned home after a trip, and realized that your pictures do not do justice to what you have just seen and done? Well, that's how I feel about my vacation photos. It was an AMAZING trip, and they don't begin to do it justice. But I will try.

We spent the first four days in the jungle in Hond.uras, hiking and mountain biking and kayaking. I saw monkeys in the wild, and a poisonous snake, and a tarantula. The latter two were located in the environs of where we were staying, this truly amazing mountain lodge. Specifically, the snake was found outside one of the bathrooms, and the tarantula was found inside someone's room. Freaky!

This is where we were kayaking, as we were putting in.

And the view mountain biking through the jungle. The path we were following wound along a cliff on the edge of a river that was several hundred feet below us. It's kind of hard to tell from the pictures, but it was absolutely breathtaking. We pedaled through all sorts of little mountain villages, past women doing their laundry in streams, and soccer fields carved into the side of the mountains. It was surreal to see corn drying on sheets in the sun next to a line full of perfect fresh-washed soccer uniforms!

One of the amazing things for me was to wander around and look at all of the gorgeous things that just grow wild. There were masses of this beautiful flower growing wild on the side of the road.

We did a little hiking in one of the national parks, before we got sketched out by the dark, slippery trail and the prospect of all of the (poisonous) things we might accidentally encounter. We had to hike over a long expanse of swing bridge to get across the river. I totally love those bridges!

At the jungle lodge, we had this amazing suite that was sort of like a really gorgeous treehouse (with private bath and hot water), which looked out over the mountains. It was really, really private, but three of the walls were just screened in and open to the environment. We'd wake up every morning to all sorts of gorgeous birds flying around and this amazing view:

Finally, we had to leave the jungle and move on. We took a ferry over to a little island, where we had planned to do some scu.ba div.ing. The island was also very beautiful, and we found this nice little place to stay for an absolute pittance. We were there for about a week, hanging out in little thatched roof beach bars, snork.eling, div.ing, and all was really, really great. Until. . .things got bad.

And here's where we end Show & Tell, and get to the rest of the story. Now, I am incredibly neurotic, so I had researched the dive shops before we left, because I wanted to make sure that we were going to be div.ing with a reputable shop. We went and checked out three of them, and we went with the third one. We did three dives, and all went great. But after coming up from the third dive, and getting back on the boat, something happened. I had been back on the boat about 10 minutes, and was staring at the shoreline, waiting for the other divers to get back on the boat. I was very calm--it had been a beautiful dive. All of a sudden, though, my hands were ting.ling very badly. I got a tightness in my chest, and then I felt like I couldn't breathe. A minute or so later, my handles crumpled up and I couldn't unbend my fingers. It was really freaky. They gave me oxygen and laid me down on the deck, and we were to shore in minutes. I felt better a short time later, and they said they thought I had just been dehydrat.ed.

I went back to our hotel, showered, and we went to dinner. I felt fine, and we went to bed and I fell asleep quickly. . .only to awaken a couple of hours later with tightness in my chest. A half hour later, and the same symptoms were back as I had experienced on the boat. I will spare you the drama of trying to get in touch with a doctor in a third world country when you don't have a phone that works, the owner of the hotel is MIA, and none of the neighbors will answer the door. Suffice it to say, we managed to get in touch with the owner of the dive shop, who put me on oxygen and drove around the island until he found the local doctor.

The doctor on the island sees a ton of dive-related problems, and did a bunch of noninvasive tests on me. He wasn't sure whether I had a decompress.ion related illness (ie, "the be.nds"). We had dived according to the tables, so that didn't seem likely. I had to go back every day for like three days. In the end, the symptoms came back (mildly) two more times, and they concluded that it was decompress.ion ill.ness, but they finally said it was so mild that I could fly home (altitude can make it worse, so this was a MAJOR stress). We paid a boatload of cash to come home a few days early, because Del.ta wouldn't switch our ticket, since we were leaving out of a different city (we stayed on the island a few extra days, and the travel arrangements to get to the city we were supposed to fly out of were just too complicated for us to do if I wasn't feeling so hot). I got home without incident, but still didn't feel great.

They told me that if I still didn't feel well when I got home, I needed to seek treatment, so I did that. I consulted four different doctors. One said I didn't have decompress.ion ill.ness, and didn't need further treatment for that. One said we should wait and see. Two said I needed immediate evaluation and possibly treatment. The "treatment" for decompress.ion ill.ness is to be locked into a tank that re.pressurizes your body and slowly brings you back, so the gasses that are in your blood can come out of it appropriately. You have to be locked in for 2.5 to five hours, and needless to say I wasn't looking forward to this, because once they start, they can't open up the chamber. Anyway, I ended up doing this a couple of days ago. Guess what happened? Shortly after I got out, I had the EXACT SAME symptoms as I had on the boat that first day.

So, I ended up in the ER, where they ran five million tests on me. They have no idea what is wrong. They did heart tests and took xrays and did an arter.ial bloo.d gas and all sorts of other tests. They said that I am hyper.vent.ilating, but they don't know why. It doesn't really make any sense, because it's happening when I am completely calm and at ease--the first time, we had just come up from the dive, and I was totally relaxed, and the second time, I had finished the treatment (which I had been majorly stressed about), and we were pulling into a restaurant to go to dinner on our way home. I didn't even realize that I was breathing funny, either time. When I picture people hyper.vent.ilating, I picture people breathing really heavy or really quickly, and I wasn't doing either. I think I am also having some sort of stomach issue, because I have been feeling a lot of pain/pressure in my stomach, just where my ribcage ends. My highly unscientific theory is perhaps that the spicy food irritated my stomach while we were down there, and the pressure from div.ing irritated it more, to the point where the pain and tightness from the stomach is impacting my diaphragm. It sounds kind of crazy to me, though, and I feel like a bit of a lunatic. How can something so weird and crazy happen on what was supposed to be a very relaxing and much-needed vacation??? Ugh. I have an appointment to go back to the doctor again tomorrow, so perhaps we'll find out more then.

Drama aside, it really was an amazing trip. I made a lot of big decisions, and I feel completely refreshed. I'm excited for the holidays, and am decorating up a storm. Today's agenda includes a pot roast and Christmas cookies and present wrapping.

12 comments:

G I N A L O U said...

wow.

areyoukiddingme said...

Scary end to an otherwise cool trip. I hope you find out what the problem is!

Cassandra said...

Honduras is a place that would never have occurred to me to visit, but it looks beautiful.

Sorry to hear that the trip was cut short and so unpleasantly interrupted. Hope those symptoms don't come back!

Cara said...

What a story and a trip. I love you quote at the top of your blog. It sounds like you are well on your way to making things happen.

Dora said...

Beautiful pictures. Scary symptoms. Hope you have a good dr's appt tomorrow.

Another Dreamer said...

What a wonderful sounding trip... except for the last bit after the diving. I hope you figure out what's wrong soon!

Wordgirl said...

What a wonderful trip!

Now, I'm going to make a suggestion -- I'm not sure if you've thought about this -- but it was so similar as to what happened to me that I had to delurk.

Almost five years ago now I was driving home from work on a beautiful day -- work was going well -- I'd had a great day teaching -- and I remember this part specifically because it would come into play later -- and it was spring -- the weather had broken...and suddenly I felt like I couldn't breathe -- my palms felt itchy, my mouth felt strange...I thought I was going to pass out -- I felt lightheaded.

It happened a few more times and a good friend told me that what had happened was that I had had a panic attack.

I always thought that a panic attack was something that was a direct result to a stressful event -- I didn't realize that its so physical -- as if your body is being hijacked -- during a time when everything can seem peaceful...

I don't know if this resonates at all with you -- and believe me -- panic attacks are absolutely physical -- your body's fight or flight systems go into overdrive...

once I realized that was what was happening I sought treatment -- if you have any questions or follow up about it don't hesitate to email me.

Your trip sounds wonderful though -- and sorry to go on so long -- it's just that I know how scary it can be -- and I felt great relief when my symptoms had a name.

Best,

Pam/Wordgirl

Wordgirl said...

What a wonderful trip!

Now, I'm going to make a suggestion -- I'm not sure if you've thought about this -- but it was so similar as to what happened to me that I had to delurk.

Almost five years ago now I was driving home from work on a beautiful day -- work was going well -- I'd had a great day teaching -- and I remember this part specifically because it would come into play later -- and it was spring -- the weather had broken...and suddenly I felt like I couldn't breathe -- my palms felt itchy, my mouth felt strange...I thought I was going to pass out -- I felt lightheaded.

It happened a few more times and a good friend told me that what had happened was that I had had a panic attack.

I always thought that a panic attack was something that was a direct result to a stressful event -- I didn't realize that its so physical -- as if your body is being hijacked -- during a time when everything can seem peaceful...

I don't know if this resonates at all with you -- and believe me -- panic attacks are absolutely physical -- your body's fight or flight systems go into overdrive...

once I realized that was what was happening I sought treatment -- if you have any questions or follow up about it don't hesitate to email me.

Your trip sounds wonderful though -- and sorry to go on so long -- it's just that I know how scary it can be -- and I felt great relief when my symptoms had a name.

Best,

Pam/Wordgirl

battynurse said...

Wow. Those pictures are fantastic and it looks like a really beautiful place.
Sorry about the problems at the end of the trip. I hope they figure it out or that it never comes back.

~Jess said...

Yes, when we went to Yosemite National Park...our pictures didn't do it any justice.

I'm glad you're home safely. Hopefully the doctors can figure it out, or it just goes away. My husband dives and I'm always worried about him. I hope and pray you're doing better soon.

Sam said...

oh how scary, I am glad that you are ok though!! I know just what you mean about photos not doing the holiday justice!! I had a few weeks in Australia earlier this year and the photos are great, but still not quite what I actually saw.

Merry Christmas!

JamieD said...

Wow - your pics are beautiful! I can only imagine how amazing it was in person.

I know just what you mean about pictures never really doing it justice.