Thursday, February 11, 2016

Along the earthen banks of the LA River (yes, you read that right)

We've found a route that makes it easier for me to access the river near the waterfowl-rich area around the dam.
Tumblrs: LA River

The Los Angeles River is a running joke in LA. It conjures images of vast, graffiti-strewn stretches of concrete, with at most a trickle of water running through it. But here in Van Nuys, we're privileged to live near one of the few of natural-bottomed regions of the LA River. Here, birds flock next the the concrete ramparts of the Sepulveda Dam. Sunday, we watched a great blue heron, six great egrets, turkey vultures, and hundreds of American widgeons and Canada geese (see Tumblrs). And the birdwatching wasn't even as good as our last two walks there.
A great blue heron, barely budge from its position when we returned from our walk.

The attached Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve was the first place Keith and I took a rehab walk. The second was the LA River, which is attached to the reserve. Keith used to have to roll me in my wheelchair most of the way through the reserve to get to the river.

We've found a shortcut to the river, so the last time Keith had to roll me part of the way was last year. We'll soon be returning the wheelchair (when I finally remember to make the call).

Walking away from the wheelchair on our first walk at the LA River,

Birdwatching in my wheelchair, almost a year to the day before last Sunday's walk.

Indeed, I've vowed that next time I'm going to try to walk all the way through the reserve to the LA River on my own two feet. It'll be two great tastes in one. And it will be all the sweeter because I will have done it on my own.

Here's a bonus pic of a juvenile osprey buzzing a great blue heron, who ducked (you would too) and let out a big squawk. The osprey later buzzed a great heron, who was no doubt equally pissed.
This was taken on our previous visit to the LA River in early November, 2015. The rich grasses have been washed away by our winter rains.

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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

Not a miracle recovery, but a miracle of modern medicine

In 2013 I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died after I contracted legionella. The Legionnaire's disease was in turn triggered by immunosuppression caused by the prednisone I was taking for my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis.

I suffered a series of strokes on both sides of my brain when the sepsis caused my blood pressure to plummet. I fell into a deep coma. My kidneys and lungs began to fail, as my body was began dying one organ at a time. My doctors told my loved ones to give up hope for my full recovery. They expected me to die, and even if I somehow lived, I would remain a vegetable or at best left so hopelessly brain-damaged that I would never be same. But unbeknownst to them, while they were shining lights in my eyes and shaking their heads, I was telling them in my coma-dream--my secular version of a near-death experience--to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep. I was experiencing what is known as covert cognition, the subject of my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience," which appeared in their July/August issue.

But it wasn't a miracle--despite what so many continue to believe--that I recovered so fully. I owe my life not to God, but the miracles of modern medicine, as well as the nature of the watershed-area brain damage I suffered, as I detailed in my article and in this blog.