Thursday, March 17, 2016

Between a (Vasquez) Rock and a Stoney Point

Queen of the mountain,
Tumblrs: Vasquez Rocks
For perspective...

Literally going out of my way for a photo op.
Though our quest at Vasquez Rocks to see the carpet of wildflowers we had been treated to last year certainly wasn't dashed, our visit was unfortunately premature.

But every visit to the Rocks has challenged me, and this time was no exception. And the magnificent megaliths of the park are of course beyond compare. Hiking Vasquez Rocks is like walking through a movie set. Or rather, countless ones.

As we made our way up the hill, at various times both Keith and I felt mild waves of acrophobia. Yet we pushed on to the undulating curves of the rock wall we've nicknamed the Grand Canyon (see Tumblrs).

A photo taken by Joella of my failed attempt to scale a rock Keith easily ascended. I quickly realized that it was too steep for the hiking sticks, so I attempted to guide myself up with my hands. But even if I made it up, could I make it down again? I wasn't so sure and inched my way down again.
The history of our rehab walks/hikes at Vasquez Rock is marked by boldly going (on terrain) where I had never gone before. Maybe next time I'll be able to climb that mountain...er, steep rock (see below).

And here's that yellow-petalled road we were seeking. Alas, they were just starting to peek out their sunny little heads.

The carpet of flowers stretches off into the distance. I was forced to abandon the rollator on this second trip because we were venturing on rougher terrain than we dared attempt the first time.

And here's a bonus pic, a screen capture of the hike via my Fitbit app.

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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.