Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Back on my Bullshit -Being More Creative

A few days ago, I fell off the wagon.  I fell into the Twitter hole.  I used Twitter to read the news.  I was in the Twitter hole for like a half hour.  I didn't feel very good after I did this.  I am really trying to stop.  However, I am torn.  I feel that in order to be a responsible citizen, I ought to read the news so I can be well informed. I re-installed it on my phone after someone I was interacting with in real life told me that they missed my humorous tweets.  I was awakened to the fact that Twitter is a happier, funnier place when I Tweet, at least for some people.  I did it for my fans, is what I am trying to say.  I will try to be mindful so I don't fall down any more holes.  I'm @demosure on Twitter, follow me and I'll follow you back!  

I am still off the Facebook mostly, that's going good.  Trying to use Facebook just to keep track of events going on and shows I can go to with my friends.  I may log on and put a link to this blog post later tonight.  I feel that this may be a helpful thing to put out to people on that platform.  I installed Facebook Messenger on my phone for communication purposes.  I feel that I am becoming a healthier social media user.  I feel better when I actively create and produce content, instead of mindlessly consuming it.  

I'm still using Instagram.  I fall down the Instagram hole for about an hour every other day.  I really like to look at pictures of interesting and pretty things!  A lot of it is cool, weird, creative stuff that my friends are doing.  I don't feel like I have a serious problem with Instagram.  Yet.  I sometimes find myself compelled to search for inspirational quotes on tranquil, awe-inspiring, nature-scapes.  I search out the cheesiest shit, and I love it, and I guess I'm owning it.  There.  Also, Instagram is probably the best way to share with the world pictures of my cute kitty-cat, Mr. Bruce.  Mr. Bruce is a transcendental being of light and love, my only roommate, and my spirit-animal teacher.  He's really, really old and he's not going to be around very long.  Why am I using my cat to rationalize my Instagram use if it's really okay?  Hmmm.  I will continue to monitor the situation.  


*photo was taken by Sayed Alamy 
https://www.guyeatsoctopus.com

I have been listening to music more and creating music more.  I am looking to start a band.  Seriously.  For real.  I took out an ad on Craigslist.  Here is the link, it's a real hoot, funny, yet it comes from a real, authentic place:
http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/muc/6163944705.html?lang=en&cc=us
So far no one has responded.  But who knows?  It's only been up for a day.

I bought an album using my Google play app today!  I bought Bird-Brains by tUnE-yArDs.  I love tUnE-yArDs.  I have a huge crush on  Merrill Garbus.  omfg. Love her.  So much.  <3

I installed Snapchat on my phone.  I feel so much more hip and edgy.  Just kidding!  Kind of!  I saw a list of Snapchat friends, and then I sort of freaked out when I saw this one person's name.  I went on two dates with them, before I realized they were a toxic person without empathy and not someone I wanted in my life.  It was a teaching moment when I looked up how to block & delete (Un- Snap?) this person from my list.  After I learned how to do this, I felt more confident and bold using this app.  I am still a novice.  I am still not very good at Snapchat.  I am trying.  

Things have been going really well.  I took a look at what I needed to improve on, and I have been taking action to address this a little bit every day.  Sometimes after a long day at work and I am feeling drained I will make excuses to myself not to do art or engage in my creative pursuits.  "I'm tired!"  "I need a night off!"  "I need to recharge and not pressure myself to create stuff!"  

I'm trying to get out of my own way so I can be myself better. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Positive Changes Starting Today

I am a creative person.  But lately, I've noticed that I have been in a rut.  I've not been creating.  Writing, music, writing music, drawing, doing all the things I do to create art.  I haven't been doing very much of that.

What have I been doing?  I have been wasting time on social media.  Twitter.  Facebook.  I have been liking temporary things that other people have been doing.  Reading articles other people have shared.  Lots of them have been interesting, and many of them have been helpful.  I've been liking and reacting to creative things other people have been doing, while neglecting that aspect in myself.

The first step of any recovery is admitting that one has a problem.  I have a problem.  I have been using social media via apps on my phone to escape.  Too much.  Last week, I uninstalled Facebook, and Facebook Messenger from my phone.  I will log onto Facebook from the internet every other day for about 15 minutes to keep current with events, interests, and my social media buddies.  This has been good.  I more mindful of my surroundings.  I am more connected to the people around me.

Today I took additional steps.  I uninstalled Twitter and Tinder from my phone.  The latter part of this week, I have noticed that I am checking Twitter for news.  After reading the news, I have been feeling very depressed.  I am a very sensitive person existing in an unfair and violent, but also inspiring and dramatic world.  I don't watch television.  Not being connected to outside news sources is an unfamiliar feeling.  It is also liberating.

So after some really wonderful friendship time, I arrived home to a different world than to the one I have been accustomed.  I didn't zone out on social media.  I picked up my apartment a bit.  I searched all over for materials for a sculpture that I started creating, but never finished.  It is painstaking work.  It isn't even a quarter complete.  I found the small wood stand that the finished work will be perched on.  I found the sculpture.  I could not find the glue that I was using.  I decided to buy a glue gun.  I gathered all of the components in a bag and I hung it over my creativity table.  The life of an artist is constantly exiting like this.

I am allowing myself to keep Instagram.  I'm not going completely Luddite!  I just shared a picture I took today of an unusual and bright double rainbow I saw in South Seattle.  I could keep a pretty picture like that to myself, but why?

Will these changes lead to increased artistic productivity?  I am writing this, obviously, so there's your answer.  I feel good about uninstalling the social media apps.

Change feels strange, but it is important to embrace doing things differently to grow as a person and artist.  I'm on it!  I'm planning to write another post in my peanut survival blog this week.  And I'm looking forward to buying a glue gun and finishing my sculpture.  this is who I am.  I am a creator.  It's time I create.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lifting the Fog of Depression - Week 1

Today I spent 40 minutes at the gym engaged in intense cardiovascular exercise.  I enjoy cardio at the gym.  I like the machines.  I like exercising on the machine.  It makes me feel in control.  I control the intensity of the workout.   I control how long I work out.  Using these options, I can control my own body.  The heart rate read out on the treadmill/bike/stair climber is usually what I look at the most.  I am in charge of my heart.  How fast can I make it beat?  I give my heart rate little breaks today by selecting the  Interval workout.  Pushed it to a max of 170, then gave it a break and it chilled out to a cool 154 beats a minute.   

It feels good to control my heart rate in this way, because I sure as fuck can’t seem to control my brain. 

I also engaged in strength training exercises:  lateral obliques, back, and squats.  Post workout:  I feel slightly better.  I still want to burst into tears.  This isn’t me who wants to cry.   This is the parasite of depression that lives in my brain.  Tomorrow I am meeting with my Psychotherapist to start getting this mess sorted out by a professional. 

This week I’ve had good moods and bad moods.  Happy moments and utterly sad moments of despair.  All moods experienced through the sunglasses of this depression.  What I have noticed that my brain is doing is I will get some sort of stimulus from the outside, such as an unreturned text from Bae, and I will feel heartbreakingly-crushing  feelings of anguish and rejection.  My depression is really good at writing horror stories to explain these feelings.   The old tapes of my dysfunctional subconscious get the gears of my thoughts turning like a horrible player piano.

I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts.  I have feelings and emotions but I am not my feelings and emotions. 

My scientific-evidence based methods that I blogged about last week have been slightly successful in lifting the black fog slightly.  It still remains, and it frustrates me.  I know it’s there because I feel it.  It hurts.  I don’t want it there.   

In 2013 I took a spiritual meditation retreat at Sravasti Abbey, a Tibetan Buddhist Monastic community in Eastern Washington.  I had the privilege of hanging out and meditating with a bunch of Tibetan Buddhist nuns.  Some of these nuns had spent decades of 12 hour days in meditation. 
It was so refreshing and different to interact and talk to these monastics.  Their eyes sparkled.  They were smiling and I got this genuine vibe that their intention was to be as helpful as possible.   There was no back and forth weirdness energy of “Uhh, what does this person want…” from them.  They were peaceful.  They were present.  They were with it.  They were there.   These women were EFFERVESCENT BEINGS. 

These women are my ultimate role models right now.  Through perseverance, dedication, and joyous effort they are using the meditation practices of Tibetan Buddhism to change the structure of their brains.  Most of these women are Westerners like me.    If they can, I can! 

I am about to sit down for my evening mediation practice.  Going into battle with the depression in my brain.  I controlled my heart for 40 glorious minutes today.   Now it’s time for me to take charge of my brain.  I have power over my life.  I can make choices to change for the better.  

My mind is like a sponge.  The sponge is in a filthy, germy sink.  The nasty sink water is depression.  With meditation I intend to wring out the disgusting liquid of depression that makes my mind-sponge so dark and heavy.  I am going to transform that sponge into the sky.  Limitless.  Expansive.   Light.   Everything changes.   It is always the present moment.  Wish me luck.  Thank you for reading.  And if you have depression yourself, gentle reader, know this:  you are not alone.  And I love you. 


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Battling this Depression Flare Up

Usually I get a text back and there is a friendly back and forth exchange.  It distracts me.  It makes me smile.  Two days ago that river dried up for about a day and so, without my comforting preoccupation, I was mindful of my thoughts and felt my feelings.  It was a terrifying gaze into the abyss.  I felt an energy field of hurt and pain around my body and through my mind then I realized the pitch blackness of depression had returned to permeate my consciousness.

I'd felt anxiety recently, sure.  I'd felt frustration, but I'd written them off.  I dismissed and minimized the increasingly frequent feelings. 'Just feelings.' I told myself.  'I am not going to be controlled by unpleasant feelings.  They will pass.'  I realize now that the Chuthulu tentacles of depression were slowly wrapping around my mind, waiting to pull me to the pit of pain at the bottom of the sea.  My denial had given it strength and it pulled me underneath the crashing waves of the sea of despair.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  You are safer knowing your enemy better than your friend.  My enemy is depression and it lives inside my head.  I know it well enough to have kept it in remission since 2011.  And Monday, I realize it had returned.  

I have asthma.  Eczema.  A deadly peanut allergy.  My physical body has a whole bunch of massive auto-immune inflammation issues.  Inflammation and depression are closely linked.  People with asthma are more than twice as likely to be depressed than other people.  My asthma the past 3 months has been terrible.  My asthma has given me anxiety, sent me to Urgent Care twice, scared me, and really bummed me out.   For me at least, depression seems deeply correlated with my asthma.  The demon vines of depression seem to feed off the same processes that squeeze my lungs tight, causing me to struggle to breathe.  

Depression crushes my conscious experience through a lens of black horror and sadness.  Hurt feelings all the time about everything and nothing.  I almost burst into tears when a co-worker told me about Lady Gaga's tribute to David Bowie.  Can't even.  Deal.  Excused myself.  The tears came later that evening.  Ridiculous and full of pain.  

Yesterday was a small victory.  Forced myself to go out of the house and went out to dinner with the patient, kind man I am seeing.  Then we went to a group meet up and created art.  All my brain wanted to do was drink wine and sleep. I fought against the forces of depressed inertia and I was victorious.  I forced myself to be social.  I even called my friend who is really good at making me laugh.  I laughed.  I really connected with the guy I am seeing and enjoyed time with him.  I am grateful for these little candles of happiness that resist the forces of darkness. 

Despite a couple of wins, I am deeply ashamed about how I ordered a drink at the bar. (Okay another win, -only one drink) I feel I was really bad and wrong and should have talked more, been more interested in other people, facilitated more introductions, a feeling of appalling failure surrounds and permeates memories of the previous evening.  Of course these self-abusive, judgmental thoughts are liars, and I know this, and I continue to judge and hate myself anyway, and judge and hate the fact that I judge and hate myself.  Practicing mindfulness has been really helpful for me to observe exactly what my thoughts are up to when my brain is in the throes of depression.  

Today at work, I move slowly.  It is hard to focus in training class.  I don’t get a reply or the response I was hoping for and I fear for the worst, my brain writes a horror story and explains that this is the main reason for the hurt feelings that surrounds me.  My supervisor is displeased with how I’ve spent my time and I’m wounded, ashamed, and alarmed.  I thank her for her feedback and I act cheerful.  She’s got no idea how terrible I actually feel.  My smiling face gives no indication of the despair underneath.  I’m composed.  Every negative feeling feels amplified, and excruciating.  I feel shattered.  Deeply hurt.  I force myself to be nonchalant.  I smile.  I pretend.  Fake it till I make it, right?  How am I doing?  I’m fine, I tell people at work.  Today I am the world’s greatest actress.  I appear cool, able to handle anything, successful.  I feel I am doing okay at my job.   I work in mental health. 

At least the denial part of my illness is over.  Depression has set up housekeeping in my head.  It happened.  It is like this right now.  Will I succumb to the horror of inertia and pain?  Oh no.  Oh hell no.  Nope.  I am going to fight it.  

I am actively at war with my depression right now.  The battle started when I got home from work.  I made a super strong cup of St. John’s Wort tea.  Drinking it now.  It helps immensely.  Already feeling better.  Took 3000 milligrams of Niacin and am about to sit down to my evening meditation practice.   I took a lot of probiotics and I consumed over 2.5 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids this morning.  Took magnesium, vitamin D, and zinc supplements.  Writing this blog is helping too.  I reached out for help and am going to start Cognitive Behavioral Therapy soon.  I am planning to exercise.  I plan to go to the spa, take a sauna, sweat profusely, and then dunk my body in ice cold water for as long as I possibly can.  All of these methods are tools and weapons that I use to resist the depression in my head.  I will continue to force myself to go out and be social.  I will continue to create music, to write, and to create art.  I will challenge the lies my thoughts tell me to explain why I am experiencing these miserable feelings of shame and despair.  I have a medical condition.  It's a thing.  I struggle with the mental illness of depression.  I will fight this and I will win.   I have before and I will again.  I am resilient

Dear Depression/Anxiety,
I am going to beat you back into remission.  You are being evicted from my brain.  You are a poisonous plant that I am taking steps to uproot right now.  You are a stupid dumb bitch, and I will destroy you.  Goodbye.

P. S. I am channeling the intense feelings you are tormenting me with into creativity!  I have written lyrics and recorded an entire song, I am connecting with others by writing this blog, and I have been creating art.  Creativity is a light I will use to find my way out of your grasp.  This light shines in the darkness, and the darkness shall not overcome it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Alternative Medicine and the Allergic

I made a new youtube video about a peanut allergy research study I am involved with, here is the link:



I am extremely allergic to peanuts. I majored in Biology in college and a few years back, I started working at an allergy testing laboratory.  The doctor that worked there with me was a naturopath.  Being deeply suspicious of natural remedies and their potential for a severe allergic reaction, I didn't really trust anything she said.

However, after working closely with her for months and months, I started to really like her, and I was curious about what naturopathic suggestions she would have to help alleviate my asthma, eczema, and allergic reactions.  One day in January, after everybody in the office had been out sick with severe stomach flu for at least a week, I went to her office, feeling queasy and I said, "help."  I asked her what she recommended so I wouldn't get this horrible sickness.everybody got.  My allergies, asthma, and eczema mean that when I get sick, I get way sicker than normal people.  My immune system seems to only be interested in attacking me, not the viruses.  She told me to take massive vitamin C until I had diarrhea(I know, gross, but I was desperate not to get sick) and then drink massive water, and take 30,000 IU of vitamin D.  What?  But I was feeling worse by the hour, so I followed her advice when I got home from work that day, Friday. The next day, I projectile vomited 3 times in the morning.  I couldn't even keep water down and I was so sick and thirsty.  And then I started getting better rapidly.  Following the Naturopath's advice, I was sick for half a day.

I then asked her for some naturopathic advice, and here's what worked:
-Taking fish oil (purified of mercury & dioxin) supplements.  Helps with the eczema.
-Vitamin C supplements.  Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine.
-Zinc, & magnesium supplements.
-Fresh ground echinacea tea (I get it in bulk from a natural herb store)

Before I started the supplement regimen, my  asthma & eczema were a heck of a lot worse than they are now, and I feel way better in general.  I also eat fresh vegetables (preferably organic) of all kinds every day.

I've also had experience with Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture.  Although I was warned by my doctors about taking the Chinese herbs, I never had a problem, and actually only taking Chinese herbs prepared by my acupuncturist, along with getting acupuncture every two weeks, I was able to go off benadryl, and zyrtec completely.  I cannot explain this with the knowledge I learned in Biology.  But TCM is a healing system using energy, and apparently I am really sensitive to energy.

So it's weird.  Although my education and my Western doctors say that this could be potentially dangerous thing for me to try, my personal experience has demonstrated these healing modalities to be quite safe and effective.  Do research before you book an appointment, Yelp is a great resource to go to for reviews on your local alternative healer.

Having multiple allergies means I am exquisitely sensitive.  I've had some intense experiences at the acupuncturist, most every time, I feel my chi shift.  It's amazing for me and it really does work.  When I get acupuncture when I have sinus congested and asthma, 5 minutes after the needles go in, my airways relax like I have been breathing through a nebulizer, and the sinuses in my head drain and I feel way clearer.

Having multiple severe allergies, it is easy to be overly cautious and live in fear.  But a healthy dose of reasonable advice from a naturopath, and the occasional acupuncture session does wonders to heal the havoc wrecked on your body from allergies. So I would recommend to go for it, try alternative medicine, I did, and it was the right choice for me.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Peanut Free Zones are NOT "Safe"

Curious recent internet event in my life: I was labeled as "Non-Empathetic," and "A Troll." by two allergy bloggers, The Allergista, and "The Crunchy Cook."  The title of this blog post explains it all, I stand by my posts, and here is my scientific and reasonable response:

There are some delusional beliefs about peanut allergy that have been propagating like wildfire online and on the local news.  The people who are promoting these hysterical beliefs are encouraging ridiculous things that could kill people with severe allergies like me.

I consider myself to have a great deal of empathy.  I have extremely severe peanut allergy and I have personally been forcibly taken off an airplane by airport security due to my allergy.  I know how it feels to be singled out and forced out of your airplane seat by 5 burly airport security dudes.  I know how it feels to have everybody in an airplane staring at you and thinking you are a terrorist when you have allergies that are not your fault.

I have a ton of empathy.  

What I do not have empathy for is people with my deadly peanut allergy who insist that "the smell of peanut butter" or "Someone eating a butterfinger next to you" will cause an anaphylactic reaction, like the blogger known as "The Crunchy Cook."

I  feel it is my duty as a deadly peanut allergy sufferer and science enthusiast to combat these delusional beliefs about peanut allergy.  Because they cause people, reacting out of fear and hysteria, to establish "peanut free zones."  And peanut free zones kill more people than they save.

Establishing "peanut free zones" do not work to keep people (over 8 years old who know not to put their hands in their mouth) safe.  My allergy doctor-(an expert in peanut allergy, he has been given a grant from NIH to study it) told me that peanut free zones kill more people than they protect.  Because, he told me, a peanut allergy (PA) sufferer lets their guard down, someone brings in cross-contaminated food, PA person doesn't give the third degree about where the food was made or where it came from, PA person assumes food is safe because they are in the "safe" zone, PA person eats food, PA person dies. He told me that he has heard of countless PA patients who have died in "peanut free zones." 

Peanut free zones do not work.  Peanut free zones kill people.

Yeah, it's nice to feel safe.  But when you live with peanut allergy, outside of your home, you are never ever safe.

Even at my church, a supposed "peanut & sesame free zone," 99 % of the pastries served are "made in a facility that manufactures peanuts."  Had I not been made aware by my doctor  (Thanks for saving my life a lot, you are really great!) that "peanut free zones" are not safe and extremely dangerous, I would have probably eaten the puffy delicious-looking butter croissant without checking the ingredient label, gone into anaphylactic shock and died. 

I am grateful to my doctor for giving me the cold hard facts (he is the one who told me that the smell of peanut butter will not cause a reaction) and encouraged me to look into the scientific research for myself.  I realize the precious value of the information he gave me because it has saved my life.  I want to share this information with other people.  I never again want to read about, or listen to my doctor telling me about another PA person dying in a 'peanut free zone.'  

I am doing this to save people's lives!  

Thank you  "The Allergista" for mentioning my commentary to "Crunchy Cook" on your blog.  The problem that I had with the Crunchy Cook's post is that she said that she would go into anaphylaxis from "The smell of peanuts."  The molecules in the air that give the peanut it's smell are NOT the same molecules that theoretically could go airborne and cause a reaction in dusty peanut flour, or a can of peanut oil cooking spray.  Double blinded placebo controlled studies conducted in 2003 by Sicherer et al. found that the smell of peanuts from as close as one foot away did not cause a reaction.  

I do appreciate your scientific mind and your inquiry into the  plausibility of the crunchy cook's claims.  However, as you give her the benefit of doubt, I stand by my posts, all of which have been deleted by the Crunchy Cook.  People eating Butterfingers, reeses, PB & J, etc, do not create the causes and conditions that the two 'reputable' web sites write about for inhalation of peanut dust found in peanut flour, people shelling peanuts, or a maniac spraying peanut oil spray that the LiveStrong article mentions that you cited. (LiveStrong.. That is the most reputable source about inhalation peanut reactions on the internet? LiveStrong isn't very reputable IMHO..)

In retrospect, I do not mean to have so much attitude.  I think The Allergista has a great blog, and gives accurate reasonable information.  Her nice looking and easy to navigate blog is an excellent resource to raise awareness and get information about food allergies.  She is obviously a wonderful person overcoming an incredible disability (allergies are disabilities) with humor, great writing, and fabulous fashion sense.  So the attitude of these sentences and tone I regret..

My question is why The Allergista's blog post didn't include the most reputable source: Wikipedia?  The routes of exposure section exposes the myth of the deadly peanut smell, here is the link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peanut_allergy#Routes_of_Exposure

In The Peanut Allergy Answer Book, Harvard pediatrician Michael Young characterizes this secondary contact risk to allergic individuals as rare and limited to minor symptoms.[22] Some reactions have been noted to be psychogenic in nature, the result of conditioning and belief rather than a true chemical reaction. Blinded, placebo-controlled studies by Sicherer et al. were unable to produce any reactions using the odor of peanut butter or its mere proximity.[22]

Friday, September 28, 2012

Anaphylaxis Survival in the Remote Wilderness


     Every year in the USA and Canada, over 2000 people die from anaphylactic shock -the most severe form of allergic reaction. I am severely allergic to peanuts, eating less than 1/25 of one peanut would probably kill me in a little more than 90 seconds. Or I may only suffer itchy hives for days. This allergic reaction is as deadly as it is unpredictable. At this time, there is no cure. There are two reasons I am still breathing right now. Reason one: I followed the advice of my doctor- I carried Epipens around with me, wherever I went, no matter what. The second reason is due to pure luck; an unlikely and highly improbable sequence of events leading to my crossing paths with two strangers who become true heroes because they saved my life. I am hoping this incredible story will inspire other allergy sufferers to survive their severe allergic reactions. I would like folks like me who live with the reality of sudden death from anaphylaxis to know that, despite the odds of survival being extremely unlikely, it is POSSIBLE. I lived to tell the tale, and you can too.
     I was camping alone in the Goldmeyer Hot Springs Nature Preserve, a gorgeous and healing place way up in the woods of Snoqualmie National Forest along the Middle Fork Snoqualmie river. This place is only accessible by hiking 5 miles along the river and up the mountain from the Dingford Creek trailhead, which is at the end of a 5 mile windy dirt road. You have to drive 12 miles up this other dirt road to get to that dirt road, and the forest service requires a pass for each day your car is there, so not a whole lot of people out there. Which is fine, I was there to enjoy communing with nature in solitude.

It was Monday August 8th 2011. It was the last day of my vacation. It was sunny and beautiful.

     I woke up at around 7 in the Morning. I had a breakfast of eggplant and lentils & an “Apple-ishicous Rawma Bar.” I then hiked half a mile up a steep mountain to soak in the volcanic hot springs. I went to the hot springs mostly to heal my skin-graft. The skin around the titanium bone anchored hearing aid implant in my temporal bone in my skull had been inflamed with painful eczema for weeks. The hot springs really worked. During my soak, the caretaker stopped by to chat and she was amazed at the massive improvement. The night I arrived, the skin around the metal implant in my skull was red, and blistered over with disgusting yellow pus. It was not a pretty sight. Now, after an entire weekend at the hot springs, the infection was gone. It looked like normal skin. There was another camper who was soaking in the springs, -he had slid 250 feet over snow and ice on his descent from the mountain pass and had scraped off a bunch of the skin on his knees. I assured him that the springs would heal him too. We chilled and soaked for a while and listened to the sounds of the forest and the river rushing by.
     At about a quarter to eleven, I hiked ½ mile downhill to base camp, where I ate lunch. Since I was leaving to return home, I packed up my tent, sleeping bag, and got my camp stuff ready to be loaded into my backpack. I was still a little sore from the hike in, and right before lunch at around 11:30 I took two aspirin. Then I hiked to the river, where I filled my water bottle with water I filtered and hand pumped( to avoid getting bugs like Giardia and Cryptosporium.) using my water filter.
     Hiking back to camp, I stuffed my stuff into my backpack, which probably weighed about 55-60 lbs. I was still peckish, so I then ate a “Go-Live” Pumpkin Bar. Then I hiked to the caretaker's lodge to check out of camp, I looked at my watch right after checking out, it was 1:00 PM in the afternoon.
     I said goodbye to the kindly caretaker and started down the path to the bridge over the river. The caretaker's husband was busy working on trail maintenance. I said goodbye to him, and I crossed the bridge over the Middle Fork Snoqualmie river. The first part of the five mile hike was straight uphill. It was a beautiful day. The birds were singing. I was all by myself and really enjoying being outside and the fresh air. I was keeping a brisk pace with a heavy load and after about 45 minutes the uphill trek became a gentle rolling trail, and I remember being appreciative of the path not being so uphill.
     Then it all started going very very wrong. I noticed that I was really itchy all over my body. I then noticed I was covered in flies and mosquitoes and all sorts of horrible creeping biting things. They were swarming, landing on me. I was fairly sweaty from the exercise. I took off my pack to break out my insect repellent, Jungle Juice. I didn't want to put chemicals on my body after my healing soak in the springs, but I was so itchy and there were so many bugs it was like a horror movie. The mosquitoes have been really bad this year in that area, I was later told. Two mountain bikers zoomed past me downhill top speed.
     I had purposely packed my backpack to survive. The easy to access top zip pouch contained a compact mirror, bug repellent, two albuterol asthma inhalers, and of course, two Epipens. They were both expired. One Epipen expired in 2008. The other expired back in 2010. My allergist at Virginia Mason, Dr. Robinson (he is doing the peanut allergy research study with Benaroya Research.) had told me about a year ago, 'never go anywhere without your Epipen, an expired Epipen is better than no Epipen at all!' I obeyed him of course. I didn't want to die. It didn't matter that I was not going to be consuming food around other people, nor that I had brought all my own food with me, food that I had eaten many times before with no allergic events. Because of my strange and hyper kinetic life, I attract odd occurrences like a magnet. Because of my rare talent for #1 getting caught, and #2 enduring punishment due to being made the 'example,' I've come to realize the ultimate truth, the indisputable scientific fact, the end all be all of the Murphy's Law that governs my life: the one time I forget to take my Epipen with me is going to be the last time.
     I checked out my reflection in my compact too. I noticed that it looked like I had a really bad mosquito bite on the left side of my forehead and another right above my left eye. I applied the Jungle Juice to my head and then my arms first, and then to the backs of my legs. The swarm started to lose interest. I put on my backpack and started walking again.
     I remember being really irritated with the smell of the plants at this point. Foxglove was in bloom, and I remember thinking how severe and itchy and unpleasant I found the fragrance of the pollen. I remember the strong smell of the grass pollen and the strong odor seemed to make my skin sting. I was enjoying all the aromas of the wilderness prior to this point, so I was kind of startled by how sudden the pungent plant fumes aggravated me. The exposed skin on my arms, neck, and face started to burn, like I was being sprayed with mustard gas. 
     It was at this point I noticed that it was getting harder to close my left eye. The hive from this tiny mosquito bite, was swelling up more and more. My forehead seemed to be paralyzed and numb. Also swelling up. I looked at my reflection in the mirror. The swelling was extreme -I could see that my left eye was only visible as a tiny crescent in this swollen mass that was the left side of my face. At this point, I experienced a Eureka moment of insight: I was having a severe allergic reaction. I kept walking on that stupid trail toward my car. I noticed that my asthma was getting worse. I stopped briefly to use my asthma inhaler. I started walking. It was around 2:30 P. M. I was pretty much halfway between the camp and the where my car was parked. I still had 2 and a half miles to go. Mostly uphill. I kept walking.
     Could I have been stung by a wasp, hornet or bee without knowing it? There were a lot of bugs at one point, and a good part of my head was numb, the nerves having been severed during the surgery on my skull to get hearing on my right side. Was this an allergic reaction to a stinger? Was this an allergy to the mosquito bites? The flies had been biting me too. Was it something about the flies? Or was it something I ate? I'd eaten all that food before without any ill effects, and I triple checked the ingredient list before packing my food supply. Could it be a new food allergy? I read something once where someone went into anaphylaxis  from exercise, but I'd been training outdoors and hiking up steep mountains all summer. Whatever caused this allergic reaction remains unknown to this very day.
     At this point, I was not panicked. I was calm. I'd watched an episode of “Man versus Wild” and I remember seeing this British Survival man, Bear Gryls get stung by an African bee, while trying to get a honeycomb from a hive on the Savannah. His face and eyes were swollen up very much like mine. I know that he lived, so I knew that I had a chance. I remember actually thinking how I was thankful that I wasn't in Africa. My thoughts were very crystal clear, I have never before or since been so awake, aware and in my body, in the present moment. I felt as if I were a Buddhist monk. I had moments to live, and was living it moment to moment. I decided to keep walking toward my car. I had no judgement at this point about how bleak my situation looked. The river looked cool and refreshing and my skin was on fire. It hurt so bad. Hives started appearing on both my arms. There was a lot of pain. I did want to go down to the shore and put cool water on my skin, but I decided against it. My survival depended on getting help, and I was more likely to get help if I stayed on the trail. Keep walking. It was such a pretty day.
     I then noticed it was getting harder to breath through my nose. My palate felt like I had something lodged in the back of my mouth. I then noticed that my throat felt funny. I then realized that I had hives all over my neck. My windpipe felt horse, and, swollen. I remember thinking that anaphylaxis was not a very nice way to die. I started screaming at the top of my swollen lungs: “HELP!!” “SOMEBODY!!!” I was still about two miles from the car. My screams were pointless. There was nobody around for miles. I kept walking, and I took out my Epipen from my pack. I started crying. Keep walking, I told myself. I kept walking.
     I remember listening to the forest and the river, and thinking how awesome the sounds were to hear. I was born with Single Sided Deafness and one ear, but I was going to die in stereo. I appreciated the noises surrounding me, the irony of getting this implant and skin graft healed by the hotsprings, only to end up dying on the trail home. I really didn't want to die, though, really, and I started praying out loud to God. “LORD, HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SERVANT!!” I was sweating and weeping hysterically. “Please God, I don't want to die!!” I then knew that it was out of my control if I lived or died. I prayed as Jesus did in the garden at Gethsamane, “I don't want to die, Lord, but not what I want, Lord, only what you want done!!” I really meant it. It was up to God. God: All good, All knowing, and all powerful. God was the only thing stronger than anaphylaxis, and I wanted to live, but I was up for anything He had in mind. A verse from the Bible came to mind, Whosoever shall seek to gain his life shall lose it: but whosoever shall lose his life'shall preserve it. And I remember being filled with peace thinking about this biblical quote and not knowing why, and still I don't know why this comforted me so. Keep walking, I told myself, one foot in front of the other, as I marched on the lonely mountain path.
     Each step was getting more and more work. I was getting tired. I was blind in my left eye. My throat itched. My tongue was swelling. I was getting weak. I really did not want to use the Epipen, it hurts a lot, but it looked like I would have to. But first I needed to stop walking. I was feeling faint. I took off my heavy backpack, and sat down on the trail. I unsheathed the Epipen, armed it, and held it over my thigh, and then I just couldn't. My muscles wouldn't budge an inch to shoot myself up with that giant painful needle. Although I logically knew that my survival depended on doing this, I think the primitive reptile part of my brain that wanted to avoid pain hijacked control.
     At this point I remember crying hysterically and the the tears streaming off my swollen face and on to my hands. The Epipen instructions were disolving -the Jungle juice and sweat and tears was like paint thinner. I was very very tired. I was lightheaded. It was at this moment I heard people. I looked down the trail and saw two mountain bikers heading toward me. I summoned up all the energy I had left and screamed:

“HELP ME!!!! I AM HAVING AN ALLERGIC REACTION AND I AM GOING TO DIE!!”
“HELP!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!”

     They were a young couple, Jason and Channin, and they stopped and asked what was wrong. I told them in a horse whisper that I was in anaphylactic shock. I asked them to help me administer the Epipen, I told them I couldn't bring myself to do this, and told them that I would die if I didn't. “Stab me in the leg, the needle' will go through my clothes, and hold it down firmly for ten seconds.” My face was so swollen it didn't look human anymore, and I was slumped up against my backpack on the trail like a corpse, I'm sure it must have been horrible for them to find me there like that. Jason did as he was told, and Channin told me to keep breathing. Later I found out she was a Yoga instructor.
     The Epipen worked fast. I found breathing easier. I told them I needed to get to a hospital as soon as possible or I would surely die. They looked at each other and then Jason put on my backpack and grabbed both bicyles and started walking back to the trailhead parking lot while Channin put her arm around me and supported me while we walked toward the car. Keep breathing, she told me. Slow deep breaths. Breathe through your nose. I told her I couldn't breathe through my nose, my palate and my sinuses were too swollen. She said that was okay, just keep breathing. My lips were swelling massively too.
     The Tibetan Book of the Dead describes the death process as dissolving energy fields. I was living it. The passage that came to my mind at this time was this:

“Pay Attention. It seems that the earth energies are dissolving into the water energies You are losing the ability to move your limbs. Observe the Inner Signs.” 

     It was getting hard to move my arms, my legs. My inner signs were pointing to death. I had no judgement or feelings about this. I remember thinking it was peaceful. Then I remembered my friends and family and started crying. Channin, looked at me, and said, 'Your scared, aren't you?' I nodded and we kept walking. I was getting weaker, and I was getting cold. Skin on fire like burning acid, but I was freezing. Teeth chattering. I told them I was feeling worse and the other Epipen might be needed. Jason got it ready and I told them to tell my Mom that I loved her if I didn't make it. Channin gasped, “Don't say that. You'll make it. Keep breathing. Here, I can help you walk.” We kept walking toward the car, toward salvation. I mustered up all the energy I could to hold fast, to hang on for dear life, to keep breathing, walking, moving.
     Finally we were back at the trail head parking lot. Channin and Jason literally threw my backpack in my car, Channin got behind the wheel of my car and we were racing down the dusty dirt road, Jason following us in his truck. Channin told me that she was going to graduate school in the Fall to be a physical therapist. I told her that she would make a very, very, good physical therapist. I looked out the window at the forest, at the river. I looked at my legs and arms. My hives had joined together and my body was covered in one big itchy hive. My stomach and my abdominal organs inside my body started to ache. There was a lot of physical pain. My organs, my intestines, my guts hurt so bad. I attributed to the anaphylactic shock. My body was routing blood and oxygen from all non-essential life support systems. My internal organs were dying inside me.
     Looking out the window my vision started seeing this sparkling static everywhere.  In very pretty pastel colors.  It looked as if everything in the universe was made of a shimmering energy field.  It was very zen, very peaceful and I liked it a lot.  I felt really spiritual, really connected to this energy matrix of billions of tiny twinkling lights.  I do not know if it was a mystical consciousness revelation, or a biological effect from my brain getting less and less oxygen.  I somehow had this knowing inside me that I needed to give everything I had to fighting to stay alive, but beyond my life, this fight, this struggle, I was surrounded by this loving force that permeated everything and it sparkled as I looked around.  When I have intense spiritual experiences, I am occasionally able to see this sparkling love energy field again.  It's in my vision sometimes , but I know it's always there.  Whatever it was, mystical spiritual experience, or hallucinations of a dying brain, it was very nice, and I am no longer scared of death.  
     It was a 45 minute drive to the hospital. We stopped twice: once at the gas station for directions to the hospital and once at the North Bend Twin Peaks Cafe, when we didn't see any signs. I remember thinking how ridiculous it was to be dying in the car and looking at this cheesy restaurant from that weird television show. One more mile to the hospital, the waitress said, just turn left and you'll see the big sign. Channin sped out onto the road and tore into the Emergency Room lot.
     We spilled out of the car and I grabbed my phone for Channin to call Jason (He was no longer following us) and my wallet (identification) and we stumbled through the entrance to emergency room. I mumbled to the receptionist something that I was experiencing an anaphylactic reaction, and then I started vomiting. All over the ER floor. Doubled over in pain. My internal organs do not like to be without oxygen, and they were letting my body know all about it. The receptionist threw a vomit bag to Channin who handed it to me. Which I used as my stomach sickly emptied itself in throes. I continued to vomit, as nurses raced around me. One asked me if I needed a wheelchair, and I said No Thank You. I was fading fast, but I could still walk! On the weakest shakiest legs that which I have ever known, I kept walking one foot in front of the other until I collapsed onto the hospital bed.
     I wasn't given any tests, except the doctor trying to open my mouth to evaluate the severity of the swelling of my throat. He then ordered another shot of epinephrine. I remember the nurses racing to give me another Epinephrine injection in the rear, and then noticed an IV being installed in my arm and various chemicals like IV Benadryl and the mega-steroid Salumedrol being pumped into my bloodstream. I was now officially going to make it. Cool.
     I saw Channin and Jason one more time. They visited me in my ER room to say goodbye. I told them that I was sorry that my allergies ruined their day out, and I thanked them several times for sticking with me and saving my life. I asked them if they were going back out to mountain bike to the hot springs that day, and Channin said: “No Way! We're gonna go get a drink at a bar around here!!” I agreed that was a fine thing to do, and I said that there must be a lot of taverns and bars in North Bend, it was an old logging town. We laughed about it, and they left. They were heroes. They saved my life.
     And after they left, despite the steroids and epinephrine, I fell asleep. Surviving that day was probably the most exhausting and taxing experience I have ever had.