Saturday, October 13, 2018

AWLS

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the A.W.L.S. class put on by Backcountry Medical Guides at Lake Tahoe. Today I want to put up a review. For those who aren't familiar with me, Hi! My name is Eric. I'm an emergency room nurse and have been for the past ten years. I've done lots of these medical classes from ACLS and PALS to TNCC and so on. I even taught PALS for about a year. I also got my EMT-basic right before nursing school.



My hospital provides nurses with a stipend every year which can be used for a relevant class. I was able to convince them that this class was relevant and I'm glad I did.

I was initially going to go to a version of this class at Mt. Hood, but I didn't get enrolled in time. These things fill up so register early if you can. Instead, a co-worker and I went to the Lake Tahoe class. It's hard to argue with Lake Tahoe as a setting and the weather was pretty perfect.


Our class went Friday through Sunday. For those of you who are going to have to justify the class expense to some corporate entity, much of the curriculum was about sharpening your patient assessment skills. Who couldn't use better patient assessment skills, AMIRIGHT?

Sorry for shouting, I get excited.

Much of the information I got out of this class is stuff I have encountered elsewhere previously. What is invaluable is putting it in proper context.  Since I became an ER nurse, I have come across accidents in the field, had neighbors and family members come to me with reports of traumatic injuries and all sorts of other things of that nature. I always get off to a slow start. I struggle because I don't have my monitors and my co-workers and all the endless supplies that I need. This class tackles those injuries and incidents with nothing more than you might have in a backpacking first-aid kit.

Oh yeah, and it goes over what is good for first-aid kits in different scenarios. That alone is worth the price of the course damn near. How many times have you packed for something and tried to figure out what would be a good kit without packing bags of NS and two cubic feet of kerlix?

The information in the course is fantastic and is delivered, in this case anyway, by people that really know what they are talking about. John, the lead instructor in this case, was EMS in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons as well as a flight medic. The other two instructors were equally as experienced and proficient.

So, if getting better and more confident at patient assessment and treatment of patients in an out-of-hospital setting, specifically the waaaayyyyy out of hospital setting of three days out into the wilderness, sounds good to you, sign up now. Classes fill up fast.

I would give the class an A+.

Enjoy some pictures.

Improvised litters with a sleeping mat and climbing rope


Hard to concentrate with the beach outside


Warming a trauma patient in the field

Improvised c-collar with a SAM splint

Just another mass casualty

Improvised splints

Scenarios in the woods

Zoom in, five scenario groups


Poor John, we "fixed" him


As an aside, we were at a small conference center with room for another conference. The other group was a group of clairvoyants. Seemed really ironic to me that one room was filled with people who thought they could see the future and one was filled with people preparing because they knew they couldn't predict the future.



Also, why hold a raffle with people who can see into the future?


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Walkies with Buster

I took Buster for a walk down some forestry roads behind our place. It's a great place to let him off leash. Of course, I can't let him off leash until we are well out into the distance because I have enough problems with the neighbors already, thanks to Buster.

As soon as we got past the gate, I started getting him used to the idea of listening to me. I ask him to stop, he usually does because we've worked on this before and he's a smart dog. Sometimes he doesn't though because he's only seven months old and still a puppy -- despite how big he looks.
I get him to stop and stay stopped long enough that he no longer shows interest in going anywhere. Then, I make him wait for me to catch up to him before we both proceed forward. It usually only takes a few repetitions and we're in a good place.   

After two or three of these, as I catch up to him I undo his leash and we're having walkies. 

For the first mile or so, Buster runs along the dusty, gravel road and disappears into the scrub layer or the forest only to emerge a short distance later with a look on his face that says "Can you believe that?" only to run forward a little bit a repeat the process. Then we come to the first major road junction. 

I didn't teach him explicitly, but he waits at each trail junction until I catch up. Only when I make a turn down one of the forks, does he leap forward and zoomie past me. The big one is the turn that takes us down, through ATV trails, to the river. 

We drop down into the valley and get off the dusty gravel road. The ATV trails are shady tracks well, worn into the pine needle-covered earth. As we walked along, I reached down and picked up a smooth stick around a foot long and loudly decreed to Buster that this was the stick of destiny. 

We sometimes play a simple fetch with whatever stick of destiny is at hand, but I was trying something new today. Instead of fetching me back just any old dry stick, I was going to try to teach Buster to get me the Stick of Destiny.  

Down by the river, Buster sticks closer. I think it's because the ATV trails have so many intersections, he stays close so he doesn't get lost. If he does though, trails don't mean much. He gallumphs through the ferns in a straight line from wherever he is to where ever I am anyway. 

Since he was closer, I decided this was the time. 

I held up the Stick of Destiny and called his name. Buster turned and looked back at me. I lifted the stick to my face and loudly snuffled at it. There could be no mistaking. I was smelling it. 

Buster looked at me like I'd gone crazy. But, interested, he came back to check out that stick. I let him smell it too, but when he opened his mouth to take it, I pulled back. Attentive now, he watched as I threw the stick down the trail. 

Familiar with the game, Buster tore off after and promptly picked up the nearest stick and raced back. Rather than stand their and wait for his return, as soon as I threw the stick, I ran after. When he turned around only to see me race past, he hesitated only a second before turning around and following. As soon as I got to the stick, I started celebrating and then I let him sniff the stick. When he tried to take the stick away, I repeated the game. 

It only lasted a few rounds before he lost interest, especially when we got close to the river. Every thought of a game swept right out of his head as he tore off at top speed to splash into the river. He romped and played for a minute and then we were off again. There were several places where a big, strong dog could get into and out of the river and he wanted to splash in to each of them. Along the way he tried to steal the Stick of Destiny out of my hand which prompted another round of search. This time, though, he picked out the Stick of Destiny from a bunch of other sticks! I rewarded him with all the praise and enthusiasm I had. Great dog! A couple more successful searches and we were close to the next river entrance. He started off again at full speed, but this time he had the Stick of Destiny in his mouth. 

Buster isn't real good at drop it yet. He understands, I think, but just doesn't really want to drop it. 

He stopped when I told him to, about three feet from the river. He turned and looked at me with the stick hanging out of his mouth. It took several repetitions, but he dropped the stick and plunged in to the river. 

What a good dog. We spent an extra minute or two as a reward and then started home. The final third of the loop is mostly uphill and back on the dusty gravel. The day was hot and I was sweating through my shirt. Buster obviously liked the river better. He stayed close all the way up. As we hit a slight down hill section, Buster trotted out further ahead. I heard the sound of a dirt bike in the distance. They fly down the logging roads fast and a loose dog is dangerous to everybody. I called for Buster to stop.

He turned and looked. Then he kept on trotting ahead. 

Shit. 

I kept calling. Each time, he turned and looked, smiled, and dept right on trotting away. 

I tried cajoling voice, commanding voice, demanding voice, all to no avail. 

Frustrated, I threw the Stick of Destiny at him hoping he would start to play the game. But he ignored as it landed off the side of the road in the brush. The motorcycle sound had faded, but he had to get leashed up again anyway. We were nearing the end of the hike and we couldn't have another Wetlands Incident. Besides, he had to learn. I warned him and yelled a few more times. He continued to trot farther and farther down the road. 

I was angry. So I turned and started back the way we came. I fully intended to reverse the last four miles instead of finish the last mile of the loop. This trick had worked once before. I hated to used it again. Too many times and he would be on to it. 

I made it about three-hundred yards down the road before I heard the tinkle of Buster's name tag come up behind me. Instead of running past me, allowing me to grab his collar like last time, he set up a few feet behind and fell in. I stopped but didn't turn around because I was angry and didn't want to scare him away. 

As soon as I stopped, I heard something fall. I turned around to see him standing two feet behind me with the Stick of Destiny on the ground in front of him.

I swear he smiled. 

He had to go back on the leash, of course. There was no way I could be mad at him though. I told him "Let's go home." He trotted forward and we finished our walk. 



Saturday, July 21, 2018

A fairy tale

I'm transitioning this site to be about writing. I suppose I should start putting up some writing.

Here is a little fairy tale.

Winning.

By me.



There once was a boy who loved winning. 

Silly, isn't it? Everyone loves winning. 

But this boy loved winning quite a lot. Much more than the other children. 

The other children loved winning too, but they equally loved other things like flowers, and music, and chocolate.

The one little boy thought they weren't very smart. After all, if he won, he got rewards too. Especially when they played games for chocolates.  And when he won, he would sing a song too, but about himself and how great winning was. 

The other children didn't like to play with him. When they told him they didn't like playing with him because he took all their chocoaltes, he said he didn't care. They just didn't like winning as much as he did. 

So the boy looked at the other children and said, "You're all too easy to beat anyway." Then he clapped his hands together and walked away. Besides, they never sang the songs about him, even when he won. 

He went into the world in search of people who would play with him. Maybe they had chocolates, and other things he could win from them. He thought of the great songs he would make them all sing. 

He met many other people and it turned out they like to win quite a lot too. They were very good at winning. The boy couldn't beat everyone anymore. Some would beat him and he grew very angry. Then, one day, he met a man who said he knew why all these other people were beating him and he would tell him if only he would give him all of the chocolates he had left. 

"My boy," The man said, "The reason they are beating you is because they are CHEATING!" 

The boy thought hard about all the times he lost and became convinced they all had cheated him. Of course they had! They could never have beaten someone who loved winning as much as he did without cheating.  

The man walked away laughing because he had won all the chocolates, but the boy left laughing too. For he knew how to win better than ever before. And winning was better than chocolates. 

The boy went back and cheated and began beating all the other people. He grew so good at cheating that he could even beat the best cheaters. 

Eventually he grew to be a man. 

The man went back to the children, who were also grown, to show them how good he had become at winning. It wasn't long before he had almost all of their chocolates and other things too. Because he had gotten so good at cheating that he had invented games where he could win even if the others didn't know they were playing. And the man laughed and made them sing songs about how wonderful he was at winning. But eventually he got tired of even that. He had won all the things he wanted from the people and rode a chariot high above them all. 
So again, he went off again in search of someone else to win against. 


But not just anyone would do. He wanted to find the most difficult thing to ever win. If he could do that, he wouldn't have to make up his own songs, others would make them up for him. They would have to. He would have won everything. 

No matter how many people he asked, none of them knew the hardest thing to win that he hadn't already won. So, one day, while walking down the street, he saw an old man and an idea came to him. Maybe if he asked a different question. 

"You, old fellow... What is the most powerful thing in the world?" He asked to a humble man pushing a cart down the road. 

The old fellow squinted his eyes up and answered him, "Why, nature is." 

And the man knew it was so. He set out to find nature, and everywhere he could, defeat her. 

The man had become quite powerful and was able to do much damage to the workd before Nature herself heard about the man and set out to meet him. 

She came to him in the remains of a forest. He was chopping down the trees to make musical instruments upon which would be played all of the songs about him.

Nature became the largest tree in the forest. When he walked up to her with his ax, she introduced herself. 

He smiled. For he had been waiting for this moment a long time. 

"Why would you try to defeat me? I am everything you are."

He spit on his palms, picked up his ax and said, "Because I can win at anything, against anything." 

Then he started chopping. 

Nature shook and cried in the way of the tree. Her leaves fell down around him. She had seen this before and knew how it would end. 

She cried out, "You cannot win. For I am you and all your children and their children after that, forever until there is nothing more." 

The man just laughed at her nonsense and kept chopping. He was almost through the tree. He could hear the smaller cracks growing louder. 

"You must stop now. For when you are done, it is forever. There can be no turning back."

"Of course you would say that," He screamed at her, veins bulging out in his neck. "That is what anyone would say if they didn't want to lose!"

And with one last mighty swing, he buried the ax into the tree. A loud crack sounded in the forest. The tree began to fall. He had done it. He had defeated to most powerful thing in the world. 

And there was nothing left to win. 

He sat down next to an old tree stump with a smile. He'd beaten everything, but he felt strange and knew that death was upon him. Looking around, he realized that, even though he had chopped down the tree, he was dying and Nature still remained.

For Nature was weakened. But, like the stars, she could not be defeated. As she weakened, all the creatures of the Earth weakened with her. For they relied on her for everything. She was them and they were her. 

The children of the man and all the people of the Earth did not sing songs about him. They tried not to speak of him at all but, when they did, it was to frighten little children into going to bed. The damage was done and Nature had been made too weak to nourish the people and they died. 

Then Nature grew stronger and returned.


The END.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Let's wrap this up, shall we.

We are no longer full-time travelers.

Obviously.

The lack of blog posts reflects that. Pictures too.

Sure, there are other things going on and I've tried to touch on those from time to time here. I'm still working on the house. We still have chickens and goats. We still try to do some epic hiking and we have some big plans for the year. Don't worry, we'll get to those.

The kitchen needed some work

It got some work.

I'm trying my hand at cabinets. They are cheap, but functional. Just like me.

We even installed a dishwasher which we worship every night.



But the Adventure Nickel adventure has pretty much concluded. I think we can call if officially closed with this.

Presenting: Our Memories



That is what we left behind. These boxes were filled with the things we just couldn't bear to part with. Oh yeah, and one box randomly filled with empty plastic Easter eggs and dollar store decorations.  I submit we may not have been in our right minds when we stashed all this stuff up there.

We recently went back to Houston to visit family and took the opportunity to go back to our stash and get it out of the recesses of the attic. Now that we had a permanent home, it seemed like we should.

And, in true Adventure Nickel fashion, there had to be an incident.

I may have partially fallen through the ceiling. Maybe.


Now that our traveling adventure life has concluded, what do I do with all this? 

It seems pretty cozy here, in my little corner of the internet. Maybe I should keep posting things here.

So, what am I doing that is exciting enough to share about? 

Writing.

Yeah, another book. This one's different though. I'm not saying there won't be an Adventure Nickel Pt 2. There might, but I had to try an actual novel. I'm probably greater than halfway through the rough draft and I'm finally starting to believe I might finish this thing. So, I'm going to start treating this place like the blog of the author I would love to be.

So that's what this will be for the foreseeable future. The blog of a hopefully emerging author. I'm going to be talking about different projects and writing and all the other things that go along with it.

If you are interested, follow along. I'll still post pretty pictures from hikes.

Time to get back to work.


Monday, January 1, 2018

2018


I guess you can see that blogging wasn't a big goal for 2017. Ha.

I'm not sure where it will end up on the 2018 list either, but I can surely start out right.

I could fill you in on all that happened since my last post in June, but really, who cares?

Let's do what new years are for and start fresh.

What am I going to do with 2018?

A friend of mine, Annika, ran her first marathon last year. While accomplishing that goal she achieved a total distance run over the year of 1004 miles. That seems like an awesome goal. I'm going to try to run 1000 miles this year.

I checked the calculator and that is an average of 2.7 miles every day. I ran 3.3 today so, WOOT, I'm beating the average. Of course that will last, right?

Amazing out there today panting and wheezing along in 32 degree temps. It feels like I never ran more than 5 miles in my life. Every tiny incline is like a mountain climb and my legs feel rubbery after 2 miles.

Sigh. Good goals are never easy. If awesome was easy, everybody would do it.

What else?

I want to install a dishwasher. First time in like 9 years we will have a dishwasher. That's a big one.

I want to finish the book I'm writing.

I want to weld something.

I want to build that pizza oven I've been daydreaming about. Sarah tells me I have to build a back deck first, sigh. This goal thing is going to be hard. Sounds like I will be busy.

Oh well. If awesome was easy...

Better get busy. Only 996.7 miles to go