Solo at Powell

Nick

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It's been a long, slow recovery from my knee replacement in November. Months of sitting on the couch popping pain pills can really take it's toll. So I decided I'd head south for a little boat camping. I was giddy to get out of the house, so I was up early and on my way before 6am. It was 27˚ at my house in Salt Lake. Boating sounds like a great idea!

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I picked up the boat and went to the Wahweap ramp to launch. This was my first time ever launching and retrieving by myself. It went well and soon Nikita was busy searching for fish; her new favorite activity.
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It was pushing 50˚ out. The air was clean and it felt great to be out of Salt Lake. There were no other boats around, until I ran into this big barge that nearly took up the entire width of the Castle Rock Cut. I turned around at first before I realized he was making room for me to get by.
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It was still pretty tight. On I went...
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Shorts and flip flops felt great standing still, but it was pretty damn cold as I cruised up lake to Padre Bay. I bundled up and put the throttle down to get it over with quickly. Soon I was floating around the glassy waters below Cookie Jar Butte looking for a place to call home for the night.
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That'll do.
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After getting anchors set, I wandered up to a nice vantage point on the rocks to sit and take it in. Sage was beyond stoked to be out playing fetch again.
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And Nikita's old bones couldn't get enough of that low-angle winter sun.
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And then it was back to the boat for a drink. Just walking is still pretty tough for my knee. The process of loading, launching and anchoring the boat and then going for a short hike did me in.
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But after sitting down and checking out the local satellite imagery, I realized there were some massive potholes right near my camp. They were one of the reasons I wanted to find a camp near Cookie Jar Butte. I've admired them on Google Earth, some measuring 120'+ in diameter. I really wanted to see them up close. So we were off for another short hike.
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One of the big keeper potholes near Cookie Jar Butte. They were all dry.
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The biggest one in the distance. It was all full of trees and not as deep as I'd hoped. Still might have been a keeper but not as dramatic as the smaller ones in the area.
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Looking down into one of the other keepers.
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Nikita was just so damn happy to be out there. After our hike, she sat on the rocks just staring around with a grin on her face.
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"What's that you say, biped? Foods?"
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There was a nice sunset that night.
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And it just kept going well after dark. The stars were coming out and the horizon was blood red. Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Right?
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I had a fantastic night laying out on the boat. Being alone amplified the experience for sure. I fiddled with the stereo system and got it nice and tuned, then turned it way up and just stared at the milky way. It was downright euphoric.
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I slept on the boat, as usual. I didn't have the energy to even setup my stove that night after everything else. Canned fish and an apple would suffice for dinner.
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Big yawn as Nikita emerges from underneath my sleeping bag.
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One thing I did not anticipate was the heavy dew that occurred each night. It was almost as if it had rained on everything.
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After warming up, I pulled anchors and headed up lake toward Face Canyon.
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I found a little beach that I thought would give me great early and late light and setup camp.
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Unfortunately, my trip took a turn south at this point. After eating lunch, I felt a funny feeling in my chest. Like a fluttering and skipped beats. I tried to meditate my way out of it at first. Then I decided to go fishing, so I motored around the mouth of Face Canyon for a bit. After a few hours I started to worry a bit. I had radio contact where I was, so I figured if I needed emergency medical help, a chopper could land near my camp and get me out. But what about my dogs? They certainly wouldn't take them. I was 30+ miles up lake at this point. Crap.

After much deliberation and a phone call to my wife, I decided to pull camp and head closer to Wahweap. I put the hammer down and got a good 38mph all the way there. Brisk!

As I pulled into Wahweap Bay, I decided maybe I felt a little better, so I found a beach and setup a new camp.
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It wasn't as nice as the last one, but it did have a big beach that Sage loved to play fetch on.
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The very last seconds of sun light as Sage finally decides she'd had enough.
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Some nice pastels after sunset.
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After the sun went down, I opened the shade bimini on the boat to try to deflect some of the dew. It hindered star gazing, but it kept us a bit drier.
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It was a bitter cold night out and my heart was still doing funny things. It was not the euphoric star gazing experience that I had the first night. In fact, I was bored. But on the bright side, I had killer cell service in Wahweap Bay, so I hooked the iPad up to the boat stereo and watched a few episodes of Bob's Burgers to kill some time. All the while totally wrapped up in my sleeping bag and wishing I had anything to set on fire for warmth. The last campsite I was in had plenty and I had been looking forward to it.
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It was an awful night of sleep. I got a hole in my pad so I was basically just sleeping on the wood floor. And the fluttering heartbeat issues I was having were awful, especially laying down. I won't lie, the paranoid side of me wondered a few times if I was going to wake up in the morning. I didn't understand what was happening. And man was it cold. I was happy to see the sun on the horizon first thing.
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Yep, a lot colder than the previous night.
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I sat in the sun for a while before pulling anchors and heading back to the ramp. It was an unusually difficult half mile hike to the truck and then another hour and a half to clean and empty the boat before heading back. My heart was beating out of my chest.

I made it home and slept like a rock until the next day. The funny feeling in my chest persisted into the evening, so I finally decided to get it checked out. I was sure it was nothing, so we went to a smaller ER/InstaCare facility thinking we'd be in and out faster. They got me into a room and quickly determined I was having a serious cardiac event, and had been for several days. My resting heart rate was pushing 200 or more and an irregular heart beat was detected. All sorts of wires, tubes and machines were quickly attached to me. A syringe came out and they told me this might not feel great, but to not freak out. "That's kind of odd", I thought. As the drugs hit my system, my heart came to a brief stop. The intended consequence, in hopes of restarting my heart into it's normal, healthy rhythm. But then it immediately popped right back up and started racing again. Time for a double dose this time, they told me. The feeling of death as that drug crept through my veins is like nothing I've ever experienced. I was mid-sentence as it hit me, my words trailed off and a soft whimper slowly took over. My eyes watered and my vision narrowed and fell out of focus. So this is what dying feels like? Baboom baboom baboom! My heart restarts again and starts racing away. Crap.

The ER staff were clearly a bit dumbfounded. I guess that method usually does the trick. Over the next 5 hours they tried a couple more drugs that weren't nearly as terrifying before eventually loading me into an ambulance around midnight. The 90mph ride to the University of Utah hospital was interesting. The only other time I'd had a ride in an ambulance was just after getting hit across the eyes with a baseball bat in 7th grade. This was the first time I actually got to see it!

Sometime after midnight we arrived at the main ER where they redid most of the tests done at the first ER. Thankfully, they did not try to chemically restart my heart again. They wanted to admit me to the hospital but the place was tip-top full. Instead, they wheeled a bed into one of the rooms in the ER where I spent the next 12 hours on a drip intended to bring my heart rate down to a more manageable level. It clipped along between 130-150 all night long despite the drugs. The kind of HR you'd expect midway through a marathon, not laying in bed.

Sometime between multiple needles getting shot into my belly, an ultrasound and many vials of drawn blood, a team of 5 or 6 doctors came in and told me that since all the usual efforts to fix me have failed, they'd need to resort to shocking me. After around 19 hours, they wheeled me into a new room where I got some neat stickers applied to my chest and back. Then it was time for a scope to make sure no clots had formed in my heart. And then they pumped up the drugs and ZAP! I don't remember it, thankfully, but they gave me a little printout from the machine that shows my irregular heartbeat, then I flatlined. Then ZAP and a slow return to a normal healthy, heartbeat. All fixed now. They sent me back to the room where I got a chicken salad and a big glass of water and they finally let me go after 22 hours. The diagnosis: atrial fibrillation. After telling the docs that I was drinking the night before, they started calling it 'holiday heart'. I suppose some lifestyle adjustments are in order. What a trip. I think next time I'll try a little harder to round up some company.

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Parma

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I like the trip...dislike the heart problems. Man, that sucks! Hope you are OK now. Do you have a follow up or two to check on you?
Did the Drs have you change anything in your diet or give you medication to help that it won't happen again?
 

Nick

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I have a follow up next week with a cardio specialist and I'm on drugs in the short term to keep it in check and to keep from having a stroke if it produced any clots that they missed. My blood work all came back great and they didn't say anything specifically other than the whole 'holiday heart' thing. I guess it's pretty common, especially around the holidays when people get together and drink a lot, for this kind of thing to happen. Regardless of the cause, it was a life changing experience that will have some big impacts on what I choose to put into my body going forward.
 

Joey

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Apr 1, 2014
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Wow. Glad your doing okay. I had some similar experiences this summer, although not nearly as severe as you. On about 4 different occasions, I had what we now think are panic attacks while out in the backcountry. My heart rate would increase to almost 200 beats per minute, and would not really decrease when resting. I felt extremely funny and would shake. My heart rate would speed up and then slow down. I had to abort 3 different trips, and once spent 2 nights on Shoshone Lake just lying in my tent, thinking I was going to die. If I even tried to walk, my heart rate would climb, and I would get this creepy sensation all over my body. The fourth time it happened up in Glacier (while on a 7 day backcountry trip), I turned around and went straight to the urgent care. They did blood work and an EKG. Doctor said it was anxiety.

However, in each instance, I had drank alcohol the nights before my episodes. I remember reading about the "holiday heart" thing and definitely think alcohol played a factor in my situation. I have since cut down the amount of alcohol I drink.

Hope everything turns out okay for you Nick. That's got to be a scary feeling.
 

Scott Chandler

Wildness is a necessity- John Muir
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Gorgeous pictures Nick. I like your pups. Too darn cute.

With any luck that heart of yours wont play around anymore.
 

Nick

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Wow. Glad your doing okay. I had some similar experiences this summer, although not nearly as severe as you. On about 4 different occasions, I had what we now think are panic attacks while out in the backcountry. My heart rate would increase to almost 200 beats per minute, and would not really decrease when resting. I felt extremely funny and would shake. My heart rate would speed up and then slow down. I had to abort 3 different trips, and once spent 2 nights on Shoshone Lake just lying in my tent, thinking I was going to die. If I even tried to walk, my heart rate would climb, and I would get this creepy sensation all over my body. The fourth time it happened up in Glacier (while on a 7 day backcountry trip), I turned around and went straight to the urgent care. They did blood work and an EKG. Doctor said it was anxiety.

However, in each instance, I had drank alcohol the nights before my episodes. I remember reading about the "holiday heart" thing and definitely think alcohol played a factor in my situation. I have since cut down the amount of alcohol I drink.

Hope everything turns out okay for you Nick. That's got to be a scary feeling.

That's freaky man. My brother who is otherwise very healthy has supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and it sounds a lot like that. He found out because his heart would randomly start pumping like 200 bpm. It's now under control with a pill. Maybe that's worth checking with a cardio doc about if it persists.

If it ever hits you again, it might be worth trying a vagal maneuver. I just read up about it, but when your heart is in SVT, you can right it by doing something that will stimulate the vagus nerve. Dipping your face or jumping into cold water for instance. In retrospect, I wonder if I had just jumped into that 48˚ water out there if mine would have been fixed. Probably not considering all the drugs they threw at it, but maybe for others in less severe situations. More on that here: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/tc/supraventricular-tachycardia-treatment-overview
 

Ben

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what an insane trip @Nick . awesome dog pics, awesome potholes, awesome sun set. hope your heart continues to function as it is meant to.

also, what do you mean when you say 'keeper' in reference to the pot holes. they don't leak?
 

Nick

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Thanks, Ben. A 'keeper pothole' is a canyoneering term for a pothole that is extremely difficult to get out of. Often you're just swimming and can't touch bottom and the walls are too vertical and smooth to get out. Easy way to die.
 

Clint_N

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Another nice trip report Nick. Again making me sad that I don't have a pontoon boat. The SVT thing is shit; glad you got home alright and after all the testing and treatment that it is under control. Did you drink much to cause it or was it also a bit of bad luck. Hope it's all going well and with the new knee too. It sounds like a good idea to maybe seek companions for trips for now until you knows the condition is stabilized or gone. Take care!
 

gnwatts

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Beautiful shots Nick.
I am glad you made it out ok and figured out what/is wrong. When it comes to "fluttering" in the chest there are so many things that it could be you are obviously fortunate to find out what it was. How the electronics work in our body is pretty mysterious.
 

Nick

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Did you drink much to cause it or was it also a bit of bad luck.

I really don't know. To be honest, I didn't drink that much. I mean hell, I was alone. With a little encouragement I'm sure I could have done a lot more damage! And as a friend just mentioned in a private message, sometimes docs just don't know so they have to say something. Of all the trips I deserved to get 'holiday heart', this shouldn't have been it. :)

When it comes to "fluttering" in the chest there are so many things that it could be you are obviously fortunate to find out what it was. How the electronics work in our body is pretty mysterious.

So true. I had a similar feeling maybe 10 years ago. I went into the doc and they did all the tests and told me that it was just a muscles spasm in my esophagus - no big deal. Felt pretty much exactly like this ordeal felt and probably one of the big reasons I was hesitant to do much about it.
 

Ben

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ask five different doctors, you can get five different answers. most of the time they don't really "know" what it is. more of a best guess kind of business.
 

Laura

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Well, I was really enjoying the trip until the cardiac event part! I had to reassure myself that since you obviously lived to write about it everything came out okay in the end. Stan has a-fib, he's had it for about 15 years (he's 57 now) and he went through the same awful treatment you did and his heart wouldn't reset, either. The good thing is that all he needs to do is take diltiazem (slows his heart rate) and an aspirin every morning and he can go about normal activities (yes, even those activities that make your heart race). His cardiologist encourages him to exercise and be active as much as possible because that also lowers your heart rate as you get in shape. Alcohol in moderation (he has a few beers each day) is okay, but nothing in excess. I imagine you'll hear something similar when you see a cardiologist. But the bottom line is as long as he takes his medicine it doesn't affect him at all. Hope you'll have the same outcome.

Oh yes, great pics, love the dog shots!
 

Vegan.Hiker

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First an foremost I'm glad you're okay Nick. I can see how that would be a life changing experience. Other than the medical issues, it looked like an awesome trip and your photos are amazing. Those potholes are wild. I'm going to have to google what causes them to form now.
 

Jeff Hilton

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May 24, 2014
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It's been a long, slow recovery from my knee replacement in November. Months of sitting on the couch popping pain pills can really take it's toll. So I decided I'd head south for a little boat camping. I was giddy to get out of the house, so I was up early and on my way before 6am. It was 27˚ at my house in Salt Lake. Boating sounds like a great idea!

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I picked up the boat and went to the Wahweap ramp to launch. This was my first time ever launching and retrieving by myself. It went well and soon Nikita was busy searching for fish; her new favorite activity.
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It was pushing 50˚ out. The air was clean and it felt great to be out of Salt Lake. There were no other boats around, until I ran into this big barge that nearly took up the entire width of the Castle Rock Cut. I turned around at first before I realized he was making room for me to get by.
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It was still pretty tight. On I went...
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Shorts and flip flops felt great standing still, but it was pretty damn cold as I cruised up lake to Padre Bay. I bundled up and put the throttle down to get it over with quickly. Soon I was floating around the glassy waters below Cookie Jar Butte looking for a place to call home for the night.
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That'll do.
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After getting anchors set, I wandered up to a nice vantage point on the rocks to sit and take it in. Sage was beyond stoked to be out playing fetch again.
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And Nikita's old bones couldn't get enough of that low-angle winter sun.
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And then it was back to the boat for a drink. Just walking is still pretty tough for my knee. The process of loading, launching and anchoring the boat and then going for a short hike did me in.
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But after sitting down and checking out the local satellite imagery, I realized there were some massive potholes right near my camp. They were one of the reasons I wanted to find a camp near Cookie Jar Butte. I've admired them on Google Earth, some measuring 120'+ in diameter. I really wanted to see them up close. So we were off for another short hike.
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One of the big keeper potholes near Cookie Jar Butte. They were all dry.
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The biggest one in the distance. It was all full of trees and not as deep as I'd hoped. Still might have been a keeper but not as dramatic as the smaller ones in the area.
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Looking down into one of the other keepers.
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Nikita was just so damn happy to be out there. After our hike, she sat on the rocks just staring around with a grin on her face.
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"What's that you say, biped? Foods?"
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There was a nice sunset that night.
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And it just kept going well after dark. The stars were coming out and the horizon was blood red. Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Right?
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I had a fantastic night laying out on the boat. Being alone amplified the experience for sure. I fiddled with the stereo system and got it nice and tuned, then turned it way up and just stared at the milky way. It was downright euphoric.
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I slept on the boat, as usual. I didn't have the energy to even setup my stove that night after everything else. Canned fish and an apple would suffice for dinner. View attachment 25095

Big yawn as Nikita emerges from underneath my sleeping bag.
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One thing I did not anticipate was the heavy dew that occurred each night. It was almost as if it had rained on everything.
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After warming up, I pulled anchors and headed up lake toward Face Canyon.
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I found a little beach that I thought would give me great early and late light and setup camp.
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Unfortunately, my trip took a turn south at this point. After eating lunch, I felt a funny feeling in my chest. Like a fluttering and skipped beats. I tried to meditate my way out of it at first. Then I decided to go fishing, so I motored around the mouth of Face Canyon for a bit. After a few hours I started to worry a bit. I had radio contact where I was, so I figured if I needed emergency medical help, a chopper could land near my camp and get me out. But what about my dogs? They certainly wouldn't take them. I was 30+ miles up lake at this point. Crap.

After much deliberation and a phone call to my wife, I decided to pull camp and head closer to Wahweap. I put the hammer down and got a good 38mph all the way there. Brisk!

As I pulled into Wahweap Bay, I decided maybe I felt a little better, so I found a beach and setup a new camp.
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It wasn't as nice as the last one, but it did have a big beach that Sage loved to play fetch on.
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The very last seconds of sun light as Sage finally decides she'd had enough.
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Some nice pastels after sunset.
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After the sun went down, I opened the shade bimini on the boat to try to deflect some of the dew. It hindered star gazing, but it kept us a bit drier.
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It was a bitter cold night out and my heart was still doing funny things. It was not the euphoric star gazing experience that I had the first night. In fact, I was bored. But on the bright side, I had killer cell service in Wahweap Bay, so I hooked the iPad up to the boat stereo and watched a few episodes of Bob's Burgers to kill some time. All the while totally wrapped up in my sleeping bag and wishing I had anything to set on fire for warmth. The last campsite I was in had plenty and I had been looking forward to it.
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It was an awful night of sleep. I got a hole in my pad so I was basically just sleeping on the wood floor. And the fluttering heartbeat issues I was having were awful, especially laying down. I won't lie, the paranoid side of me wondered a few times if I was going to wake up in the morning. I didn't understand what was happening. And man was it cold. I was happy to see the sun on the horizon first thing.
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Yep, a lot colder than the previous night.
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I sat in the sun for a while before pulling anchors and heading back to the ramp. It was an unusually difficult half mile hike to the truck and then another hour and a half to clean and empty the boat before heading back. My heart was beating out of my chest.

I made it home and slept like a rock until the next day. The funny feeling in my chest persisted into the evening, so I finally decided to get it checked out. I was sure it was nothing, so we went to a smaller ER/InstaCare facility thinking we'd be in and out faster. They got me into a room and quickly determined I was having a serious cardiac event, and had been for several days. My resting heart rate was pushing 200 or more and an irregular heart beat was detected. All sorts of wires, tubes and machines were quickly attached to me. A syringe came out and they told me this might not feel great, but to not freak out. "That's kind of odd", I thought. As the drugs hit my system, my heart came to a brief stop. The intended consequence, in hopes of restarting my heart into it's normal, healthy rhythm. But then it immediately popped right back up and started racing again. Time for a double dose this time, they told me. The feeling of death as that drug crept through my veins is like nothing I've ever experienced. I was mid-sentence as it hit me, my words trailed off and a soft whimper slowly took over. My eyes watered and my vision narrowed and fell out of focus. So this is what dying feels like? Baboom baboom baboom! My heart restarts again and starts racing away. Crap.

The ER staff were clearly a bit dumbfounded. I guess that method usually does the trick. Over the next 5 hours they tried a couple more drugs that weren't nearly as terrifying before eventually loading me into an ambulance around midnight. The 90mph ride to the University of Utah hospital was interesting. The only other time I'd had a ride in an ambulance was just after getting hit across the eyes with a baseball bat in 7th grade. This was the first time I actually got to see it!

Sometime after midnight we arrived at the main ER where they redid most of the tests done at the first ER. Thankfully, they did not try to chemically restart my heart again. They wanted to admit me to the hospital but the place was tip-top full. Instead, they wheeled a bed into one of the rooms in the ER where I spent the next 12 hours on a drip intended to bring my heart rate down to a more manageable level. It clipped along between 130-150 all night long despite the drugs. The kind of HR you'd expect midway through a marathon, not laying in bed.

Sometime between multiple needles getting shot into my belly, an ultrasound and many vials of drawn blood, a team of 5 or 6 doctors came in and told me that since all the usual efforts to fix me have failed, they'd need to resort to shocking me. After around 19 hours, they wheeled me into a new room where I got some neat stickers applied to my chest and back. Then it was time for a scope to make sure no clots had formed in my heart. And then they pumped up the drugs and ZAP! I don't remember it, thankfully, but they gave me a little printout from the machine that shows my irregular heartbeat, then I flatlined. Then ZAP and a slow return to a normal healthy, heartbeat. All fixed now. They sent me back to the room where I got a chicken salad and a big glass of water and they finally let me go after 22 hours. The diagnosis: supraventricular tachycardia and atrial fibrillation. After telling the docs that I was drinking the night before, they started calling it 'holiday heart'. I suppose some lifestyle adjustments are in order. What a trip. I think next time I'll try a little harder to round up some company.

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Scary shit man glad your doing better.
 

Curt

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Feb 1, 2014
Messages
400
Wow! When it rains it pours. I'm just glad you're ok. Just like Laura, I'm reading this going, "He's ok isn't he?"

2012 was a year that sucked for me health - wise. I also had several things go on that year. Back surgery put me out of commission for a month., and it took about 6 months to get back to feeling normal. Then I had eye surgery. When that didn't work we did it again a couple months later. To top it off I had some symptoms that sent me to the hospital for surgery to find out if I had cancer. I was feeling pretty mortal as I imagine that you are too right now. Everything turned out ok and I haven't had any recurrences of anything that happened in 2012. But, back surgery in particular, has forced me to make several life style changes. Just a whole long list of things I don't dare to do anymore or that I approach with a lot of caution. I Hope all of this doesn't result in you having to make a lot of life style changes too. But if it does, I wish you all the best for success in accomplishing that. It can be tough but you don't really have anything if you don't have your health.
 

Dave

Broadcaster, formerly "ashergrey"
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Just getting caught up on this. Glad you had the wisdom to move toward civilization.

Pain in the chest does strange things to a person psychologically. You come away with perspective others don't really understand.
 

andyjaggy

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Dec 2, 2013
Messages
925
Wow. Glad your doing okay. I had some similar experiences this summer, although not nearly as severe as you. On about 4 different occasions, I had what we now think are panic attacks while out in the backcountry. My heart rate would increase to almost 200 beats per minute, and would not really decrease when resting. I felt extremely funny and would shake. My heart rate would speed up and then slow down. I had to abort 3 different trips, and once spent 2 nights on Shoshone Lake just lying in my tent, thinking I was going to die. If I even tried to walk, my heart rate would climb, and I would get this creepy sensation all over my body. The fourth time it happened up in Glacier (while on a 7 day backcountry trip), I turned around and went straight to the urgent care. They did blood work and an EKG. Doctor said it was anxiety.

Hope everything turns out okay for you Nick. That's got to be a scary feeling.

Crazy. I've never had anxiety in my life until this past November when I started having some pretty bad panic/anxiety problems. It sounds pretty similar to what you experienced.
 

Mike K

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Jul 6, 2012
Messages
823
Wow! I echo what's been said...great trip (mostly), great pics, cool dogs, the pictures of grilling made me hungry, and a crazy health episode. Interesting trip! Glad you got it taken care of. Hopefully it'll be a non-issue / manageable going forward.
 
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