Thankful for sticking a needle in my eye?

26 08 2008

I suppose it could be worse, according to the the pledge “cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye,” I received the lesser of the three, but still… I mean come on, who really keeps up with these promises.  Apparently someone and they are serious about it. They were most likely a hall monitor during his or her youth and this was just part of the natural progression, this or become an IRS agent, or maybe he or she is just into S&M.  Anyway whoever is keeping tally, I hope your happy now and for the record I received no joy in this.  By the way if you know who I broke the promise to some umpteen years ago when I made the pledge, let me know.  If it was about that girl I met and hooked up with at the beach that you wouldn’t know when i was 13, don’t you think this is a little severe?  

Woke up early to get to Emory on time in the middle of the biggest storm we have had in years. I wish I could say the hospital was located on a hill, all by itself and lightening was striking all around, so I knew just what an ominous day it would be, but no, it was just another boring building getting rained on.  I was feeling pretty good about the day, and how the checkup would turn out, but I was a little off with my gut feeling this morning.  So much for using gut instinct anymore.  

I arrived just in time for my 8:50 appointment thanks to Corinne dropping me off out front while she parked. Being on time is apparently not a huge priority for the hospital as I was not called back to see anyone until 9:45.  The first person I saw today was not a Doctor, but did the normal preliminary tests with me, and dilated just my left eye today. They have all sorts of odd looking Dr. Who devices around the place and absolutely no color.  Very stark settings. But when they use the devices to test things out, all ideas about the decor or lack there going flying out, (I’d say window, but they do not have any.) They look like some strange torture devices  but as it turns out they are all pretty benign.

After the initial test Rinne and I were sent out to the waiting area.  This is the worst time in the waiting area.  Your eyes take a little while to fully dilate, but in the mean time you can not  read because your pupils are becoming the size of quarters, not allowing you to focus on any words. You are left sitting there with no magazines with pictures, or books with pictures, just words, and you can not read a one of them. This is cruel, apparently the guy who keeps cross my heart oath is doing a little overtime in the waiting room. 

Eventually we are called back to the room where I get to see the Dr.  For the first time she is the first one through the door, not her intern.  I am stoked to see her.  She is the happiest Dr. I have ever had to deal with in a professional setting. Not only is she friendly, she actually takes the time to explain to me what is happening.  

What’s happening?  Well, the conservative approach to bring back my vision has failed.  I seem to have an edmea, or a pocket of fluid that is causing me to not see so great currently.  So in her words “to expedite the seeing process,”

This sounds good doesn’t it…. but wait for it….

“we are going to stick a needle in your eye.”  


How sticking a sharp needle or for that matter anything in my eye, will “expedite the seeing process” is beyond me, but she somehow convinces me, and gives me the option to do it now or come back in a few days.

Let’s get this over with, I can not begin to imagine having to be anxious about this for several days.  We go over the side effects, glaucoma, infection, retinal detachment… uhhhhh retinal detachment, you mean when my eye falls apart?  

Yeah, that’s the one, but it only happens in less than 1% of the patients.  

Pretty good odds, but seeing how Eale’s disease affects way less than 1% of the general population, I’m not a big fan of this one in a million thing any more.  If someone says you are one in a milliion, with the current population count, that means roughly there are 6.8 million people just like you.  I sure feel special though.

After dropping the needle bomb and seeming way to happy that I’m ok with her sticking a needle in my eye for a shot of steroids she is off to call my insurance company to see if its ok.  I am pleading on the inside that my insurance company has a personal vendetta and will deny the claim, but the oath guy has strong ties everywhere.  The doctor returns with a nurse, and they begin the process.  

Dr. Yan asks if I would like for her to explain each step of the process,

“Absolutely not, but thank you.”

I receive some numbing drops, and the the equivalent of a shot of lidocaine in my eye, before the big shot. The nurse asks me to focus on her why the doctor slips around me and out of my field of vision.  She asks me to keep my eyes on her, which I do.  I have not been this focused on anything in a while.  She has me adjust my eyes back to the middles, and thats when it happens… the needle goes in!@$^&^&

I think I can get used to breaking promises if they stick needles in your eye like this each time.  It was suprisingly not painful, mildly irritating, but not painful.  The anticipation was much worse, but overall the procedure was fast & simple. Now it is just a waiting game for my vision to become of superhero proportions.   This is how I see as of right now…minus the scene in the background. The whole world looks like an evil sno-globe that has been violently shaken, well at least in my left eye.  


Chattooga via Opossum Creek!

23 08 2008




“Camp Branch flows south and west into Opossum Creek shortly before the latter empties into the lower Chattooga River. Camp Branch begins flowing across a plateau at around 1700′ elevation and maintains a low gradient before dropping 400′ over the last half mile. ”   (they’re not kidding)       


Chattooga is at historically low levels, so I thought it would be a good idea to hike into 5 falls and check out just how it looks under most of that water (no need to read any further, it’s scary).  Rinne and I got up and head North to meet Trevor near Tallulah Falls before we started the hike.  We were given impeccable directions to the trailhead by Ken Strickland, who seems to know North Georgia better that anyone, probably even the creator.  If I collect all the emails I have received from him on places to go in Georgia I will have an in depth guide book that would leave the Sierra Club scratching their heads, curious if even these places exist.  Big thanks to Ken who without this it would have never happened, also the Academy, my 11th grade chemistry teacher, I would also like to thank the large lady at the BP this morning with 17 and a half teeth for inspiring me to brush & floss more… what?

Anyway we found the trail with no effort, and started on our way down.  The trail is very well kept and relatively clear, not at all what I expected.  Trevor and I had attempted this same feat last fall, without the Strickland’s beta, and we were bushwhacking a trail that got us to the river, but with about 20 times more effort and about 4 miles from where we wanted to be.  

When we intersected Opossum creek we came out at a rapid called Qualude, and too a much bigger beach than I’ve ever seen on the Chattooga.  It was pretty impressive. It has been a few years since I have been down here, and I forgot how pretty and remote this area is.  We managed to only see one other group on and 83 degree sunny Saturday in August.  



Now a little perspective…

No Water

Add Water

Water dissolving…and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Carry the water at the bottom of the ocean
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean!

We hung out and swam for a couple of hours and then made the march back up the hill and back toward Atlanta.  If anything is to be learned it is do not swim here if you are kayaking, and returning to Atlanta can be a challenge, but I think I will be able to endure… 

Tuesday at Kennesaw

19 08 2008

Went for my regular Tuesday night run at Kennesaw with the GUTS group this evening and for some reason thought it would be a good idea to go over the mountain instead of the normal run. I managed to get over the mountain, but not in a normal running style, it hurt. Perhaps some of it was me not being fully recovered from the weekend, or maybe I just need to ramp up my training. Isn’t there an easier softer way…

On a positive note my downhills are improving. The technical rocky terrain still gives me a few issues and messes with my head more than anything. I only rolled my ankle once this evening!

On another positive note, when I got to the bottom of the mountain, I was 3rd in a group of 5, so I started my way back up the mountain to make sure the 5th was still in working order (this trail has taken its fair share of strong runners down into the dirt). He was not too far behind, so my uphill was limited, and for this I am truly grateful. But this is not the positive note, had I not turned around on the trail and backtracked, I would miss what about 7 people in the park were able to see with me…

DISCLAIMER:These are not the actual deer I saw, but they look similar.

Pretty friggin cool thing to see on an after work run in Atlanta. Actually I think it would be pretty cool to see no matter when or where, but this was a bonus for the run.

1280 foot elevation gain on the run, maybe 6 mile trail run, wild deer and fawn feeding in a true woods setting all during rush hour…and Atlanta gets a bad wrap for not being a good outdoor town. We should try and keep it this way.


18 08 2008

Spent the weekend in NC, arriving late Friday night too much cooler than Atlanta temperatures, which was more than pleasing to me. On Saturday morning I woke up and did a nice 4.5 mile run on Flint Ridge which is directly above the NOC where you gain about 700 feet in the first mile of the run. The Flint Ridge trail was built as part of a trail building camp hosted by NOC and IMBA a few years ago, so the result is a nice smooth trail that is is mountain bike friendly the whole way. Translation: the whole thing is runnable because of the grades not being ridiculously steep. After the fun climb in the beginning it is a nice rolling trail that you can get moving fast on. This was a nice warm up fro what was to come Sunday.

I spent Saturday afternoon teaching a friend to paddle on the Nantahala. I forgot this river imports its water from a glacier. I can not believe I spent a good part of my life in this river without jumping inside a woodstove like our friend from Plumtree.

Now onto Cheoah…

Trevor, never one to turn down stupid adventures, came to join me for the Cheoah Bald “bad idea” run. This is is part of his preparation for his first marathon in November. The area was packed with people who were planning on kayaking the Cheoah the next day, and Trevor and I were mistaken by a few as kayakers when we told them our plan was to run to Cheoah.  I was slightly insulted (not sure why),  my priorities have shifted a little to say the least, as there was a time when paddling was all I thought about, & cheoah meant really only one thing to me.  Dont get me wrong, not that paddling is not fun, I just do not have the drive that I once did, plus if you only do it about 10 days a year, things can start to get scary again, yeah Horsepasture!

We started our approach to Cheoah bald on the Bartram trail along Ledbetter creek at roughly about 1900 feet. When we started to cross the creek we came across the President of the NC Bartram trail Society building a bridge across Ledbetter creek. Spoke with him for about 5 minutes and thanked him for his work and discussed volunteer opportunities as I feel like I owe some serious time in the trail maintenance department.

To give you an idea of how steep the first section is, it took us 23 minutes to climb .9 miles and my heart rate was in the 150s. The trail diverts away from Ledbetter during this time, but comes back to the creek and you follow it for its entirety until it runs dry, well at least this year. We ran what sections we could along this part, but for the most part, this was just an anaerobic hike. After the creek goes dry you can run at a decent pace for about a 1/4 of a mile, where you cross an unused forest service road. At the junction of the road and trail I believe there was a butterfly convention. I have never seen so many in one place before, and the variety of colors, it was like a being surrounded by a bunch of flying flowers, not to mention there were flowers, although that had not taken flight, (I am still somewhat of grounded.)

Elevation Profile. Apparently I fell off the mountain 33 minutes in, and it did not hurt as much as I thought it would.

After the butterfly convention we headed back into the woods for the most miserable climb of the day. And by miserable, I mean painful, and by painful I mean i hurt in a place I did not know existed in my body. The trail was goregeous but relentless in its ascent. This is for about a 1/4 of mile before it makes a sharp right hand turn and becomes a manageable climb. Whoever blazed this trail was one tough… person. We continued up and met up with the AT about a 1000 feet from the summit.

Cheoah bald is at an elevation of about 5064 and roughly 4.25 miles from the mouth of Ledbetter creek. A little over 3000 vertical feet not counting any ups and downs in about 1:34 . This is the fastest I have made it up here. We dropped our hydration packs, broke out Gator Ades, Clif Bars and the camera and enjoyed the views. The dogs enjoyed the rest, and the extra food packed for them. I became chilled much faster than I anticipated on an August day, so we packed up took a few pictures and started moving.

We started the rapid descent from the bald and Trevor, tried to wrap himself around a tree, and was fairly successful. Luckily his pack afforded him some protection, not much but some. When he & I run together it is usually me who ends up hurting himself, so this was a nice change, but was in the front of my head the whole time. We dropped down to Sasafrass Gap, 732 foot descent in about a mile. Only 7 more miles to go, and my quads were yelling at me already. We managed to keep a good pace, and were much more talkative on the way down than on the way up. We were able to run most of the trail except a few steep rocky declines and a couple inclines. Even the smallest of ascents had my quads yelling expletives to the rest of my body within 10 seconds of staring a hill. We continued on down to the Nantahala for a total of 12 miles for the day with a total time including our rest on top of Cheoah in about 4 hours. I climbed into the icy cold river and soaked my legs along with Java soaking his entire body, 12 miles was rough on the both of us.


10 08 2008

Small break in the weather here in Atlanta on Friday, and I believe I ran the fastest I have run in a long time  What a difference 10 degrees makes.  In keeping with the flow went on a 20 mile road ride on Saturday and realized that when riding I always look over my left shoulder, which means I look with my left eye for traffic.  I had never noticed this before, and realized how this is now a challenge.  My left eye is not completely back to normal which causes the vision to still be a little distorted.  I guess I am going to have to be more conscious of it all now.  

After the ride Trevor and I wen on a nice casual pace run.  It is the very least I could do since Trevor led the bike ride at a comfortable pace.  We went to Sope and headed towards the river.  I thought we should run down to the river and straight back up and decided Graveyard trail would be the easist one to go down for footing.  I chose poorly…

Roughly 200 yards into the trail my left foot caught a root and I like many causes of the common cold, was airborn.  I thought I would be able to pull my feet under me, but as soon as that thought came in I was on my chest sliding down the trail.  My water bottle abandoned ship on the way down and landed about 10 feet from me.  Trevor caled “safe,” and pointed out that I had slid about 5 feet.  I could not get up at first, as I was doing a mental check to see if my body was ok, and then I could not get up because  I was laughing.  Its been a while since I have taken flight running.  When I got home I noticed the waist band of my shorts was full of debris from the slide, and I had some brusies to match those on my arm underneath the shorts.  

Now off for a Sunday jaunt, that will hopefully be less exciting.