Friday, February 24, 2012

Overlook Path

(Sonoma Valley)

Lisa called me early this morning, wanting to know if I wanted to go on a short hike.  I hadn't thought about it before her call, but sure, why not, I thought.  We went to a local trailhead here in Sonoma, one that leads up into the closest set of hills, just behind the city square, with a view of almost the entire valley once at the summit.  

The morning was clear and we could see all the way across the bay to San Francisco from the peak.  San Pablo Bay rested level and blue between here and there.  One could clearly perceive the shape of the valley as it leads up around and out towards the North Bay, Petaluma River and the Marin Peninsula.  It's a beautiful, wide-open, wonderful place.  

We have been struggling with the enormity of adjustment involved in making the leap here, and all that has changed along with it.  A good walk helps clear the head a little bit.  Sometimes that's all that's needed, just a little clearing.  Emotions can be like sinuses, horrendously immovable and lopsided when lying down, but somehow manageable with a little walking and some sense of clarity and purpose.  Very little balance in life often allows for some breathing; and breathing is sometimes an act to be practiced.  An object in motion, etc.

I discussed in detail with Lisa the effects of rattlesnake bites and my fascination with neurotoxins.  We discussed other things also, but whenever entering a woodlands hike I always like to use the opportunity to discuss the horrendous possibilities of acute dropsy, limb loss and heart failure.  Envenomation being a race between the last two, if left untreated long enough, which is always how I prefer to discuss it.  Once treated with antivenin the likelihood is only that the patient's limb will temporarily lose some dexterous ability, numbness, the limb might possibly turn black, and they could lose a layer of skin.  Still fascinating, though not nearly as much as its effects on the mature nervous tissue of a vital organ, like heart muscle.

A poison's effect on the heart is the most fascinating aspect of it.  The onset of heart failure is often indicated by the patient's seeming inability to breathe.  But the likelihood of the poison affecting the lungs before the heart is actually quite minimal.  It's usually only the effect of anxiety being experienced at having been bitten.   It's important that the victim remain calm.  It is not entirely uncommon for a victim to have a heart attack from a severe sense of panic alone.  Such is the power of fear, once internalized.