Friday, October 6, 2017

Hypoglycemia

Yesterday I had a hypoglycemic episode, its been a several months since my last experience and it never really gets any easier. I'm posting this hopefully to help explain my experience and what others can do to help.

I'm not sure if this is how others experience hypoglycemic shock, but it is how my body reacts.

Here is some background on Hypoglycemic Shock:

Hypoglycemic Shock and Hyperglycemia
If not enough food is ingested, then the blood sugar drops (hypoglycemia) and no glucose is available to enter the cells, even if there is enough insulin to permit glucose to enter the cells. The brain is very susceptible to low blood sugars, and coma has a very quick onset. Treatment is providing sugar. If the person is awake enough to swallow, a sugar solution by mouth is used, otherwise, intravenous fluids containing glucose are provided. If the lack of sugar was of short duration, the person will awaken almost immediately after treatment. If blood sugars remain low for prolonged periods of time, the brain's ability to recover is potentially lost.

So with all this the primary concern is going into a coma, which thankfully I haven't experienced since I was a child. I do however have a series of symptoms which seem to happen pre-coma, and some panic ensues on my end if I'm not prepared.

Generally I'll keep protein bars and glucose tablets everywhere. At my home, in my car, at my work, in my man-bag, and in my suitcase. Just so I can have a quick pick me up if I feel I need it. Here is the general progression.
  • Hunger
  • Lightheaded
  • Loss of vision
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Nausea
This is as usually as far as things will go for me, once my vision starts to go I'm pretty much fucked as far as productivity and function for the the next 12 - 24 hours.

So what do I mean by loss of vision? Well I see stars and vision gets spotty. I've tried to Photoshop an image to loosely match what things looked like for me yesterday, excuse my shoop skills.


Before
After


At this point I need to get a glucose tablet and some complex sugar into my system. They are inexpensive but can go bad if they aren't stored in a cool dry place, so having it in the car for an extended time can go poorly.

The headaches can creep into migraine territory depending on when I'm able to start the recovery process, if things devolve to vomiting it can generally relieve the headache for a time, but at that point its probably time for a hospital visit for some sugar fluid solution and monitoring.

So what can you do to help?

Here is a simplified list to guide you!
  • Calm the hell down
I'm most likely already in a panic by the time I let you know my vision is going out, and having more people worried that I'm going to die is not going to help me cope.
  • Become familiar with some of the glucose tablet locations
I won't really be able to communicate or process much of anything very well, I will be very happy to eat a tablet if you put it in my face. Resorting to straight sugar or a high sugar snack or dumping sugar in my mouth may seem like a reasonable grab, and is highly recommended if I'm already comatose, but if I haven't passed out I would prefer less drastic measures.
  • Grab a protein bar
The glucose tablet will help me to stabilize and calm down, the protein bar will help my body recover and become somewhat functional again.
  • Get some ibuprofen or Excedrin migraine
I will have a headache, if I don't have one yet, it is coming don't you worry. I used the migraine medicine the first time yesterday, overall positive results.
  • Help me to bed
I won't be able to do much other than lay in the dark and try to sleep it off. I'll be ready to eat when I wake up but I'll be pretty physically drained.

That is the basic rundown of the experience and what you can do, thanks for reading and I hope you never have to deal with it!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Post Burn: Time To Reflect

I'm back from Burning Man 2017 and I'm alive! It was quite the adventure and I'm very much mentally exhausted.

Before you ask me "how was burning man?" I would suggest watching this video answering exactly that. It captures many parts of the experience and keeps the humor.

I think that some people really enjoy the Burning Man experience, although I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to anyone. While there are those that make it their purpose to attend every year, I don't think I'll be doing it again anytime soon.

There are so many places I could start the adventure, buying the ticket, preparing for the event, buying luggage, traveling there ... since I wrote about the luggage and ride to the airport in my last post I can start with the our arrival to Reno.

Getting into Reno

The flight itself was uneventful, we landed around 5 pm (8 pm EST) and got a ride to our hotel. After getting an Uber to Whole Food for a meal and walking to Target for a pillow, 1 ply toilet paper, and a gallon of water, we got to soak in a jetted tub and sleep in a king bed before getting to the dusty playa.

The Week of Dust

Something I heard a lot from friends and acquaintances who heard I was attending Burning Man was "take a lot of pictures". This wasn't really something that happened for me. One of the principals of Burning Man is immediacy. That and the declaration that you must "ask for consent" prior to taking any photos of people who were attending.

This guideline/rule wasn't followed by all 70,000 attendees, but it wasn't something that I felt particularly good about pulling out a camera and taking a photo or video of the moments I was experiencing, I preferred to experience the moment.

With that said I have about 40 photos from 8 days of travel. There were a few structures and moments that grabbed my attention. I'll include a few choice photos in the blog, if you want to see the rest feel free to send me a message! There are plenty online from others who decided that was how they wanted to spend their burn.

The Ride to the Black Rock Desert


In the morning we got another Uber back to the airport to jump on the Burning Man Express. Which is a great service they offer to burners from both Reno and San Francisco. The trip from Reno is about 3 hours. Once you arrive at the gate wait times during the first 36 hours after opening can be five or more hours. With the Burner Express you get to skip the line and go right in!

We got several materials to read on our trip and an event guide so we could plan out our week if we wanted.
The ride itself was fairly uneventful, it is about 150 miles from the airport to Black Rock City (BRC) and the bus was comfy enough. Nancy and I were together in the back of the bus and people were either talking to the group they came with or having casual conversations with those next to them.

There wasn't really much to see coming in, the most interesting part was the last set of local stores before getting to BRC, "burner" items for sale, a bunch of pieces of clothing that glows and hippy outfits. I was interested in browsing but our bus wasn't set to stop anywhere except the playa.

It was nice to skip the line, once we got close to the gate they had someone get on the bus and scan and verify everyone's tickets. We did have a guy in the back of the bus with us that had a counterfeit ticket. They escorted him off the bus and gave him his luggage. The others on the bus said that if he had any wits about him that he would find a ticket and get into the event before they sent him 150 miles back to Reno.

Later I heard about other people ending up with counter fit tickets or needing an extra ticket and ended up with 2 or 3 free options from others coming in to the event. I'm very happy to have purchased my ticket from the main sale, dealing with any of that would stressed me out entirely too much.

After our bus was clear to pass we drove up, slowly, to the drop. The speed limit getting in is 10 mph and once you are in BRC the speed limit is 5 mph. They were handing out fines of at least $1,000 for speeding. So you want to take it slow out there for sure. Both to preserve the environment and to stop an exponential growth of costs.

On the Playa

Once we got off the bus we were hit with a lot of sun and a lot of dust. There were several Burner Bus employees/volunteers who were welcoming the new arrivals.

If you declared yourself as a first time burner, a "virgin", they:
  • Line you up around a bell
  • Lay down in the dust and make a dust angle (think snow angel)
  • Roll to the right for a while
  • Roll to the left
  • Ring the bell and yell "I'M NOT A VIRGIN ANYMORE"

I did not partake in this ritual personally. I was adjusting and absorbing information and decided that I would rather watch than roll around. I would not say that I feel like I missed out by any stretch of the imagination, I had plenty of time to meld with the dust over the week.

After watching that spectacle we waited under a shade structure while they brought a separate truck to drop off our luggage.

The objective for us after getting our luggage was to find a way to our respective camps. I was staying with Tango'd up in Blues (TUIB), and Nancy was staying with the board game and coffee camp, SNAP.

I was ready to push myself to the camp and get things moving, I wanted to set up our tents, get our rental bikes, and get myself some water.

Nancy was really drained and did not have the energy to drag two pieces of luggage through ground, which was very much unpredictable in consistency and mobility. She waited for the satellite bus to come by and drop her off in a location relatively closer to her camp.

I managed to find my camp after some minor struggles and set up my tent pretty quickly. I met up with Nancy and got our bikes and then ventured for water. It was a bit challenging to carry a 5 gallon water jug on the handlebars of a bike, but I did just fine.

It was quite an exhausting travel and first walk around the playa to get ready for the week. I ended up going to sleep pretty early the first night, probably around 8:30 or 9 pm. I was told that it was the hottest day and the warmest night people had experienced out there. Which is to say it was grueling in the morning and pleasant at night.

The first scheduled event that I attended during my burn was "Ask a drunk scientist", they offered beer and scientific talk. I didn't have a question to ask but I enjoyed listening to them talk about theoretical science and teach them about micro dance.

I found that talking with people and hearing their story and what interests them was one of the things I enjoyed about Burning Man, the question of "what do you do" with the underlying question being "how do you make money in the default world" still came up, I tried to divert or avoid it when I felt I could, I don't generally enjoy talking about that, but it seems to be a go-to even in a remote area like the Black Rock Desert.

Early in the week I decided to take a trip to see The Man, which is a giant structure that is built differently every year and burned. When The Man burns it is a big celebration, there doesn't really seem to be a reason for it as far as I could identify, but people do enjoy the hell out of it.

The experience for me was not as I would have hoped. The general conversation and interaction with people was pleasant, but for whatever reason, out of the 69,998 attendees at the event I end up next to some first year burner that is 6+ ft tall and wanted to stand while everyone, other than his 4 other friends around him was sitting.

After asking to sit in-front or beside so I could see, I pushed past him to sit down. He was not happy with me, but people around him threw a bunch of kindness his way. But pride was more important than kindness, so he stood, and we were able to see a little less than half of what was going on.

Even back at the distance we were, we could feel the heat from the flames. I didn't bother trying to take a photo, but there are plenty of others who did, so I included one of them!

The experience did leave me angry, but it wasn't hard to cool down after leaving the area. And while it wasn't a great burn experience, there were plenty of other experiences and a wide range of emotions throughout the week to process and work through.

I did find out later that someone ran into the flames, I have no information regarding that and did not see it myself, you are welcome to google it, but there is little out there.

Another big structure that is burned every year is The Temple. While the burning of The Man is treated as a celebration, the burning of The Temple is sacred and met with silence.

The Temple is a place that attendees come to let go of something in their lives, to promote an organization, or movement they want to share. There were memorials of lost loved ones, pets, painful memories written out, trinkets, clothing, anything which had value or a memory to let go.

Generally people were reading, in quiet reflection, or crying. There was minimal conversation and noise, at times there was peaceful chanting or singing. It was a place with a lot of emotion.

The burn of The Temple was quite a different experience. There wasn't a big show leading up to the burn, it went up exactly at 8 pm on Sunday. The sounds that filled the air was that of wood crackling and the cries of those who were most likely reflecting on what they had placed in the temple.

I did not write or place anything inside to burn, but I was happy to have experienced walking through The Temple and watching it burn. I would recommend making time for this if you attend.


There were a lot of experiences available at Burning Man, and I feel that if you were looking for something, you could find it. Whether that was a hug, a drink, a trip, board games, dodge-ball, a skate-park, an arcade, aerial silks, ice-cream, sex, counseling, quite spaces, cuddle spaces, workshops, friends, enemies, and everything in between.

I don't know what I was looking for during my experience, I felt like I was mostly just wandering without a direction or a plan, I did this more and more as the week went on, never really satisfied or happy with the experience, but not totally sad either.

I did have a night of dancing at my camp "Tango'd up in Blues" which felt like every other dance weekend I've been to around the world. It was a surreal experience, and it was one that brought up panic and the need to go somewhere else. I had made a friend dancing, Jackie, and she accompanied me in a night-time exploration of the playa. We found several party camps giving drinks and spinning shitty EDM music. We found Tesla towers arching electricity and playing music with the different pitches. There were art cars spitting fire, and a boat illuminated with LEDs rocking out with people dancing inside and outside.

We were out dancing and exploring until 3 am. Jackie was very supportive and excited to explore, she was happy to stay at each place as long or as short as I needed. I feel like that was one of my more enjoyable nights and I was happy to have had the experience.

To share another positive experience without a good transition, Nancy has been approached by some of her camp mates at SNAP to take some time and talk about non-monogamy and polyamory. The next day we had about 6 or 7 people sitting with us asking questions and listening to our experience. We talked for at least 2 hours with those who came out.

There were a few camps that had discussions or workshops regarding polyamory but I was happy that we could share our experiences with others who were interested.

Journey Home

Getting home was a combination of stress and relief. Losing my passport felt pretty bad, but I did manage to get home even without it. Vegas and Burning Man have that going for them at least, so the TSA was kind to me. After an "enhanced pat-down" and a look through my luggage I was on my way.

But even before I got to the airport we got to take the bus home. There were plenty of signs for car washes, trash dumps, and "Indian Tacos".

Quite a few broken down cars and RVs on the road, which must be a terrible experience in itself.

There wasn't a lot of conversation on the bus, I was tired and wasn't looking to start up conversation or trying to share my experience with those around me.

Getting back to Reno and staying at a Hilton for the night before heading back to Cleveland was a good choice. The opportunity to shower and scrub some dust off myself and some of my things was very much needed.

There wasn't much time to relax back into society since we were in NV and there were plenty of advertisements and gambling around us. The contrast between the experience of Burning Man and Vegas was jarring.


Closing Thoughts

I wasn't sure how I wanted to write about my experience, if I wanted to give a daily breakdown or even share anything at all. I feel it has resulted in the jumbled mess that you have just read.

Overall I enjoyed the experience and I feel happy to have had the opportunity to participate. I also feel that I struggled to find a camp and group that I felt at home with.

I really enjoyed the times that I connected with people, talking about passions and sharing new ideas.

I was very annoyed at those returning burners who felt that the nights weren't cold enough, there wasn't enough dust storms, and how much better the construction of The Temple, The Man, or art, was another year.

It felt like a whole lot of nostalgia that was cocking up the whole immediacy thing. I feel that each burn should be a unique experience for those 70 thousand (+/-) who attend.

Trying to chase after the perfect burn or some familiar experience on the playa is not how I envision Burning Man. So #FuckYourNostalgia and enjoy the dust, let me know if you take the journey.

And no, I didn't push the button.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Set Sail for Fail (and some win)

So many things so far and the trip is just starting!

Yesterday night I was in a panic and decided to reorganize my luggage. During this process the zipper broke off and rendered the bag useless!

I went to Target expecting to pay out the ass for a piece of luggage I would use once. I got to the travel isle and found teal luggage that I thought Nancy would like, and since I was borrowing her old bag I should replace it.

I struggled to find the price, it was set with other luggage at $110 but the model numbers didn't match up! So I gave it a scan.

$23.98!?!?!?!?

Well that's weird, let me scan the smaller one of the same color ... $21.04?

Well how much is the same thing in black?
$140

Well alright then ... I re-scanned the teal bags, yup they are cheap for some reason. WOO LUGGAGE!

I got both and gave one to Nancy, who was struggling to get her things to fit in a smaller bag.
Not only were the bags lighter, but everything for so much better. Whew, so everything is packed and I'm ready for my flight ... or so i thought!

Today I met with Nancy and we had some breakfast and called an Uber, we would get to the airport about an hour before boarding. We got our luggage ready to check ... sure I have my ID, let me just ... Oh I lost my ID. I was able to check the bags with my University of Akron ID (thanks college!) and then scheduled an Uber to drive me home to get my passport.

I ran to the passenger pickup area and let my Uber driver know the situation, he was willing to roll with me.

So my boarding time is 11:10 and we got home in 10 minutes, the time is 10:50. I run and grab my passport and we are back off to the airport. I found out that Uber dings a driver if they are driving excessively over the speed limit (always learning eh?), I offered my driver cash for the drive back, it was a good choice.
We made good time back to the airport! 10:58. My bags were already checked, I just had my backpack. I got to TSA pre check and there were 4 people in front of me, the person getting checked was taking a lot longer than expected, I asked the passengers in front of me if they minded if I cut in front, they said it was fine. The TSA agent talked to me sternly and told me to go back in line, but the passengers all agreed I could move in front. So they slowly to my ticket and let me go ahead.

The metal detector went off on my boots, I didn't realize they were steel toe :( but they are a struggle to get on and off. I was able to get my boots off and get through security, no random check this time!
I didn't feel I had time to put my boots on and run to the end of the terminal, so I had a sock run! The floors are rather slick for socks but I managed to hit a good pace and make it before my boarding group was called!

So now I'm on my first flight to Chicago. I hope the whole trip isn't this stressful!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

More Cosplay : Aang

Looking over my recent posts I realize that I forgot to show my latest cosplay! My awesome friend Lydia made my costume and Erica painted me with all sorts of skill and ... well let me know what you think!

 This was my outfit for Colossalcon 16 in Sandusky, OH! If you are not familiar with the character or didn't read my earlier post I put some character images and my game-plan.

Maintaining between May and June wasn't too bad, but now that August is around I'm getting some excess weight again (about 5 lbs) and losing some of my definition. It is rather stressful to see what I worked for slip away. But stresses of the world and the mind have a way of weighing us down eh?

My current plan is to get through my Burning Man Adventure, finish my second home purchase, and then get into a regular schedule of running and lifting again. I'm looking to make some reasonable expectations and set another goal for myself.

I'm not sure if that is a new cosplay or just rocking this one again! I'll be sure to post the idea and the result when I have it!

If anyone has suggestions I would be very happy to hear them! If possible I would like to keep the beard, but I won't say no to a good idea.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Burning Adventures

Hello everyone! I will be heading to Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert at the end of this week :o

I'll be away for about 11 days and I'm both nervous and excited about my future experience!

The only thing that I'm expecting right now is a long travel time and a lot of dust ... and from what I'm hearing there was some rain so the dust is more clay than dust. But I expect there to be plenty in the time I'm there.

So what is burning man? Well its hard to describe because there are so many interpretations of it. It comes down to the experience you have while you are on the playa (a desert basin with no outlet which periodically fills with water to form a temporary lake).


You can find many pictures, stories, hype, a range of experiences, and all types of people and backgrounds who have something to share about what Burning Man is to them.

There are many videos and documentaries about individual experiences and many expectations of those who have never attended.

The 10 Principals of Burning Man are declared as the foundation of the event
  1. Radical Inclusion
  2. Gifting
  3. Decommodification
  4. Radical Self-reliance
  5. Radical Self-expression
  6. Communal Effort
  7. Civic Responsibility
  8. Leaving No Trace
  9. Participation
  10. Immediacy
I'm curious how these principals will be expressed, ignored, shared, or forgotten by the participants at the event.

With such a large group of people I'm doing what I can to expect nothing while enjoying whatever experience I have.

I'll be staying with Tango'd Up in Blues (TUIB) at Center Camp & 4:45 if you are attending this year. There should be some fun dance and music if that is what you are into!

*Update*

I think I'm mostly ready as far as supplies go! I've added a few pictures of what I'm bringing on the flight to Reno! Two checked bags and one backpack.

I can include my packing list if there is interest, there are about 70 or 80 different items in my bags. I'm hoping it is enough for me to survive for the week.




Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Relationship Anarchy

My initial approach to polyamory was as a fluid relationship style, which is defined by those who are involved. Each member has a say into what becomes of the connections within the relationships.

As polyamory picks up around us expectations and definitions are created. I struggle with these and feel telling someone "I'm polyamorous" is no longer opening a conversation, but a series of expectations and assumptions.


Through this struggle I found Relationship Anarchy. It is something I am still learning about. But I feel as if I connect with it. It speaks to me and how I connect with people and relationships more than monogamy or polyamory.


So what is it?

Relationship anarchy (abbreviated RA) is the practice of forming relationships that are not bound by rules aside from what the people involved mutually agree on. ... The term relationship anarchy was coined by Andie Nordgren, and is the topic of Swedish bachelor theses by Jacob Strandell and Ida Midnattssol.


I feel that has some elements of non-hierarchical polyamory, but it still in its essence is something different. I feel that those I find as friends hold a special place to me. People that I support, love, and appreciate. I find difficulty in setting a status or a ranking for anyone. I have some friends which I share more experiences with which in turn makes me feel more connected. But I struggle with titles. I don't feel that girlfriend, best friend, lover, partner, companion, or any title that I know can express the importance of each person. So for now, I settle with friend. Unable to clearly explain.

I do my best to approach each connection as something to grow without a set path or expectation. I want to give and be given the freedom to explore and nurture whatever comes. There feels like such a strong pull towards a "relationship escalator" that it is easy to lose focus or lose a friend during the ride.

I'm still struggling to understand and to learn. I want to be able to know and to share my views and feelings clearly, but that is still a work in progress.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Training Complete : PAX East

I made it to PAX East! Training is complete, I didn't get both costumes sorted out before the weekend, but I'm happy with how Knockout Lee Sin turned out! Thanks to GrrzMoore for sending the outfit, and my friend Lydia for some last moment alterations to get everything to fit!

So I'm still collecting photos of the the weekend. Personally I didn't take very many pictures. With the massive quantity of people, it felt like PAX was more about walking around and gaming rather than stopping people for pictures. I did get a few compliments which was encouraging.

I've posted the photos I have so far, but I hope to get some from my friend Dave who went to the event with me. He has been very supportive and provided much encouragement and insight while I was training. If you are interested in my pre-PAX mindset and goals [Check This Link Out], it was very much a challenge but I'm happy with the results. I intend on keeping up with the gym, just not 6 days a week. I'm hoping I retain my shape for a least a few months!

Now to provide some details into the end of training program! By cosplay day (March 10th) I had been tracking my meals and exercising for 103 days (with MyFitnessPal). Training 5-6 days a week with 2 push days, 2 pull days, and 2 core/cardio days. I tried to eat at least 2,200 calories a day and reduced my sodium the last month as well as carb cycling. Which I would not recommend to anyone for any longer than 4 weeks.

I had one cheat day, which was recommend to me by my trainer, to reset my body in a sense, there is an importance around cheat meals which I do not understand, and they depend on your overall goals. But I'm not a doctor. I can see how it can at least help the mental strain of eating clean for so long. With all of my dietary restrictions I found it difficult to grab any easy cheat meals, which works to my advantage in a way.

My body fat went from 19% on December 21st, 2016 to 9% on March 8th, 2017 (measured with a skin-fold caliper). I think a 10% cut in 3 months is pretty great! My weight started at 157 and ended up at 144. I managed to lose body fat while gaining muscle overall. Which, from what I've read and have heard, is one of the hardest things to do! It was a struggle the last month to maintain weight, my trainer and I were worried that if I lost any more weight I would lose muscle, which would make me look scrawny and unhealthy.

I hope to take my cosplay to DreamHack Austin (end of April 2017) as well as Colossalcon (June 2017). I'll see how well it can happen, if anything I think I could kick up my training for a month to tone up before each event. It was quite the mental and social drain, which I feel I can do but will need some time to recuperate before I subject myself to that again.

Overall PAX East was a great experience. I think I will attend another in the future, I'm not sure that I would cosplay for the event again, anime conventions are definitely more geared to the cosplay crowd.