911 button or Sissy? | High Sierra Topix  

911 button or Sissy?

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
User avatar

911 button or Sissy?

Postby oldranger » Sun Mar 11, 2012 7:09 pm

So my recent 2 day stay in the hospital made me think: I'm 6 days into a 12 day backpack trip. For a couple of days I feel a slight tension in my chest. It doesn't hurt, I am not short of breath, not sweating excessively, pulse is normal for the activity level, and have no feeling of impending doom. What to do? Push the 911 button on the spot locator or send someone for help? (these options are not either /or . they are one and the same with the benefit that 911 on the spot locator is likely to be faster) Or continue on? Frankly before this weekend I would have toughed it out--I'd have to be dying to push 911. But the "minor" symptom turned out to be caused by a 90% blockage of an artery known to cardiac care nurses as the "widow maker." Toughing it out could have killed me or possibly restricted my physical activity for the rest of my life. So think about it. Is it better to risk being a dead but "real" man :( or to be a sissy and live to hike, carouse, and make love for a few more years? :littledevil:

It is a no brainer now!

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!



User avatar
oldranger
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2166
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:18 pm
Location: Bend, Oregon
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: 911 button or Sissy?

Postby balzaccom » Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:05 pm

Glad to hear you are OK!
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1290
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: 911 button or Sissy?

Postby LMBSGV » Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:38 pm

I'm also glad to know you're OK. As a 60 year old, I find your description of the symptoms (shall we say) educational. I hope to run into you on the trail on a future trip.
User avatar
LMBSGV
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:42 pm
Location: San Geronimo, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: 911 button or Sissy?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:48 am

There are options between pushing 911 and just continuing. First is to educate yourself on the early symptoms of the most common ailments and then listen to your body. Also educate yourself on symptons of mental conditions. Anxiety can mimic heart problems, OR actually be caused by heart problems. Repressed fear creates some strange symptoms. To complicate things, even after you hit the 911, there will be some time before rescue reaches you. Honestly, if you are having an acute heart attack they are not going to get to you in time. If something is mildly suspect, you could also turn around and go back or head to a nearby trailhead (if that trailhead has communication services or people there). As you are retreating you can evaluate the situation and may still have to push the 911, but maybe not. Get out and get checked out be a doctor even if the symptoms go into remission. Retreat is a hard decision to make. Better yet, schedule your annual check up for the beginning of backpack season. It is not a matter of being a sissy. I do fear that if everyone carried a SPOT and then pushed the help button everytime something felt odd, SAR would be overwhelmed. It is a quandry. At some point free rescues are not going to continue. They simply cannot if the number of rescues dramatically increases.

I do not think there is any easy pat answer. But the more you learn about your body and symptoms of disease the better decision you can make. Also be honest about your personality- are you a hypocondriac or is your MO to ignore and deny any health problems? Having a mental (or even written on a small card) first aid check list. Even those of us well trained in first aid and who methodically check a victim we are treating, can fail to do this when we are the victim. Case in point, my husband was tired and had indigestion for two weeks, and because he has divercurlotitis, assumed that was what it was. He finally went to the doctor and they immediately put him in the hospital with a heartbeat of 170! He was so focused on the indigestion that he did not bother to actually take his heart rate. It crossed his mind that it was a little high, but never became the focus of his attention.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2607
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: 911 button or Sissy?

Postby oldranger » Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:32 am

Daisy

My point is that though I had 90% blockage my symptoms were pretty mild, almost unnoticeable. I'm sure that at anytime over the past few weeks I could have been confronted by "the big one." To initiate help and not to move can mean no damage to the heart while to walk out can result in damage. I don't think "listening to your body" can discern when you are at high risk if you continue your activity. It took me 3 weeks of messages before I heard. Luckily no damage!

I too am concerned about over use of the Spot Locator but I'm sure SAR folks would much rather pick up a survivor than a body. Also up to a few weeks ago a physical with my doc would not have had me with any symptoms or signs that would cause my doc. to initiate a stress test. The problem is that statistically I was an extremely low probability for the blockage, so that means you do have to pay attention to your body, be aware of what the symptoms mean and the risks associated with those symptoms. The good news is that most of the younger people on this forum will not experience such symptoms but as you get older the likelihood increases. What you do about it when/if you experience symptoms is your decision.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
User avatar
oldranger
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2166
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:18 pm
Location: Bend, Oregon
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: 911 button or Sissy?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Mar 12, 2012 12:41 pm

oldranger- I do not like the "safe" vis "sissy" characterization . Being in trouble (even if you just think you are in trouble) and asking for help is NOT being sissy! The dilema is more "how do I know when something is wrong when symptoms are so subtle?" Your experience sure motivates me to learn a lot more about symptoms of the common problems we get as we age. It is a fuzzy line between valid concern and hypochondria or denial and valid concern. I suspect that most backpackers lean towards the "denial- we are going to live forever" type.

Unfortunately, PLB's are putting stress on SAR organizations. For now, I see the best solution would be for PLB owners be required to carry insurance. If we can get the "sissy" and "cost" factors out of the equation, we probably would make better decisions.

As for the specifc hypothetical scenario you posed, IF (and this is a big IF) I knew enough to realize that the subtle symptoms could be serious, I would take aspirin and stay put for a day or so and see if symptoms went away. If symptoms persisted I would push the help button. IF the symptoms subsided or went away, I would get back to my car the route that required the least exhertion and then back in town would go to a doctor. It is highly hypothetical for me because I do not carry any communicating devices with me. My option would be to just sit it out and hope that when I did not return, someone would come find me.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2607
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: 911 button or Sissy?

Postby oldranger » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:30 pm

Daisy

You wrote:

My option would be to just sit it out and hope that when I did not return, someone would come find me.


Given the amount of time you spend off trail please consider the worry to your family and the stress on SAR personnel and resources your strategy entails. If you carried a spot locator, given your knowledge, experience, and sense of responsibility, you would actually reduce the amount of SAR required if you were in trouble. No ground search, with multiple flights to deploy searchers, no deployment of search dogs, just a simple flight to your location--think of the reduced costs!

yes if you are knocked unconscious or otherwise completely debilitated then you are s.o.l. and the spot locator is useless unless you are with someone else. Despite my desire to be independent in the backcountry and whether solo or with others that a spot locator seems to be more responsible than requiring people to search (or having someone run out 20 miles but not knowing whether you will be dead or alive when help arrives) when you are capable of pushing (responsibly) the 911 button.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
User avatar
oldranger
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2166
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:18 pm
Location: Bend, Oregon
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: 911 button or Sissy?

Postby maverick » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:51 pm

Well the fact is that men die more often from heart attacks than women because of the
"I'll just push through it" attitude. We just are not in tune with our bodies as women
are.
Answer to your question is easy, I'd prefer being a living sissy, than a dead "real" man in
this case any day.
http://www.backpacker.com/december_07_s ... ills/12055
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8034
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: 911 button or Sissy?

Postby rlown » Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:57 pm

too bad SPOT doesn't have an auto mode, er Deadman's switch. I'm sure OR, your wife would feel better that the button automagically tried to call. They'd still be searching for you from last known good position. I'm a bit surprised she'll let you go solo beyond a certain distance again.

Still glad you're ok..

And yes, I'd press the button, if SPOT didn't take 20 mins to connect and has reliability problems, per the reviews I've seen.
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5331
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: 911 button or Sissy?

Postby Timberline » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:38 pm

Geez, oldranger!

Notwithstanding your rhetorical question about what one might do if so confronted in the backcountry and on your own, two thoughts come to mind immediately. . .
1 Sure glad you caught this issue when NOT out on the trail; and
2 This board would be a lot less fun if you weren't around anymore.

Once I thought I might kick the bucket when I had severe chest pains, so I immediately dropped everything (at work no less) and went to ER. Luckily, it was not heart but digestion, and I could take care of it with a little help from my doctor. But the experience taught me something just the same.

Take CARE Amigo!
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
User avatar
Timberline
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 216
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 1:55 pm
Location: Prineville, Oregon (Since 7/15/13)
Experience: N/A

Re: 911 button or Sissy?

Postby Cross Country » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:44 pm

Old Ranger: Speaking from 3 stints and 1 triple bypass surgery (that didn't go well until "fixed") it did feel like the 911 button or Sissy. My experience makes me believe VERY few people who haven't experienced what you and I have, can't really appreciate the choice. It isn't the intellectual process that some seem to think. I bet you know that.

Thinking about it now I vote Sissy (I should practice this more than I do).

The first time it happened to me I was really ill and thought it was nothing more than that. In retrospect I should have known it was really serious. After my first attack I took 3 at bats in a softball game (6 years ago). On the first 2 ABs I got clean hits and jogged to first (pretty dumb huh?). On my 3rd AB I hit a ground ball and ran to 1st base. I felt like I might die and was fortunate I didn't.
Although mine wasn't the widow maker my artery was 100% blocked.

I'm sooo glad I wasn't in backcountry for any of my episodes. Having said that I have some trips planed for this summer. A little crazy huh?
Cross Country
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2009 11:16 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: 911 button or Sissy?

Postby oldranger » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:27 am

Cross Country

Not crazy to go backpacking. Only 2 ways I want to go and one is x rated! What is so wierd (lucky, result of my stellar intelligence :^o) is that the blockage was caught before any damage to my heart. Now all I have to do is get past one month taking a really scary drug. In the meantime I can continue to ski, hike, lift weights, and look for foods that specifically raise HDL (my total cholestoral is 118!), and drink moderate amounts of good beer and wine. Though I have lost 12 lbs in the 31/2 years since I stopped working this is also the motivation to drop the additional 5 that has been my target but out of reach except after a couple of weeks backpacking.

Good health to all!

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
User avatar
oldranger
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2166
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:18 pm
Location: Bend, Oregon
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to The Campfire



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: phoenix2000 and 10 guests