Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The horrors of the walk

Where do I start? So much of it seems like I blur. Guess I'll just write what I remember.

Horror #1...Traffic into the city was a nightmare.
I got a ride in with our team leader Kerry, her 16 yr old daughter Heather and her husband Jacob. We had decided we'd try to all meet at their hotel and she figured it'd just be easier for them to pick me up rather than me taking the train in since it wasn't out of their way. They were all super nice and we did our best to keep things fun on the way in since Kerry and I were both having anxiety problems. Traffic was horrible because they had scheduled two soccer games at Soldier Field and there was a concert at the lakefront, plus it was Saturday and traffic generally sucks most days in Chicago.

Horror #2...Meeting the team.
We were meeting at the hotel for lunch so Heather and I grabbed a table in the hotel restaurant. People were gradually showing up, which I thought would make things a little easier instead of meeting everyone all at once. Didn't help much. I got sandwiched in the middle of a long bench so I had no way to escape unless I asked 4 people on either side of me to get out. I did a lot of dissociation because I was really nervous.

Horror #3...The temperature outside was well into the 90's with about 80% humidity and never seemed to cool down at all, even after the sun went down.
We walked over to Soldier Field where the walk was starting out from. It was about a mile from the hotel so by the time we got there we were already drenched in sweat. At times there was a breeze, but most of the time it was just unbearably hot.

Horror #4...All the people.
There were about 2100 people walking and as the opening ceremony started, we were all corralled together. Our team stayed to the back and the side, but I still felt very uncomfortable. Took two Ativan to try and calm down a bit.

Horror #5...The crying.
During the opening ceremony there were several people that told their stories of loved ones lost to suicide. I was fighting back tears thru the whole thing but finally lost it when a guy in front of me that looked to be in his early twenties turned around to get a hug from a friend and he was crying really hard. I knew something like that would happen, but yet I was still unprepared for it.

Horror #6...Route not blocked off to just the walkers.
We walked along the Chicago lakefront. But they didn't bother to rope the area off to just us. So we had people on bikes and roller blades and just other people strolling along in our way. A few times people on bikes almost hit some of the people in front of me. Guess we weren't important enough.

Horror #7...The first rest area.
We were walking a little on the slower side so as not to overdo it in the heat and so we could maintain our strength so we could walk the full 20 miles. We ended up towards the back of the line so when we got to the first rest area, there were 2000 people already there. There weren't enough toilets for that many people. I didn't count, but my guess is they only had about 30 at the most, so the lines were unbelievable. To top it off, they didn't limit the amount of snacks people could take so there was no food left when we got there except for a few bananas, which I can't eat & some orange slices. Yanno that BPD rage thing? I was so not a happy camper at that point. So we grabbed some gatorade and headed out.

Horror #8...Help for us slow people.
They said at the beginning of the walk there would be staff along the route helping those of us that were behind. They said if we were walking too slow they'd pick us up and take us to the next rest area because they were only open for a certain amount of time. Never happened. Turns out we were even behind the car that was supposed to be following the last of the walkers and no one bothered to do anything about it.

Horror #9...The second rest stop.
Once again we arrive at a rest stop that has inadequate facilities and NO food, not even fruit this time. They told us we had to keep hydrated and eat snacks with salt like peanuts and stuff. I was absolutely livid at this point so I started power walking out of rage and another team member joined me. We refused to get to the third stop and have them tell us there was no food yet again.

We did manage to pass a whole lot of people and once again, the crap they'd fed us at the beginning was just that...crap. They said that if anyone was walking too fast, a staff member would stop us and find out what was going on. Guess what...no staff was anywhere to be found.

Horror #10...The third rest stop.
We did manage to make it in time to grab some food. We did inform them, as we had at the previous two stops, that they had to limit how much people were taking because those at the back of the line were getting to the rest stops and finding no food left. They assured us there was plenty, but many of us told them there wasn't. Hello...did they think we were making this shit up? What reason would we have?

Since they weren't listening to us, we figured our only chance was to not even rest or go to the bathroom. We just grabbed some food and started walking to rest stop 4. I started slowing down because my foot hurt, but my teammate just kept walking fast. So I spent the next 2 miles walking alone.

Horror #11...Rest stop #4.
I'd gone 7 miles with almost no rest, so as soon as I got there I sat down and bummed a cigarette off someone. I knew something was wrong almost immediately because I couldn't get back up. I managed to make my way over to the medical tent where they took my pulse...140. My blood pressure was 100 over 60. They didn't want me to continue on, but I insisted I wasn't giving up so early. I finally talked them into giving me a ride to the next rest stop, which was the half way mark and I agreed to get some IV fluids in me.

Horror #12...Rest stop 5.
I was fine on the way to the rest stop in the van. When I got to the med tent, they were expecting me and the nurse tells me to lie down so she can do the IV. I asked if I could just stay sitting up, but she insisted I lie down. Soon as I did, that was the end of that. I started losing consciousness almost immediately. I could hear them yelling at me to stay with them, but I just remember the voices getting farther and farther away.

I remember at some point a paramedic or someone opened my eye and asked if I was with them. I guess I said yes, cuz the response I got was that if I was with them, he wouldn't have been able to open my eye. Maybe I was just hallucinating, cuz that still doesn't make any sense to me. I remember nothing else until I woke up in the ER.

Apparently my pulse topped out at 150 and they were packing my body in ice before the ambulance showed up. At least this is what Kerry told me. She said they were trying to revive me so they could get my phone# and what meds I take. I don't remember if I woke up long enough to tell them or if they were able to get my medical form I'd filled out to participate.

I did manage to make it out of the ER in time to go to the closing ceremony. But I was exhausted, still feeling sick and I just wanted to leave. I was originally going to take the train home, but Kerry insisted I go back to their hotel with them and rest. The walk back to the hotel was the longest mile I think I've ever walked. The sun was coming out and the heat & humidity was still unbearable.

So, all in all, it was a really fucked up event for me. I'm pissed off that it wasn't coordinated better and the safety talk they gave us turned out to be a load of shit. I'm pissed off that I didn't walk farther than I did. I'm pissed that our team didn't stay together to help each other along.

I came home and pretty much slept from 10 am Sunday until 11 pm Monday. And I still feel like shit, like I'm going to pass out at any minute. Can't wait til they send me my survey about the event. I have a lot to bitch about.

Only good things that came from all this is I did make a few friends and we raised more than a million dollars. And that total is definitely going to continue to rise.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooh Sid,
Im so sorry. It sounds like a nightmare. Why didnt you quit, you could have killed yourself. I know you wanted to go the whole way but it wasnt worth dying for.
But listen,you should be very proud of yourself,you went a long way, you gave it all you got, Im so proud of you.
So congradulations,your a true surviver! Youve done so much for those in need, good for you.

Take good care of yourself

9:20 PM, July 19, 2005  
Blogger Polar Bear said...

I'm sorry it was so poorly organised. I'm sure the heat didn't make things any better. But I agree with Billy - you went a long way, and that's pretty good in my books.

I also think that it's important that you participated and raised those funds. It's for a very good cause.

Take care

1:21 AM, July 20, 2005  
Blogger borderline savvy said...

I too am sorry that the event was so poorly organized. You're right, there should have been better safety enforced. Please don't feel it wasn't worth it, because you raised a million dollars to help NAMI. I'm just sorry you got sick and had to go to the hospital.

I also agree with Billy and Polar Bear that you walked a long way in bad circumstances and did very well. So don't feel bad about that. Be proud of what you accomplished! I'm proud of you.

Continue to take good care of yourself.

Big hugs,

10:53 AM, July 20, 2005  

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