Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Broc Coli

With Lilith’s help we pulled in to the Grand Junction KOA long after dark and many hours after the office had closed. The manager left a note for “Vambroz” on a paper plate. Close enough. And close enough to US 50 to feel the draft from passing cars and trucks.

We had the last spot on the end of the tent section. While Shawn made camp I pretended to be busy searching for water. The nearest faucets didn’t work very well at all. They kind of sputtered and gurgled and didn’t even dribble enough in my pot to wash our vegetables let alone get some soup going. The next set of faucets worked much better so I rinsed the broccoli and filled the pot.
Then I turned back to camp and tripped over the “Non-potable water” sign.


I just washed our vegetables in acid rain or something and now they were floating in the brine from the faucet.

I know what non-potable water is, but I don’t know exactly what it is. You don’t want to ingest this stuff, but why?

What was it that made this water non-drinkable? Did it just smell and taste bad? Did it look like it came from France when held to the light? Would it eat through my mucosal linings and other connective tissues leaving me with new passageways between my lungs and my stomach? (Imagine the possibilities in a “belch and blow” contest!) Did this water come straight from the Colorado River? Was it only used on the grass and therefore laced with weed killers or fertilizers? Or was it recycled from the camp showers? Or maybe the RV dump station? Just how high was the bacteria count on my broccoli and were they already flagellating themselves out of the pot to get me?

I had a flashback to Microbiology and all the enteric diseases we might contract from this. Most of them would strike within the next six hours and many could last several days. We would experience nausea, vomiting, intestinal cramping and rapid evacuation of our bowels, and fever. That would be the good day …

And we’d think we were going to die.

But it would be worse.

We wouldn’t.

Not yet, anyway. The list of complications and ailments would expand. Our enteric linings would begin to fail and even disintegrate and we would experience rapid dehydration. We’d become delusional and experience hallucinations as our fevers rose to life threatening levels.

The subsequent electrolyte imbalance would interfere with normal muscle contraction. We would experience weakness, maybe even paralysis and the loss of fluids would trigger a compensatory increase in heart rate known as tachycardia.

And ultimately our hearts would fail. It would start with a few skipped beats and mild changes in the normal heart rhythm. It might feel like a “flip-flop” or a just a “thump” in our chest. With the onset of Atrial fibrillation our breathing would become more labored and we would experience vertigo or even fainting as our blood volume decreased and our hearts struggled to circulate what little was left to our central nervous system.

As we passed into the irreversible and final stages of cardiovascular shock, I would look upon my beautiful wife one last time and, before my consciousness finally succumbed to ventricular fibrillation; with my eyes I would apologize for using non-potable water to clean the broccoli.

And her eyes would flash back at me as if to ask, “You did what!?!

Not exactly what we had in mind when we plotted our deaths a few days ago.