Posted by: greentangle | October 24, 2016

A Medical Interlude

It all began with dark brown urine, something I’d never experienced or even heard of before. That was late Monday afternoon. I made a trip to the library that evening to look up dark brown urine causes on the internet and found a long list of options ranging from a few foods to cancer and liver failure, and suggesting a doctor be contacted, especially if it lasted more than a day. Unfortunately, I hadn’t eaten any of the foods.

Back home, I collected some urine, found dark solid flecks in the liquid and decided I’d be calling a doctor in the morning. The next day, everything was back to normal so, being a man, I put it off but the color returned Wednesday evening and I again planned a morning call. Shortly before midnight, I was woken by the pain of a kidney stone, a familiar pain which was oddly somewhat of a relief but since I’d never had this urine color before I still wondered if something more serious was happening. I thought back to the most recent stone pain in the middle of the night about five years ago while working in Yellowstone which occasioned a sixty mile ambulance ride at 3 AM while avoiding elk on the road.

I made it through a long night of pain-induced shivering and vomiting, catching brief moments of sleep while tightly clutching a stuffed animal between trips to the bathroom. By Thursday morning I was worn out and decided I’d make the ten block bus ride to medical treatment. I called and found out that the urgent care center didn’t open until ten, later than I wanted to wait. I called internal medicine to try to see someone sooner but was told they had no available appointments so I was off to the emergency room where I traded a urine sample for a blue plastic bag to vomit in and began to wait.

After longer than I’d expected (I’d begun pacing against the discomfort), I got past the waiting room to a private room, changed into a robe, and said yes when asked if I wanted a blanket. Time passed, pain increased leading to more shivering but no blanket appeared so I eventually had to ring for one. More time passed and a couple people came in with equipment and I said this was what I was waiting for, thinking I was about to get pain relief but they were only there to take blood. More time passed and I was wheeled off to be scanned, still with no fluids or medicine being put into me, shivering and hiccupping, and accumulated more blankets–I was up to five. After the technician managed to get a scan just before another hiccup, I asked if he was a baseball fan, trying to get an update since it had been days since I’d used the internet or heard scores, but he had no info for me.

Back to my room where I finally got an IV and some dope which induced another round of vomiting and, losing the pain and in a bed for the first time in months, fell asleep for a couple hours. When I woke, pain was starting to return, I skimmed through the television and got some baseball news, a doctor came in for the first time, I had to make a couple requests to get to a bathroom (not good treatment for an old guy with a kidney stone and big prostate). I’m not a pushy guy and my assumption was that they were busy, so my second requests for a blanket and a bathroom had allowed them plenty of time to get to me. When I later told someone about my plan to write about my seven hours in the emergency room as low man on the triage totem pole, he wondered if that was due to medical reasons or insurance reasons (I have Medicaid coverage). The second possibility hadn’t even occurred to me, but maybe I’m just not cynical enough. Nah, that can’t be it.

When the orderly finally arrived to point me to a bathroom, he carried the empty IV bag attached to me. When the doctor came in, I asked for more pain medication and he requested it. He told me I had a large kidney stone and he had called a urologist for advice about whether I would need a stent inserted but hadn’t had a response yet. Forty minutes later, I still hadn’t received more drugs and only did when the doctor passed by again and told someone specifically to do it.

Next I was moved to a different room which doubled as a supply closet so I had many visitors. By this time I finally had a new IV bag and more dope so I didn’t mind and was trying to amuse myself with the television. I’d had enough sleep and pain relief that I was more aware of my situation so I requested that the doctor stop by when possible. When he did and verified that the urine color was due to blood from the stone and there was not a more serious issue showing up in test results, I said I’d prefer trying to pass the stone rather than have surgery. After he talked to a urologist who set an appointment for me in the morning, I was on my way home with prescriptions for pain, nausea, and infection.

That evening a sharp pain near my hip and a spurt of fresh blood in my urine told me that the stone had moved and I thought the worst was over. Friday morning when the urologist showed up, we looked at the scan and he said that rather than one large stone, I had two. So surgery wasn’t needed but more pain lay ahead. I spoke a bit about my emergency room experience and though we both expressed understanding for their busyness, even he shook his head when hearing that fluids hadn’t been pumped in nonstop.

The two-stone theory was verified Saturday afternoon when I was in excruciating back pain at home for about an hour and experienced the most impressive vomiting I’d seen since The Exorcist. I considered options for getting back to the hospital—ambulance, bus, cab, neighbor—and packed a small bag while pacing and gasping and sweating and shivering and practicing my speech to the imaginary medical staff—just keep filling me with fluid and dope. Ultimately, I decided there was no point in going back since I couldn’t count on prompt or quality care so I just rode it out.

Several waves of less serious pain followed Sunday as the stone began to move, and I think there is still more to come.

As I mentioned, I’ve been through this before, and emergency room treatment of kidney stones should be simple and has followed the same basic pattern in all my past experiences—put the patient in a corner with a pot to piss in, pump full of fluids and medication to push the stone and kill the pain until it gets past the narrow spots, then send home pain-free. This time I was failed on all counts and have had additional pain and lost days of work as a result.


Posted by: greentangle | October 8, 2016

Moose in Duluth

I didn’t see this moose in Duluth (but then I may be the only person who hasn’t seen a black bear in town even though I’ve gone looking for them) which was at the east end of town about 45 blocks from my home (Duluth is essentially a few blocks wide and a few miles long–where I’ve been working is 85 blocks in the other direction), but it gets the town on the level of Bozeman where I saw a moose in a park near the library, much closer to downtown.

Pause for moose memories–in Yellowstone, a bull’s head visible in Floating Island Lake, and a cow walking near Trout Lake; in Grand Teton, a bull, cow, and calf near the Cascade Canyon trail.

For anyone interested in what nature’s doing here, there’s a Facebook group Duluth Phenology which is where I learned of the moose. There are lots of photos as well as reports, photos you’re unlikely to see here anymore. I took some photos on a favorite hike (and had to push my old body to complete it) a month ago but wasn’t happy with any of them. So I got home and tried the other camera and remembered that it doesn’t focus at all anymore.

It’s raptor migration season–I doubt I’ll make it up to Hawk Ridge but I did get a good luck at a couple turkey vultures soaring over a bus stop this morning. Lots of yellow and red appearing among the still mostly green leaves, and it was a lovely mix of sun, clouds, sky and Lake this morning.


Posted by: greentangle | August 27, 2016

Save the Yellowstone Grizzly

Posted by: greentangle | July 27, 2016

Just Another Day in Duluth

Posted by: greentangle | June 15, 2016

The End of Yellowstone

In more ways than one, I fear. I only stayed in Yellowstone for a few weeks. If you’re interested in why, and more about my life there, you can read about it at  Here are my last photos from the park.

The walk to work was a little over a mile and it was always interesting. There is a trail which I usually took, but if it was wet or early enough that traffic wasn’t too bad I’d sometimes walk along the edge of the road because I was able to get a farther view of upcoming wildlife than I could on the trail. But there was little if any shoulder and I’d cross the road a few times en route for safer walking. Sometimes all the preparation and precaution didn’t do any good, such as the very first morning when I was on the road with a big drop off beside me and this bison herd coming at me in both lanes before they got off the road.

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Fortunately a car came along and scared the ones on my side of the road over to the other side or I might have made the news. The next morning I came out of my trailer and spotted a lone bull bison in the area who seemed to be going away from where I needed to go, but as I proceeded he changed directions and I had to keep retreating. He wound up galloping down my dirt road at me as I stood behind my neighbor’s car. He was actually just trying to get to this old road beyond my trailer and I was in his way. Note the sign in the lower left declaring the road closed to hikers due to bear activity—I took the photo from my doorway.

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I only saw one bear in the park, a big black one on my way to work on a morning when I didn’t have my camera. Other wildlife seen but either not photographed or not shown here: ravens, mallards, killdeer, sandhill cranes, ground squirrel, hare, pronghorn.

Yes, it did snow while I was in Yellowstone.

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On one of my days off, I hiked all around the Mammoth terraces—the many boardwalks and stairs of the lower, and the narrow road of the upper. There were many changes in less than three years. A section of gravel sidewalk had been replaced with a wooden bridge because of water flowing across. In the next photo, the boardwalk used to go straight across—and I don’t think I ever passed there without seeing some fool stick his hand in the water to see how hot it actually was.

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My favorite hike took me up the hill behind the hotel to open fields of sagebrush and wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. I had been feeling disappointed that I hadn’t seen a magpie yet, so was happy when one appeared for photos. And a lovely mountain bluebird as well.

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It’s a good idea to carry bear spray when hiking in grizzly country (or bison country, I suppose, but they seem so damn unstoppable to me that I illogically wonder if it would even affect them) but the most important way to protect yourself is to stay alert and keep looking around. That has the added benefit of showing you scenes you probably would have missed otherwise, such as this elk bedded down in the sage. This was a few days before the first elk calf of the season was reported, so that may be what was going on here.

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Here’s a view of part of my trail home.

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It’s not much farther beyond the bridge to where I lived, but it’s uphill and curving with scattered trees and limited views. One evening I was startled by movement ahead of me, and thought bear but it turned out to be deer so I went home and had a beer.

After my friend picked me up to give me a ride to the bus station, we took a short trip farther into the park up the road to Swan Lake Flat where we’d hiked in past winters when the road was closed. She wanted one last look at grizzly bears and mountain goats she’d seen in the previous couple days she’d been in the park, but we didn’t spot them.

Later that day, between Bozeman and Livingston on the bus home, I was watching the passing scenery for probably the last time when for a few seconds passing, I believe I saw an animal I’d never seen in the wild—the size, shape, and movement all said mountain lion to me, although the color seemed off but that might only have been due to the shadow the animal was in. I certainly have no idea what I was looking at if not a mountain lion. So I guess that’s a good way to leave the area, with one final gift.

A new article on the problems.

Posted by: greentangle | May 1, 2016

Back to the Past

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Now that I have your attention, here are some photos from the past two days, most taken at Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center. These two photos are of a bear from Alaska where they grow much larger than in Yellowstone.

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Here’s a photo of a wolf I took while I was at the Center.

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And here’s one I took through my hotel room window across the street. It’s not a bad perk to see and hear wolves howling, and I’d be quite happy to live in this room.

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I love ravens and they choose to spend a lot of time here, getting scraps of the food which is hidden around the bear enclosure. I watched a pair of them dancing in the air, with one flipping over and then grasping talons with the one flying above, but didn’t manage to get good photos or video. You can see from the first photo that they’re quite willing to hang around a grizzly bear, but when the bears are rotated in the exhibit, the ravens all leave when the bears are gone and there’s just a human in the cage hiding the food. Clearly, they’re picky about which mammals they hang out with. One even mooned me.

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This fellow wasn’t a captive; we met downtown.

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I’ve been surprised how many stores aren’t open yet, but unfortunately I’ve already seen some of the busloads of tourists which I’ve heard has been the biggest negative change since I was last here. One store that is open has an ex-roommate of mine working there and I stopped in to chat with him today.

I fell in love with this rough-legged hawk, and have many photos to prove it.

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Here’s a golden eagle,

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and some falcon feet, peregrine to be exact.

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I’ll be leaving town soon, and although I won’t be going in this direction, you get the idea.

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I’ve had very mixed feelings about coming back to Yellowstone, but it has felt good to be back in the area. That could change due to the job, or the living arrangement, or the hordes of tourons, but I’m glad I made it back.

As I’ve written, I won’t have internet where I’ll be living. I’ll have some limited access to it elsewhere, but I don’t expect to use it often and likely won’t post here at all while in the park. Hope you enjoyed these last pre-park photos.


Posted by: greentangle | April 30, 2016

The Road (to) West

West Yellowstone, Montana, that is. And forgive me if I get distracted typing this, because I’m also sitting in my hotel room watching and listening to two large white wolves across the street in the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. Nice perk for a room which is larger than my apartment. I was at the Center briefly today and my camera was having a very lucky day–but that’s tomorrow night’s post. First I have to get here.

I’d been loathing the thought of the bus trip to the point that I really wasn’t feeling any enthusiasm about coming back to Yellowstone. While brooding about that on my way from Duluth to St. Paul, I got a vague sense that the trees looked strange and eventually realized they were leafing out unlike the familiar Duluth trees.

Due to bus schedules, I needed to spend the night at the St. Paul station–I actually thought that might be the best part of the trip because there’s wifi there. Joke was on me–because of a weekend event, everything had been moved and there wasn’t a single electrical plug for use. So a long first night with no sleep at all.

About 4 AM, I headed outside to wait for a bus over to Minneapolis. No info was available but it became half an hour after the bus was due and I decided that if it didn’t show up and one for Duluth did, I’d just go home. Eventually I got to Minneapolis and after another wait there, got on the bus headed for Montana. As we approached Fargo, I realized that I’d been traveling for almost 24 hours and still hadn’t gotten out of Minnesota.

After leaving Fargo, the bus was rocking down the highway because of the very strong wind, and we were warned that we might be stopped for a search by DEA/DOT agents. I thought it was nice that we were warned but it didn’t happen, and I wondered if anyone threw anything out unnecessarily.

Soon a Janis Joplin fan with large round tinted glasses and dozens of bracelets joined our group of travelers; when I spoke to her, she confirmed that they were soul mates or something like that. I chatted with a young man with guitar traveling from Buffalo to Idaho who was impressed I was going to work in Yellowstone and said he needed to do something like that so I gave him the name of the company which shall remain nameless (along with warnings). We compared winters, and he asked if I believed in climate change and seemed relieved when he could agree.

Later all that wind rocking the bus was put to use as we passed among more wind turbines than I’d ever seen before. They were not in a straight line, but scattered, and I felt like I was experiencing The War of the Worlds.

And finally on to the fracking area I assume to be the past reason for the ridiculous erratic route we followed. Flames rising, fenced off abandoned construction, all the scenes we’ve seen photos of. I guess it was interesting to see once, but now that it’s done and hardly any passengers got on in that area, could we please get the bus to go in a straight line again?

Crossing into Montana, a decent Big Sky sunset brightened my spirits for awhile until it got dark before any mountains appeared.

Off the bus for good at 4:15 AM. After it got light enough to see mountains for the first time of the trip

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I walked Jackrabbit Lane until the sidewalk ran out (didn’t take long) and yes, I did see a rabbit in a parking lot.

Also at the bus stop were three new employees of my former employer. They’d had travel problems and been delayed and unable to get there by the time they were supposed to be picked up. Now the company wouldn’t pick them up until Tuesday, but no worries, if they didn’t have money for hotel rooms, there was a bare box of a bus waiting room they could live in. The six hours I had to wait for a ride suddenly didn’t seem that bad. When I told this tale to the person from my new employer who picked me up, he seemed to think that company didn’t care much about its employees. Indeed.

Perhaps they were too busy going after customers who’d like to spend $49,000 for 12 days of being flown around to spend a few hours in each of eight national parks. It’s not a joke, it’s Privel. OK, it is a joke, but it’s also Privel. I’d love to hear their spin on how that behavior is sustainable since they spend so much advertising pretending to care about that.

The winding road from station to hotel followed the Gallatin River with lots of beautiful surroundings–trees, cliffs, meadows. I’d never traveled that road before so I’ve already seen something new and pretty this year. And my first bison herd of the season.

Back tomorrow night with photos of bears and wolves and ravens, oh my. And they’re howling again across the street.

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