Sunday, April 26, 2009

A serious forehead burn

This past weekend was my first two days off and out of the hospital in 22 days so I knew I had to get out and paddle. That and the weather was predicted to be 92 degrees and sunny. Brett Beel, Adam Mueller and I decided to go on a little field trip down to Scottsville, VA and the James River. Brett and Adam would go for a bike ride and then come and pick me up a down river. Our planned meeting spot was the Highway 15(James Madison Hwy) Bridge.

We left Charlottesville around 9 and I hit the water around 10am. The paddle itself was beautiful. The trees are actually starting to carry some new foliage and the birds were out in full force. The turles had finally started coming up from their hibernation and were sunning themselves on logs the whole way down the river.

This section of the James is really pretty, the river becomes fairly broken up and for a bit of the section I would just weave in and out of large islands. One of the highlights of the morning was watching a deer swim between one island to another. I also had the chance to hang out watching a group of cows lounge in the shade for a bit. They had the right idea!

Anyway, as I was paddling down the river, I was becoming acutely aware that my sun protection was inadequate. The long hours in the OR had paled my skin and my melanocytes just were not tough enough to deal with the intense sun exposure. Even though I had put on SPF 30, I could feel the burn starting.

Around 12:10 I pulled up and under the Hwy 15 bridge and into some shade. After stashing my kayak, I hiked up from the boat launch to the Hwy, only to find that my cell phone did not receive any service. Oh well, Brett and Adam were supposed to come meet me when they were done with their ride. Not wanting to lose sight of my boat, I took up a position on the bridge and waited. And waited. And waited in the hot sun on a concrete bridge. Needless to say my sun burn became worse. The view was great though looking over the James.

Eventually Brett and Adam came and picked me up and we drove back to Cville. However, my forehead took the brunt of the sun exposure and I am bracing myself for a high level of ridicule tomorrow in the OR. Until next time.....

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I finished up rounds today at a reasonable time so I decided to get out and do some paddling. For the past several weeks I have only had enough time to head out to Rivanna Reservoir, and I had the itch for some bigger water. Lake Anna, a largeish lake north of Charlottesville, was just big enough to scratch that itch.

Orange Surgery, the laprascopic and bariatric service at UVa, has been the service I have been rotating on the past several weeks. I have been privledged enough to be a part of some really cool surgeries, and seen where the cutting edge of the surgical field is. What has been most rewarding though has been seeing patients whom have been really, really sick get better and eventually leave the hospital. I am reminded daily just how lucky I am to be healthy, and how strong some of these injured folks are.

Back to the kayaking. I left Charlottesville around 3pm and started driving up. The drive itself was beautiful, passing through rolling cow pastures and old silos. The weather forecast called for rain, but the sky was still moderately clear so I was excited. It is always fun exploring a new location, and Lake Anna sounded pretty cool.

Lake Anna was originally created in 1971 to serve as the cooling reservoir for Dominion Power's nuclear plant located on the south side of the reservoir. The lake is 13,000 sq acres and is located in the coastal plains of Virginia.
(Dominion Nuclear Power Plant)
I started paddling toward the nuclear plant from my take off at Lake Anna State Park. I paddled for an hour and eighteen minutes past the power plant to a series of three small islands on the north side of the lake. After casually passing by some nesting canadian geese(the raised quite a raucous) I started paddling back. The whole way out I battled a stiff headwind, and on the way back I reaped the bounty of my hard work. Up went my Pacific Action sail and off I went.

That baby really picks up speed when the wind is right! I cut my time by nearly 20 min on the way back which made me happy considering I was starting to get hungry. I hadn't eaten since breakfast in the hospital. Anyhow, I was happy with how "the Mary Agnes" handled on a body of bigger water, especially with stronger winds. Overall, it was a great break from the hospital, and I am excited to head back into the hospital early tomorrow morning.

Until next time.....

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

StandardHorizon HX471S VHF radio brief review

Hey all,

First I wanted to say thanks to my brother Jared for taking the time to work on the blogging. He is going to be taking over for me here in 8 short weeks so I am glad he is taking the time to learn the ropes!

I also wanted to do a quick review of the new StandardHorizon HX471S VHF radio that Vertex Standard was gracious enough to provide me for the trip. First off, a word of warning. I am not in any way a radio buff, so many of my comments might seem a bit general for anyone who is a connoisseur. So this past weekend the weather was great, and I had the chance to take the boat and the HX471S out on Sat. afternoon after helping teach the climbing section of UVa's Wilderness Medicine Elective. The HX471S had several features that made me really excited.

First, just taking it out of the box I quickly realized how easy the unit was to use. The NOAA, AM/FM, and VHF buttons were very easy to use and switch between quickly. The FM/AM toggle switch worked great, and allowed me to quickly switch between channels. I did have some problems getting the SCAN function to work at first though. It seemed like the HX471S would scan and then stop on a random station.

I was super excited with the HX471S's ability to repel water. I really soaked it for awhile and it worked great. The unit is super durable which will be a necessity for me on my upcoming trip. One change I will be making is figuring out a way to get the unit attached to the outside of my life jacket. The HX471S has a strap for tying around my hand but I need a way to clip it into my life jacket. I will keep you all updated on how that modification goes. Well, it is 10:30pm and I need to be up at 4am to start rounding, so I am going to sign off.

Until next time.....

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Back To Virginia (trial run with Jared)

Hey all, this is Jared, Joe’s brother and future blogger for the upcoming trip. We thought we’d do a little trial run at this before he heads out in just eight weeks. Well the weather agreed with him this past Saturday and he got the winds he was waiting for to try out his 1.5 sq meter Pacific Action sail. It was sunny enough too for as he puts it, “suns out, guns out.” Joe also took advantage of testing out his VHF radio from Vertex Standard , which worked great and the review will be coming soon to so stay tuned. Also be sure to check out the new Paddling for Parkinson's Facebook group.

The hour and a half trip at Rivanna Reservoir, 10 minutes from the house, was a great way to get back at the paddling after a week back home in Colorado. While back home, Joe had the great opportunity to meet with John Hill and Bill Voloch of HealthOne, who pledged support in the upcoming journey. This is great news as the departure date is getting closer and closer.

As for now, Joe is back to the life of a med student this week with his Orange service surgery clerkship starting. Well, that’s all for the trial run, back to the sunshine in San Diego and I look forward to blogging again as the start day is fast approaching.