Thursday, September 10, 2009

Into the Drink

One of the first tour stops on our three week vacation was the Russian River in Sonoma, CA. It's become something of an annual trip with friends of ours. We rent a house on the river and try to get our ya-ya's out as much as possible in one week's time. This year's house came with a canoe tethered to the dock, and that became our vehicle of choice during our time there.

Inevitably with all the consumption from keg plus the attempts to kill our canned beer supply, this would lead to a drunken attempt at late night canoeing for me and the two men on the trip, Aaron and Jesse. If you haven't been in a canoe lately, they're generally built for two people, as our canoe was. Because there was three of us, and because I was the lightest of the three, I would be sitting in the middle. And being more than a bit inebriated, I knew I should be seated in a throne fit for a king. Not sitting on the floor of the canoe where my ass might get wet, not sitting on a low stool, but sitting in one of those white plastic patio chairs with a proper back to it so I could recline whilst the others paddled me around.

We propped the chair into the middle of the canoe, Aaron climbed into the back of the canoe, I sat down in the patio chair, and Jesse climbed into the front. For some reason I had a paddle, and I actually made a half-assed-fully-drunk attempt at a row before we all decided that wasn't going to fly. I made an awkward maneuver to hand the paddle back to Aaron, and succeeded in handing it off only to have the weight shift in the canoe first to the right, then to the left and tipping the canoe over and dumping the three of us into the water. We hadn't made it more than 5 feet from the dock.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why the canoe capsized, but the three of us put together in that mental state didn't exactly equate to one rocket scientist. A higher center of gravity in a canoe isn't what the canoe inventors had in mind. But it was funny as hell and we laughed our asses off as we made our way back up to the house to change out of soaked clothes. And that was the end of that night.

The next morning I saw the contents of Aaron's wallet laid out on the dining room table to dry. I was relieved I didn't bring anything important down to the canoe. Or at least that's what I thought until that afternoon when I started looking for my asthma inhaler and I couldn't find it. The inability to find one's asthma inhaler always seems to trigger a minor asthma attack, or at least trick the mind into thinking it's happening. That's what happens to me at least. And it always leads to an obsessed search for it until it is found.

I vaguely recalled having the inhaler in the pocket of my jacket when the canoe capsized the night before. I could only imagine that it was at the bottom of the river. Less than 5 feet from the dock. I was going to have to dive for it, and probably cause an asthma attack in the process of holding my breath and gasping for air over and over when I came up for air. I could always buy a Primatene Mist inhaler at Safeway, but that always feels more cracked out than the prescription inhaler variety, so the diving drill seemed like the better option.

Judah's kid-sized swimming goggles came in handy for the diving experiment. Luckily it was a hot day, and I didn't mind diving in over and over. The only problem was that the water wasn't clear enough to see the bottom until I was about a foot away from it. I'd dive down, do a quick search around a small area, then I'd have to get back to the surface for a breath and another try. It must have been about 15 dives before Jesse had a brainstorm that it would be cool if we had a hose so that I could stay at the bottom and still get air from the surface.

Two minutes later I'm standing next to Jesse on the dock with the garden hose ready to jump in. We did a little breathing experiment on the dock, and it seemed like this was the ticket. I jumped in with the hose in my mouth only to realize seconds later that the volume of air coming in was much too small for anything but a panic reaction under the water. Two minutes later I'm reattaching the garden hose to its spout.

Because it was getting later and later on a Friday afternoon, one of the few remaining options for getting my inhaler back would be to call my doctor and have them call in a prescription to the local pharmacy. A few calls and I was in business. Judah and I drove down to the pharmacy, I handed over my ID, and the pharmacist said "they just called it in, it'll be ready in 15 minutes."

Judah and I walked over to Safeway to buy some Coca-Cola and kill some time. When we returned to the pharmacy, I showed my ID again, and the pharmacist told me that he couldn't fill the prescription because they didn't have the exact type of inhaler that the doctor's office had prescribed. I asked him if I could get something similar, and he said that they couldn't do that. He called Safeway to see if they had it, but they didn't. This is the point where David Banner usually turns into The Hulk and smashes everything in sight, but that never ever happens to me. A lightbulb went on over the Pharmacist's head and he realized that he had some special powers of his own, and he made a "special emergency" override and got me my medicine.

I went back to the river house with my new inhaler and a two-liter bottle of Coke. And a new puzzle for Judah to play with, which he figured out in about 5 minutes. That's the problem with puzzles: Once they're put together, the fun is over. I didn't use the new inhaler once on that trip. But the panic mode going on in the back of my mind was gone, and that's what having a security blanket is all about.