Asia

Training for mountaineering update

Training for mountaineering… What does it take to sit on top of tall, pointy mountains as featured in cliché motivation posters? To be honest, even though I have done it before, I still have no bloody clue. I’m completely making this up as I go! Maybe the last summit was a complete fluke. Maybe this time will be different…

In exactly one month I will be stepping off a plane in Kathmandu and heading off into the hills with a good mate of mine. Despite being busy with my studies, some relief pharmacy work and organising my book launch (scheduled for a week after I return, which will  be a challenge considering I slept for a month after my last climb), I am pleased to report that my training has come along apace. Since my first Ama Dablam training blog post  my fitness has improved immensely. My waist is 6 cms smaller and I am 7 kgs lighter. Finally I am starting to look less like Homer Simpson and more like the guy to the right!

I am swimming 3 kms two to three times a week. The last time I went to the pool I was super-motivated and busted out the first 1.5 kms without a rest. My lungs are feeling strong thanks to yet another wild theory of mine. You see, I figure that swimming is one of the best ways to train for a low oxygen environment. I have been trying to teach my body to function under ‘oxygen stress’ (my term)  by not breathing when I want and alternating between a breath every five and one every six strokes. Once I tried breaking my swim down into laps of ten. I breathed once every 10 strokes on the first lap, 9 on the next and so on. This meant that when I did breathe I needed  to be efficient. This hurt, but I could feel myself pushing through all sorts of uncomfortable I-want-to-breathe barriers. Surely all this helps my breathing efficiency. Maybe. Another wild Ben theory…

I have recruited a rag-tag ‘team’ of dudes to rock climb with. Once a week Davide, the barista from over the road, and his mate, as well as my paragliding buddy Juan join me to ‘hang out’ at the climbing gym. All the lads are new to the sport, but they love the challenge and excitement. I am loving the company, making new friends and fun of it all. Rock climbing is amazing training. When you get tired, you fall off. This gives a surge of adrenaline that makes it possible to go again and keep on climbing beyond normal tired.

On top of climbing and swimming, I train with the slack-line during breaks from my book launch and study work. I can now wear my rucksack (big red, naturally) with 12 kgs inside on the slackline. This is super-exciting considering I could hardly stand on the thing a few months ago. Also, if climbing does not work out for me, I can run away to join the circus as a tightrope walker.

Queue shameless brag video:

 

All those oft-forgotten balance muscles that sub-consciously twitch and keep us upright get an amazing workout on this contraption. I have found muscles down the side of my legs and in my bum, which I didn’t know existed. If you have absolutely no imagination at all, you may be wondering how slacklining would help with mountaineering. Below is a short video, which shows just how important balance is on mountains:

 

I think maybe the next goal for the slackline will be to do it as Jette throws slushy ice at me, or get her to spray me with a hose in the nighttime. She’d enjoy that!

Anyway, that’s the latest on my training for the big climb. Did I mention that the Red Rucksack now has GPS capabilities? As we climb I will be updating here via sat phone, and tracking our progress using a GPS spotter. The GPS SPOT will be stuffed in my pack and plotting our exact location to a very detailed map as we climb. Thankfully, Ama Dablam is near Everest so there are some amazingly detailed maps available of the region. You will even be able to see, in real time, which ridge line we are sitting on, and which cliff we are climbing. High tech gizmos meets Yak transportation. BOO YAH! Yeah…I’m starting to get excited, and I look forward to having you tag along!

Do you have any questions about the expedition? Do you want to know any specific details? Please comment below and I’ll try to answer any question before I go. Note: while I’m in Nepal communication will be one way, so I will not be able to see comments or answer any questions so get in now.

Thanks for joining me.

 

Pokalde in the Khumbu Valley – my first Himalayan climb

grey Pokalde in the Khumbu Valley   my first Himalayan climb

This week’s adventure is a flashback to 2010 when I tackled Pokalde in the Khumbu (Everest) valley, my first Himalayan mountain climb. Our goal was this relatively small mountain just off the Everest trail, compared with the monsters that surrounded us, it was nothing more than a pimple. Pokalde is commonly used as an acclimatisation peak for Everest climbers and trekkers alike:

grey Pokalde in the Khumbu Valley   my first Himalayan climbI feel terribly alive after my recent cold bucket shower outside on the snow. With my increasingly hirsute face tingling, we set off and leave the porters to load the yaks. As we walk the visibility is virtually nil and the British members of our group are busily filling the air with disgruntled comments. I am content to just follow the fresh footprints ahead of me. Trudging along with my hood pulled tight and my eyes on the ground I pick up my revere from yesterday afternoon, ‘Great idea to contact the BBC when I return, they will need a Sir David Attenborough replacement for sure. Sir Benny Rabbit-Burrow, sounds great.

grey Pokalde in the Khumbu Valley   my first Himalayan climb
I am no biologist but I have the voice, ‘Here we see a group of common idiots walking through the snow to sleep in draughty canvas structures, they eat dried fruits and berries and share a communal toilet hole.’ Easy.

Half an hour after setting off we turn left up a valley where the yaks and porters pass us. Watching them disappear I feel relief as always to see my pack securely on the side of a beast. By the time us low altitude dwellers trudge into base camp our sherpas have set up all the tents and greet us smiling with hot tea with biscuits. This is a very civilised way to trek, I start to wonder how I ever managed without porters and sherpas alone in the wilds of Tasmania.

grey Pokalde in the Khumbu Valley   my first Himalayan climb

grey Pokalde in the Khumbu Valley   my first Himalayan climbThat night is our first proper cold one. In the morning Kevin the tall Irish man with the quiet smile says that he recorded around minus fifteen overnight. I wear my thermal long johns, fleece pants, polypropylene gloves, merino top and thermal sleeping bag liner inside my very warm sleeping bag and still shiver throughout, at one stage I considered spooning Andy for warmth but that would be like cuddling a fridge.

We are roused when the young cook shoves tea through the tent’s entrance and we set about getting fed and ready to tackle our first Himalayan mountain. Getting ready at altitude, even the relatively low altitude here, is hard work. We are at a place where rolling over in your sleeping bag sends you gasping for air for ten minutes. High altitude doubles the time it takes to pull on plastic boots, affix crampons and don climbing harnesses. We hit the mountain at about 5:15am and climb. We climb a lovely sharp little snow slope which is good fun, but then climbing becomes a sustained haul across an uninspiring scree up to a final section of exposed rock. A few members of the team turn back early which does not bode well for the upcoming challenge of Island Peak, or Imje Tse as it is known locally. I am unsure if it is happiness, fear or cold, but my eyes well up as I dig my unwieldy plastic boots into a slight crack in the rock, pull myself onto that tiny summit and look around.

grey Pokalde in the Khumbu Valley   my first Himalayan climbgrey Pokalde in the Khumbu Valley   my first Himalayan climbAs I am busy clambering over rocks the sun has been unveiling an amazing view for our little intrepid group. What I see painted in front of me in shades of grey with some pink steals away all words. I am clipped into a safety sling with my jaw agape and just stare down the Khumbu Valley. The six of us perch on a precarious little summit ledge and celebrate while soaking up this expansive view with careful back slapping all round.

On the descent I do my first ever single rope abseil with about five hundred meters of exposure below my bum. Due to my inexperience and clumsy gloves I end up slipping and falling into a fellow climber’s lap where she greets me with a giggling, warm hug. Our leader Andy spots my poor form, ‘Hey Ben, have you abseiled alone before?’

‘No mate, never without a second person belaying me from above anyway. She’ll be right.’

 

Not for the last time, I get into trouble for not telling him something like this.On the way down the long snow slope towards base camp I really lose energy and start getting a terrible headache, fighting off a desperate desire to just sit down and sleep I make it back to camp and into my sleeping bag for a quick rest. I fully understand now what ‘proper’ climbers mean when they say that the top is only half way. The adrenaline of a summit wears off leaving behind a breathtaking fatigue and nausea. Having completed our first ascent before lunch we enjoy a lazy afternoon squinting at small camera screens and comparing photos…I could get hooked on this climbing business.

grey Pokalde in the Khumbu Valley   my first Himalayan climb

 

grey Pokalde in the Khumbu Valley   my first Himalayan climb grey Pokalde in the Khumbu Valley   my first Himalayan climb

 

 

Ama Dablam – My mountaineering training regimen

Please do not get the wrong idea. I’m not writing this because I, in any way, think that I am some kind of fitness guru. Quite the opposite really; my view on exercise is simple: the more uncomfortable a training session is, the better it’s going to be for me. If you have an image popping into your mind of me in a packed gym running naked on a treadmill, well sorry, you’re thinking of the wrong kind of uncomfortable. That, or you’re some weird, stalker, beard-o-phile which is just awkward so please move on…anyway, what I mean is that my view on training is simple; the more I am sweating and gasping (and sometimes quietly sobbing) the better it is.

No, I’m writing this because I thought it would be interesting for those who don’t have the chance, or desire, to climb big mountains to find out the process involved in getting those nice, smiley summit pictures that often end up captioned with: “BELIEVING! – is half of doing” or “AMBITION! – aspire to climb as high as you dream”. Also, I thought I would afford my climbing friends the chance to read about my preparation and to shake their heads with a pitying smile.

In the lead up to this climb I will post on various topics like the technology we use, logistics on and off the hill, communication considerations, the clothes and gear I’ll be using and the food we eat. If you have any other things you’d like me to write about regarding this trip just ask.

Since reaching the decision to join Mal on this October Ama Dablam mission I have launched myself full throttle into mountain mode. You may be wondering what level of fitness I’ll need to drag my sorry ass up this highly coveted peak. Or you may not be wondering, in which case why not check out my post titled Drunk Russians which talks about peasants being drugged by their government.

Before I climbed Manaslu in 2011 I read everything I could find about the beast and came to the conclusion that this climb was mostly a very steep walk without much pulling-self-up-ice-cliffs-with-fingernails action. Sure, there were some very scary bits that we ‘walked’ over (see below), but the whole staring-with-cold-eyes-at-vertical-walls-of-ice action was limited.

grey Ama Dablam   My mountaineering training regimen

While training for Manaslu I was living in Aarhus, Denmark with my then girlfriend (now wife) just across from the pool. Through research and first hand experience I know that, at altitude, limiting your load  is crucial to success. Hence in preparation for Manaslu I just swam. Cue Forest Gump voice, “I just sa-wam Jenny…” I swam so damn much, around 6-8 kilometres a week, that I would not have been surprised to have seen little gills forming on my neck.

Once a friend of mine, Andy Chapman, wisely told me, “You climb a mountain with your legs, Ben, not your arms.” This is so true. To this end there was also a lot of bike riding involved leading up to this climb. Not the flashy lycra-clad kind mind, but more the type where I nicked Jette’s bright blue City-girl bike (complete with basket and bell) and just rode around the place. I’d ride around town happily mumbling the three Danish words I knew as people openly laughed. Although I looked completely retardacious, the rusty chain and rotten bearings of City-girl just made my legs work that little bit harder for every kilometre I went.

grey Ama Dablam   My mountaineering training regimen

Ama Dablam seems to have a ‘few’ steps

So, my training plan. In the  expedition notes for Ama Dablam Mal has written: There are a number of technical rock steps to climb as well as steep snow slopes to the summit. This causes me some concern as I know that Mal is prone to that oh so common trait of many ‘proper’ climbers; that is to completely under state things. For example: I once spent a rather un-cosy night with Mal huddled in a tent at 7450 meters. Overnight we recorded a temperature inside the tent of minus 25 degrees celcius. In the morning Mal bounds out of his sleeping bag, turns on his Go-pro and looks into the lens with a wide grin. “Morning here at camp four, bit of a cold one last night…” So when he says, ‘number of technical rock steps’ I am preparing for the worst. I am not picturing steps like you have at home but more steps with a vertical face the height of a house…yeah, sorry Andy but I may need some upper body strength for this one.

The core of my training for Ama Dablam will stay the same as for Manaslu; swim Forrest, swim! Not only is it great for general fitness but it also gives my lungs a beaut workout which is great for gasping down rarified air. I am currently swimming around 4-6 kilometres a week and want to build from there. Thankfully a good mate of mine is training for a Marathon so we are able to keep each other honest at the pool. To complement this I have just put together a weights program to build upper body strength for those few rock steps that I am so dreading….okay, I stole my wife’s program and changed the weights.

The classic route that we will be taking up Ama Dablam involves a number of extended, exposed ridge line walks. Sounds easy right? You just walk up a dizzyingly high knife-edge and don’t fall off! Technically that’s right. From a climbing perspective alone, ridge-lines are not that hard, but (there’s always a but!), at altitude, under pressure in a fearful and hypoxic daze I will need good balance to come naturally.

grey Ama Dablam   My mountaineering training regimen

Some cabbage-smelling hippy slacklining

To help my balance I have been mucking about with a slack line. You have likely seen clusters of hippies hanging out in a local park with drums, bright pants, scrappy dogs and those rolled ‘cigarettes’. You probably have also seen them on occasion get energetic enough to sling a racket strap between two trees and try to balance on it, well, that is slack lining. It is incredible just how good a core muscle and balance-y workout this game is.

I am, however, doing it without drugs or drums.

Speaking of drugs, this brings me to my last point. I have *GASP* totally quit alcohol for the four months leading up to this trip.

Nothing worth doing is easy, well, apart from sleep and hugging loved ones. Oh and relaxing on…fair enough, lots of good things come easy but this sport which I so enjoy is not one of them.

 

 

 

Coughing for CF – Cystic fibrosis inspiration

grey Coughing for CF   Cystic fibrosis inspiration I first met Walter Van Praag in 2008 when I owned my own pharmacy. Wal came in to pick up a huge basket of medicines, antibiotics, puffers, nebulised medicines and pancreatic enzymes. We chatted for some time about adventures past and planned, since that day we have stayed in touch. Wal is an inspiration to me, I hope his story about cystic fibrosis inspiration will also maybe make you think, “What is stopping me then?”

You see Walter has a life threatening genetic disease called cystic fibrosis or CF. CF causes mucous secretions to be really thick and to block up certain organs of the body, mainly the lungs ad pancreas. Suffers of CF fight a constant battle with lung infection and poor nutrient absorption, they have to regularly take pancreatic enzymes for gastric health and nebulised and oral medication to maintain proper lung function. Often sufferers progress to diabetes (due to pancreatic damage), it is not uncommon for sufferers to run out of antibiotic options that work for their lung infections.

Life expectancy of a CF sufferer is somewhere in the mid-thirties.

Why am I telling you all this about Walter’s condition?

When I met first Wal I figured he was something of an adventurer when he told me all about his bicycle ride from Istanbul to Paris to raise funds and awareness for CF. The book he wrote called “Coughing the distance” (http://www.vanpraag.info/cofe/) and the documentary of the same name (http://vimeo.com/1235023) were massive inspirations to me. I mean if a bloke with such a serious illness can do this stuff, why can’t I?

Wal has just returned from another epic adventure, he along with some friends, rode 5000km from Hanoi through Vietnam, through Cambodia to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and onwards to Singapore, again to raise funds and awareness for CF.

Walter is 47, statistically speaking he should be dead.
grey Coughing for CF   Cystic fibrosis inspiration I caught up with Wal mid-way through his journey after he had finished a hard days riding on the Ho Chi Min trail. Here is what he had to say:

You’ve done had some grand adventures whilst raising money for CF, most notably your ride from Melbourne to Sydney, your attempt on Mt Kinabalu in Borneo and your epic ride from Paris to Istanbul, now this, riding 5000kms from Hanoi up to Singapore what inspires you to keep going?

Other people’s enthusiasm and willingness of friends and acquaintances to participate keeps me going as well as the support I get from the international CF community. Being a bit older than the average survivor with CF I have many worried eyes upon me. The words ‘you can’t do that’ inspire me to do whatever is being referred to! Also, don’t forget the world isn’t going to end if I need to catch a bus somewhere! I am always cautious and don’t take unnecessary risks… Well, that is debatable isn’t it.

Your last few fundraising adventures have been on bicycles yet you are active in your local running club the Hash House Harriers. Why not a fundraising trek to mix things up?

Hash House Harriers is a lifestyle and family for me, I have been running with them for 20+ years, and many of us old Hashers don’t necessarily run on Monday nights… A lot of us walk too. I try to run, but it is very hard for me to run – with only 40% – 45% lung function.

I do enjoy bush walking (trekking), and often go for walks in the Tasmanian wilderness. Occasionally I backpack or go snowshoeing, but with my slow pace I have trouble finding friends to join me, so I do it with visitors to the state and people who don’t normally do that sort of thing. Friends that do it regularly are in clubs that are too serious and fast for me and I would slow them down.

Having said that, I am planning to do the El Camino de Santiago de Compostella pilgrimage in Spain sometime soon too! Maybe next year when I’ve recovered from this ride!

grey Coughing for CF   Cystic fibrosis inspiration  You embark on adventures which many people, even without CF, would consider epic. Why did you decide to cycle 5000kms from Hanoi to Singapore rather than simply holding a fundraising auction for CF?

People with CF shouldn’t plan holidays to places with pollution or plan indoors holidays (museums). The flights to destinations are enough of a challenge for our lungs. We need exercise. All my holidays always included exercise and outdoors activities. When I planned to cycle across Europe in 2007 my then doctor Reid said I should do it for CF… Ever since I’ve done bigger and more outrageous holidays (for someone with CF) as I discovered I could raise awareness and inspiration for people with disabilities.

Your goal is admirable, how difficult is it to make potential sponsors believe that you are genuine and to get them on board?

Getting sponsors is nigh impossible. Most of my sponsor requests are unanswered because so many people do so many wonderful things for so many worthwhile causes, large organizations get flooded with sponsor requests. After being presented with an order of Australia medal for international CF awareness raising and being featured on CNN I have become a little more credible to sponsors, but still they are extremely hard to find. Many companies also do not want to be involved with someone technically beyond their expiration date going for dangerous adventures. If something were to go seriously wrong they wouldn’t want to be associated with it. One day I hope to get a budget as well as a sponsor! Currently we rely on people’s donations to help with items such as a support vehicles. For this trip we found a kind sponsor who agreed to organize and rent our Vietnamese support vehicle, we only have to cover fuel and drivers food and accommodation expenses. Finding a support vehicle is never easy, but with the mountain of medicine I carry it is necessary. Keep fingers crossed for the other Asian countries we have to go through!

Of course all my adventures are saved up for and cheap airfares bought in advance, friends that join me all save up too. Thanks to social media we can spread the word much easier, and through our website offer people a link to either support the team or to directly support CF. 

grey Coughing for CF   Cystic fibrosis inspiration This time you are using electric cycles, how have they differed to the bikes you rode from Paris to Istanbul in 2007?

Cycling from Paris to Istanbul was sponsored by BATAVUS, a Dutch bike manufacturer. We were so pleased to receive the bikes we didn’t care what they were! They were wonderful mountain bikes, but we had to pedal hard. Not knowing I was diabetic at the time it was extra hard when my sugars went high or low. 

Now I have insulin injections with me and regulate my diet a lot better, but at the same time I am also a little older so I was thinking electric assist. I had experimented with electric assist bicycles at home and thought how cool it would be to put an electric bike through a proper test. I contacted a few bicycle manufacturers and distributors and was grateful to accept a good offer from the Australian Zoco Electric Bike distributor. They gave us fully suspended 200W central drive Zoco Rossas for the expedition. 

The biggest test for the bikes is the waterproof qualities and battery range as charging may be difficult and rains here are tropical. We are now well into the first week and are incredibly impressed!

grey Coughing for CF   Cystic fibrosis inspiration Has the hot, humid climate affected your performance in any way?

My lungs are mostly affected by pollution and stuffiness. I need to limit my pollution exposure especially carefully in Asian capitals. As a precaution I do extra careful nebulising treatments twice a day and take extra expectorants (Medicine to clear the lungs)… 

I have found that my performance in Asia is mostly affected by diet. I require a high GI diet, in Asia everything seems to be processed and sweet. Getting proper muesli and yoghurt breakfast in rural Asia is a difficult ask. Managing diabetes with high activity levels combined with an unusual diet is probably the biggest challenge for me now. Today for instance I ran low on sugars and had to make an emergency stop at a little stall in the mountains. 

I had little money left and bought/devoured a bunch of bananas and an iced tea to boost my sugar levels so I could reach the lunch-spot. I was the last of our four riders and the support vehicle was behind me. Nam the driver thought I was ‘tired’ as I was riding slow and thought he’d ride my bike up the next hill and let me drive! He had no idea my intention is to ride the whole way myself and that I was not tired, just low on sugar and needed lunch! The car was accidentally locked and I had to walk up a hill for 3kms with low sugar levels to find the team. Our driver had good intentions, but doesn’t speak English or understand my condition. I was furious to be left without phone, food etc and left to walk, but how could I be angry with such a well intending man! These are the real challenges I face.

You have to regularly nebulize to maintain lung function, does this put a strain on your riding schedule?

The nebulising time is annoying at any time. When I go to bed I have an extra hour of taking pills and nebulising, lung clearance, checking blood and injecting insulin… It takes an hour at least. The same goes for mornings. This means everyone gets 2 more hours sleep then me. If people say we get up ‘when we wake’, that doesn’t work for me as I need to wake an hour earlier. On my expeditions I feel responsible for communicating with sponsors, doing social media reporting, organising hotels and logistics. I take responsibility for the team members who come along with me and take responsibility for making the ride a success for everyone involved. 

grey Coughing for CF   Cystic fibrosis inspiration Lots of eyes are watching us. 

This sometimes makes my time off the bike a little stressful. 

I live for the moment I can just get on my bike and ride, rain or shine!

You once said in your blog that you are “on the wrong side of the life expectancy bell-curve”. How does your partner feel about you running off to foreign lands and pushing yourself as hard as you do?

Princess Ree is not so happy I do all these scary adventures. She’d much rather go on a holiday to Fiji with me. Ree worries about me and she is left at home for weeks and months at a time while I do my adventures. She is extremely proud of me and helps me organize the trips and help do fund raisers. However, I think if she had her way we’d just do a Club Med holiday together instead. Ree understands disabilities as she has her own problems, namely a few bits of titanium in her spine, chronic pain and nerve damage which stops her from being gainfully employed…and worse still unable to join me. We do manage nice romantic breaks together sometimes! 

grey Coughing for CF   Cystic fibrosis inspiration  How have the locals responded when they find out what you guys are doing?

The Tasmanian North West has completely accepted me as a local hero. Preceding my adventures I have a fundraiser or two and some media exposure. Everyone knows what I do and why. Workman in the street recognize me sometimes…many ask me why I don’t do a local adventure. Doesn’t ring my bell as much!

Finally I wanted to say good luck with raising your $5000 fundraising goal and that I’ll be following your journey with great interest.

Thanks Ben. 

 

So there you have it. I thought you may be inspired by my friend’s story. I sure am. You can follow Wals ongoing adventures here:  http://www.coughing4cf.com

The Russian drunk

A unique solution to the Russian Drunk issue, administered by a tyrannical government.

“So what do you do for work?”

Here we go, generally my rule is that anyone who starts a conversation with this question is going to be a complete bore. However, this guy looks like a person who has lived an interesting life, maybe it’s something about the tattered old doctors case beside his scuffed brown cowboy style boots, I do not know but I decide to ignore my rule and have a chat.

“Well, that is one loaded question. Would you like the long or the short version?”

“I have four hours to kill, how long is the long version?”

“Ok, well then, the long-abridged-version is not much to be honest, I’m doing a bit of traveling, currently trying to get a book published, climb a few hills. In a past life I was a pharmacist. You?”

“I own a house in Indonesia, just got divorced, ride a Harley”

“Good start”

This is where Rob the pockmarked trauma surgeon gives me a half hour soliloquy in his Texan drawl which fills me in on his fifty something years. I find people terribly interesting. I am waiting for Jette’s 3pm plane to land and, being a tightwad, have caught the last hotel transfer which dropped me at the airport at midday. Rob and I chat for hours over a coffee. I last opened the mental folder titled “Pharmacology” two years ago and it is surprisingly refreshing to dust off the cobwebs and be talking about drugs, debating dosages and indications.

“So what is the most internal ricochets you have seen?”

“Three, I once saw a bullet which went in the hip, bounced up to the scapula and changed course on a rib. Low velocity bullets are worse, high velocity just go straight through”

“Big problem?”

“Everyone is damn well shooting each other in America, it gets tiring. What are the drug laws like in Australia”

“Rather strict….”

(I will skip forward fifty minutes to the interesting bit to spare you the shop talk)

“Did you hear about how the Russians fixed alcohol abuse in their remote villages?”

“Nope, Antabuse, Zyprexa?”

“No, it is crazy what they did, this is something you would never get away with in America…or Australia”

“Go on”

“Well, the Russian government needed an effective and cheap solution to the Russian drunk problem. They took villagers who were killing themselves with cheap moonshine and had doctors put them under anesthesia, they cut a small line in their leg, then stitched it up again”

“OK, what? How is this helping alcohol abuse?”
“Well, when the patients woke up they told them they now have a special microchip inserted in their leg which will kill them if they ever take a sip of alcohol away from immediate medical care”

“Like back at their villages”
“Yup”

“Wouldn’t they just not believe the doctors and try anyway”

“No, so here is the kicker, while the patients were still in hospital and attached to a drip they told them they had to check the chip was active, they gave the patient a shot of whiskey and out of sight injected a whack of a short acting neuromuscular blocker into their drip”

Note: Neuromuscular blockers stop people from being able to use their muscles and to breath for themselves-like Tacrine which was used in the London Subways some time ago-one is completely conscious, with eyes open able to see and think but unable to move or breath, not a pleasant sensation I would imagine. The heart continues beating as, being somewhat important, it has a few safety systems in place. The people in London were conscious but unable to breath and died from asphyxiation.

“You’re making this up Rob, surely”

“No, all true, the patient is lying there unable to move or breath and they bag them”

“Bag them, like with resuscitation with the little bellows breathing for them”

“Correct, the doctors then frantically ran about acting like they were trying to save the patient’s life, they also unplugged the cardiac monitor to give the flatline beeeep warning and injected saline into the drip, pretending it was lifesaving drugs”

“So, after five or so minutes muscle function returned and they were able to breath for themselves”

“Correct and the doctors would casually say to the patient, ‘well the chip is active’ and walk out, apparently it works, 100% abstinence after the procedure”

Sometimes I am glad to be a tightwad, sometimes you get to meet the most interesting people. Rob went on to tell me about his (recently) ex-wife who stole his prescription pads nearly costing him his license and about his love for Harleys and Indonesia. The best story by far was the drunken Russians, I thought I should share it!

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This business partnership has expired.” Ben has no idea what adventures are in store when he sets out to discover what lies over that next mountain.

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