Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I Almost Woke Up Dead.....

I didn't write about an additional crisis I suffered through this past glorious weekend, A) because I didn't want to taint a wonderful cycling experience with so much MORE negativism; and B) it's a tad embarrassing that I almost killed myself in my sleep.

After the horror of the trip down to Columbus for Georgia BikeFest (and I only realized later that the title of my blog post was just this side of stupid), Rozmo and I had a wonderful dinner in a lovely Thai restaurant, and I tried to stop mourning the fact that we didn't get to ride our bikes that day. I was grateful to have had the tire replaced, the gas line repaired, and arrived at BikeFest in time for registration. And dinner. Mostly dinner.

I invited Rozmo to stay with me in the RV, but she loves tent camping when the weather is nice, and she had a nice spot right next to the Chattahoochee River. We agreed on a time to meet the next morning, and we retired to our separate "tents." I fired up the generator on the RV so I would have electricity (no hook-ups when we are in a parking lot, sadly), put in my earplugs (not only is my generator kind of loud, but I was parked right next to some ungodly monstrosity that would have drowned out an invading army), and went to sleep.

After I had been asleep about an hour, I was awakened by a shrill, piercing noise. Even through my earplugs, it startled me awake, and my heart pounded. There was a moment of that I-just-woke-up-and-I'm-slightly-incoherent confusion, then I realized the sound I was hearing was the carbon monoxide alarm. In my RV.

I turned on a light to look at the panel. It said a green light was okay, a flashing red light was a medium warning, and a solid red light was a high warning. The very tiny print read that if the light was red and solid, I should seek fresh air and call 9-1-1.

It was a very solid red. And screaming bloody murder.

I didn't really know what to do. The alarm has malfunctioned before (!), but that was when we were NOT running the generator. The generator runs off gasoline, just like the motor. And it has an exhaust pipe. Just like a car. Just like people die from all the time, either intentionally or otherwise.

I got up and walked around outside, but the alarm kept going off intermittently. I didn't want to wake my fellow cyclists/campers, so I finally shut off the generator and opened the windows. Opening the windows may be the smartest thing I have EVER done. Not having the generator meant I wouldn't have my CPAP machine to sleep, but I had slept for years without it, so I figured I would just suffer through the night. It's not like my snoring would disturb anyone, not with that godawful machine next to me roaring all night.

I started thinking, "My head hurts just a little bit." And then I wondered if my head REALLY hurt, or if it was the power of suggestion. If there was enough carbon monoxide to set off the alarm, then I guess it's possible there was enough to cause a headache. 

I sat up for a while playing a stupid video game, terrified to go to sleep. I have been known to ignore car alarms and fire alarms, but I don't mess around with deadly odorless gases. Finally I went back to the bedroom area and looked at the light again, and it was green. I reluctantly went to bed and slept very fitfully.

The next morning I cranked the generator again, only to make coffee, and I mentioned the situation to one of my fellow cyclists/RV campers. (I love both of those groups of people, because we always take care of each other.) He came over and looked at the exhaust pipe, and it wasn't where it should have been. It was SORT OF sticking out from underneath the RV, but it wasn't STRAIGHT out like it should be. There is a clamp to keep it in place, but it was broken. I don't know if that also happened when the tire blew, or if it has been that way for a while and we just didn't know it. He pulled on the pipe for me (I could have done it myself the night before, but it was hot) and straightened it out. I was relieved but still a bit wary.

With the exhaust pipe in place, the fumes were blowing more straight out from the RV, and the alarm didn't go off anymore. I'm more grateful than I can say that we had an alarm and that it worked. When I told the story to Hubby on the phone, he said he was going to disconnect it when I got home because there was obviously something wrong with it. (He was just rattling my cage.)

After the ordeal was all over, I nearly drove myself crazy with the "what ifs."

What if the alarm hadn't worked?
What if (I don't know how, but what if) I hadn't heard the alarm?
What if Rozmo had come over the next morning and I hadn't responded?
What if someone had seen me with that CPAP mask on my face?

How long would it have taken for them to realize I hadn't merely overslept?
How would they have gotten into the RV? (One of the few times I've remembered to lock the doors, probably because I was alone.)
Who would have called Hubby?
Would he have wanted to leave the golf course?



Riding 100 miles on my bicycle was nothing compared to the trauma I went through just to get the weekend started.

I'm glad it turned out like it did. What an embarrassing way to die. 

1 comment:

DJan said...

That WAS a close call, B. Glad it all turned out okay and nobody saw you dead... how scary!