Keep Austin Weird

Camera: Apple iPhone XS
Exposure: 1/120
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 26mm equivalent
ISO: 200

The intro image, “Keep Austin Weird” lived up to the ethos.  This trip was down to Austin, Texas to participate in the NSF Neuronex meeting organized by Kristen Harris.

The meeting was spectacular and started off wonderfully for me.  Erik Jorgensen gave the keynote talk, and there were some wonderful other talks with people doing amazing things in the software and hardware communities in 3D connectomics initiatives.  Then we broke for lunch.  It was a wonderful lunch of BBQ, just like I remembered from Texas.  We were sitting on the back porch of the Texas Supercomputing Center, eating our BBQ, and something bit me.  No big deal I thought… It’s probably a mosquito, but the bastard did get me through my shirt which was unusual.

I forgot about it and went back in for the next session, where I was scheduled to speak.  I remember Tom Bartol talking and during his talk, it felt like someone had a blast furnace pointing at the top of my head. I started sweating…

Then the heat moved down to my shoulders and I started looking around, wondering if anyone else was suffering in the heat. Everyone else seemed fine… At this point, I realized that my reality was diverting from everyone else in the room which is never a good feeling.  Then the heat moved to my chest, I started sweating like crazy and my heart rate went from where it normally sits at 60, to around 100.  I made a recording of my heart with the Apple Watch, and noted the normal sinus rhythm, but FAST.  I started getting tunnel hearing and tunnel vision, and tried to do a val salva maneuver to keep the blood in my head.  At this point, I leaned over to my postdoc, Becca and said something like “I think I’m having an allergic reaction”, which is the last thing I remember before waking up on the floor, with my shirt open and Davi Bock saying “Are you OK man?”.

Paramedics were called, we did an EKG on the floor, they said, diastolic  was 30 (which is seriously low), put me on a gurney, and wheeled me out to an ambulance for some IV fluids, Benadryl and a ride to the Emergency Room.  This was my first visit to an ER where I did not go under my own power, and it is a humbling moment.  They gave me a whopping dose of steroids, 2 more liters of *COLD* saline (Care providers: Don’t do that folks. Preheat it. It is super uncomfortable when cold.), said it was probably a spider or a wasp bite/sting and discharged me.  No blood tests were done despite my asking, which kinda irritated me.

So, Becca and I called an Uber and went back to the meeting, which shocked more than one person there to see me walk back in a couple hours later, but what else was I going to do?  Hang out in the hotel room?  No, even though I did not feel 100%, I was going to attend the rest of the meeting.  I’m just bummed that I did not get a chance to deliver my talk and I kinda want a do over.

All that said, I am so grateful for the people on my team.  Our software architect, James Anderson helped lift my unconscious 190lbs out of my chair and onto the floor apparently, Becca Pfeiffer and Crystal Sigulinsky helped out with Becca coming to the hospital with me.  Jamie and Crystal delivered their talks to help cover for the material that I was unable to present.  Also, Kristen Harris and Davi Bock were the first faces I saw when regaining consciousness, and I will be forever grateful for the tenderness and compassion everyone showed at a time when I felt completely out of control, and unsure of what had just happened.  Thank you all.

What now? I get to go through allergy testing to various arthropod venoms…

Below are some photos from the meeting, featuring Erik Jorgensen, Tom Bartol, Davi Bock, Tom Kazimiers, Becca Pfeiffer, Crystal Sigulinsky, James Anderson and Uri Manor.

 

Camera: Leica Monochrom
Exposure: 1/180
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 5,000

 

Camera: Apple iPhone XS
Exposure: 1/160
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 26mm equivalent
ISO: 160

 

Camera: Apple iPhone XS
Exposure: 1/114
Aperture: f/1.8
Focal Length: 26mm equivalent
ISO: 100

 

Camera: Leica Monochrom
Exposure: 1/25
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 800

 

Camera: Leica Monochrom
Exposure: 1/160
Aperture: f/1.7
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 6,400

 

Camera: Leica SL
Exposure: 1/500
Aperture: f/2
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 100

 

Camera: Leica SL
Exposure: 1/180
Aperture: f/3
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 400

 

Camera: Leica SL
Exposure: 1/200
Aperture: f/2
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 400

 

Camera: Leica SL
Exposure: 1/250
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 35mm
ISO: 800

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.