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Of Salmon Eggs, Fishing & Diabetes
An acceptable solution
Memories of David Morrison, a rare kind of friend
There are so many memories of David flooding my mind and my heart since he took off to be with Jesus and left the rest of us here to handle things, a book could be written. They are stories of David's humor, his love of people, dogs and fishing and stories of his difficulties and trials. Mostly they are stories of a man so gentle, kind and loving that there are few like him. He was the first person I met after returning from Vietnam, who accepted me wholeheartedly without question, even as weird as I was at the time. That's just who David is.
Whenever I think of David, one story that almost always comes to mind is the story of the salmon eggs. One Saturday, we decided to make a hike in to fish the East Fork of the Carson River. It was a place you had to hike to in order to fish and we had talked many times about making the trip.
We started out early in the day because the hike in to where we wanted to fish was between 4 and 5 miles. We came well prepared with lunches and all the right tackle for a day on the water. Turning up Wolf Creek road we soon hit the end of pavement then drove another couple miles to the end of the dirt road where we would park. We were excited and lying to each other the entire ride in, about how good we were going to do. It's a guy thing.
Our hike took us about ¾ of a mile along the top of the gorge before we hit the drop down to the bottom and the East Fork of the Carson River. It was pretty level and easy going to that point. Going down into the gorge was another matter. It was steep and the loose rock and dirt made hiking a little treacherous. That made us more excited about the possibility of working seldom fished waters. When we got to the bottom of the gorge we decided to split up so we would not be fishing back and forth over one another. I allowed plenty of time for David to go upstream about a 1/4mile before I began following. We agreed that a ½ hour upstream walk would get us upstream from where most fishermen would go. By now we were between 4 and 5 miles from the truck.
After sufficient time had passed, I began fishing noting the likely spots I had seen on the hike in. We had figured we could be back to the truck by 3:00-4:00 in the afternoon so we had plenty of time. After a couple hours of fishing, it turned out that fishing was not as good as we hand anticipated and I had not seen David during that time. I decided to lay in a meadow alongside the stream and take a little nap. I knew David would have to see me on his way back down so I was not concerned about reconnecting with him. I was so wrong.
David had decided the exact same thing and he too was taking a nap in the warm afternoon sun. By the time we were both awakened and searching for each other, it was already nearly 2:00 and we had at least a four mile strenuous hike still ahead of us. I headed upstream and met David coming down. We had both crossed the river in the beginning so we would not cast shadows on the stream, now we would have to cross it again to get back to the truck. That was going to be much more difficult now because David had eaten everything he had, as had I almost, and was getting 'whacked-out' as we called it when his blood sugar got out of proper balance.
We crossed the river, me helping David in his weakened state. We slipped and fell in a couple times but managed to make it to the other side. I dug through my stuff and fed David everything I could find that I had not already consumed. We had a steep trail facing us and David was already telling me to 'go ahead, you can come back after me'. There was no way I was going to leave him in that state, especially with daylight fading fast. After dark, I was unsure that I could even find him again in this rugged, unfamiliar terrain. I began to help him climb up the trail stopping every few yards so he could gather himself up and get it together for a few more steps. I kept trying to encourage him and for a short distance, it seemed to work but I was really getting scared and beginning to wonder if we would make it out together. I would not leave him. Progress was horribly slow and at times I was literally dragging David along. He, being much taller than I, could not be lifted to the point where I could carry him or I would have tried that.
After struggling about three quarters of the way up to the top of the gorge, David finally could go no farther and just sort of crumpled to the ground like a rag doll. I sat down next to him and though we were talking, I had the feeling that I wasn't really reaching him. He was apparently slipping into a diabetic episode worse than I had experienced with him ever before. I knew what was happening but had no idea what to do. All I could think was I had to find a way to get something into his stomach to keep him conscious. There might be something in the truck but it was still way too far away, at least a half mile or more.
What could he eat, we had exhausted all the possibilities I could think of. Then I remembered something from baiting hooks with salmon eggs. They're packed in a sweet syrup both to preserve them and to attract fish. What if? There was nothing to lose by trying and a whole lot to lose by not trying. I had a jar of Pautzke's Fire Ball red salmon eggs on a lug on my belt. I opened it. I tasted one. No way was I going to eat one, I just touched it with my finger tip then licked it. Sure enough, at least the syrup the eggs were in had a sweetness about it, and a smell that gagged me.
Could I convince David to eat these. It really didn't matter by now. He was too far gone to know what I was giving him and I wondered if he could even get some of them down. I scooped up five or six in my finger tips and held them to his mouth while telling him 'here David, eat this'. He did open his mouth enough for me to funnel them in and to my surprise, he swallowed them. It wasn't a pretty site, red salmon egg juice running down his chin and out the corners of his mouth. But, I had to laugh amid the fear and confusion of the moment anyway. For the next ten minutes a scooped and funneled salmon eggs into Davids mouth hoping he could keep them down. I need not have worried, he was too weak to throw up.
About 20 minutes past as I cautiously watched David's condition slowly improve. I was torn between going ahead to the truck and try to get help and staying with David. I chose to stay with him and eventually he was one his feet and we were slowly hiking back to the truck. By the time we reached it, he was in much better shape but still very sketchy and weak. I think we found something in the truck that he ate too but not much. We drove into Markleeville where a bottle of orange juice finally snapped him back into full reality. Over the years we laughed about that story more than once but those tense minutes with a dear friend on the edge of a diabetic coma, it was no laughing matter. When David got an insulin shot and ate a meal, he settled back into just being David… the guy that we all know and love so much.
I will miss him until I see him again but in God's time, that will not be so long. In my mind and in my heart, as his memory comes to me, I will celebrate the life of this wonderful man again and again. I love you and miss you my brother David.
Your Friend, Scott Adie