Playa Lung ??!!??!!!???

Questions, answers, tips & tricks for newbies and veterans alike

Postby AntiM » Thu Sep 23, 2004 9:11 am

My personal pespective of having cancer and going to Burning Man:

I finished my radiation treatments the Friday before we left for the playa on Sunday. No chemo luckily, and brachytherapy rather than external radiation. Breast cancer btw, lumpectomy not a full mastectomy. I also have asthma and a bad hernia from a totally different surgery. I did fine, lots of painkillers as needed, stayed out of the sun, was waited on hand and foot by hubby and niece, slept lots, stayed hydrated, dust masks, and spent two long afternoons early in the week in the cooled tents at Totem. I also was hauled around on a four wheeled bike so I rarely needed to walk or balance unless I felt up to it.

I would have felt far, far worse if I had stayed home. Yes I was weak and had to take it easy; I had to depend on others to do the hard physical stuff in camp, but being on the playa did me good. Not precisely radical self-reliance, but arrangements had been made. I never felt the need to go to medical at all. My incisions from the brachytherapy actually healed up very well in the heat and dry conditions. Could I party all night? No. Did I drink alcohol? No. Did I care? No. Did I have a most excellent time? Yes.

Your friend should only consider the trip if he can get a superb and reliable support team in place to help him over any rough patches. He should expect a low-key burn, emotional, have a bail out plan in place. This is when sacrifices are made, both on his part and on the part of the people who support him. If everyone is on board, then this is entirely possible. If he wants to party full on, that may not be possible, nor fair to those who have decided to help him. That's my opinion as I do not know your friend at all, you'll have to ask him about his expectations of himself, the event, and his friends. Then plan accordingly.

Cancer changes everything.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Sep 23, 2004 9:29 am

AntiM wrote:He should expect a low-key burn, emotional, have a bail out plan in place.
The bail out is important. We had to leave on Friday because my husband's asthma was just too bad this year. I've done some grumbling on the board about this, but my basic take is: when you get that message from *the gods* LEAVE. The plan is important, but more important than the plan is the decision that you make BEFORE you get to the playa: "My (his/her/our) health is important, and I will miss the burn rather than risk my life or further injury." It's a tough decision to make and when you pack up and go in a hurry, you don't want to be messing with "should I?" or regrets.
That being said, I don't think illness inherently doesn't belong on the playa. You just got to be careful with it. Look at your support, look at your tolerences and values and make an informed choice.
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Postby BAS » Thu Sep 23, 2004 6:22 pm

Well, the cancer is not a new thing for him, but we (another friend of mine and I) have our doubts about him actually making contingency plans if problems crop up. (It is a long story about why we think he might not have backup plans in place-- or to let us know if things are worse than we are aware, and I don't really feel at liberty to tell them here.) The holes in his lungs means, among other things, that he can't hold his breath, and his lung capacity probably is dimminshed, but I do not know by how much. On the other hand, he has been fighting the cancer for longer than I have known him (and even once, thanks to an experimental therapy, was cancer free for a week or two..., before it came back as bad as ever... :( ), so..., maybe I am worrying over nothing? (Part of what is going on is that September has been a pretty bad month for my group of friends in general, and me and the guy I am concerned about in particular.)

Anyway, thanks.


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Do things that have never been done."
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going downhill?

Postby dana » Mon Sep 27, 2004 10:50 pm

Hmmm.... the playa as hospice space. Could make for a very intense burn. It sounds like you have all the information you need to communicate with, and hopefully make mutually satisfactory decisions. Best wishes.
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playa as hospice space...!!!

Postby birdbrain » Fri Oct 08, 2004 9:21 am

re Dana's comment about the playa as "hospice space" ...if the person has a support system in place, why not? live it to the fullest up until the last second- and what a way to go... :)
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Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Oct 08, 2004 9:25 am

Nope not me. I'm going to spend my death in pointless buerocratic fussing.
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Postby birdbrain » Fri Oct 08, 2004 9:41 am

:lol: I hear ya!
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Postby dana » Fri Oct 08, 2004 4:37 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:Nope not me. I'm going to spend my death in pointless buerocratic fussing.



I've been working on an efficient solution to just this problem.
I call it - the chipper.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Aug 15, 2005 1:52 pm

Bump--to remind us all to take care of our lungs.
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hey

Postby Lysergic » Sun Aug 27, 2006 2:27 am

Hey there guys, I haven't had playa lung but I think I may have got play throat? I didn't have any problems coming back from my burn two years ago but a couple-few months after it seemed that I developed a constant sore throat that just won't go away. I saw a otolaryngologist and he thinks the problem may be silent reflux.

I changed my life style and diet but still seem to have this problem so he referred me to a gastroenterologist to check my esophagus, so we'll see about that. It just doesn't seem to go away and it's totally starting to scare me, and has been fucking up my life lately. I wore my dust mask a lot out there but I'm sure I got my fair dose of the dust during sleep and in dust storms that I forgot my mask, etc.

Anyone else with similar problems? Anyone know if the alkaline dust out there could have caused this kind of damge to my throat or esophagus?
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Tue Aug 29, 2006 10:03 am

Very possible it's Valley Fever
Coccidioidomycosis (also known as Valley fever and California valley fever) is a fungal disease caused by Coccidioides immitis or C. posadasii. It is endemic in certain parts of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and northwestern Mexico.

C. immitis resides in the soil in certain parts of the southwestern United States, northern Mexico, and a few other areas in the Western Hemisphere. Infection is caused by inhalation of airborne, fungal particles known as arthroconidia, which are a form of spore. The disease is not transmitted from person to person.

Symptomatic infection (40% of cases) usually presents as an influenza-like illness with fever, cough, headaches, rash, and myalgia (muscle pain). Some patients fail to recover and develop chronic pulmonary infection or widespread disseminated infection (affecting meninges, soft tissues, joints, and bone). Severe pulmonary disease may develop in HIV-infected persons.
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Postby Elliot » Wed Oct 04, 2006 8:38 am

.
I sympathise with those who have respiratory problems.

That said, I would hate to have potensial burners scared off by fear of
the dust. I found myself able to breathe normally even in the worst
whiteout. In fact, I revelled in being able -- to my own surprise -- to
ride around, bucking the wind, when most folks were taking shelter.
And I was fine when I got home.

My eyes were a different matter, but I wore desert goggles which took
care of that.

As for long term effects of the dust in the lungs, yes, that is a concern.
The medical lingo is above my head, so I'll be watching this thread for
further analysis of the dust particles in layman's terms.

Thanks!
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Postby phil » Wed Oct 04, 2006 9:57 am

Elliot wrote:.
>SNIP<
so I'll be watching this thread for
further analysis of the dust particles in layman's terms.

http://www.foresight.org/Conferences/MN ... t1/#Table2

The column headed BRP is for Black Rock Playa.
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Postby Elliot » Wed Oct 04, 2006 10:34 am

Yeehah! Impressive, but far over my head! Good to know that some
people have such knowledge, though.

Up above a few posts, it was mentioned that lung x-rays might be useful
to determine long term effects. If there is ever such a study, I'd
volunteer. 2006 was my first burn, but I intend to go each year in the
forseeable future.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Wed Oct 04, 2006 10:37 am

The chai helps, use lots of ginger.
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Postby phil » Wed Oct 04, 2006 12:39 pm

From the table, 43% of playa powder by weight is silicon dioxide, or silica. See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silica
for more information, including its use in homeopathic medicine and as a thickening agent in real medicine.

Aluminum Oxide is the second most abundant constituent of playa powder at 11.8%. Alumina is used in making ceramics. See
http://www.accuratus.com/alumox.html
and the ever-present
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium_oxide
where we find it's also known as corundum, an abrasive, for some and as rubies and sapphires, if the impurities are just right, for others.

Next is hematite (Fe2O3; 5.32%), also known as iron oxide. Lots of hematite on Mars:
http://marsrovers.nasa.gov/spotlight/hematite01.html
When polished up, it's used in jewelry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hematite

Fourth is calcium oxide (4.5%), more generally known as lime:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcium_oxide

At about 3.5%, magnesium oxide is the last component I'll mention. It's used in optics:
http://www.2spi.com/catalog/submat/magn ... xide.shtml
It's also used to deacidify books:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnesium_oxide
and as a laxative. (Phillps Milk of Magnesia, anyone?)

The second largest percentage of compounds by weight (after silica) is covered by the acronym LOI (25% by weight). These are organic materials and water that do not survive the process of analysing the samples (gas chromatography, I'm _guessing_ the author doesn't say - see
http://teaching.shu.ac.uk/hwb/chemistry ... aschrm.htm
for more information).

Additional information on these minerals is at
http://www.galleries.com/minerals/oxides/class.htm
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Postby Elliot » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:58 pm

All right, that looks like bad news. We don't want to develop silicosis. Maybe I'll avoid breathing the stuff vigorously in jubilant defiance next year. :wink:
Thanks!
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bump

Postby yamaz » Thu Aug 27, 2009 11:17 am

:shock: Bump could anyone shed some more light on the subject
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Postby phil » Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:49 pm

What subject? Breast cancer? Valley Fever? Asthma?

What more? What is it you want more of from a two-page thread?
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ya

Postby yamaz » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:34 pm

Confirmation of how dangerous this dirt is and other conditions it could be causing people?
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Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:46 pm

It's nasty, but at the levels most participants breath and for only a week a year, you'd have to have bad lungs already. Don't get yourself panicked about it.
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Re: ya

Postby phil » Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:08 pm

yamaz wrote:Confirmation of how dangerous this dirt is and other conditions it could be causing people?


This'll be the 14th Burn for Louise and me.

The problem with lung damage is that it takes decades to show up. Mesothelioma, for example, commonly shows up 30 or 40 years after exposure to asbestos. I won't live that long anyway, so what do I care? :->

And no one having any problems is just anecdotal. Nobody's done a study of Burners and the playa powder to see what problems it causes and to whom.

My serious suggestion is: if you're worried, don't go. You'll have a miserable time worrying about Thor knows what the whole time you're there. And for the rest of your life you'll have a panic attack every time you sneeze or get a cold or the flu. Seriously. Stay home. Serious.
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Postby Ugly Dougly » Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:38 pm

Dust masks/scarves + something with ginger in it (Chai)

That's probably all you can do.

See you there. :D
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..cause

Postby yamaz » Thu Aug 27, 2009 5:58 pm

I've been twice before and I'm going again this year but the last time I went I came back and got sick a couple few weeks after with a sore throat and was bad enough to stop smoking cigarettes ever since. The problem is I still have the sore throat.

I'm just wondering if anyone else has had similar problems but more than likely if they did they probably aren't going to read this message right now. :-/
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Postby phil » Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:55 pm

> The problem is I still have the sore throat.

And you think it's from the playa? How long did you smoke?
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yes

Postby yamaz » Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:23 pm

Would it be possible to get this so called 'valley fever' or something like bacterial chronic sinusitis for a prolonged period of time, multiple years?
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Postby phil » Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:25 pm

How long did you smoke?
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ummm

Postby yamaz » Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:50 pm

probably about 4 or 5 years, average 4 cigs a day...
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Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:54 pm

Some years I go from cold to allergies with a tickle in my throat for the entire annum. This includes before I ever went to the playa.
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Postby Absolut Jeenyus » Wed Sep 23, 2009 6:03 am

In all my years of attending I have never heard of anyone getting anything more than a cold or mild flu, nothing that they wouldn't have gotten otherwise... With the exception of this year. 3 of my friends got swine flu. My mother got desert hay fever, which I didn't even know was an illness. And they all got sick only after leaving the playa.

I myself have always gotten a lil bit of a cough and roughness in my throat after leaving the playa, but it was just from the inhalation of heat and dust for weeks at a time. Its never been anything serious.

I was shocked to hear one of my friends was actually hospitalized with swine flu and bronchitis on Wednesday after leaving the playa. Nobody I know has ever got sick while actually on the playa. It all came after leaving. So I think a lot of it might have to do with the readjustment of coming back into normal environments, and peoples sensitivity to the dust and other abnormal elements.
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