The Ordeal

Posted by on Jun 12, 2011 in 2011, Choken Word, Featured, water

Pablo was stark naked
muscles shrunken and scrawny
ribs ridged out like a starving horse
habitually fat abdomen drawn in
almost against his spine within

lips disappeared as if amputated
leaving only blackened tissue
teeth and gums like a skinned animal
flesh black and dry as beef jerky
nose withered to half its length

nostril-lining showing black
eyes set in a wink-less blink
tears of blood where water leaked
skin turned a purplish gray ink
great livid blotches and streaks

extremities cold as the surrounding air
no pulsation detected at the wrists
little circulation beyond the knees and elbows
heartbeat slow, irregular and fluttering
between heavy breathing only stuttering

The ordeal of Pablo Valencia, who lost his way while hunting for lost treasure in southwestern Arizona, was chronicled by researcher W. J. McGee in a still-classic paper “Desert Thirst as Disease,” published in the Interstate Medical Journal 13, 1906. Terribly dehydrated, Valencia stumbled into McGee’s encampment in “the graying dawn of Wednesday, August 23…,” days after searchers had given up hope of finding him.

Under the careful nurturing of McGee, who administered a series of home remedies, Valencia recovered. “…in a week he was well and cheerful,” said McGee, “weighing 135 pounds or more—though his stiff and bristly hair, which had hardly a streak of gray a fortnight before, had lost half its mass and turned iron gray.”


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