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11.5 Pounds of Carrots

January 9, 2012

I wish I was a quitter.

Every Thanksgiving, certain very wonderful family members of mine have a competition.  They weigh in before dinner, they weigh in after dinner, and the winner gets a high five then passes out for the rest of the day.  With drinks it’s usually in the neighborhood of 3 lbs.

It takes 11.5  lbs of carrots to make 2000 calories.  I figured that it would be a challenge, but I’ve done two thanksgivings in a day before, no sweat.  What difference is three or four?

I went on a late night trip to the grocery and picked up 14 lbs of carrots.  I asked the cashier if he thought I could eat them all the next day.  He looked at me a little funny, but assured me that he believed in me.

I’ve done some endurance challenges before, so I know that the key to something of this magnitude is pacing yourself.  I started eating on my ride into work at 7:45, and steadily munched away until 9:30.  I neatly handled the first two pound bag.

By 10:30 I felt a twinge of hunger, so I broke out the 5 lb bag and got to work.  I was teaching a class, but I got a good discussion going on between students and ate one carrot the size of a large zucchini.

This is not me, but this is the exact size of the carrot.

I started lunch at 12:30 and ate steady until about 2:30.  This is where I encountered the first of many weird experiences of the day.  I felt physically both hungry and stuffed.  Emotionally, I felt frustrated.  I was cramming as much crunchy orange food down my throat as my teeth and jaw muscles could handle, but obviously not getting the sustenance I needed.  I’ve never felt anything quite like that.

I took a little break in the afternoon for a game of kick ball.  I felt slightly nauseous, but nothing too bad.

I started eating again at 3:30 and ate steadily until 5:45.  My jaws were tired, and my gums were getting sore, so I started cutting them into carrot sticks.

Yeah right. Like I'm that organized.

Around 6 it was time for the performance test.  Due to the large dose of vitamin A I’d gotten that day and stories I had heard growing up I decided to do an excellent test and go on a trail run in the dark.

This is how it would have looked to you.

This is how it would have looked to you.

This is how I thought it would look to me.

This is how I thought it would look to me.  In truth, I noticed no increase in my (already excellent) night vision. The only weird thing about the run is that I broke a sweat and the sweat burned.  Where my forehead got sweaty it turned red and stayed that way for about 24 hours.

At only about 6.5 pounds and it being early evening already I switched strategies and decided to eat the last 5 lbs boiled.  I felt OK, a little sluggish, slightly shaky, and a touch unsettled in the stomach, but nothing really noteworthy.  So, I ate a quick 2.5 lbs for dinner, took a shower, and packed another couple of pounds in a tupperware and went to watch a movie with some brothers.

I felt stuffed, and uncomfortable by this point.  I was about 9 lbs in and no lbs out.  I looked in the mirror and this is approximately what I saw.

Uh-Oh

I tried to watch a movie like a normal person, but felt so bad I ditched the couch and laid on the floor.   I started feeling strangely cold despite a big hoodie and an incredibly soft, fleecy blanket.  Also my feet started getting random cramps.  At the time I thought it was bad.  Truth is, I wouldn’t feel that good again for a long time.

I went home and tried to throw up in the bushes, but no dice.  I went to bed and but it was starting to be pretty clear that I wasn’t going to sleep.  I consulted my local medical professional who told me that I should try walking it off like “like a horse with colic.” I gave her a kiss, bundled up and went outside.

It was snowing and beautiful so I thought I’d walk a few miles.  I paused now and again to try to throw up, and sometimes I doubled over in the street while a particularly nasty wave of pain went through me.  I was, of course, keeping my pace with a gps and started to get worried by how slow my pace was getting.  Then I turned around and saw my footprints.

I stole this photo.

I had been trying to walk straight and failing miserably.  I thought it would be the best course of action to head home.  To be honest, I got pretty worried that I wasn’t going to make it.  I was starting to feel pretty bad by then.

Well, obviously I did make it.  By the time I got back inside I was in some real pain.  I tried to lay down on the couch, but ended up writhing on the floor punching stuff (quietly, as to not disturb sleeping medical professionals).  It was a very sharp pain, one that got momentarily better when I took a very deep breath, but returned in about 3 seconds.  I writhed and gasped and writhed and gasped and writhed and gasped, and thought about how stupid I was.

I thought about going to the hospital, but I didn’t think I could face a car ride.  I also didn’t think I could face a doctor and say “yeah, I just ate 9 lbs of carrots,  can you fix me up?”  I also wasn’t sure where my insurance card was.

I was alternately sweating and shivering, going back and forth from right in front of the wood stove to the kitchen floor to the bathroom floor.

Under better circumstances it would have been a beautuful night.

Under better circumstances it would have been a beautiful night.  The firelight flickered nicely, the fullish moon broke out over the snow in the woods, and I dragged myself to the computer to google carrot poisoning, pretty sure I was just about to win a Darwin Award.  The only ill affect of eating too many carrots, according to google, is turning orange.

Some time after 3 AM I thought about how my goal had been 11.5 lbs.  I thought about how I had only eaten 9.  I’m not a quitter, so I thought about eating another carrot.  Then I threw up.  Immediately, violently, and repeatedly.

This is not me, but the color is right.

Then other things happened too.  Interestingly, my body had not changed the carrots one bit during the course of the whole day.

I thought I would feel better after this, but I didn’t.  The pain ratcheted up a notch and I wondered if something had burst inside me.  I was relieved, however, that my body was taking steps to handle things.  It took lots of steps too.  Lots and lots.

At this point I was praying.  I was crying out for a miracle.  I don’t know if it was tears or sweat but my whole face was dripping something.  I was waiting for the morning, waiting for the light, wondering if I would ever feel good again.  And then, somehow, I fell asleep.

Ahhh!

I woke up at 7, and I felt better.  Not just better, I felt fine.  I felt darn near perfect.  I went to work. I even ate soup with carrots in it for lunch.

Taste:  Carroty

Hunger: See above.  Feelings of hunger mixed with a full stomach.

Cost: $4

Performance: Fine actually.  I had a good run and held a decent pace with no discomfort.  Later that evening was a different story of course.

X Factor: My tongue turned orange, which was cool.  Also, 2 days later I woke up with such clear vision that I thought I had forgotten to take my contacts out.

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8 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    Thank you so much cementing in my mind the presentation of acute Vitamin A toxicity. Having a case study always helps me to recall these facts when I need them and I have never, ever, ever seen this in person

    from emedicine: Carotenemia, the ingestion of excessive amounts of vitamin A precursors in food, mainly carrots, is manifested by a yellow-orange coloring of the skin, primarily the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. It differs from jaundice in that the sclerae remain white.

    In acute vitamin A toxicity, a history of some or all of the following may be obtained:
    •Nausea
    •Vomiting
    •Anorexia
    •Irritability
    •Drowsiness
    •Altered mental status
    •Abdominal pain
    •Blurred vision
    •Headache
    •Muscle pain with weakness

    Manifestations of acute toxicity
    •Muscle and bone tenderness, especially over the long bones of the upper and lower extremities
    •Neurologic manifestations with signs of increased intracranial pressure (eg, children may have bulging fontanelles)

  2. This is awesomely disgusting.

    You should post the stats from your runs, btw!

  3. Chris permalink

    This is AmAzing! From seeing you run, I would have never thought that your night would have ended so badly! Cracking up ever so slightly. :0)

  4. Pop permalink

    Ian, Ian, Ian… it makes me feel mildly guilty to be laughing so hard at this blog, but I am!

  5. Melanie Reichley permalink

    You know you are hilarious, but I am nervous that your students will be out in the woods with you one of these weeks and your body will give out under your strong will…………..please keep your radio charged so that we have some hope of getting those students back to camp!

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