Tuesday 2nd April 4.20pm
‘We are now at Dingboche-4410m. The base layers are on, the down jacket is on and I’m ready for bed. I actually really like this place. The tea houses are simple but they are cosy enough. I think the temperature is now dropping, well-the snow kind of gives it away. Last night I was freezing but couldn’t get the right combination of cover yourself in the sleeping bag vs I think I’m suffocating myself.
Yesterday at Tengboche I was introduced to a new card game; when I remember it I’ll tell you…’
Incidentally this card game was called Shit Head. The game I now cannot explain to you at all, but essentially if you lost you became the Shit Head for the whole of the next day. Winning is definitely preferable.
Wednesday 3rd April Evening
‘Today has been the most challenging day to date-Day 2 period, no sleep all night due to coughing, some kind of gastro thing going on (I had to throw out my pants because of it) and a little breakdown on the mountain.
Today we summited or got to Ama Dablam base camp – about 4800m. The day started badly and continued just about the same.
My dreams are getting more vivid, though of course I have no idea if that is just normal me or not. Last night I dreamt the world ended, one of the guys from the group was there, he pretended to be my friend and then promptly handed me into the Queen as a hostage. Then came Optimus Prime to save the day – THAT was the coolest part!
The walk was really tough. Not least because I was already feeling so weak and tired but because it was a really hard and unenjoyable trek. I was on all fours at many points. Then I hit a wall. A wall where I wondered wtf I was doing here, a wall where I wondered how exactly trekking to base camp was going to clarify what to do with my life or make me feel any more in control of the situation.
The breakdown went like this – negative thoughts like above. I then suddenly realised my breathing was getting more and more and more laboured. Quick, too quick. Not enough time for recovery. And then I realied with every step that my calves were killing me. It was like my whole body was screaming at me to stop.
Then one couple over take me and I think, ‘Fine, if I’m going too slow for you, I’d rather you just went ahead’. Then Aussie stopped to ask if I was ok. I was not. I was so not ok. One girl had already turned around due to the altitude. Meanwhile another lady was retching much higher up. And at that moment, I broke. ‘I’m fine, I’m fine’ I said as tears welled up in my eyes. ‘I just need to keep going’ I said as I tried to power on. And it was at that point I heard myself say, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’. My chest, my cramps, the diarrhoea, the bad thoughts – all of it just got on top of me. ‘I can’t breathe’ and the more I said it, the more I realised it to be true. I sat down, one lady came and held my hand (it was the perfect motherly thing to do) and someone told me to take my bag off.
And then I heard it, my breathing. Harsh, rasping, audible wheezing. If I can imagine my windpipes I could physically SEE them constricting. I think GP lady was here by this point, I think it was her who said breathe right from the bottom of your lungs. It helped. Within minutes, I could feel and hear the breathing improving. It sounded more and more like ‘normal vesicular breath sounds’. I did hear GP lady ask if I had asthma, the night time coughing, dust precipitant, the asthma like attack. I think, in all actualness, that it was a full on Panic Attack.
Panic Attack- f**k sake! Some sort of f**king place to have a bloody panic attack! Ugh. So unbelievably lame. But I made it, right the way to the top and down.
On return, I was pretty much dead. I knew I’d been crying, my head told me so. And the weariness was something I have NEVER in my whole entire life experienced. A coffee, a mars bar and a little bit of Les Mis later, at least my soul was restored. I was back to being human again. Just. I had some tomoto soup for lunch, decided to do some steam inhalation (helped marginally) and slept for about 4 hours.
On waking, my pants were stooled and promptly chucked and my room mate came at just the right time. I asked if she would get me some hot water for Dioralyte (disgusting) and even went as far as asking if she would keep me company as I think me left with my own brain at that point would not have been good. We had some good chat…
…I took 2 Loperamides in the end as I think shitting your pants is definitely the last straw.
Tomorrow, we go higher, but for today I smile after a fantastic game of Antakshari with Pemba, Milan and the other sherpas. Singing and music does absolute wonders for the body, mind and soul. Let’s leave it at that eh? Don’t worry, be happy.’
You poor thing, did you take Diamox for the altitude sickness?
Yup, it made me feel worse! But still to write all that up! Watch this space…
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