DAY 1 hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction


obviously we made it back, though internet is so slow in moshi, i suppose i could still be posting from beyond the grave. in fact-to cut the suspense- we made it to Uhuru Peak, the highest point on the continent of Africa-which only about 50% of climbers succeed.

there is much to say about our adventure up the mountain... up the highest peak one is allowed to climb without technical skill... they gloss over the danger.

AMS- acute mountain sickness, causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue or weakness, insomnia. Can worsen to High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and cerebral edema (HACE).
cerebral edema (swelling of the brain) is marked by sudden change in personality, drunken/unbalanced walking and a gradual loss of consciousness. pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), is marked by shortness of breath even when resting, extreme weakness, and confusion.

as seamus described: you just want to sit down and rest, and it seems perfectly reasonable to do so, though "The only real cure once symptoms appear is for the sufferer to move to a lower altitude as quickly as possible" there are no characteristics, genetic or physical, that will predispose one to AMS or HAPE/HACE. it strikes indiscriminately.  it doesn't matter how strong or healthy you are, how much you train. it just happens.

well. me, i guess i'm not made for the Roof, especially the hour and half spent walking from the ascent point, Stella (18,652 ft) to Uhuru. thankfully, my stepfather is a doctor and our guides were good.

sitting up there, i wanted to do nothing. i couldn't breathe. i couldn't move. mentally, the very best action, seemed to be no action at all. 

climbing the last day i could think of little, but i used the iambic pentameter of some of my old speeches to try and trudge through. on the way up, the phrase "to be or not to be" was just enough to step to.  running down the mountain would save me from hemorrhaging,  but the choice to act seemed much more complicated up there. 

breathing, dreaming... well, that seemed good.

if shakespeare were to write of my state of being at 19,340 ft- though my mind could only put together: "water. sit" -

To be or not to be, that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to — 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life,
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th'oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

it would have been a peaceful way to die, at least.

but i jump ahead.

No comments: