Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nepal 2012 Running on Empty

I ate a full supper then went to bed, and within minutes felt a growing nausea. I had just seconds to unzip the tent and vomit ... all over my boots. Next morning I was nauseas and coudn't eat any breakfast. It was tough climbing that morning on an empty stomach. Knowing I had to eat for the fuel to climb I carefully and hesitantly overcame the gagging reflex and swallowed 2 small bits of potato. The result was instant projectile vomiting. Although the symptoms were non-typical I started taking Cipro (prescription medication to combat intestinal bacterial disorders). We were puzzled at why I was the only victim as we all ate the same food, drank the same water, and climbed the same route. What made me different? Best conclusion was that I had poisoned myself with Fecal-Oral contamination caused by the previous 4 consecutive days of flange-failure cleanups and my inconsistent use of hand sanitizers.

I trekked 2 hard 11-hour days on absolutely no solid food even while others who were eating full-meals were struggling. Legs had no power, knees and ankles refused to balance, brain was losing the concentration to pick each step carefully, and eyes lost focus. The stepping-stone rocks were mirage-like. I was already struggling to select stepping stones and to plant my feet accurately, but now the rocks seemed to move. I stumbled several times. I was weak and exhaused when we arrived at our lodge. I stripped off my sweaty clothes and crawled into my sleeping bag falling asleep instantly. Over the next 2 days the Cipro worked its majic. I persisted in eating as much as I could, without losing it all, and I grew stronger. These days have been a challenge with mind saying GO and body saying NO.  But stopping never really was an option.

Many times during these days, Jackson Browne's song 'Running on Empty' played in my head. The 'running on empty' seemed to fit the situation but the song also played to thoughts of years gone past, the aging process that relentlessly deteriorates the body's power, and how we can get so absorbed in routine day-to-day living that we forget about really living. 

"Looking down at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
In sixty-five I was seventeen and running up one-on-one
I don't know where I'm running now, I'm just running on
Running on-running on empty
Gotta do what you can just to keep your life alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive
Everyone I know, everywhere I go
People need some reason to believe
I don't know about anyone but me"

During these days I could 'get down and keep down' liquids but not any solid food ... not even the easily digestable pastas. Always problem solving it occured to me that a spaghetti smoothie would be a practical way to get down the much-needed carbohydrates.  Of course we had no blender (no electricity) there, but since then at home I have made spaghetti smoothies and successfully consumed them.

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