July 22, 2012
Back in the saddle!!!
I still have to see one more specialist, but I am good to go to Everest Base Camp! It looks like I probably do, in fact, have a minor congenital heart defect after all. However, as far as heart problems go it’s pretty much a Best Case Scenario. It’s not going to kill me and it certainly explains a lot of issues I’ve had over the years that I wrongly attributed to various minor ailments: Climbing out of the Batoka Gorge in Zimbabwe? Asthma. (Nope.) Falling behind while trekking the Lares Trail in Peru? Altitude sickness. (Wrong.) Struggling on a climb in Malibu Creek? Allergies. (Definitely not.)
The good news is that with a couple of minor precautions – heart rate monitor, paying attention to my body’s signals – I can still climb to dizzying heights. I just have to be sure to slow down when my heart rate hits a certain point so I don’t actually get dizzy. I’ll never summit Everest (not that I was going to try,) and I’ll have to set my ego aside and accept that I’ll likely be the slowest person on the trek. But that’s okay. I CAN GO!!!!!!
So today, my friend Marian joined me for my first hike since this whole convoluted mess began. I’ll admit that I was a little scared. I didn’t really know what to expect, and I was glad I had a friend with me. In the end though, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, in the process of figuring out what was wrong I had a lot of tests – fitness tests included. As I was climbing up Water Tower Hill, I was thinking about my fabulous VO2 max and the fact that I am actually much healthier than most people my age. Between the positive focus and the rest step that another friend taught me as a way to increase my oxygen efficiency on climbs, I was literally jumping up and down doing the Happy Dance at the top of the hill – not even out of breath at all!
I have had this all my life. I have accomplished challenging climbs before, without even knowing I had any limitations. Why let the mere knowledge of something that’s always existed limit me now? Never!
See you on the trail! 😀