There are days I am so grateful for my body. Days where it lets me push it to where I want, lets me explore and play and laugh and enjoy.
There are days where I am angry with my body, days when things don’t work right. When things hurt and I fight the gremlins that make me hate myself, those are hard days.
See, I haven’t had an easy life health-wise.
It started in childhood with terrible stomach pain and discomfort. I spent ages 8 to 18 sick, for no explanation, unable to function because I was in so much pain. It took ten years to get a diagnosis of Celiac Disease.
Around adolescence I started having a hard time with depression and a panic disorder. It took until 21 to be properly diagnosed, and 27 to get the right combination of therapy and medication to feel normal. A big part of that would be making goals and fighting for a healthier life.
At age 22 I started having pain in my hips, which took another 5 years to properly diagnose and until 6 months ago to finish surgeries with.
At 22 I also caught Whooping Cough in Europe on my study abroad. Which left me coughing and uncomfortable for about 6 months until my lungs healed enough.
Then we land on April 2020, while the whole world was shutting down for Covid-19 my husband was still working out of the home. We got sick. From both of our doctors we have a clinical diagnosis of Covid-19 and of course we had almost all the symptoms, with the worst being our lungs and feeling lethargic. Also, don’t forget the body pain.
What has shocked me most about having Covid-19 is that while the fever is gone, the acute symptoms are gone, the cough is gone, we are still not 100%, especially me.
I have this dream I have had for at least 5 years that I want to go to Peru. Not only that, I have decided I want to hike the Inca Trail, which goes back to this old Wild Thornberries episode of them in Machu Picchu and hiking and doing unique breathing….anyway, childhood fantasy wanting to become a reality. What does it take to hike at 13,000 feet? Training at high altitude, of which Colorado has plenty.
This summer, 2020 my plan was to train and then go to Peru in April 2021, pandemic lockdown provided. I started in May building myself up to longer and longer hikes. But something weird started to happen, dreaded altitude sickness.
Altitude Sickness comes in various forms, but none of it is enjoyable, and some can be life threatening. In all of my life of living at 9,000 feet above sea level, living at 5,000 feet, traveling back and forth to Europe for three month stretches etc. etc. I have NEVER had altitude sickness. The most is I lacked endurance, totally normal, to exercise at the elevation, that is it. This summer has completely changed the game.
What I have found this summer is that anything over 8,500 feet starts to make me tired, then I often get a headache, followed by sudden exhaustion. I have pushed through on some trips and been fine, other days I get home and just collapse. Other days my head hurts so bad I can’t hardly concentrate on getting myself home. Then other days I feel fine even at around 10,000 feet and I go about my hike with no qualms. It’s a frustrating and tiring process and as I have pushed myself more and more this summer, nothing has changed. For a normal person, ones lungs would be getting strong, mine have plateaued or even regressed.
I finally talked to my doctor this week and I have new rules. It is largely because of lung inflammation that I am having so many issues. She has numerous patients, outdoorsy types with active goals, that have also had Covid-19, most of them are also struggling. The scariest thing, we have no idea how long this will last or if this will be my life going forward. All I can do is be patient and hope for the best.
My Dr. also told me that I HAVE to wait until at least the fall of 2021, if not later, to attempt the Inca Trail. I hate being told no.
But I will obey, at least for the most part. I will ease into hiking and limit my time out. I will limit my exposure on bad atmosphere days. I will be patient. I will try.
What I also want to tell the world is that this disease is a very real threat even to the “young and healthy” even if it doesn’t seem “that bad”. I still don’t know where I will be in the coming weeks, months or years, I just hope some of this brain fog goes away. WEAR A FUCKING MASK.
All I can say is that I hope when I walk through the sun gate in November 2021 or April 2022 that I am overcome with the taste of glory that I weep, jut to remind myself how hard I have worked for that view.