Today was an acclimatization day which meant we were supposed to walk up the mountain for a couple of hours and then return back down to camp to rest for the day (climb high, sleep low). As Jess got up and prepared herself for the day, I rolled over on my sleeping mat holding a bloody tissue to my nose, groaning that my head hurt and my nose was bleeding. My heart was still pounding away with metronome timing. Was sure I could hear a song but with my head feeling like it had been smashed against a wall several times I was too weak to belt one out.
Jess was a little unsure how to react and thought to ask me if I would make it for breakfast. I tried to force myself up but lightheaded-ness forced me back down and the thought of eating breakfast made me feel badly nauseous. My head and body were now in sync. Both wanted me to rest and my "will" told me to drink a litre of water to ease the head.
Me: "Jess I'm going to stay in bed because today is a rest day. Can you do me a favour and call Freddy"
Jess: "Ok let me leave you a pop tart as maybe you might find that easier to eat"
Freddy was the senior guide and we had all promised him, at the beginning of the trek, that we would let him know if we felt bad. It was time I honoured that promise. Minutes later Jess came back with Freddy and Felix.
Me: "Freddy, nice to see you. I feel like crap. I've had no sleep and I have a very bad head. I need to stay in bed and sleep for the rest of the day. I will be fine tomorrow. Are you okay with me staying in bed and not doing an acclimatization climb today?"
Freddy agreed and fed me 1/2 a diamox, a drug that is used to help relieve the symptoms of AMS, promising to come back in an hour to see how I was feeling. So I gave him a big hug and when he left, it would only be a matter of time when the rest of the team/entourage would know that I was suffering.
As our tent was at the side of the dining tent, I soon overheard my concerned team mates talk about my foolishness of having pulled a tyre yesterday and pushing myself too much. Some sounded disappointed that I was the first to be hit. I could have pretended I was not that bad, but we had promised before we first set off to be honest with each other. I had learnt years ago, whilst doing a 100 mile trek on Lake Winnipeg that only the foolish pretend everything is well. On that trip, I first had problems with my hands, then my fingers got frost nipped and hadn't told my buddy that there was a problem. When it came to lighting the stove I couldn't feel the matches and duly burnt my fingers as well as nearly burnt down the tent!!! The North Pole showed me that those who pretend to be well, so as not want to appear weak, were eventually sent back to base due to frost bite. So I was happy to show that the so-called "strong" Tyregirl is human!
Before the team left for their two hour acclimatization walk, three wise sisters came to visit me:
1. Mary came with a bag of brazil nuts for nourishment;
2. My soul sister Tess came with some drugs for anti-nausea and I was easily persuaded to take one of them;
3. Finally Anne, my carer for the rest of the trip, fed me some "china", a homeopathic remedy to aid re-hydration.
AND when the team team left I had a nagging feeling there would be no rest. Instead I received a steady stream of concerned visitors (guides):
- 30 minutes later, Freddy came to check back on me as promised.
- About 15 minutes after that, Anthony came to check in on me.
- Some time later, Felix came to check in on me and then later Kevin.
Between visitors and a thumping head, I reassured myself that it would be fine to not ascend any further. It was all about what each could take away from the journey. I just wanted to do nothing and rest and perhaps later go for a slow stroll somewhere. Finally just when all appeared to quieten down, the acclimitization team came back far too soon buzzing with talk.
My concerned buddy Jess popped her head in to see if I would have lunch. I was feeling a little better, but lunch - no thank you. I was still nibbling on the top of a whole pop tart.
About 2.30pm: Jess returned after lunch
Jess: "You know, you can't be ill, who's going to look after me?"
Me: "I want to give you independence now. Just tell my mother I love her if I don't make it."
Jess: "You promised to look after me!"
Me: "I know but it's all about the journey. You'll be fine."
After a little more cajoling, it was time to get up for a walk. Laying around in bed the whole day would only make everything worst and although I still had a bad head, it did feel better. Jess accompanied me to walk round the ridge that over looked the camp. The views were magnificent and the little exploring we did breathed energy into me. The grey clouds in the sky appeared to part and disperse as if reflecting my own head.
By the time we headed back to camp, I felt almost well and joined the rest for dinner who had completed another set of peace messages. I forced down 4 bowls of soup, then Uncle Pete insisted that I "get some spaghetti down". He was right, I had to try eat some solids and so took my spaghetti away to eat in my tent so I could retch in peace. After half an hour I returned triumphant that I finally managed to eat some solids. Today would be an early night for me.
My lesson for this day was to reflect on the teachings from my North Pole buddy who used to drink a litre of water before setting out. Drinking more early in the day and less in the evening helped reduce my numerous urgent nightly toilet trips.
Tomorrow would be a brand new start. I was coming back!