The Everest Aftermath

It has been 6 days since they let me out of the hospital and 10 days since I was on the brink of death with lungs full of water being helicoptered off of Everest Basecamp.  My body in that time has pretty much healed itself. I am off all of my antibiotics, my cough is gone, my appetite is coming back and short of the tiredness that reminds me of my lack of stamina and the odd pain I get in my muscles from their weakness, I feel good. My mind I fear will take a little longer to heal than the rest of my body.

In the first two days as I sat in hospital on Facebook to the rest of my family and friends on the other side of the world, the entire situation was a huge joke to me. “Hahaha I almost died and had to get evacuated off Everest with porters practically dragging me over the ground and what not! Isn’t that funny?”.

The third day was a day of frustration at not getting the help that I needed from the nurses in hospital. I was telling them that my wrist was swelling further, I needed more antibiotics, they forgot to give me my last antibiotic, they hadn’t checked my vitals and I had a fever again, I was still waiting 24 hours later on feminine hygiene products and I had asked for and was waiting to see a doctor I had asked for 24 hours previously. After being somewhat patient and asking multiple times without result, the arguing, the yelling, the demanding, the threatening of contacting insurance companies and the crying began. Every built up piece of frustration outed itself at that point and it was the point where I realized “Shit,  I actually nearly died”. The realization of what happened and the gravity of it set in.

The night nurses were good to me and calmed me right down and were attentive.  I got all of the things I had asked for including demanding the other cannula out of my hand and taking oral medications. But once you get the ball rolling with emotions, it accumulates more feelings to surround it like a snowball tumbling down an avalanche until you crash and burn and don’t know what to do with yourself.

The day they told me I could leave the hospital I didn’t want to go. The thought of having to look after myself and do things for myself scared the shit out of me. I had no choice. I was alone. And I had to venture into the hell raising and erratic traffic of Kathmandu. The tour guide operator kept making demands on me to go where he wanted me to go as if getting out of hospital was such a fun and exciting thing that we needed to drink tea and celebrate. Like I was a full bill of health. He drove me crazy with his demands that I wasn’t willing to comply with and then his sneakiness of then calling the hospital behind my back to get them to take me where he wanted. He wouldn’t listen to me and I was losing my mind and patience fighting with him. I just wanted to go back to my hostel. I had one functional hand and another that looked like it had swallowed a tennis ball. I had two bags of trekking gear with me and another bag to pick up from around the corner and bring back. I didn’t realize how weak I was until I had to pick up that 20kg backpack and walk it 200m down the road back to the hostel. It near killed me and I pulled a muscle in my once super strong thigh muscle. The amazing crew at the hostel carried my things for me up the four flights of stairs to my room and after ten minutes of climbing the stairs myself, I settled in to sleep. The only time I headed out that day was to the bakery down the road to buy an assortment of things I could pick at to eat before I took my medications.

My friends arrived back the following day in the early morning. I sat quietly in my room as the door was knocked on fearing it was somebody I didn’t want to talk to. The excitement of finding out what happened for the rest of the trip lasted for maybe half of the day before the haze settled back over my brain. I don’t know what it is or how long it will last but I feel an exhaustion that I can’t explain. Two weeks ago I loved meeting people and had all kinds of time for them. Now I want to hide in my room and not have to speak to them at all. The hustle and bustle and excitement of the streets of Thamel seem too crazy for me to contend with any more. The idea of going out and doing things makes me want to hide.  And yet there were things I needed to do on a check list and I set about them. I got my Indian visa. I bought my gifts for my family and posted them home. Today I even took a local bus with some girls I met to Bhaktipur and spent the afternoon walking around the old town. But after a couple of hours out and about my tiredness and hunger started making me anxious and angry. I wanted to crawl back into the hole of my room and stay there. And I did.

There is a timidness and an agitation that now lies in me where once I had huge courage. My mantra was always “feel the fear and do it anyway”. I never saw the fear as something that would have ever done me great harm but as a mental challenge to constantly overcome. But looking at myself now I have taken a huge fall. I am by no means invincible. I am by no means immortal. Like everyone on this planet, at some point I have to face my own mortality. I have to acknowledge that I nearly died and try to find a peace about it that still allows me to live large instead of meekly like a mouse. The last time I had to deal with such feelings was ten years ago when I was attacked in the street. It took me many months and a boxing coach to find within me that girl that just goes and does it. The girl that fights back. I didn’t want to be that victim girl that is afraid to walk down the street and do things. I don’t know where the courageous girl is right now. She has taken a break to rest somewhere and I don’t know how to find her any more. Right now I feel lost. And at the same time I know running away from the issue and hiding from it will only make it worse. The hardest thing about living through this is that you change and others around you don’t.  You feel that they don’t understand and that they don’t know what to do to help you. And if I am honest there is nothing that they really can do other than check in with me every now and then. It’s my internal war and battle that I now face. And hopefully I will find that strength and courage back soon enough to continue with living large. Until then, be patient with me, be supportive of me and with time and a bit of soul searching. I will be back. That I can promise. I just don’t know when.

 

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