Get up, come on get down with the sickness

5th Apr 2017
Richard tells me we are almost at Namche
Richard tells me we are almost at Namche

Yesterday was the dreaded Namche hill whose name is utter amongst the Xtreme Everest team with fear. I was told Namche Hill will get you (unless you are Prof Grocott who is known to beat the beast in 20 minutes). The climb to Namche where we are staying for a few days is varied with some of the walk taking place by the water, zigzagging your way through tree lined paths and then a steep up up up to the town. What started as easy and almost pleasant some would say, turned to full on Goonie tears (see below), and the refusal to hand over my backpack to our lovely Sherpa as being a Hayden I can’t accept help when its offered to me.

I started this trip knowing that I was unfit and carrying an extra muffin top (or two!) but it never occurred to me that I would be so affected by altitude and end the day laying in my sleeping bag crying and wondering if I would ever feel normal again. The best way to describe altitude sickness is feeling like you’ve had a heavy night on the Jack Daniels and have woken up with your makeup smeared all over your face, clothed in last night’s outfit filled with a lot of regret and a half eaten kebab in your handbag. Unpleasant doesn’t even cover it.

I’m now on enforced rest from Sister Mitchell with strict instruction not to even venture near the lab. I’m not even allowed to change the logos that aren’t up correctly, which friends will know is killing me! So I’m sat in the lovely dining room of our lodge updating our website and Twitter whilst trying to stay hydrated with a litre bottle of water.

Despite feeling like rubbish and unable to even climb the stairs to my room without having to sit on my bed and wheezing like an old man, I think back to what my colleague Phil (who has been with the team in 2013) said. He told me that being in the mountains does something to you, and he’s right. Despite feeling ill, being in a place of such beauty opens your mind and worries you had become trivial and insignificant. Worries about life back home, like making the early train to get to work on time, stressing about paying bills and moving home pale into significance.

I started this trip with the aim of raising money for CALM, to do something positive from the death of a friend and have found it’s been a positive experience for me also. Sometimes a change of scenery (and toilets!) is what is needed to clear the mind and soul.

Goonie tears - comes from the infamous moment in the Goonies when Chunk is interrogated by the Fratellis. Basically a moment of ugly crying that just makes everyone uncomfortable

PS. Helen McKenna would like to let her mum know she is fine and well and made it up Namche Hill. Although she has won the Wally award for asking if we did research in 2007…

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