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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Summitting Mount Aconcagua (6962m) in 2018/19

With two operations behind me, I could not wait to get my body moving and to start focusing on a new goal. It has been more than two years of minimal training and then 3 months of no activity – but still I was careful to follow instruction from my doctor to start slowly. When he told me early August 2018 that I would probably be able to reach my best time in 3 months I could not believe it.

My first day of training was at the end on the 17th of August 2018 – starting on a treadmill and walking 1.5km in about 30 minutes. By the first week of December I had built enough strength and endurance to complete a 30km run in about 3 hours.  I could tell from as early as September that the operation was successful and so the planning to go back to Argentina to climb Mount Elbrus were kicked off.

Fortunately, I did not need new gear, I just needed to pick the right dates. The expedition was private, meaning me and my partner had just one guide between the two of us. Different from our previous format where we were part of a bigger team with a ratio of about 1 guide to 4 climbers – all climbing on the same programme.

I am hoping to put down in detail the technical side of the climb itself – but for visuals of the expedition, click here.

On the 3rd of January 2019, I reached the summit of Aconcagua - blessed to have mostly clear sky on the day. On our return from camp 3 however, the weather had changed completely - with snow falling right up to the day we left. 


Sunday, March 10, 2019

When legs simply do not show up 10 – “The External Iliac Artery Endofibrosis Fix 3”

The last time I documented my road towards fixing my blood flow issues was in June 2018 and the post was titled “When legs simply do not show up 9 – “The Fix 2””. At the time I had only done one procedure on my right side and I presented a diagram of what my scars look like.
And so what has happened since? A lot! I now have almost identical scars on the left hand side and the “artwork” is now complete; the sides are now almost mirror images.

On the 31st of July 2018, six weeks after the first procedure, I was back on the operating table to get my left side fixed. It was supposed to be an easier operation, except I had two very unfortunate challenges that sort of shook me. First up, the day after the operation, my body was unable to build up my haemoglobin to normal levels – and so I battled with extreme lack of energy, so bad I could not even raise a finger. And because I did not know what was wrong, I thought I was going to die. I drifted in and out of sleep and when awake, I could hear what was going on around me but I could not talk. It was a very difficult few hours. I was given a huge iron dose through the drip but I was responding so slow to it that eventually decisions had to be made about getting a blood transfusion. After hours waiting for my blood and tissue match, and 3 pints of blood later, my energy levels were restored and I was allowed to go home the next day.

Then a few days after I was discharged I was attacked by flu!! I endured two successive days and nights of no sleep but it was when I started getting fever that I felt I needed to see my surgeon. I was hugely concerned that I might have post-operative pneumonia or some other related condition but mostly I needed more pain medication. The coughing and the sneezing came with such excruciating pain I was nearly passing out every time that happened. I spent most of the day in hospital doing x-rays, waiting for test result and working with the physiotherapist to help me dislodge the phlegm that was causing the cough. And eventually when the fever subsided, I was allowed to go home (same day) but with stronger pain medication to help me wither the flu storm.

I had a strong suspicion that these two incidents had a lot to do with the state of my physiology at the time of the operation. I was going through a particularly challenging time at work in the run-up to the operation – long hours, fire-fighting – and some team issues in the mix too. And so, after my operation, I was forced to also think about being realistic in terms of how long I can sustain that level of physical and mental demand from my job without impacting my health in the long run.

That aside, on the 17th of August 2018, I started my training in earnest – anticipating a slow return to the performance levels I have last seen in 2014 - and that day I completed a distance of 1.5 km on the treadmill in 30 minutes, with a bit of a limp and a great feeling of achievement!!


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