I felt a dull headache yesterday on our acclimatisation walk so I decided to start taking Diamox this morning.
Diamox is primarily a glaucoma drug but is often used to treat or prevent altitude sickness. There are two main schools of thought on the use of Diamox, one is that it is taken prophylactically (preventativley) and you should take it before you go to altitude and continue taking it for about three days after you have reached your highest altitude, the other is that it is to be taken only when presenting symptoms of altitude sickness which include a headache that won’t go away with standard painkillers, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, insomnia and shortness of breath.
We had a trek doctor with us who believed in only using Diamox when presenting symptoms. Having been to high altitudes before and having suffered with altitude sickness, and after consulting with my doctor in the UK and using my own gut instinct I decided to ignore the trek doctor and take Diamox preventativley. Half a tablet (125mg) twice a day.
The trek doctor claimed that 125mg was a ‘chicken dose’ and wasn’t worth taking, so using that theory I decided that I would do me no harm to take it but in the end it may do me some good.
6:30 wake up call and breakfast of French toast which was actually delicious.
We started out on the same trail we took yesterday. The trail became pretty steep so we would stop often, which is a novelty for me compared to the PCT.
We stopped in a tea house for a lemon and ginger tea and sat for a while. This also feels like a novelty for me, being able to just sit and relax and enjoy the surroundings without the pressure of making miles. I like it.
We walked for 3.5 hours and got Chutanga and to our camp for the day! It seems so leisurely at the moment but I’m sure it will change soon. This time I’m up at the front with the fast people – which makes a change from last time when I was in the middle. Maybe the PCT has helped me.
We ate lunch – veg noodles and garlic soup. Yum.
It’s a bit different to my last trip to the Himalayas, this time we are eating at the tea houses so we get to choose our food from a menu and it’s always a bit of a risk as to what you’re going to get, whether it’s going to be hot or cold and how spicy or garlicky it’s going to be. Generally it’s been ok so far. They do an amazing job with the limited facilities they have.
After lunch we went on another short acclimatisation walk straight up the mountain through the forest, we gained about 300m in half an hour. It was steep and a bit slippy, I was huffing and puffing a lot and my heart was beating really fast, you can feel the air is getting thinner up here already. We hung about at the top for a little while and headed back down.
Paul (a guy who is 6ft 7 with impossibly large feet!) took a little tumble. Thankfully he was ok, then we got the ok to laugh! We got down a lot quicker than it took us to go up, no huffing or puffing when you go down of course. By the time we got back to the lodge the clouds had rolled into the valley and it was starting to get cold at around 4pm. I am restraining myself and only using two layers of puff and saving the others until we get higher. I put my sleep clothes on as soon as we got back to stay warm and then you don’t have to get undressed when it’s really cold.
We sat and had lemon and ginger tea (we spend a lot of time sitting and drinking lemon and ginger tea) and talked – mostly about poo, as you do! Dinner was in the tea house, I have veg momos (a traditional Nepalese dish) and chips (not a traditional Nepalese dish). The food here is really good. We paid to have the wood burner lit which cost about £0.60 / $1 each.
While we were having dinner a man stumbled into the lodge, he had a tiny pair of shorts on and he looked cold. We were all silent, not sure what to make of this man. He looked as though he had been hurried down the mountain and was suffering with altitude sickness. As we watched a Sherpa attend to him, putting on his down jacket, I think most people were feeling slightly concerned.
Then he spoke (and didn’t stop speaking for about an hour!). He was Bobby Bajram and he had the most incredible story. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at 13, he was in a wheelchair for 15 years and blind for 5 years. Now at age 48 he is climbing Mera Peak as part of his preparation to take on Everest. He suffers from numbness in his legs and down his left side, he often struggles to walk independently. He has poor vision and inco-ordination which leads to him falling over a lot. He has severely disturbed sleep, daily urinary incontinence and is in constant pain. On top of all this he has bronchitis at the moment!
He does all of this to raise awareness and money for people with disabilities and their carers. This man really is inspirational.