originally part of training/fundraising for the Hepatitis C Trust's Nepal trek. Now, sporadic musings...

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Place of pilgrimage

If I thought the views from our high altitude campsite were spectacular, another delight awaited us.
Jeff took us for a wee wander - to Bhara Pokari, the 'Sacred Lake'. The tiny shrine at the edge of the lake, according to my map 3,500m high, has (unsurprisingly) been a place of pilgrimage for centuries.

The serene beauty of this spot affected us all profoundly.

The only pity being that our precious tranquil respite was all too short before it was time to tackle the stretch we were dreading... the terrifyingly steep descent over the boulders we'd clambered over to reach camp... (& if we thought for one moment that 'helicopter rescue' covered this part of our adventure, Jeff soon put us right - injuries at this stage meant traversing the mountain in a porter basket!)

Monday, January 29, 2007

news from nowhere

Back to work today, after a whole week off sick...
I'm lucky, in that physical side-effects of treatment aren't too bad. On good days, that vague poisoned feeling which creates a cellular vibration too subtle to be graced with the label 'shakes'; digestive grumbles as if I've eaten food that's slightly off; a budding heachache that luckily seldom flowers fully; a faulty intellect that operates intermittently and frequently blanks altogether; feeling constantly tired somewhere on the scale of 20-50 (where 30 is comparable to being at altitude). Breathlessness, dizziness, itching scaly elbows and scalp, gums that bleed copiously, an increasing propensity to sleep 12 or more hours out of 24... Interesting little injuries creating sudden blood blisters - which vanish as quickly as they bloom. Sometimes having to sit on the edge of the bath to brush my teeth because standing up is beyond my capabilities...
...add a cold virus to a depressed immune system, mix with a determination to fulfill my work commitments that week...
maybe it's not so surprising I had to take last week off to recuperate.

The cumulative effect of even such low-grade physical side-effects is tough in itself, but the emotional effects are even trickier to unravel.
There's the fact that my sense of self seems to have buggered off for the duration, along with motivation and creativity. I'm a real control freak, so not being able to get a proper handle on this is driving me nuts (OK, nuttier than I was pre-treatment). As far as I'm concerned, I've made enough concessions to 'being on treatment' (there's work and there's recovering from being at work; those are the boundaries of my life at the moment - which means I'm a boring sad git) and days when those concessions are just not enough and I have to take time off sick are hugely frustrating, and thus in themselves further debilitating.

I don't mind 'living to work' under the normal circumstances of my life - 'work' includes facilitating creative writing workshops, writing and performing alongside whatever I'm doing to pay most of the bills.
Finding I can barely cope with just the bread-and-butter job, let alone anything else, is a real shock to the system.

On the other hand, during most of last week I was seriously questioning my optimism at expecting to work through treatment at all.
By the end of today, the self-questioning had become about whether treatment renders me largely incompetent at my job... (the answer depends on whose standards you use as calibration!)

Highlights of last week were sunset moments on Thursday and Saturday.
If I don't make time for such crucial intervals within my restricted life, I'll 'lose' more time than necessary to these toxins...

Onward and upward...

Friday, January 12, 2007

a return to high altitude camping

After what feels like about five minutes sleep, Petra's coughing wakes me, and I can't get back to sleep. I don't mind, because getting out my notebook and torch doesn't seem to disturb her at all, so I settle in to the longest scribbling session I've managed so far on the trip.
I need the loo yet again, so I layer up a bit more, and go outside.
As always, the porters are busy with preparations for breakfast, this time for 'two sittings' - Sergio and Dawa are off to tackle higher things...
There's a layer of ice on the tents, and thick, white frost on the ground, with the tussocks of grass under the trees more gently frosted. I feel as high as a kite from the lack of sleep and euphoria from reaching this point, plus no doubt the effects of altitude. Trying to capture the rising sun's reflection on the snow-covered mountains, most of the photos I took at this point are blurry. I didn't realise until I got back home that this was through shaking so much from cold that I couldn't hold the camera steady enough!
On my wanderings around the camp, I stumble over a dead animal. What killed that, I wonder? It doesn't seem to be mauled, so maybe it just died of exposure. Still, it makes me feel uneasy - a reminder that Jeff's strict rules about not wandering off without telling anyone where you're going are important, and not some arbitrary code to be ignored lightly.
Managing the conflict between being part of the group and my natural inclinations to follow my own internal agenda is an ongoing juggling act.
I'm starving and thirsty and I smell terrible. The thought of a hot shower torments me... Even being able to wash your hands after going to the loo is a longed-for luxury!
Still, I'm vastly cheered by managing to freshen up 'the most important bits' from our morning bowl of hot water, in spite of the temperature - in fact, it's hugely refreshing to have a strip wash in these crisp conditions. I feel a bit like a bird trying to take a bath in a teaspoon...
Longed-for breakfast proves tricker than anticipated - like the previous night, the effort of chewing is practically beyond me, in spite of being so hungry, but I manage a few mouthfuls of porridge and a couple of mugs of milky coffee.
We have a much more leisurely start today. Time for us to take a wander with Jeff...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

trekkus interruptus

Frome's Victoria Park on the second day of January 2007 (one of about two sunny days in 2007 so far and my first decent solo stroll since starting treatment - after an eight day rest with Karen).

my last post was five days into treatment.
hence the gap since...

it's quite usual for me to take up a new challenge once I've completed one...

'normal service' (whatever that is) will be resumed as soon as possible - but I can't promise when (as the last month has demonstrated).

I know lots of you check my blog for updates, and thought I should explain my long absence.

I don't want to write about treatment at the moment, though that might change. And treatment has largely removed about 90% of my motivation generally (and so far, 100% of my writing motivation, which is yet another reason I'm verging on the certifiable at the moment).

But the washing up is getting done, so hey, that's an improvement...

About Me

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I began blogging during training for a trek in the Himalayas... several lifetimes ago. Currently working on my novel - in the tiny spaces left by a 50 hour plus working week...