April 9, 2008
Wow, these past two days have been memorable.
We trekked from Phakding (8,000 feet) to Namche Bazaar (11,000 feet) on April 7, a huge push involving an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. Lori and Amy did absolutely GREAT. They were right behind me the whole way. It took us about 6-1/2 hours. Namche is such a fun village tucked into the side of the mountain. (If you want to see pictures of some of the places I will mention, check out my photos on my website from my Everest trip last year). There are lots of markets, hotels, restaurants and even an internet cafe, which is where I am as I type this report. We had a nice dinner at my favorite pizza house and then retired to our “hotel.” That’s where the trouble started.
Staying healthy is a cardinal rule of high altitude mountaineering. I broke that rule big time in Namche. I started feeling the onset of a cold during my last night in Kathmandu. Then we flew to Lukla and started our trek to Phakding in the rain. When I woke up the following morning (April 7) in Phakding, my throat felt scratchy. We trekked to Namche and slept at our hotel on April 7. When I woke up in the morning on April 8, I was as sick as I have ever been, and I rarely get sick. I had a fever, sore throat, achy joints, heavy upper respiratory infection and congestion and total loss of appetite. I saw 2 doctors that day-one from Nepal and one from northern California. The doctor from Nepal prescribed herbal medicine that was a combination of a dusty substance and little round pills that look like coco-puffs. I also wanted to see a doctor that practices western medicine so my nurses (Lori and Amy) located a wonderful doctor from northern California (Christina) who was staying on our floor of the hotel. She gave me some pills (I presume anti-antibiotics) and advice (e.g., drink liquids and take Vitamin C “Airborn”). I was in my bed all day April 8. It was difficult for me to even sit up in bed. April 9 (today), I woke up feeling a little better, but, even so, I only left my room twice–once to take a shower and once to type this message at the internet cafe. Tonight, I feel quite a bit better, but who knows what tomorrow will bring. One of my big concerns is that I have not been eating well and my energy level is way down. Tomorrow, we trek to Tengboche or Pangboche depending on how I feel.
I know I will recover just fine, and it is good that I contracted this early in the trek and at a relatively low elevation. I think I picked up the bug on the flight to Bangkok since the seat next to me was blocked because it was “dirty.” I bet the person sitting there on the previous flight was sick and threw up.
Lori and Amy have been so great to me through this ordeal. They are also doing really well, with no signs of excess fatigue or altitude sickness. I love them so much.
Mingma and Puchhanga have been wonderful companions and helpers. Amy said that traveling with Mingma is like having a personal nanny since he hovers over Lori and Amy all the way. If they reach for something in their backpack, Mingma is right there pulling it out for them. If they travel too close to the edge of the trail on steep sections, Mingma gets between them and the edge of the trail. I appreciate that so much. Puchhanga caught up with us on the trek to Namche Bazaar. What a total blessing he has been to our trip. Lori and Amy say that they feel like they have a personal bodyguard with them at all times. He goes with them on all their shopping trips and basically waits in the dining area for them to come out of our hotel. This was such a comfort to me as I lay helpless in my sick bed for two days.
I will close this report with a humorous incident so that the report does not sound too much like “gloom and doom” On the trek from Lukla to Phakding, we stopped in a little tea house to get out of the rain. Amy had to go to the bathroom and asked where it was located. I pointed to the bathroom door and she went in. She came right out saying there is no toilet in the room, just a hole in the floor. I said the hole in the floor is the toilet. She said how do you go? I said you squat and go. She was appalled. She made me stand at the door holding the door open and looking the other way while she went because she did not want be alone in a dark room. Lori went in after Amy, and we could hear her laughing from the other room.
God bless all of you,