This is what the nurse practitioner (NP) said to me Friday 1/15 as I sat in the sterile doctor’s office room 30 days to the day of departure. This was based on my medical history, and the fact that I will be above 3,000 meters for more than three days, I have experienced symptoms before while living in Peru in 2006, and I am going from sea level and traveling to a high altitude. My NP looked me clearly in the face and said “we are going to figure this out, the cocktail of drugs I am going to prescribe you. I need to make sure they don’t interact with each other and then with your blood.” I have had issues with my blood for a long time and it affects what kinds of meds I can take. I also am prone to anemia. The next thing the NP said was, “What a year your body is going to have!” My NP had never had a patient doing anything like what I am going to do, so she asked me to be patient as this is a learning curve for her.
Here is our route description:
“You look in good shape and your vitals are excellent, I mean aside from your 99.9 temperature. I recommend listening to your body, not carrying too much to help with your back issues, drinking a lot of fluids and have fun.” My NP recommended I take a malaria and altitude prophylaxis due to my high-risk nature. I am only going to be at sea-level for 3 days but we can’t take a risk she says. After 40 minutes waiting while the NP cross checked the database the I asked, sniffling of course, if I was ok to train today. My NP said, “all your symptoms are above the neck, but I wouldn’t go overboard, you have a mountain to climb. Good Luck and come see us after if you need to.”
For travelers diarrhea (if needed)
For Malaria. Weekly: take a week prior to departure, weekly while on trip, and four weeks after return.
Take 1 pill every 12 hours beginning day of ascent, discontinue on descent.
That said I took my three prescriptions, my Kleenex, and was sent on my way. I trained with a runny nose and all. This head cold has wreaked havoc on my immune system and I can’t even remember when I was last sick. It’s now Sunday and I am still sick. I have trained this morning, albeit lightly, as I promised my husband. I am doing my mountain affirmations and doing gear check number 2. I have shopped around for the best prices for my prescriptions, and I am rereading Wild (via audiobook this time) and knocking off the endless chores from my to do list. I am still feeling fear of this damn mountain. A quote from early in Wild by Cheryl Strayed resonates with me.
“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to
a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself
a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong.
I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”
I have to do this. I cannot allow my fear to dictate my story. I have been told ‘no’ so many times in my life. Honestly, I listened to those ‘no’s’ many times, believing I wasn’t good enough for whatever reason. Ignoring the strength I have inside and the relentless and stubborn will that I exude. And this time my stubbornness has gotten the best of me, 'high-risk' and all. Cheers to pill popping!