ugh—-having altitude sickness is no fun; you feel terrible and it ruins the trip.  in july we attended a gorgeous wedding in beautiful crested butte.  i have been to colorado many times and in different seasons of the year and of my life. in the past i occasionally get a headache but nothing like my recent trip.  i’m self diagnosing but every symptom i had is consistent with amas(acute mt alt sickness).  it was horrible and prevented me from getting to go on the bride hike to top of the butte.  how hard and yet thankful i was to sit on the porch enjoying the site of this beautiful mountain knowing my friends were out enjoying being on it.  i really enjoy hiking and its a great workout which i highly recommend in any altitude.  i came home and “read up” on altitude sickness and discovered some truths: 

1. experts cannot tell who will get alt sickness and who will not

2. any level of “fit” person can “catch it”

3. it can be deadly and should be taken seriously

4. it is caused by lack of oxygen to body when going to a higher altitude too quickly

5. did i say it can be deadly—-worth repeating—a few years ago i witnessed a young man, in his 30’s, extremely fit, in ER in very serious condition with altitude sickness.

symptoms: mild to severe headache, nausea and vomiting, do not feel like eating,  weak and lazy, dizzy, not able to sleep.

treatment:  move to a lower altitude, rest, drink plenty of water, do not drink alcohol,  give body time to acclimate before being active, hike high but sleep low(stay lower than where you are planning to be active), medication prescribed by your doctor, oxygen, severe cases need not be left alone or even go down to lower altitudes alone.

possible prevention:  spend the night at a lower altitude before your final destination of a higher altitude,  medication prescribed by your doctor, eat lots of carbohydrates.

the day after the bride hike i took a hike with four friends(one was small, white and furry).  the amas must have still been present because i felt terrible the entire time, the hike probably a 4 on scale of 1-10 seemed like a 12 to me.  it took every bit of effort i had to move forward.  looking back i was probably pushing it a day too soon but it was our last day there—thank you Lord that my zeal to climb didn’t cause further sickness. we did take forever getting up the side of that mountain(thank you hiking buddies) which helped me feel like a real slug(ha) but grateful for friends who are real friends and moved at my pace that day.  that evening and remainder of trip i was fine. we even enjoyed some awesome grilled corn at the crested butte arts festival right after the hike—-YUM!!!   exercising while enjoying the great outdoors requires caution and the need to listen to our bodies.  one of many great results of consistent exercise is getting to know your body and learning best how to listen to it’s needs.

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