My body still needs time to adjust to this altitude. I am definitely going to have the Doc order the RX from Hong Kong, and am wishing I had him send it to Dartsendo/Kangding. :-(. Last night was truly a combat session within my body; I was exhausted and easily kept falling asleep, within a matter of breaths, I was awake again—or should I say, lack of breaths. I kept awakening abruptly with the urgent need to breathe, and breathe deeply several rounds. This has been the worst night so far; previous nights I have either slept perfectly or experienced mild and irregular awakenings.
The following is an excerpt from the article “Altitude Illness”, written by Peter H. Hackett and David. R. Shlim
The high-altitude environment exposes travelers to cold, low humidity, increased ultraviolet radiation, and decreased air pressure, all of which can cause problems. The biggest concern, however, is hypoxia. At 10,000 ft (3,000 m), for example, the inspired PO2 is only 69% of sea-level value. The magnitude of hypoxic stress depends on altitude, rate of ascent, and duration of exposure. Sleeping at high altitude produces the most hypoxemia; day trips to high altitude with return to low altitude are much less stressful on the body...
...Susceptibility and resistance to altitude illness are genetic traits, and no simple screening tests are available to predict risk. Risk is not affected by training or physical fitness. Children are equally susceptible as adults; people aged >50 years have slightly lower risk. How a traveler has responded to high altitude previously is the most reliable guide for future trips if the altitude and rate of ascent are similar, but this is not infallible. Given certain baseline susceptibility, risk is largely influenced by the altitude, rate of ascent, and exertion...
Perhaps next month I will find this elevation gain easier, since it is the month of my Birthday hehehe. That said, can I overcome my genes? Each time I have come to high elevations, I have felt ALL symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness,i.e.; altitude illness). Considering I (and my ancestors) have lived most of my life at sea level, my body is not built for high altitude, unlike those who born in mountainous areas. This will be a repeat occurrence for me, it seems. I have accepted that, but I will definitely get my hands on acetylzolamide ASAP or prior to any future trips, for sure. Grrrrr....
There are only 3 possibly cures: 1) continue to rest at this elevation and allow my body an additional amount of time to adjust, 2) Descend to lower elevation (not happening until around Aug 1), and, 3) take acetylzolamide (Diamox). The RX would help me almost immediately, but I don’t have access to any. I will ask Nate, the hostel owner is he can get his hands on some. I can handle the frequent breathlessness during the day when I am hiking—it’s expected. But lack of sleep creates misery for me on many levels: physical, emotional, mental. In fact, right now, I just want to stay in the room all day because I am grumpy :-)) But I will not!
I learned from some of the other hostel guests that there is a huge Buddhist festival happening today, at he gompa that sits on the mountain to our west. I am torn between that, and getting back up to the eastern grasslands, where I only made it up partway yesterday due to rain and cold and fatigue. In Dartsendo/Kangding, I can hike 7 or so hours. Yes, I am exhausted, but I can do it. Yesterday, turned back after 2 hours and lunch, pushing myself to even make it back down.
On that note, I’ll close with a quote from Edmund Hillary, the famous mountaineer who was the first (recorded) to summit Everest: "Getting to the summit is optional, getting down is mandatory."