Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day Seven, Day Two Trek

I wake up and remember that it just takes a day or two, or three, to get used to sleeping on the ground. It’s colder than I imagine but after breakfast we’re off towards First Caves for lunch and then Kikelewa for camp.

Here I am, packing up. Yes, the pack is hot pink.

I must tell this story honestly, even if at times I look foolish and there were more moments like that on this trip than I would care to admit but are inextricably part of this experience. I’m writing this blog almost a month after returning so I have more perspective on how things transpired and I’ll save those for the postscript. Now, back to the story.

We’re hiking, we’re hiking. They keep slowing Teri down. I’m taking it easy and am delighted that the guides are pleased with my turtle pace. At home I trained at the gym and remember the encouraging and motivating words of “Kick it up a notch Jamie, you’re on Mt. Kili.” What should have been said was “Po-le, Po-le” but we didn’t know Swahili back then.

The happy campers. And guide.

We’ve been gone a week. I didn’t sleep well. And please don’t laugh at this one but I had also been without my connections to the rest of the world via the internet and my cell phone. I understand that vacation and travel is in some ways about being disconnected from these things and I hate that I struggle so much it but I just do. I miss the picture. It’s comforting, but doesn’t talk back.

Also, I’ve been on Malaria medication. I was not taking Larium. That drug has been known to send perfectly normal people into psychotic fits. I’m taking something else called Malarone and I wish I hadn’t tossed the pamphlet with all the side effects because I would love to use the drug to explain some of what I’m feeling.

I can’t really explain what, how or why it happened but at a certain point on the trail my breathing got very accelerated and I felt like my windpipe was twisting shut and I couldn’t breath.

And, oh yeah, I have a deviated septum, and that doesn’t make the issue of breathing much easier for me.

I freaked out a bit. I’m kind of a nervous person and dealing with anxiety is definitely on my “Things to Work On” list but this was a step above all that – too far of a departure from how I perceive myself. It really was a parasympathetic response which I was tempted to identify as a panic attack.

We pulled over from the trail. I started crying. I felt like such a wuss but the crying was cathartic. I tried to make a phone call but there was no service so I sent a text instead. Eventually I calmed down and we proceeded but I was concerned about how I was feeling given that it was only Day Two of a seven day voyage. Here's a picture of me post breakdown. I'm smiling, but my hair looks more like I felt.

I have to give my sister a lot of credit for her patience through this. After my, um, incident the day was kind of was all about me and am I OK and that’s no fun for Teri. Especially when she’s having some of the same feelings – but dealing with them in a much more rational and calm manner. She wanted to be sensitive, but she also wanted to tell me to “toughen up” and I think I needed her to do both.

I’ve often joked that while Teri is chronologically older than me, I’m the older sister. For much of this trip, however, Teri really was my older sister and we really both ended up taking care of each other. We’ve both changed as we’ve grown and we’re not as different as we used to be. Princess, Thank You.

I write so many cheesy things in my Travel Journal that night, it’s unbelievable.

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