Recently I wrote about Acute Mountain Sickness and the effects it can have on the body as you gain altitude when climbing. As we all know the human body was never designed to function at extremely high altitudes and supplemental oxygen is usually required.
And although Mt Everest and other 8,000 metre peaks have been climbed many times without the assistance of supplemental oxygen, the occurrence is rare.
I am taking a number of steps to help prepare for the climbing I am doing over the coming year. I’m training intensely to ensure I am in a peak physical condition, eating a well-balanced diet, and another consideration is to ensure that I do not have any medical conditions that might create issues for myself or others.
Monitoring the latter is an important process.
I routinely see a Specialist Sports Doctor for ailments and issues associated with exercising. I just saw him a week ago to discuss my high altitude climbing and to obtain a referral to a cardiologist so I can undergo a full coronary check-up, which is something we discussed a few months back.
I don’t expect the tests to reveal anything adverse as all indications are I am in good shape and have no family history of coronary disease. Mind you, if they do produce a negative result at least I can deal with it now!
Friday this week is my appointment day.
Well, as it would turn out I have been suffering a low level cold for the past couple of weeks, you know the type, nothing too serious to cause concern, just enough to be irritating. Janet, my partner has been suffering a full-blown cold for the past few days, although she is recovering now, and TomO, our son has also had one.
On Tuesday this week I woke up feeling a little tight in the chest, wheezing, runny nose, and feeling a little short of breathe. I’m making it sound worse than it was, but I’m a mere male and you know what we are like when it comes to being sick!
And with some rock climbing coming up this weekend in the Blue Mountains, just to the west of Sydney, I wanted to ensure I nipped this in the bud before it got any worse. Later in the day I visited my local General Medical Practitioner in the hope he had some instant cure…
Crikey, didn’t I open a can of worms!
After describing my symptoms he immediately sent me for an ECG, chest x-ray, and a plethora of other tests, including cholesterol, blood sugar, prostate (phew, at least I got the pathological test) and a couple of others for good measure.
I did suggest that I would be having most of these tests this Friday, but he wouldn’t be swayed. Just as well as I didn’t hear any sirens at the time otherwise I would have been in a
mild big panic thinking it was an ambulance coming to collect me!
And don’t get me wrong, better to be safe than sorry, after all he has my health at forefront of mind for sure.
So there I was, lying on the bed, I had more wires on me than you could poke a stick at, and everyone asking did I have any chest pains.
It was just a common cold
surely and I just wanted something to make me feel better!
As an aside, when I arrived at the reception of the pathology company the nurse reviewed my requirements, but asked would I mind waiting while she finished ordering her stores for the week. I wasn’t sure whether she meant her groceries or something for the medical practice.
Either way I didn’t mind, it was just a common cold after all I reassured myself. Geez, my heart was starting to beat a little faster by now…
About 10 minutes later when we entered the ECG room she immediately asked whether I had any chest pains.
I just chuckled to myself and said, “no”. Really I was glad she got her stores done!
Must be an insurance thingy, maybe the waiting room is still on my watch, not theirs? Cark it in the waiting room, well bad luck, but just don’t do it in the consultation room, that’s far too much paper work…
I’m pleased to say all the tests were normal and I still have my specialist appointment tomorrow which will include a stress-test. In fact, for the most part, the results are above average for my age…
But as I was having my ECG I got to thinking that many of us exercise for fitness, health, and general well-being and we assume that it goes a long way towards that goal.
I’m sure it does.
But equally, there is most likely a point where you can push the body too far, a point at which the exercise undertaken may become detrimental to your health…
I can’t imagine changing anything I do, despite that possibility as I enjoy pushing to the limits, but it is always something to be mindful of!
You did the right thing by going to see your doctor. Most athletes overtrain at some stage or another, and often they are not even aware of it, because the symptoms are not always clear-cut. I had personal experience of this when I was much younger and took part in half-marathons, triathlons and cycling. I also encountered it often in other cyclists while I was cycling coach at the University of Cape Town. Take care — you don’t want to miss the big one!
By the way, I smile when I recall the concerned look on a certain doctor’s face when he measured my heart rate and found it to be sub-40. I was very fit then …
Yes, in fact when I was at the specialist we spoke about triathletes in particular, many of whom develop problems later because of the intense exercise. For me this was a check up to ensure it is all okay, and to give the base from which to monitor…trust your preparation is going well…
Yes, thanks, my preparation is going well, but as I type I am somewhat concerned about a mild swelling and ache in my right knee. This is the last thing I need now, 39 days away from D-day. I’ll be keeping a close watch on this one…
How much is too much? You’ll know when you get there! Why worry about it till then, indeed if it happens…As long as there’s good prep; nutrition, strength training, proper equipment etc then you’re onto a winner. I once wrote an assignment about extreme sports for the elderly…my Grandad climbed his last munro aged 80.
I do agree, and good on your Grandad!
Good to hear it turned out alright! Doctors….making a big deal out of everything 🙂
Thanks…we have to keep them in expensive cars somehow!
How much is too much?
Mmmmm….it’s a question that as individuals only we can identify and quantify….more a case of staying in tune with your body, mind & soul and having faith in the knowledge that if you do so you will be the first to know when it is too much.
“There is no dream that mustn’t be dared” (George Mallory)
Exactly. I have a lot of friends who are ultra marathoners and I’ve seen a number of scary injuries, life threatening injuries sustained by adventure racers, mountain bikers, hikers/trail runners. The ultra runners always make me nervous because they push themselves so hard – especially the 100 milers (160 kilometers). Sometimes they end up needing emergency care, I.V.’s, even a hospital visit to recuperate running 100 miles in the desert, mountain or forests. Myself, I want to run an ultra marathon but I also don’t want to damage my spine or put too much unnecessary wear and tear on my middle-aged body. The whole adage “Everything in moderation” is probably the smartest advice. I understand how hard it is to follow though. 😀 Stay healthy, stay strong! Get off the mountain and join us on the trails. 😀 A bit safer. 😀
Yes, the ultra marathoners are a class of their own. I did the Coast to Coast race across New Zealand earlier this year and that takes it out of you. I do some trail running, but for the moment I’ll stay on the mountains – safely. 🙂
I’ve hiked in the Sierra Nevadas in California and I can’t say after that that the mountains are safe! Some of the scariest moments of my life up there. But you know what you are doing so that’s a big difference. I admire the ultra marathoners, I am kind of a ultra groupie, usually doing the 25K or marathon as opposed to the really long races. It’s amazing how much a human body can take, fascinating and I feel the urge sometimes to test myself but cautiously. I’ll bite my nails and wish you the best.
“How much is too much?” That is a difficult question to answer my friend but I guess it’s different for different people. But I do hope all turns well with your tests. Cheers!
Yes, I think that is the case. And all the tests were routine and normal to better…
Glad to know that all is well! How much is too much? We need to push ourselves so that we feel truly alive.
In your preparation for the 8000 meter peaks, are you considering the long term cognitive effects? What’s the research on that?
I’m sure there is a limit but its probably different for everyone. I’m also sure I’m nowhere near to hitting my limit. Sure I workout 6 days a week but I’m not crawling out of the gym afterwards. Hmmmm maybe I should step it up! Haha!
You should be sprinting towards that finish line (and the next challenge!)…
Training like a professional triathlete at 15-18 years old is definitely too much! Other than that, I don’t know … when you feel tired, cranky and unwell from training then it’s time to take a break. Me … I’m not always that good at recognising the too much factor. 🙂
yikes…going to the doctor can be quite the adventure….hope you all are cold free….
Yeah, pretty good thanks BG!