Did you know climbing some of the biggest mountains can leave climbers with symptoms that are very similar to heart failure? Death zones are places at the top of a mountain where low oxygen and poor weather conditions make even breathing a pain-filled struggle.
A documentary on K2 detailed the descent of a group of climbers and the, not only external, but internal physical hazards they faced, succumbing easily to harsh elements on the dangerous peak. Many of the symptoms sounded very familiar. I could imagine exactly what they were feeling, up in the ice and snow.
Moving just a few feet can be almost impossible. Feeling dizzy, out of breath, throbbing heart, difficulty thinking, seeing. Every muscle struggling for oxygen. Barely able to move. Swelling in the body. Deep vein thrombosis.
Losing weight and dealing with heart failure are two big mountains that I face every day. Plus, no thyroid due to cancer, no gallbladder due to failure, no ability to deal with triggers due to PTSD. No self-esteem due to lifelong emotional abuse from family, friends and strangers. Sigh. What else ya got for me, Lord? LOL
We’ve been watching documentaries about climbing. I don’t know why because I am NEVER climbing a mountain. NOPE! I admire the determination though. A mountaineer from the past said, as he looked at the mountain he was about to climb from a distance, he was already full of dread and foreboding. He was referring to K2. One of the biggest (undoubtedly toughest) Himalayan peaks. It’s near Everest. Mt. Everest is even taller, but less difficult. The weather conditions alone on K2 prevent many climbers from ever reaching the top. Sometimes, they never leave the mountain. One climber described the ascent as a mountain on top of a mountain.
Have you ever faced an obstacle and overcome it?
Only to find there was another mountain to climb?
You are already exhausted, elated and thankful to be done climbing, but you realize quickly, after reaching the top, you’re not done. The place that you were aiming at is stretched out of reach and you don’t have a choice other than to finish. You have to go further to reach the ultimate goal. Many climbers face a false summit.
A false summit, or false peak, is an illusion. You can’t see the very top of the mountain because the incline is so steep. The summit you are seeing is merely the top of the path you’re on. What you can’t see, the very, very top lies behind your immediate goal. At these times, I want to give up. When I reach the intended top and realize I have further to go? F’n forget it.
I start to question all of my efforts and I’m ready to give up. Like losing 100 pounds and hitting a plateau. I think,
“I’m good. I can stop. I can take a break.”
“I may just be overweight for the rest of my life and what have I lost? I have a husband who loves me. I have a child. I have all the things I ever wanted and I’m happy with myself. I don’t have to climb this mountain. I can get off this mountain now!”
That could be true. I could just turn around and climb down. And everyone I know will just have to accept that I’m good and I’m done. And they probably would.
But if I really think about it, if I give it a hot minute, I don’t want to give up. Plus, climbing down ain’t gonna be easy either! I understand the climber’s motivated drive.
I must conquer this. I’ve come this far.
Many climbers have instincts. And the wise ones follow them. The ones that go home in one piece follow their gut. My gut tells me, no pun intended, that I need to keep going. The rocks below are much more dangerous than the clouds I’m trying to reach. I can’t stop, but the path isn’t clear.
But I think that this happens for a reason. If you could see how far you have to go, would you even start? Would you reach for the top?
Sometimes we have to do the toughest bits of life one step at a time. We can’t handle any more than that. God knows that. We just keep forgetting. We can climb any mountain with the right equipment, helpful guides and one. step. at a time. You gotta focus on what’s right in front of you. Not worry about the end. You just have to breathe and move forward. Even an inch.
I just keep praying that God helps me put one foot over the other and take one more breath until I can see the way up.
Thank you, God, for my legs, body, strength, determination, brain and your will.