Things That Can Go Wrong on the Way From the Swamp to the Summit

Tempting fate - the untied shoelace
Tempting fate – the untied shoelace

It began yesterday. For those of you who are regular readers of this blog, I’m pretty sure I recounted our August 2012 climb up Mauna Kea, which only occurred because husband J managed to contract one of the few cases of out of season flu in the state of Hawaii, thus putting the kabosh on our plan to backpack the Mulawai trail.  I didn’t think something like that could possibly happen again. But yesterday, J announced to me that for a week he’s seen cobwebby things in his left eye, initially accompanied by a flash of light. Now, the only time I’ve heard of “floaters” (J keeps calling them floaties, like the water wings your kids wear when they’re four years old) involves detached retinas, laser surgery and possible blindness.

So, rather than google “floaters,” we – of course – researched retinal detachment, only to discover the surgical repair involved a healing period that would greatly cut into our 13 days from now departure for Ecuador and the Andes. Apparently high altitude is not considered an optimum recovery spot for eye surgery.

In any event, a “quick” visit to our local optometrist today, together with full pupil dilation and photographs of the eyeball innards, reassured all concerned that these floaters were nothing more than part of the normal aging process for people in their fifties. I keep asking why no one has given us an instruction manual. We’re highly aware of the normal wear and tear on the body, but floaters? Really?

While all this was transpiring, I was facing my own Private Idaho – we have long had a pact that if one of us can’t make it up a mountain the other goes forward. And that I would have done – but the idea of scaling Cotopaxi and maybe Chimborazo with just me and a guide was definitely going to push that pact to its furthest limit. I lay awake last night thinking of the worst case scenarios – just to get my mind in gear to accept that it could conceivably be me versus the mountain. I would have done it – but it wouldn’t be optimum.

Yesterday I did a seven mile run in unbelievable heat and humidity. Now I know many of you run further, but believe me, it’s hard when it’s in the 90s at 9 am with an equal percentage of humidity. At one point I realized my shoelace was progressively getting looser and I could feel it flapping on the ground as I ran.

You know what? I actually stopped; paused my Map My Run app; and tied the damn shoelace. All the running in the world isn’t going to do me much good if I trip and break my ankle two weeks before departure.

It’s coming soon now. Please send some good karmic vibes our way.

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