Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mountain highs

My father invited a friend of his to lunch today who has extensive experience trekking in high altitude regions - Karakorum is his favorite, though he also did a 250-mile (!) trek around Annapurna some years ago. He's also a medical doctor, so I was able to get some non-anecdotal advice on what to expect at the high altitudes of the Kailash pilgrimage, and how to prepare. In the sober way of a doctor, he told me that many people's breathing pattern changes, to what's called "periodic" or Cheyne-Stokes breathing. One might well awake in the middle of the night (not that anyone sleeps well up there) and find that one's breathing has stopped. No cause for alarm: the usual triggers for breathing related to CO2 are disrupted in these oxygen-poor climes, but the body will resume breathing as needed. Forewarned is forearmed.

Perhaps relatedly, people have vivid dreams and even hallucinations!

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