Sunday, February 16, 2020

Rest and Recovery

What is real exhaustion? They kind of exhaustion where you could collapse because you have absolutely nothing left. Not exhaustion from a good workout where the endorphins are cranking positive goodness through your body. Not exhaustion from a long day and you grab a beer and sit on the deck to chill. No, this is the real deal, something I have never experienced before, not even close. I was losing control of my legs, or more to the point, my legs were almost useless. This is when you throw up in the middle of the night from the water you drank. When your knees buckle and you unintentionally fall as you jokingly run to the van for your ride back to town. When walking downstairs sideways is the only way possible to move down because your knees are shot. Your body is completely drained yet you can not sleep. That is what I dealt with after Mt. Kinabula kicked my ass on the way down.

I had not planned for it. Sure, I have been on long treks and higher climbs but this was different. My first night back I had a long shower, drank a litre of water and was just preparing for bed, it was around 7:30 PM. Something was not 100%. Hell, it was not even 50 percent I drank a can of coke for a bit of sugar, put my head on the pillow and figured to sleep.

 You know that feeling when you realize you are going to be sick to your stomach and you have 30 seconds to get to the bathroom. The starter's pistol shot and the race was on. Up came the water. No food from dinner, only the fluids. Lots of fluid. I regrouped, drank some more water (what the hell was I thinking) and 5 minutes later I was at it again. This time dinner and lunch came to visit. I was dehydrated but my body was rejecting fluids. Real exhaustion. Naturally, I immediately googled my symptoms and believed just enough to relax and go to sleep. My body needed a real rest. Even digestion was to much work for it at that moment.

I looked at the clock and it was 8:15 then 9:00. I woke up at 9:30 AM and drank some water very trepidatiously. It stayed down after a few stomach growls. I rolled over and slept until noon. 

I took a shower and walked, no hobbled down the two short flights of stairs to the lobby. I took each step one at a time and sideways, holding the handrail a little too dependently the entire way. In the lobby, the clerk smiled knowingly. "You did the climb?, Did you reach the top?" To which I replied "yes". She smiled and said "congratulations". "Take your time on the stairs, go slow and rest." I was obviously not the first person to hobble down to the lobby. The dude at the desk asked the same questions and told me to take a seat. He then asked me what I needed. When I said I was going to get a few large bottles of water he looked at the cleaning lady who was listening to our conversation. She took my money and went to the shop. "Go back to your room sir, rest. She will bring you your water". She did.

I took a nap from around 2:00 until 5:00, went online to kill some time then back to bed around 8:00.  That was day 1.

Day 2 saw improvements. I woke at 10:00, which meant I slept 14 hours straight. I immediately drank as much water as I could stomach because dehydration is very real in this situation and my pee was still way too dark. I managed to put a brush through my hair and slowly took the stairs to the lobby. There were good mornings and smiles. I walked to MacDonalds for coffee and each step hurt. Roadside curbs were avoided when possible. My legs worked again. Now the muscles were just sore and I could handle that. My equilibrium was still off a bit and I felt like everything was in slow motion and underwater. I figured I better get back to my room where I would not hurt myself. I bought some instant noodles, the snack of champions. Sleep a little, surf a little and sleep a bit more. I had my routine.

Around 8:00 PM things started feeling normal again but I stayed in my room. I also booked a few extra nights just to give this old body a break. I was not hungry and the noodles kept me satisfied but I bought some bananas, a mango and a fresh coconut.

During all of this, I was planning my next move to the Philippines. I figured Manila on the 19th of February where I would stay one night close to the airport and then catch an early morning flight to Cebu. From there I can go to Bohol Island for a week of quality diving and something called the Chocolate Hills which are for viewing only, no climbing. Thank you universe!

To recap, we hiked 39.6 kilometers up and down over a day and a half. There were a few moments on the way down where I go early thought I was done. At the 2 KM marker, I sat for a rest and the guide needed to help me to my feet. He said, "just go slow, you are fine". Easy for him to say. Near the end of the trip the path leveled out and my legs could not adjust to even-paced walking. I had to sit or I would have fallen. We got back to the station at 3:30 so it took 6 hours to climb down the final 6 KM. The driver told me no problem. Many times here is waiting until 11:30 PM for people to reach the finish. 

Writing about where I go and what I do while sharing my experiences is fun for me. It would be criminal if I did not share the difficult parts of my journey as well. Now I just want to find comfort and peace in the ocean for a while. 

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