Saturday, March 3, 2012

reflections on Mexico

I feel like I have to qualify this post by stating that I don't think I'm all that, or above science or that know anything beyond my own experiences.
Now that I've said that, I have to say that when I was at Chichen'Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the New World, I didn't think it was all that. What I mean by that, is that I know El Castillo is not the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula. I (partially) climbed the largest pyramid at Coba in the Yucatan so when I reached 2/3 way up Nohoch Mul I might have as well climbed all the way up El Castillo. It's equivalent. Anyway, my feelings about it were wonder: not because it was so amazing, because honestly it was a bit over-rated. Wonder because I, Ms. heart-disease, was standing in front of a real pyramid that made not one but many world lists: Seven Wonders of the new world, Unsesco world heritage site, etc. It was amazing because I was told over and over again to stay close to home/town (as if). So I'm feeling very awesome these days.
Even my brother commented that I look like I'm doing 'better'. I know this illness doesn't get better but it can slow down from getting worse fast. I try my hardest to slow the inevitable down. I go to acupuncture biweekly (it's all I can budget since it's not covered), cook from scratch as much as I can (thereby cutting our sodium & grease), limiting my liquid intake, juicing, etc. etc. It seems to be paying off as there I was, in front of one of the 7 Wonders of the new world. I feel awesome. I don't think I can say it enough, so looking it is the next best thing.
It's awesome because I'm doing things I was thought I could never do - and it's different from "doing the things I was told I could never do". What I mean by that is that I wholeheartedly know my limitations. I know I can't go sky-diving, or even white-water rafting. I also know I can't trek into a jungle to see some ancient pyramids. However, with modern day technology, some money and a piss & vinegar will I could/can. Chichen I'tza represents one of my own limitations - not the cardiologists. (Heck, boarding the plane and going to Mexico is his hard limit). There are a lot of things we take for granted here in Canada or being able-bodied. When I booked Chichen It'za I had to make sure I had an air-conditioned bus, express route. I must sound like quite the princess at times, but it's all needed. Without AC my breathing is affected. Because we were comfortable on the way there, because the site was well excavated, because I chose express route, because I had a nonsmoking rooms, because I had access to low-sodium meals, because I took a daily siesta where I sat in the hotel rooms during the hottest of the mid-day sun, could I take the pyramids off my bucket list.
It's often very taxing travelling with me: before we even leave the country there's so much research and behind-the-scene preparation. We learned that the hard way with our trip to the south-west" non-guaranteed non-smoking room and high elevations wrecked havoc. (I have since found out there are non-smoking hotel chains). I do want to go back to the south-west. I have yet to see the Grand-Canyon. I keep studying the maps trying to figure out a way to get there without making me potentially (seriously) ill. In the months of map-gazing I've come to the conclusion that that wonder of the world, despite how close (in comparison to say the Taj Mahal) may never be experienced by me.
I'm not giving up.
Not yet.
Then again, that's not my style.
Elevation be damned, I will see the Grand Canyon!
But first, I bathe in the awesomeness that was/is El Castillo and the ancient city of Chichen It'za

Friday, March 2, 2012

my honeymoon

I just got back from my honeymoon. Ma belle wanted a beach vacation, I'm not into beaches. I just can't sit still. We joked on day 3 of our trip that I have the mind of an adventure traveller but the body of a beach vacationer. So we compromised, did a lot more of what my doctor ever thought I could do and she even got her full day at the beach. The day we became lobsters I have to add!

My trip began with a preparatory session of acupuncture. I received some 12 hours before take-off. It paid off. It was primarily for anxiety. I find I "syc myself out" way too much that I might as well be having a hard time physically. I mean, I believe in psychoneuroimmunology so why on earth wouldn't a calm mind contribute to a calm flight. It did. I had my best flights, both there and back, ever. Psychologically speaking. In reality, we were late for take-off, the flight attendant didn't help us securing the O2 machine, even when called. I've been questioning my cardio-man's warnings lately (ok, when have I not). This time they're making me really think about the negative impact their comments/warnings have. Just by stating his concern (in the way he does) it sorta plants that potential seed in my mind. Then I start worrying every time I tasted blood, like I did when we first arrived. I also understand the importance of monitoring signs and symptoms but they way cardio-man describes this, it gets in the way of living. In the end, I did not experience any significant amounts of blood in mucus. (This post would have been completely different). It's when I spoke to my acupuncturist that I really realized that these warnings and precautions I've been given are just too much. There's no reason I can't do what I want, so long as it isn't crazy. I know in my heart what's crazy and what isn't. Egypt is crazy, Mexico, not so much.

Because I had been to Mexico before, I knew that the mid-day sun was just too hot for me, so most days I made sure to take my siesta indoors between 12:00 and 1500 hrs/3:00pm. During those hours I would hang out in our room, take a nap, or read, all plugged up to O2. The cool down time allowed me to continue my day in the afternoon heat. Unlike other resort-type folk, we were up early and in bed early. I mean early.

There was one exception. The days we went to Isla Mujeres and Chichen'Itza. At least when we were on the island we had a cover on our little golf-cart. At the ruins, there was NO cover to be found and being hundreds of kilometers inland, there was no ocean breeze to help cool down. That was the worst day of the trip. I suffered heat stroke (not my first time though), and even with my O2 at it's fullest on the POC I had a hard time breathing. It was bearable when standing in front of the pyramid El Castillo. I actually had quite the moment, knowing I was in the middle of one of the sites of one of the New 7 Wonders of the New world: I am still alive to check it off my list. I know that I will never be able to travel to Egypt to see those pyramids, but just 2 weeks short of my 39th birthday I was there to see those. Further along the site I walked down to the sacred cenote (where, according to our tour guide, people were thrown in for offerings). (Our tour guide had quite the story to tell us, some of which through my own research - because I'm a nerd - wasn't all factual. I guess white people are easy to entertain). Anyway, it was the walk down to the cenote that did me in. Any regular person was drenched by the heat of the mid-day sun. I was done for it. I passed out for most of the ride back. It was really only that day that my fragility was apparent (I like to think anyway). I had no feeling in my arms (and feet too) for many hours. That's how little blood was going to my extremities. But, that acupuncture that I received many days back was still working. I didn't freak out. I simply slept on the tours bus, and back at the hotel (once showered) slept it off.