Only a T-Ball MVP would make such a statement that, “Every corpse on Everest was once an extremely motivated person.” Why a T-Ball MVP? Because ONLY a T-Ball MVP knows what it’s like for everyone to bat, no one strikes out, no one is thrown out at first base, second base, third or even home plate, that no one is out on a pop-fly, that score is not kept, that both teams win despite playing against each other, and, that at the end of such coddling life experience, EVERYONE gets a trophy a the end of the season that reads T-Ball MVP. In other words, ONLY a T-Ball MVP knows what it is like to NOT be motivated by something, much less be “extremely motived” or challenged by anything. Yet, despite that lack of drive the T-Ball MVP still earns the season’s most coveted award.
It is because of that absolutely incredible and amazing T-Ball MVP life experience that ONLY a T-Ball MVP, and only a T-Ball MVP, would comment on something they have ABSOLUTELY no understanding of, like motivation. However, it is not that the T-Ball MVP is an authority on the setbacks of others as to why the T-Ball MVP believes they can comment on something they think they can comment on. Instead, it is only, because only a T-Ball MVP has NEVER been told to keep their mouth shut when they have no idea what it is they are babbling about that gives them the authority to do so. Why? Because T-Ball MVPs have been reared without anyone ever telling them to keep their mouth shut when mistaken because EXPERTS claim it might affect the T-Ball MVP’s self-esteem and no one wants that.
I am sure critics will note that I am bias as I have NEVER been a T-Ball fan. Thus, why I find it so easy to list anyone who has NEVER been challenged by anything, much less met opposition or experienced the agony of defeat, to be the author of such an obnoxious quote like “Every corpse on Everest was once an extremely motivated person”.
Critics will say it’s shaming. I say critics are part of the problem and not the solution. Because who knows maybe, just maybe, there might be some T-Ball MVP out there that will awaken to shaming as a positive thing in the same manner some of their peers found being “extremely motivated” as being the Achilles heel to others.
With that a very honorable, humbling, personable and private story below from a GREAT friend and mentor who did attempt Everest. The intent, so that maybe, just maybe, the T-Ball MVP might get an idea of what opposition and the agony of defeat of such a journey entails.
“Addendum to [the] Narrative below:
Notwithstanding the already insurmountable challenges of the narrative, I submit that it would be easier to floss a Bobcat than to communicate by conventional methods in this country Nepal for the duration I've been here. My indomitable desire is to communicate with each of you, yet I've been stonewalled by many factors. I've been on Everest, then in a hospital without WIFI, my iPhone has been blocked, I've been in the Chitwan Jungle, this is a 3rd world country, I'm 11-13 hours ahead of your Standard time, rolling blackouts in Kathmandu are 10 hours daily, WIFI is spotty at best, oil paint dries faster than the internet, my hotel is without power more than with power, SKYPE works occasionally...([M]orse code and written missives still work)...I think even Jesus would be frustrated! Know this—I love your contact! I can receive texts on iPhone when I check them, email when I am capable, and when on WIFI I can iMessage your iPhone.
I miss you all.
Starting my climb to Everest, admittedly I was feeling fit, ready and physically prepared. The bulk of my training was in Colorado doing various climbs all winter including Riva Ridge in Vail either before the ski hill opened or after last run. This is considered the longest ski run in North America and boasts both a 3,000ft gain and a 4-mile distance. Climbing in the dark gave me solace and having the entire ski hill to myself was exceedingly spiritual and peaceful. My training also included being at the higher altitudes of Vail Colorado, (8,300 to 12,000 feet), skiing daily and snowshoeing in the mountains all winter long. Already having climbed Everest in my mind over and over, my thrill of actually being here was tremendous. Finally, flying to Lukla by 10-seated twin-engine and witnessing the Himalayas for the first time...a fire burned in me like a war horse chomping at the bit.
When I met my guide, (Sambhu) and Sherpa. I elected to carry my own gear and not take the yak, (which I promptly named Gary). My Sherpa is a 59y/o named Padam, and is the size of a toy soldier and looks weathered like an old wooden idol...however, he can carry loads several hundred pounds when called to duty. I'm a 44y/o Nicaraguan and slimmed down my gear to 44-lbs with water and strapped that [stuff] on my back and left Padam to carry his own gear, food and my guides extra gear and survival items. I patted Gary on the browser [sic] and said my goodbyes, (he looked relieved), and we embarked toward Everest. My Rule 1#...'No one passes me!'. There were exceptions however.
This trek to EVEREST BASE CAMP, (EBC), takes 14 days of grueling foot travel and acclimatizing to higher elevations slowly over time. The start is Luka 10,000 feet with EBC at base of KUMBU icefall 17,580ft. My destination was far beyond this possibly greater than 20,000ft. Since I was a day ahead of schedule, (Rule 1# was working fantastically well), therefore I was a day early on the morning of the last push to Everest.
This particular morning push to Everest begins very early as the shawl of night lifts off the shoulders of Everest and emboldens the new dawn. My only reservation was a slight headache the evening before, shortly after my dinner. Upon awakening, my energy wasn't as it has been, but after my morning meal...the war horse was stomping around inside me.
Cheerfully, expeditiously and deliberately my tribe, (Guide, Sherpa), and I faced our next challenge this day, Gorak Shep, (the highest shelter in the world), and then get to the KUMBU icefall at EBC. Padam asked me to lighten my load and offered to carry my sleeping bag and other heavier items so I could, "Faster Walking", in his words. En route many other adventurers where joyfully embarking on a similar route and I was poppin [sic] wheelies on the way up while fraternizing with other trekkers, and feeling deeply enlivened by the moment.
Rule 1# was working until I reached about 16,500 feet and rapidly I felt my self not responding to my will. People were passing me left and right and I could not get my legs to go. I was pressure breathing deeply at 60x min and seeing spots while stumbling around. Also, my thoughts were not sharp enough to control my body, but I remember being keenly aware that something was drastically not right. This came on like a freight train! Having no premonitory symptoms prior, (except for a slight headache the evening before), there were no other symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness—persistent headache, nausea, lassitude, vomiting, insomnia and anorexia. WHAT THE [HELL]!
There is a manta that I recall during times of crisis and learned this from Wilderness Survival Training:
It is happening to me!
I knew this would happen to me!
I've prepared for this!
I know what to do!
I'll do it now!
Stopping mid trail to access myself while wearing full foul weather gear, I checked my Pulse Ox monitor and evaluated my breathing and physical capabilities. A Pulse Ox monitor checks how much of a blood carrying capacity your hemoglobin has and measures this in a percentage. At sea level, ours is about 99-100%. As we get to higher altitudes this can change slightly and mine at Vail Colorado around 11,000 feet was 97-98% before my trip.
Furthermore, your Pulse Ox can go lower at high altitude and you accommodate for this by increasing your blood volume and Hemoglobin concentration and manage some of your acid base balance in your body by breathing differently while your kidneys are doing automatic adjustments.
Regardless, my Pulse Ox was 68% at rest and my Respiratory Rate in the 60's as a rapid cadence of deep pressure breathing. Most people's Pulse Ox readings are in the high 80's at this point of the climb. Knowing full well what was occurring and this was a high altitude emergency that would launch into even more severe Pulmonary Edema and then Cerebral Edema, I needed to make a rapid and veritable decision. While making that decision I put on more layers, drank water, managed a high caloric intake and laid very still. Rule 2#. Giving myself 30 min to decide...here was my dilemma.
My current perch was not a place where a rescue could occur. An impossible scenario. Next, it would take 1 hour of regular climbing to make it to shelter going up 100 more meters in elevation. Alternatively, it would take several hours more to get down lower to shelter. Given my incapacitated state doing either option was unrealistic. Another harbinger, any distress and increased activity accelerates the symptoms and syndrome. DOUBLE [CRAP]!
Once you have Acute Mountain Sickness you must go down in altitude to prevent the more serious and life threatening and finally deadly, HAPE and HACE.
AMS—High altitude illness, (headache, lassitude, vomiting, insomnia, anorexia, (cannot eat or drink).
HAPE—High altitude pulmonary edema, (lungs fill with fluid), which I was acutely developing.
HACE—High altitude cerebral edema, (pressure and fluid on your brain).
All of these conditions are sparked by low oxygen levels with which the body reacts unfavorably.
I decide to go up...granted, a slight counterintuitive measure, but I could get helicopter rescue sooner. I gave my pack to my guide Sambhu, and stopped some African Fellows as it turns out, guide for ascents to Kilimanjaro. They offered to follow me at my pace to make sure I make it. Taking much longer than expected, 2.5 hours later and not remembering much of it in my independent recollection, I arrived to shelter at near 17,000 ft and hailed a helicopter. It was now late in the day around 2pm and I've been at it since 6am.
Collapsing into a cot and monitored myself, the helicopter was 30min out and then became 2 hours out and finally grounded due to inclement weather, clouds, wind and blowing snow with loss of visibility. YOU GOTTA BE [FREAKING] KIDDING ME!
When you have a low oxygen state, your body revolts. Its organ systems that utilize its highest demand suffer first. It feels like your suffocating, and losing your mind, or in Gail Taggart's case with half of her blood volume lost from persistently vomiting the red stuff with resultant severe anemia, and as she lost her tank this way...she just couldn't function no matter how much she wanted to muster the strength for movement. Your dizzy, see spots, on the very verge of blacking out, extreme exhaustion, (similar to Skip on the top of Mt Rainier with 400 feet to go to the summit...then blammo [sic], face down in the Glacier and stricken by paralysis. Holding a 45cal to his temple would not force any further response out of him I can recall thinking distinctly when I saw him with a gapping maw full of snow). My situation was entirely similar. I couldn't even untie my boots without worsening my hypoxic state! Still alert however, morbidly calm and keenly aware that I will not make it through the night if I remained in my present condition and current location. Time for plan B.
Rule 2# still ringing in my head while monitoring myself, with Pulse Ox readings dropping further to its lowest 59%. Need to get the [hell] outa here! With an extraordinary coordinated effort from Sherpas, Guides, Climbers and a Horse which I promptly named DUSKY, (since I was feeling and looking Dusky). We manage to formulate a plan and within 30 min...strap me on Dusky, get me on 2L Oxygen mask with canister, get all my foul winter gear on, hot water bottle, meds for pulmonary edema, a horse guide, Sherpa for my bags and Sambhu to manage it all. Head lamp on, wind and snow blowing on my face in the dark, we headed down some treacherous passes and traverses which you might only do in the daylight and climb on your own power...not on a horse.
One vision flashing constantly was...one slip and it is done, horse and rider careening down the mountain in a tangled non discriminate mass. I put all my faith into Dusky, in other words, ALL MY FAITH.
A low Oxygen state makes the body feel colder than normal. Imagine being stuck on a chairlift on a cold windy, snowy ski day for 6 hours. The cold alone was a riveting challenge biting at me and through me like thrashing barracuda attacks. I felt like a busted and shot up old Cowboy trying to ride into town on his horse losing his mud from all the high velocity missiles holes in his torso and fighting to stay awake, alert and alive. Admittedly, there where times when I might let go and my mind in its furthest recesses would outmaneuver me with its strange and bizarre theater. I thought about many of you and how love is such a powerful life force akin to no other. I thought vividly about what the sum total of my life is with great clarity, and how the ones that I love and who love me have had such a fantastic and monumental impact on my life. My wish was to kiss you goodbye and say thank you. Among these and many other powerful and surreal thoughts, several quotes were forefront in my mind and only 2 are included at the end of this paragraph. In addition loyalty, honor, integrity and gratitude where also up there on the top shelf in my cortex and were visited. I was calm and resolved to my plight.
Interestingly, work, $$, to do lists, societal pressures, bills, taxes, material items, chores and self imposed duties, we're not regarded as important and or top shelf in my cortex.
I fear the loss but I do not fear the pain.
Do you want to know the secret? This is my secret...I don't mind what happens.
Half way into the 6-hour journey down the mountain, I became acutely worse. Feeling terrible pangs of suffocation and rider was nearly tossed from Dusky on multiple occasions. My horse guide seemed to be aware and quickened his pace getting us far ahead of Sambhu and the Sherpa. Our headlamp was now the only light seen for infinity and these other guides in our rescue team where nowhere to be seen. He looked back at me frequently, and all I could do was nod and be thankful. I asked him to stop and check the Oxygen and turn it up from 2L to 4L...he said he didn't know how. We removed the canister from my back and upon examination it had run out, empty, and I was being suffocated further by the mask! Ripping off the mask and checking my pulse Ox which was now 70% at this ambient atmosphere, I was starved for air. Granted the drop in elevation was better, yet I still needed Oxygen. This point was the loneliest and most desolate I felt yet. Feeling forlorn looking at my plight realistically, 3-hours from shelter, noting immeasurable bleakness, suffocation impending, then likely loss of consciousness...with despair at its zenith I was relegated to 3 more hours without Oxygen. I went deep...real deep. Strength came from an unknown source. I cannot tell you much about those three hours. This time blends together like spilled oil shimmering on the surface of water and the angle of incident light cannot determine its edges.
6 hours later, and decrease in elevation from 17,000ft to 13,850ft the thicker air was helping. Unstrapped from Dusky, (I really liked him and he only tried to bite me once), I then hurled myself into a cot and waited for first light and helicopter rescue. Sleeping uneventfully till dawn wheezing persistently. I remember drifting off to its musical rhythm then suddenly waking to the drone of the helicopter’s whirl.
Daybreak, the sweet relief of hearing helicopter blades and meeting the craft with a scoop and run to Kathmandu. What would have been 5 days hiking was now 1-hours journey. Involuntary tears squeezed out of my lacrimal glands and I was passionately relieved. Seamlessly, an ambulance met me at the airport and expertly negotiated Kathmandu traffic to the Norvic International Hospital. Being received by the [emergency department] and quickly assessed, it was determined to put me in the [Intensive Care Unit] where I remained for 36 hours. [Electrocardiograph] changes where suggestive of cardiac injury and strain. Follow up [echocardiogram] showed no wall motion abnormalities gratefully and was cleared from a cardiac standpoint. My diagnosis was HAPE, High Altitude [Pulmonary Edema] Illness, and RAD, Reactive Airway Disease.
Currently, I have been discharged from the hospital after 3 days and I'm grounded for a week, (this means I cannot take a commercial airline flight or go to any high altitude). So I'm stuck, as it where in Nepal. Stuck, however is the wrong term...who has the privilege of being "stuck" in one of the most amazing and enchanting places on earth? So in my convalescence, I went to the Chitwan Jungle and took my Guide Sambhu, (he saved my life!), and his whole family to bathe and ride elephants for 3 days. They have never had a vacation nor have ever stayed overnight anywhere before. Truly a treat for them and me and greater for me to witness the unbridled joy of a new experience on Nepalese faces. Heads wagging constantly, teeth glimmering like baleen. Priceless!
How am I? This is a challenging question. I'm without adequate words. I'm ambivalent, happy and emotional, contemplative and spiritual, peaceful and wrought, yet with an underlying fullness and feeling of expansion that I cannot express. Like the grimace of a well fed gator, the light gas of a colorful hot air balloon over a subtropical Savanna, stained glass architecture in the Nave of a Gothic Cathedral in direct sunlight, a medley of symphonic stringed instruments portraying a sad ballad and the deep orange fumes of a rocket launch beyond the stratosphere.
I'm still processing the extremes from Dusky and me to the radical antithesis of bathing an Asian elephant named Cleopatra a few days later. Regardless, it will take time. I'm not suffering however...far from it.
One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.
This is my time to pivot and my opportunity.
What is my motivation to write this? It is many fold, some for me and some for you. However, you are receiving this because you are loved by me and your life and what you have given me is with great impact. This impact has a forceful consequence and this strong effect is what I call expansion. You must know that you expand me! I thank you infinitely for this. Having almost lost this opportunity to state this while ensconced on Dusky...I'm telling you now. Also, further than this impact is that I'm irrevocably connected to you. I call this positive regard. I carry this with me and cling to it like a pirate cherishes and brandishes his most coveted treasure.
What next? My next step is to take what comes.
Does anything just happen to me? No! I take what comes!
I'm on the mend but not out of the woods yet. Daily I'm stronger, but I cannot work out yet and I'm still suffering from RAD and persistently have to be on medication. Today I'm going to the largest Buddha temple in the world and this will be good for my Spirit. I'll take you with me...you are with me.
Thank you for all your love and support...it was felt very deeply and still resonates in me persistently and boundlessly."
I have never climbed Everest nor do I have the desire to ever climb Everest. But I do NOT have to have cancer to know that cancer sucks. Meaning, I do NOT have to experience such to know it is NOT an experience to dismiss. Nor do I have to lose a loved one to know that that so common and unavoidable experience, of losing a loved one or one’s own life, sucks as well. Having said that, this is not about losing a loved one or one’s own life.
Instead, this is for the T-Ball MVP who still does not get it and for who I can only hope, and only hope, that at a minimum that T-Ball MVP is able to take away from this that the corpses of those who succumbed on Everest are NOT the only “extremely motivated” corpses. As many more formerly “extremely motivated” corpses can be found throughout history and throughout the globe, and even in space, for a number of reason, some private, some public, some in politics, some in war, some for humanity, and some for whatever reason. Regardless, the reasons of those corpses, they were all passionate to their cause and why those who succumbed must NEVER be dismissed even if you are willing, capable, succeed or not at the same yourself.
John F. Kennedy challenged us to push the envelope, “…not because they are easy, but because they are hard,” our President pressed upon us. I am sure T-Ball is hard (NOT) and maybe, just maybe, even life lessons could be learned from participating in an activity such as T-Ball. Although I doubt it VERY MUCH as even in its greatest attempt I DO NOT consider T-Ball a game, sport or even a challenge of any type but a participation of some kind. I might be wrong but I just don’t see the challenges or life lessons from T-Ball. However, to be fair, I have never participated or coached T-Ball to know if anything could be gained from participating in T-Ball is possible. But then again, one does not have to have cancer to know it sucks.
This rant penned in LinkedIn, a professional business-oriented social networking service, just in case, someday, an adventurous T-Ball MVP ever decided to cross the street, alone. Although not sure that T-Ball MVPs would dare to take on such venture, but if willing, remember,
It is happening to me!
I knew this would happen to me!
I've prepared for this!
I know what to do!
I'll do it now!
The end point to this soapbox moment, try to imagine this, that when the tough got tougher what came to mind? “Loyalty, honor, integrity and gratitude where also up there on the top shelf in my cortex and were visited. I was calm and resolved to my plight. Interestingly, work, $$, to do lists, societal pressures, bills, taxes, material items, chores and self imposed duties, we're not regarded as important and/or top shelf in my cortex.” Because when challenged the former listed is what matters. Just my two sense [sic].