Photo image: By Pavel Novak [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
I’ve never climbed Everest. It’s a source of fascination to me, those who climb it, putting themselves through inhuman conditions just to achieve some personal glory. “Into Thin Air”, by Jon Krakauer, is one of my favorite books. It describes a slow-moving catastrophe among two guided tours attempting the summit. My father, and many others, see the climbers as selfish and vain. I see them as utilizing their bodies and minds so fully, so exhaustingly, so completely. How do they do it? It’s a marvel to me.
Last night, I felt like I was in the Death Zone (higher than 26,000 feet). “Extreme Fatigue” is one of the symptoms of Whooping Cough. Krakauer’s descriptions of altitude sickness: shallow breathing, coughing severe enough to break ribs, severe headaches. Check, check, check.
If I drag out this metaphor, if I was on Everest, I would have been a guide in charge of weaker, less experienced clients, or, the twins. They were miserable last night, and kept crying for food, water, bathroom help, anything, because they couldn’t sleep. For two hours I trudged through trying to give them what they needed until I finally collapsed on the floor in a near-swoon.
All I could think to do was say “help”. I’m not sure who it was directed at, but I said it over and over, as if in a meditative state. Part of me felt foolish, but I kept saying it for a few minutes. Then, I felt better. Not fully cured or anything, but well enough to convince the twins to fall asleep. (I guaranteed them, like George Zimmer, that they’d be able to sleep.)
Hmmm…I guess we’re all alone here, really, in the end. (Wouldn’t that make for an uplifting Hallmark card.) But maybe asking for help from the universe at large (or God, or whatever you believe) can help get us through our toughest times? Is that sappy?