Correcting Something That May Hold You Back

I finished a book the other day. It’s called “Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart” by Carrot Quinn (—).

It’s about a woman’s journey on the PCT in North America. A 26oo mile trail from the Southern Cali tip to the Canadian border. Going thru the hot desert to the moist, green state of Oregon and Washington.

In her journey, she meets new friends and a love interest. The book is not just about I hiked x amount of miles, it was ____ (sunny, rainy, cold, etc). She tells her journey like a story. You become interested into what will happen with Carrot next and whether or not she’d give up or make it thru.

This is not my first thru-hiking memoir that I have read. No, I did not read WILD. I did see the movie though. It gives me motivation to want to do something similar-just to prove to myself that I can do it.

I do have a medical condition. A hole in my heart. It’s not an uncommon one. It’s called a PFO (or patent forman ovale). It usually closes just before birth, sometimes it closes soon after. For many people, it does not close at all. This has never stopped me from doing something-after all, I did not know I had it until I was about 29. When I was being worked up for migraines. There is a study that females that experience migraines, there can be a correlation between migraines and holes in hearts. In order to figure this out-you have to have a Transesphogeal Echocardiogram (TEE). Mind you, through the years-when I’ve had doctor’s appointments and physicals, some providers noted hearing a murmur every now and again. In any case, the TEE shows a blue and red screen of oxygenated blood and de-oxygenated blood crossing where the hole is. I remember the TEE, you’re not sedated completely, you just have enough to relax you. The cardiologist did the testing, within a matter of seconds (miliseconds), the doctor noted that the blood was mixing. So much so that he brought over an ECHO tech to show him. Which I thought was weird, I would assume that the ECHO Tech would have seen this before.

Anyhow, usually a PFO doesn’t give you a lot of symptoms, some people-clearly-do not know they have it unless they get the TEE. In hindsight, I probably ALWAYS had the symptoms but I just never paid attention. I never really exercised a lot until recent years-I do get fatigued early, I do get beat red (almost like not being able to regulate me temp), I do get peripheral edema (swelling of the fingers and ankles/feet) when I walk a distance. Usually it does not need to be corrected. If it does, it is usually a simple procedure.

Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to walk/hike more and more. August 2014 I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I did not hike much before that, so when I did the 26 mile Inca Trail, it was a struggle. I sucked it up to not preparing well. This past July, I went to Japan and did Mt. Fuji. It was a day hike. Usually taking people 4-6 hours up, 3 hours down. It took me almost nine hours up. I was not dealing with altitude sickness, I did not experience a headache or nausea, etc. However, I’m putting things together and I do wonder if the altitude and the PFO combo-slowed my accomplishment. I was not IN PAIN doing My Fuji (like I was on day 3 of the Inca Trail) but just overall fatigue. My friend that was with me, at the end, suggested that maybe I should get it looked at and correct. She said “Paula, you’re so bound and determined at accomplishing something, I think this PFO hinders you more than you think.”

So I’m thinking about making a cardiology consultation.


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