They didn’t know, Erika, Jenny, Rey and especially Liza (we did the most hikes with Liza). Our guides, didn’t know how nervous I was at the start of the week. I wanted to hike. I had worked hard so that I could hike, but I was still worried that hiking would cause an episode. An episode that although would not cause me terrible physical harm, would most certainly bring on crushing feelings of defeat.
The two incidents of shortness of breath that lead to my diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension (a rare, incurable, progressive condition that damages the heart and lungs) happened while I was hiking. (you can read my diagnosis story here)
I didn’t ask the usual questions at my first appointment at the University of Penn’s Pulmonary Hypertension Center. I had just one question,
“Am I going to be able to hike?”
I won a trip to Panama/Costa Rica with Uncruise Adventures. I knew that a lot of the “adventure” included hiking, and although you don’t have to do the hikes on the trip (there are plenty of activities to choose from), I desperately wanted to hike in the rain forest. Hiking has always been one of my favorite travel activities.
To my great relief, my doctor said that since I was diagnosed early, and my condition had not significantly, negatively, progressed, there was a good chance I would be able to hike as long I wasn’t going to hike at high altitudes.
The main thing I needed was medication, so I started taking Sildenafil. I added a medication app to my phone so I would be sure not to miss a dose.
I started eating even healthier than I did before.
Although I did exercise before, it wasn’t on a consistent basis. I now make exercising, using strength based exercises and yoga, a priority in my day (thanks to the Sworkit app). I exercise to keep my heart muscle strong and to maintain physical stamina.
Although I did a “test run” in the fall, climbing up the Cape May Lighthouse stairs, and that went well,
I knew I wouldn’t know for sure how hiking would go until I was actually hiking, and oh did we hike.
We hiked a lot.
We hiked everyday.
I didn’t take a single second of those hikes for granted.
Thanks to my medicine, I was able to hike with no issues at all. Not even an inkling of getting out of breath. It felt like a miracle.
Now with that being said, I opted for the moderate hikes. They did offer challenger hikes that had steeper climbs involved, but I thought it was wise not to press my fortune.
I know that the guides and my new travel friends had no idea of the lightness of my soul or how every step left me with overflowing gratitude.
I felt like the warrior I have promised to be while facing the challenge of my rare medical condition.
I don’t know what the future will bring, but in the moments of this adventure in Panama and Costa Rica , each day I completed a hike was a triumph.
Thanks to our Uncruise hiking guides Jenny, Erika, Rey and Liza, for making everyday exciting, informative, and fun. Thanks to Chris at Uncruise for fielding my daily questions about the terrain of each hike. Thanks to my doctors, particularly the team at Penn Medicine’s Pulmonary Hypertension Center for assisting me in having a fabulous adventure.
If you’re looking for a fun travel community to be a part of, check out the Weekend Wanderlust Facebook Group