My Love Affair with the Mountains

Blog Post from My Journey with Familial Hypercholesterolemia and Heart Disease

I grew up in the mountains, more or less. My parents lived in a hilly city, but during all the school breaks, we lived with family in the mountains, on a farm. I have always loved them. There is hardly any place on this planet more peaceful than a mountain crossed by a trickling spring, at sunset.

Ever since I can remember, I wanted to live in the mountains full time. To me, smelling the pines, lumber, seeing the patterns their spines make against the sunset is pure health and happiness. And for the past 6 years, this dream became reality and I live in The Rockies now.

However, since I got older and my heart was getting weaker, the mountains took my breath away quite literally. Altitude bothered me, more and more. Activities hurt my chest more. I would last very little if I hiked a steep hill or if I walked a brisk walk. Even on a high altitude drive, I would struggle for air, sometimes. A small part of me still wonders if my heart didn’t get sicker sooner, just because I live at altitude now.

After my surgery this February, I wondered how altitude will affect me further, or at least how it will affect me now, while I am still recovering. And this weekend, I pushed the limit a little, and we took a mountain drive, where we had to pass over a mountain that was over 8000 ft. I think my paranoia and nervousness was the worst of it. My heart did fine.

I made it!
I made it!

We did not hike, so it was just a drive in the rarefied air of the peaks, but I never had angina and did not become out of breath, like I thought I was going to. I was so happy and grateful once I made it to that one peak. A huge relief doubled by a great feeling of accomplishment overwhelmed me. It energized me for at least another month or so while I muddle through this recovery, still, numb nerves and wacky heart numbers and all.

My long weekend has been very busy, with gardening, chores, cookout, the drive I mentioned all packed tightly in, and I am quite drained. But my heart did not pop out of my chest when I crossed over that mountain. And I made it back on solid ground unharmed.

I wish to all of you many peaks to climb and many milestone to achieve. Life is possible when you stick with it.

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Blog Post by A.W.

About this Blog
In this blog I will follow my everyday journey of living with familial hypercholesterolemia (or FH). I am sharing my own experience with this inherited disorder, and how I manage it daily – from what literature I read on the topic and what my doctors say to how I live my life (what I eat, what medicine I take, how I exercise, etc). This is solely a personal account that might or might not offer some insight on what to expect when diagnosed with this condition. This blog does not offer advice, in any way, to anyone suffering from this disease.

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