Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmastravaganza + Lack of Oxygen

So despite the fact that we've been married five years, this is the first time Mr. McGee and I have had a Christmastravaganza where we visited BOTH families for the same holiday. I love everyone involved, but MAN do I feel for you guys who have to do this every year. It was exhausting. I don't really enjoy the process of traveling (I do like the "being other places" part, but not the getting there), and doing it over the holidays is of course extra difficult. Add to that that Mr. McGee's family is in Santa Fe, which means you have to drive from Peoria to somewhere with a major airport (Chicago), then fly to the nearest major airport to Santa Fe (Albuquerque), then drive to Santa Fe. Christmas travel between two minor cities is way annoying. We did, however, manage to get a direct ORD-ABQ flight, which hasn't happened in the past. A DFW layover would have made it superfantastically annoying. (Downside: the ORD-ABQ direct is on a Super-80, and Mr. McGee is clearly not built for a Super-80.)

Anyway, this is the third time in my life (possibly fourth, but I think third) that I've been above 5,000 feet, and the second time I've gotten altitude sick. (The first time was in Boulder, Colorado, at 5,430 feet.)

So Santa Fe is at about 7,000 feet (6,989 feet according to the USGS), and about 12 hours after arrival, I developed the most textbook case of altitude sickness ever (lack of appetite, extreme fatigue, dizziness, tingling, raging and endless headache). I know I've been much sicker (mono was a winner), but I'm not sure I've ever felt so comprehensively and systemically rotten, probably because I could even feel the headache in my sleep, and basically nothing made any of it feel any better, I guess because the root cause -- lack of oxygen -- remained constant. Luckily I recovered my appetite after a day or so, because my in-laws feed us GOOOOOOOOOD.

The craziest part of altitude sickness is that you can't predict who will get it, and whether you have or haven't had it in the past is absolutely no predictor of whether you'll suffer from it in the future! I could drop by La Paz, Bolivia (11,811 feet, highest capital in the world), tomorrow and be absolutely fine!

Anyway, I finally acclimated just about in time to drive back down the mountain to Albuquerque and fly to blessedly, blessedly low Chicago (586 feet) on Christmas Eve. And now I'm glad to be back in even lower Peoria (486 feet), though I'm staying the hell away from Peoria Heights from now on -- it's 789 feet above sea level, and I'm just not taking any chances!


B said...

Hmm a Super 80 and DFW in the same post...that means you were on American Airlines. Hope you didn't have to sit in the back of the S-80. Those engines are loud I recommend ear plugs for the continuing well being of your hearing.
As a member of multiple airline extra-super-special-platinum-ruby-meg alliance-vip you spend too much time in the air clubs holiday traveling is the worst so it is good that you survived.

As to altitude sickness:
Drink more water. Hydration is key. Also move slower and dedicate some conscious brain power to monitoring how deep you breathe.
3 days is the magic acclimation period for most but I take 4 (and I usually have none).

Eyebrows McGee said...

Hey, b, I lost your address -- send it via e-mail, stat!