Have you ever had a physical injury limit your hiking or walking? How did you handle the news? Where did you go for help? What helped you recover? Have you ever had a change in your health status?
My heart is malfunctioning. I have to wear a Holter monitor for two weeks while we try to figure out why I am stuck in high gear when I exercise. This sucks. More testing will lead the doctor to guide me or be able to fix me. What if there is no fixing this? An ‘episode’ occurred trudging through snow at high altitude in January 2021, I was scared. My heart beats per minute BPM were at 156 (Normal peak high for my age is 140), and the Beats Per Minute did not “recover” to 80 BPM until three hours later when I was lying down at lower altitude. It should take fifteen minutes or so to recover to normal BPM.
My resting or sleep BPM has increased by living at altitude 6,000 feet in Colorado Springs, and that worried me as well. The limitations imposed by the Cardiologist were strong: “Do not get your heart rate of 120 BPM for two weeks. If you are exercising or hiking or walking, do not get your heart rate over 120 BPM. Record any symptoms such as pain in your arm, shortness of breath, light headed feeling or fainting.”
I returned for a hike to high altitude (8,975 feet) the day after my doctor appointment. I had to walk the speed of my old dog in order to maintain the lower heart rate. Not much fun, but neither is a heart attack or stroke. Lower altitudes (6,000 feet) meant I could walk a bit faster, but no climbing or I approached that 120 BPM boundary very quickly. What does this mean for me?
“O Lord, help me again! Keep showing me such mercy. For I am in anguish, always in tears, and I’m worn out with weeping. I’m becoming old because of grief; my health is broken.
I’m exhausted! My life is spent with sorrow, my years with sighing and sadness.
Because of all these troubles, I have no more strength. My inner being is so weak and frail.” Psalms 31: 9-10 The Passion Translation
Adjustment. Adaptability. Acceptance.
I want to live fully so I must adjust to this changing landscape of my heart and try to get answers for an active life. Adapting to a slower pace means re-working my exercise schedule to give myself more time to “smell the roses.” Acceptance that my high altitude climbs may be over, and that I will have memories to sustain me.
I will still walk. Hike. Enjoy life. I remind myself of every blessing I have seen and experienced in hiking all 50 states in the USA and in other countries. I can still walk 500 to 2000 miles per year. Slowly.