Noah and I went back to the very spot we got married in Yosemite National Park to mark our 5-year wedding anniversary. When taking trips, I constantly hope that my health will cooperate and I won’t have any medical “hiccups” that will alter our plans. I’m sure other patients share the same sentiments. However, I will never live in a bubble—my desire to experience and soak in life as much as possible is far too strong for that.
Yosemite is one of those places where its beauty is hard to describe and, I believe, can only be felt. It is our favorite place. Its gigantic granite cliffs are awe-inspiring. Once you are in it, the park completely engulfs you in a surreal world of peace and inspiration. There were many times when we had trouble taking in the magnificent beauty before us.
The first evening we arrived, there was a full moon. We stood in the valley of Yosemite and watched the moon rise. The moonbeams shone bright upon El Capitan, a vertical rock formation that extends about 3,000 feet from base to summit. It is one of the world’s favorite challenges for rock climbers. We saw lights sparkling on El Capitan from the rock climber’s headlights. It was magical as it looked like there were stars on the granite rock. When the moon was in full sight, the entire valley lit up. It was incredible.
The next day was our anniversary and we went to Glacier Point, where Noah and I got married. It was really special to return to this spot five years after exchanging vows there. I treasure experiences like these because I know that with the good days, come the challenging ones.
The following day we were walking around the perimeter of the Ahwahnee Hotel, now named Majestic Yosemite Hotel, where we had dinner the evening we got married. I was feeling fine and enjoying the delightful day when all of a sudden I became very dizzy and had trouble breathing. I sat on the nearest rock and told Noah how I was feeling. My symptoms quickly worsened and I moved to a sitting position on the ground with my back against a tree. I kept feeling worse and then got a sensation that I was either going to pass out or have a seizure. I immediately laid flat on the ground. Noah kept encouraging me to take good, deep breaths. He later told me that during this time period I had lost all color in my face and my lips and eyelids were blue. My body must have given me a good dose of adrenaline to keep me awake, and soon I started to catch my breath.
At this point, I was quite scared and lying on the ground wondering what had just happened. Did I have a seizure? Did I pass out? What was going on? I tried to sit up and again lost all color in my face. Noah helped move me off the dirt ground onto the grass. I had to stay lying down because of how dizzy and disoriented I was. Eventually, once I was somewhat comfortable, Noah left to get a soda, salted peanuts and a chocolate bar. We wanted to get salt and sugar in me in hopes of helping me feel better. This wound up helping a bit, enough for Noah to go get the car. We went back to our hotel room and rested the remainder of the day, as I didn’t feel like myself. Noah and I are questioning if it was a combination of my side effects from my blood pressure meds, combined with being at a higher elevation, low blood sugar from not eating enough and maybe a little dehydration. Regardless, this health hiccup happened abruptly and gave us a reality check.
In a second our day changed. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to me at a less than ideal time. However, as always, we made the best of it. I commented that if I were to pass out or have a seizure and have to lie flat on my back for a while, I couldn’t have picked a better location. I was in the valley of Yosemite, which has an elevation of about 4,000 feet, looking up at the granite cliffs and gorgeous surroundings. We went back to the hotel, had some great conversations, ordered dinner in and ate on our patio overlooking the Merced River.
How do I stay positive when my health changes in a second? I focus on the positives of the day. One of my favorite parts was thanks to Noah. When Noah went to get me snacks to help with my blood sugar level, there were three chocolate bars at the counter: one said “happy,” another said “blah,” and the last one said, “sad.” He bought the “blah” chocolate bar to be ironic and hopefully make me smile and it sure did. While eating the chocolate bar, Noah said, “We don’t have time for sadness.” I said, “You are so right, no we don’t.”
The following morning, I was so grateful when I woke up. I went out on our patio, looked at the picturesque Merced River, listened to the soothing water, felt the warm sun on my face and was ready to fight and face whatever the new day would bring.
Have you ever had a health hiccup while traveling? If so, how did you try to handle it positively?