My google photos app reminded me that I went on a wonderful adventure a year ago today. It wasn’t what I expected at all. I was working as an Auxiliar or teaching assisntant in Spain, and some coworkers had asked me if I was interested in doing a little hiking on Saturday. I didn’t realize I would be climbing the highest peak in Malaga.
Reaching the peak of La Maroma (or La Tejeda) was a huge achievement for me. When we started the morning I felt like it was no big deal. I was with a group of teachers, coworkers from the school that I didn’t know all that well considering how long I had been working there. In the beginning we were just walking and talking and I really enjoyed the conversation and the company.
As the hours passed and the altitude increased though, I found myself lagging farther and farther behind the group. I was by far the youngest one hiking but I was not the most fit. I was really excited about the experience but there were multiple moments where I felt a bit of cataplexy could mean certain death. I was nervous and not ready to explain to my companions what was plaguing me. I let them assume that it was just the difficulty of the hike, which was completely believable.
I wasn’t surprised at all to complete the climb thanks to the incredible encouragement of two women in the group. One was leading the trail but still made time to come back and check on me along the way. She was so encouraging and positive. While normally I would have felt like a pain in the ass to the group, she made sure I was comfortable and that I didn’t feel like I was inconveniencing anyone.
Toward the end of the hike I was really struggling to feel my feet and kept having to steady myself and try to fight the weakness in my knees. The views were incredible. We could see snowcapped mountains and in the distance, the sea. We were happily chatting along the way about different trips we wanted to complete and we found we both had a passion for Africa. We talked about this as the wind got colder and colder and we put on winter coats to break the wind.
When we finally reached the summit, I had no idea the challenge had only just begun. As soon as I sat down to enjoy some lunch, the world started to spin. Whether it was caused by the altitude, or the effort, or if it was just a bad day for me, I don’t know. But I didn’t want my new friends to know just how uncomfortable I was. I generally have only had mild cataplexy but I had never tried to push through the feeling the way I had to that day.
Everyone had brought food to eat and were chatting and passing it around. They had even carried up wine to share. But my ketogenic diet was just another issue to add to this complicated day. I excused myself and left the group to throw up. I had brought cheese, nuts, and jamon, the Spanish cured ham that is so famous and so convenient for keto dieters.
When it was time to descend, I was still greeted with tons of support from my new friends. It was even more difficult going down than coming up and I was fighting nausea and a headache on top of the tingling limbs. I used tapping, but only on the side of my hand because I was too shy to share with my new friend what I was doing. It helped clear the fear and let me focus on the task at hand. When the hike was over, I felt like I had accomplished something HUGE and was feeling incredibly inspired by how I had overcome these difficulties.
After that experience, I think I became more invested in taking care of my physical body. I realized I had neglected it for quite some time and I still want to climb more mountains in my lifetime! I started doing a bit of yoga and continued hiking and walking more than I had before. It was a great experience for me and I still think of that day often.
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