Breathing at altitude

Coming out of surgery, the nurse shaking me awake to tell me to breathe, I guess I had stopped breathing. I have always been a shallow breather.  In the mountains there are quite a few cafe’s that offer beer, espresso and oxygen.  At the corner stores they sell Boost which is 150 puffs of oxygen in a can.  There is even an IV clinic that will hydrate you with a bag of fluids and oxygen at the same time.   My fiance is quite fit and has a huge lung capacity.  He has been quite an athlete in his life running triathlons and is an avid skier.

Here in the mountains he is struggling with breathing. He has decided to go to the IV clinic today called Vida-flo.  He was looked after by an emergency nurse, that also works at the IV hydration clinic.  She told him that altitude sickness only occurs above 8,600 ft. He got a bag of saline with B9, B12, B6, Zinc, Vit C, Zofran, famotidine, Glutathione, Vit D and Toradol for his headache.  All this was accompanied by oxygen for 45 minutes.  He says he feels great.  Only in America would they offer all your vitamins by IV for $50. If you went into an American emergency room for an IV and oxygen it would be hundreds of dollars. It makes me wonder how sir Edmond Hillary coped with the altitude when he climbed Everest?

I was interested in a more holistic approach to assist me in adjusting to the altitude.  We went to  a place called Viva Float which provides isolation float tanks filled with 1,000lbs of dissolved magnesium.  Floating weightless is supposed to do the following: Increases oxygen flow, Strengthens the immune system, Improves sleep, Eliminates fatigue and jet lag, Alleviates stress (mental and physical), and  alleviate problematic respiratory symptoms.  Sounds good. We arrived, got a tour and showered for 10 minutes with two cleansers before getting into the float tank.  You had a choice of red light, blue light, white light or blackout.

After floating in the dark for 60 minutes I felt completely relaxed, almost in a stoned state.  My skin felt buffed like I had ex-foliated everywhere.  I felt peaceful and content.  That night I slept for 12 hours, which I have not done in years and years.  My fiance struggled with the float tank, he had trouble breathing in the enclosed space and in the water.

I am surprised how well my body has adapted to altitude.  I have no trouble breathing perhaps because I am such a shallow breather that my body is used to less oxygen. Even as a baby I remember being in my mother’s womb and the doctors “turned me” because I was feet first.  We were living in Malaysia at the time, and health care was antiquated.  Now doctors never turn babies because of the health risks.   At the time of birth I had the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck 5 times, because of being turned.  I was blue at the time of birth.  My father said he put his fingers under the cords so I could breathe.  I remember misinterpreting his actions-that he was trying to kill me.

I came into this world almost dead and breathless.   There are some theories that your breath represents your trust in life.  Those who are shallow breathers don’t have a full trust in life or the world.

In my 20’s I learned conscious connected breath work.  This is  a way to deepen your breath and unearth stress and patterns. Conscious connected breath works on the principle that there is a direct connection between mental and physical well-being and the openness of the breathing. Relaxing and releasing the breath dissolves tension in both the body and the mind. It was a profound experience being coached in breath work.  I had flashbacks to the womb and also before being born.  Flying over my mother as a spirit and choosing her because she would provide the most lessons to me, and that I could bring her love that she so desperately needed at the time.  I felt vibrated in as a soul to my mother.

Wild Women

Wild adventurous spirit in the mountains

The woman here are not your average women.  They are strong, independent and push the boundaries.  Gloria Steinem’s new book My life on the road talks about the women and men she met traveling across America.  She should have come up here to this American mountain town.  The women are true adventurers As one local said “you think you are a tough man, there is always a tougher woman”.   He is right.

While swimming at the recreation centre just outside Breckenridge I met a “mountain woman” she is 20 years old and living in her car, throughout the winter.  She has a good job and earns $1,500 a week, and chooses to live in her car.  I asked her about her daily routine;  she said she drives around, goes to work.  She has a membership at the recreation centre, she works out and then does her shower.  She said she does not let herself shower, if she does not work out, that is her one rule, because she eats out every day.

I asked about what how she gets through the night?  She said she locks the doors and keeps the car running throughout the night. She has a Honda accord and it is great on gas. She spends about $300 a month living in her car.

It seems in this gorgeous mountain town there are more jobs than there is places to live. A bedroom in a shared house averages $1,000  if you can find one.  It seems there is an underground population working day jobs, living in cars, and heated garages.  I asked her why people would put up with that.  She said “just to be here, this is a magical place”.  The woman here are defiantly not the norm, and I admire them.

I think back to when I was 20.  I was doing what was expected, going to college to get a degree.  I would have been too scared to break out on my own, much less travel by myself and live in a car.  Only since my husband’s death 8 years ago,  did I decide that I was fed up with waiting for others to travel with.   I remember a time when I was planning a south american trip with a girlfriend, and she cancelled because of her partner.  I distinctly remember the feeling that I could wait the rest of my life for a travel companion, or I could break out on my own and just travel.   So I did, and I have been traveling alone ever since.

Part of me wishes I had this adventurous spirit at 20.  What would I have done if I had bucked expectations and gone on a wild adventure 30 years ago?

Love in the Mountains

Love will take you to some very strange places.

I always imagined I would be at sea level owning a cafe on the beach in South America.

Now I am living in the Colorado mountains at 10,000 feet and adjusting to life here.

My blog is about all things living at altitude. My experiences and adjustments as a foreigner living in the USA at a time when politics are charged and people are polarized.

Enough politics, what about more important things, like how to stay feminine and warm.

Seriously how do you dress in the cold?  How can you still feel like a woman in a mountain town?  I am in a new marriage and want to keep our attraction fresh.  There is nothing attractive about a big puffy 800 fill down jacket!

One local here at daylight doughnuts said “if you think you are a tough older man, there is always a tougher older woman”.


I  am determined to make this work?

Do you ever feel like you are in a movie version of your life?