Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Air Up Here

This week has been a flurry of activity. My parents were in town for several days to assist my sister with her kitchen remodeling project (detailed in Madame Foreperson), and Bryan and I spent a lot of time lending hands and sweat as well. And I do mean sweat. It has been warmer than normal for this time of year, already in the mid 90s. My parents departed Monday and I've been preparing for the next round of company. My sister-in-law Diane is arriving tomorrow with her husband and son. We're very much looking forward to their visit. I've been busily cleaning the house in preparation, all the chores I'd put off to work on Cara's kitchen have been pushed to the front burner. I've been dusting the sand that the winds have blown in, and cleaning the guest tub of the cat hair Winston has deposited there. In the heat he likes to lay on the cool tub surface. Unfortunately, his dark fur leaves tell-tale evidence of his respites there.

We're ready for their arrival, with lots of activities planned for their short visit. My main concern is their ability to handle the heat and the altitude. As I mentioned, it has already been warmer than normal. I don't mind
myself as the heat really doesn't bother me until we hit about 98. Then I feel it and get a bit cranky. But they may not adapt so easily, coming from the barely-thawed Upper Midwest. And I am also concerned about Altitude Sickness, since sea-level dwellers coming rapidly to a mile-high elevation often experience problems. Also referred to as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), the symptoms usually include shortness of breath and light-headedness. One medical website says, "Most people experience the symptoms of AMS in the first three days after arrival. The symptoms usually go away by the fourth day." Great, they'll be here for five days, so they will be acclimitized just in time to board the plane for home!

We had an in-your-face reminder of the ills of Altitude Sickness at Christmas when my brother turned wretchedly sick after a day of skiing, the combination of exertion, dehydration and high altitude proving miserable; he vomited, experienced muscle aches and weakness, and had chills. It was a potent reminder to us that the air we so take for granted really is thinner, and while we're used to it, I have been reminded that we, too have sometimes had to suck wind when hiking in the higher mountain ranges. So how much more the low-landers who will be arriving?

We'll have to take it easy on them for the first day, but after that they will need to acclimate; there are too many fun things to do and so little time. So Diane, if you're reading this, here is the medical advice for avoiding altitude sickness: rest up, start drinking lots of water now to stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and eat lots of carbs. Oh, and practice deep breathing. Remember, the air is thinner up here.

copyright 2005 Valerie Schneider


Geek Girl said...

Hiking in the mountains can definitely cause you to suck wind even when you're used to the mile high, but at least it is cooler up there!

Dr. S said...

It could just be that they'll go home and think about how much they enjoyed all the rest that they got during their visit to New Mexico! That's what's happened to some of our visitors.