Day 27 – 7 May – Pain pain go away…
The day I arrived in the festering flea pit of Tashyzom at 4200m in an effort to try and recover from Pulmonary edema, my front tooth started to become very painful. I had left basecamp in a hurry to drive the 2 hours down to Tashyzom, and hence had packed very minimally. The only medicine I had was toothpaste, 6 panadol, some toilet paper and a strip of strepsils. After some remote consultations by email (thanks to Dughal and Marie Aitken), we were pretty sure it was an abscess. As the closest dentist was a few days drive away in Kathmandu, the only practical option was to control the abscess with penicillin (which was back up at basecamp).
The length of my stay in Tashyzom therefore became a trade-off between staying at the lower elevation long enough to recover from Pulminary edema, as to how long I could withstand the pain from my abscessing tooth and also how long I could remain in Tashyzom without getting food poisoning.
The answer to the above question was 3 days and nights. By the 3rd day I had used up all my panadol and it was no longer strong enough to control the pain. I had tried David Lim’s homemade recipe of holding strepsils to the infected gum area without sucking them and leaving them there as long as possible. I had developed diarrhea which was no surprise. I cannot begin to describe the filth of Tashyzom. Attached below is a photo of the toilet. If you wipe your backside with dirt and then cook someone dinner without washing your hands then its only a matter of time before they will get sick.
A highlight of my stay in Tashyzom was on the second day when I decided to go for a walk down the road and came across about 20 snotty nosed school kids who after requesting money (and not getting any from me) then pelted me with Yak shit. Between this, the filth and not being able to sleep at all during night-time due to the wild dogs barking and fighting incessantly I was pretty happy to getting out of the place.
After making contact with basecamp on day 3 to let them know I needed to get back urgently, I was informed that the only way I could get back that day was on a motorbike as all the 4WD vehicles were busy. So for 3 bumpy and dusty hours I sat on the back of a small 150CC chinese motorbike as it bounced its way up to basecamp. Every jolt was soothing to my face, kind of like someone sticking a red-hot needle into my tooth and jaw. I was happy to reach basecamp.
As fast as I dropped my pack at basecamp I dived into a course of Amoxycillin. I had been told this would probably not take effect for 24 – 36 hours. By now the pain had started to make it difficult to concentrate on other more positive things in life. I woke up yesterday morning with a fever and spent the entire day in my tent running hot and cold and dozing on and off while sucking painkillers and praying to my Amoxycillin tablet every 8 hours as I chewed it down to please start working soon.
Never have I been more glad of small white pill’s than this morning when I woke up. The incessant shooting pain in my jaw has gone to be replaced by pain only when I touch the tooth. I also am over the fever and for the first time could start to think about the future.
I had a long talk with Jamie (team leader) this morning and I told him that I want to try again to re-ascend. Based on advice from Jamie, my independent research and also from a doctor in New Zealand, I realise the risks are high for developing pulmonary edema again upon re-ascent. Therefore any re-ascent needs to be carefully controlled, I need to listen to my body very carefully and at the first sign of any problem come down. I also cannot afford to be by myself and must have support with me, in terms of someone who will be carrying oxygen. Thus we will try to minimize the risk as much as possible, as if it does happen again, it will be more severe than the first time and I will need immediate assistance to get down asap. It will really be one step at a time, ascend camp by camp and see how I feel at each camp.
So that’s the situation at present – I have not set a date to re-ascend – however it maybe tomorrow or the next day. The last few days have really been a miserable and stressful time. Thinking and planning the re-ascent is also a nerve-wracking experience. I know the risks. Its my decision ultimately. I pray my body will support my decision.
I have to say a huge thank you after my last blog to all the people who sent me comments and messages. I read and savor every single message and they do an enormous effort in terms of boosting my morale. In my weakest hours it’s this support (and Amoxycillin!) that I have needed the most. A special thanks to Blair and Phillipa, Greg Moore, Linda, Helen, David Lim, Tom and Barclay, Dr Terri Bidwell and Dughall and Marie Aitken. And to Stephanie – sorry for putting you through this worry, as you say, maybe I am due for some good luck soon.
Over and out from Everest Basecamp at 5150m