Monday, February 17, 2020

Addressing The (Sick) Elephant in the Room

"You can't put a price tag on preparation for a pandemic."
- Richard E. Besser

I've received a ton of comments about the Wuhan flu and its potential impact on my trip.  Believe me, I'm keeping a watchful eye on the the spread and for any progress (or lack of) for a treatment as the days tick by.  The truth is it could completely shut me down and there's nothing I can do about it.  It's especially frustrating because I have trained hard and painstakingly planned every detail and yet I'm potentially shut down by a germ.

Everest from South Base Camp 1
From a travel perspective, I can still fly because I am not flying into or out of China.  However, upon return, I will have a Chinese stamp from Tibet in my passport and as such, could potentially find myself being denied entry back into the U.S. and quarantined in Philadelphia.   Worse than that would be my being prohibited to leave Kathmandu for Doha.  The absolute worst case would be my being denied entry back into Nepal and finding myself stuck at the Nepali/Tibetan border in the middle of nowhere.  I am relying on my Nepali contact for advice because he has to deal with bike rental availability and the approved Tibetan escorts.  Indeed, he has more as stake than I do and has been very forthcoming.  One option we have discussed is keeping the trip confined to Nepal or perhaps riding into India.  The India option would require some State Department hoop-jumping for a visa, but it could be done.  Truth is, there is plenty of challenging terrain and interesting culture in Nepal and the south Mount Everest base camp is accessible without entering Tibet.

Part of me says, screw it. Just go.  I'm healthy and being aware of the environment and of the symptoms is a key to staying that way.  But the primary Coronavirus symptoms are headaches and dizziness, which happen to be the same as altitude sickness.  If I'm taking my Diamox prescription and have sufficiently conditioned with my training mask, I shouldn't face those symptoms.  But what if I do?  Did I not train enough?  Is mine one of the body types for which Diamox doesn't work?  Or have I been infected.  Even if I were infected, rapid recognition and immediate treatment have proven to be effective.  But that's in the States and other modernized countries.  I will be spending three weeks in the third and fourth world.  Thanks, China.  This really blows.

I believe that by May, we will either have an inoculation and treatment, or we'll all be infected and those of us who are not will be in hiding; staying off of airplanes and other confined mass transit.  Whatever the case, my plan is to continue to train and work as if there's no threat whatsoever and try not to lose sleep over it.