When you can’t take part, however much you want to

I’m currently sitting at breakfast with a view of Mount Kinabalu in Kinabalu National Park, Borneo, Sabah region. It’s slightly cloudy but going to be warm until it no doubt rains later this afternoon at some point. Torrential rain. The weather is very unpredictable here.

We booked this trip just before I got my diagnosis and picked this particular trip because of the trek. We wanted something challenging and climbing a mountain at 4095.2m definitely would be. However once I got my diagnosis I decided to pull out of the trek as I didn’t know how my body would react to a steep 6km climb for many hours, at altitude with sometimes freezing conditions, and then a 2am final ascent of 2km the following morning to reach the summit at sunrise. Followed closely by the complete descent. The lady at the tour company who I asked for advice who had done the trek said she is really fit but found it really challenging. Decision made.

Sitting here now I’ve accepted this more. Yesterday was hard because I was there during the briefing and experienced changing emotions; it’s only 6km on the first day, I can do that; oh wait it’s really steep the whole way….and it’s at altitude. Then I watched the group prepare and leave in the bus that took them to the starting point, 5km uphill from reception. It wasn’t just the knowledge of being alone for 30 hours, in a strange place and in a lodge here I might be the only person (turns out I had company with most rooms being occupied and I met a lovely Australian woman who couldn’t complete the ascent). It was the feeling that I had failed. I have always pushed myself; completing half marathons, running that little bit quicker in training, testing myself mentally by learning a new skill for example. But with this illness I can no longer push myself in this way. I thought I had accepted that but watching them all leave to accomplish a real challenge was heart wrenching. It doesn’t help that we all get on really well although we have only been together for a few days!

So now I’m sitting here not knowing exactly when I might see them all and be able to give my husband a massive bear hug. It could be 12.30 or 2pm or even later. It’s a waiting game.

But at least I am confident that I can enjoy the rest of the tour fully. I’ve also been able the explore the park a little and read my book too. Surprisingly, I’ve been pretty low on my scale, despite no sleep on the flights over and a 7 hour time difference (We travelled easy too). Fingers crossed we will see orangutans, turtles, pygmy elephants and proboscis monkeys! Also with the way I’ve been feeling, and if this continues, it means I we can keep travelling and doing similar trips! So I think I can sacrifice not climbing 1 mountain when it means I can experience so much more of the world still; not just on this trip but on so many others. We just won’t be able to climb any mountains together for the foreseeable future!

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