How 76 hours and 40 minutes ordeal made me a Encourager?Rashi Bhargava
We humans are, by nature, self-centered creatures. From the moment we wake up to the time we retire to bed, we only think of ourselves, our challenges, our problems. I have been none different. For the last 6 months, I was consumed with my battles, my training, my work. Come April, it was time for me to deliver. Packed my bags for the last assault in the Land of Lamas, Ladakh. Date of the last assault was 30th April,2022 where with my other running comrades I will run in 11k category. Journey from 5k to 11k was out of my comfort zone, especially what all I had experienced during these grueling 6 months.
Fever, back pain, headaches, knee injury, low BP, dizziness, work challenge and you name it. I saw it all, sometimes with a smile and sometimes with tears in my eyes, asking God, Why Me?
Landed in Leh at 8:30am on 16th of April,2022 with a big smile, Cobalt blue sky tantalizing me to the core 😊. Picturesque Ladakh is often on the bucket list of avid travelers. And I was no different. Somehow just didn’t have the courage to plan a trip to the Land of Lamas where the terrain makes it difficult for even fittest of travelers to travel. Ladakh is a high-altitude cold desert with low oxygen levels. Acclimatization is the key. LaUltra April 2022 gave me the perfect opportunity to fulfill my travel bucket list.
For 11k category it was mandatory to arrive a week before the date of the run. To acclimatize well, I was there 14 days before, to give myself a lot of time to adjust to the unfamiliar terrain. The first few hours were okay. But soon high-altitude sickness hit me. And by no time I was experiencing migraine like a headache, loss of appetite, fatigue and feverish feeling. By evening, my body was so weak that lifting a glass was also a challenge. Just 48 hours before I was doing deadlifts with 16kg kettle bell 😊
The best of plans fails, experienced it firsthand. I was going entirely by the rule book. I don’t have the courage to dissect and analyze what went wrong. Human body is complex. I just couldn’t acclimatize in 3 days and the headache didn’t stop. The journey that began with excitement and smile ended in a lot of pain. It was an ordeal which I will remember all my life. An ordeal that lasted 76 hours and 40 minutes.
My LaUltra campaign ended when the local doctor came to check on me at 9:30pm. My oxygen levels were dangerously low, oximeter showed 40, BP was 160/100, I was breathless. Hadn’t eaten for almost 3 days. Alone in my room undergoing oxygen therapy, with my running Mom Jo talking to me on video WhatsApp call, I took the brave decision to quit.
The night was one of the longest nights. Praying and taking oxygen that I leave Ladakh in one-piece 😊Last two years started flashing. How near ones, known and unknown people, had struggled to gasp for breath. Shortage of oxygen and hospital beds had compounded the problem. At least I was fortunate that I was staying on a property which was well equipped. Oxygen cylinder was available. A local doctor came to check on me within 30 minutes’ notice. I had so much to be grateful for. From my Buddhist faith perspective that night, I received a lot of protection and I had Buddha’s wisdom to decide to return rather than let ego come in between.
Health comes first and I am not one of those who loves to give stress to my folks back home. Decision was easy, based on my prayers and daimoku, but living the brave call for the next few days will not be easy as I see the frenzy and excitement of other participants.
As I relax and recover from the ordeal and nightmarish experience, I am thinking I have two choices. One is to crib and cry for such a painful end to my 6 months of hard work or I use my pain as a springboard to encourage other runners and pat my back that my journey itself was the destination. Ladakh will come again. This is the time to applaud my amazing journey, how far I had come.
My 11k campaign may have ended on a grim note but my journey was amazing, fit enough to be made a Bollywood potboiler 😉 After all, so much investment in terms of time, energy and money had gone into this.
So instead of crying and spending hours in self-pity, I decided what I do best, become a self-appointed Chief Encourager and use my doodling skills to keep everyone in high spirits. In last two days since my return, I have made 15 doodles for my running comrades. Needless to say they are a hit so much so that I am getting requests on personal chat for making one for them. Majority of the runners are strangers to me, the only common thread being running and LaUltra. This entire exercise is helping me heal and recuperate from my ordeal.
When you lift others, your life state automatically gets lifted. When we strive to support others, we also uncover, polish and expand our own compassion, empathy and humanity. As we encourage the next person standing to us, the sun rises within us.
When was the last time you encouraged someone?
As we walk through life in a broken world, encouragement is an essential skill. Are you willing and equipped to do this in the lives of others?