Altitude is something I’ve always associated with professional sports and athletes. This casual truism made Ethiopians and Kenyans great marathon runners; it gave the Denver Nuggets a slight edge; it is a topic of conversation for those going to Machu Picchu; and the reason why there is a base camp for those wanting to climb Mount Everest. Never in a million years would I consider it a factor for Joe Schmo relaxing around and doing touristy things in Bogota.
I’ve spent the past few days huffing an puffing while, as Schwarzenegger would say, engaging in “girly” activities such as long walks through the park and shopping. Having to take deep breath while marginally active is a new concept for me so, I did some soul searching and considered the fact I may be a little more out of shape than I would like to think. Then I did some Google searching. Turns out Bogota, in terms of altitude, is 4th highest city in the world (2,625 m or 8,612 ft)
Add the fact that we just spent 3 days in Mexico city (the 8 highest city) and there is your culprit. Apparently after the body reaches around 2,100 m (7,000 feet) above sea level, saturation of oxyhemoglobin begins to plummet–> Oh shit there ain’t as much oxygen in your blood cells- you need that shit to live and make energy! Now I didn’t stop there. As anyone in this position with high speed internet would, I continued hoping from page to page trying to find out just how deep this rabbit hole is. Fuck. It looks like I may have high-altitude pulmonary edema.
The symptoms are clear:
– Difficulty breathing
– Chest tightness or congestion
– Crackles or wheezing (while breathing)
** Side note: Just told my wife, Libby, about my self diagnosis and she laughed in my face. **
On a more positive note, according to emedicine.medscape.com (here), I should be fine hopefully with some rest and a decent of only 500-1000 m. Things are looking up, since tomorrow morning we fly out to Cartagena, Columbia with altitude= sea level. Until then, I’ll keep a close eye on my situation.