I was hiking in the Himalaya Mountains for about 8 days when this scaring experience happened. What are you doing when you wake up at 5,360 m in the mountains and you feel absolutely like shit plus you are by yourself ? I share what happened and what I did…
What happened ?
Today, I woke up really early feeling absolutely like crap – a headache first, so I took a pill against it and went back to sleep. I felt better when I woke up again – no more headache at least.
Will breakfast make me feel better ?
It was a rest and chill out day and for the first time, I got myself a small pot of mint tea and a bowl of noodle soup. I thought having something that hot would be good and some pasta would give me some energy.
Instead of feeling better after some tea and breakfast, I had to stop eating and drinking because I suddenly felt really ill and my stomach went all crazy – so remember when I woke up feeling a little bit bad, everything got worse after feeling good again.
The signs of altitude sickness and my experience
I know it’s disgusting but I feel like sharing this bad experience. I had to vomit and had terrible diarrhea–signs of altitude sickness, which is dangerous and can lead to death at such a high altitude !
I got to a stage where I thought I would black out. Things got crazy and worse and I was all by myself and didn’t know what to do anymore. All of a sudden I also broke into shivers, which made everything worse because a hundred blankets could not have helped me to feel warm – it was a nightmare and not a single caring person around. I thought in my head: Mum, where are you ? At the end, I couldn’t walk anymore and a sudden feeling of faintness kicked in.
The people from the lodge asked me over and over “You want us to call you a helicopter to get rescued ?” I was unsure what to do and whether my insurance would cover such a case and so I luckily paid to be connected to Wi-Fi and called my best friend to ask him to check with the insurance company for me.
They kept asking me, which kind of annoyed me a little bit because I wasn’t sure whether they wanted to help me or whether they wanted to rip me off. After some time, he got back to me, telling me it should be fine. I had an inner conflict because I didn’t want my trekking to end like this. I still had so many plans ahead and mountain passes I really wanted to cross. Did I really fail my challenge? I was so sad and so ill. What to do? I couldn’t ask anyone for advice. I was the one who had to make the decision – right there on the spot. It was a hard decision but in the best interest of my health, I decided to call the helicopter, which they told me would cost 5,000 USD. I had 15 minutes, according to the owner of the lodge to get my luggage ready and go outside, but I didn’t feel like doing anything at all, so they were nice and helped me. I was still unsure whether it was the right decision and for a moment, I was completely taken aback. What if ?! hmm…
After 15 minutes and being carrying to the pickup spot, a long wait began of what I didn’t know at the time was two hours – outside on the floor. Two hours of sitting, actually lying on the ice cold ground, in windy weather. Luckily, they brought me a big blanket to wrap myself in.
After two hours, someone screamed the helicopter is coming and a little smile came to my mouth; I was thankful to be safe soon. I was able to focus on this amazing experience, flying with the helicopter through the Himalaya Mountains, tears going down my face because I was sad for having to leave such a beautiful place, but then I passed out.
Arriving at the heliport at the hospital in Kathmandu
I woke up before landing on the heliport on the roof of Vayodha Hospital in Kathmandu, where the doctors and nurses were already awaiting me. When getting into the lift some voice behind me said, “Don’t worry, you are in good hands !” I thought, “Oh really ?” Such a cliché, right ? From the very first moment, they put me onto a drip.
Hospital in Nepal
At first they put me in the emergency room to ask what happened and did some tests. They gave me some water but that didn’t stay in for long and I had to vomit again. There was this guy who came and asked me how I felt; well, there were actually many people who came to ask me questions; but this one guy, Lhakpa, who was the owner of the heli-flight EasyHeli company (which I found out at a later stage) seemed nice and told me that I looked horrible when I arrived. The hospital wanted to see my insurance papers right away but I only had it in my dropbox because I left all my papers in the hostel in Kathmandu. I had to send them via email. Luckily, I had them. It’s so important in such a case to have your insurance organised. Also there has to be Wi-Fi.
Then it was time for me to get moved down to x-ray. I felt really bad. A weak little woman had to push me to the basement; she had to push hard against me while going down – luckily a guy helped her, otherwise I guess it wouldn’t have ended well for me, or her by the way.
Afterwards, I requested a private room. They prepared everything and took me upstairs to the room – but until then, back to the drip.
Bumped into a German guy I had met before
On my way to the room, I saw a guy who I though I recognised from the bakery in Gokyo. Later on, I went to his room and it was Moritz, also from Germany; he was the guy I met the night before at the bakery. We shared our experiences about what happened to him and me and we realised that our stories sounded really similar.
At night, the nurse put me back into the room and of course back on the drip.
Another day on the drip
The next morning, I was woken up really early to take my blood pressure and the bloody cleaners came in at 6am in the morning. Can you believe it ? At 6am in the morning, sweeping and wiping the room wet – the sterile smell of vinegar made me feel sick – it went straight into my nose. The smell was really not nice.
Another thing that woke me up was this old guy next door, talking the same thing over and over again, really loud – bless him, he must be really ill.
Contacting the insurance company in Germany
Then it was Lhakpa, the owner of the helicopter company, who came to see how I was doing – very nice of him. But he didn’t come to see how I did; he was after the money for the flight and pushed it. He gave me his phone and made me ring the insurance company to ask if they had received the email I’d sent and to ask them to send a guarantee letter to the hospital to cover the costs – estimates around 10,000+ USD (7,500 USD for the flight, 2,500 USD for the stay). I was so hoping that I could rely on my insurance in an emergency like this (Würzburger Versicherung) – and I could.
One interesting thing Lhakpa mentioned before I even knew who he was: “My mission is to rescue the people in the mountains no matter what because I want to save their lives !” To my question, even if they can’t pay you ? he replied: “doesn’t matter. I save people’s life” I liked his statement but let’s see how this statement holds up at a later point.
The lady from yesterday came in again to let me know that she couldn’t access the email I send her with the insurance papers. Since the lady didn’t receive my email, I had to walk up three floors and access the dropbox with the computer to print it – a very exhausting walk, honestly. What did they care about the most ? Me getting better or the money ?
Fun times in the hospital in Nepal with the other German
Later on, Moritz, the other German guy, and me chilled and watched some movies together – their channels are awesome, especially having an action channel with 24 hours of movies. Then they did some real funny tests on me. I think they did an electrocardiogram but perhaps you know better what they did. See the picture. Ha ha.
First proper food again
Later in the afternoon, we got some food and I was about to start eating when the nurse walked in and said, stop, we have to do ultrasound tests in the morning. I was allowed to eat after a certain time, but I actually thought they’d forgotten about it; damn I was so hungry. The tests were all good and I could start to eat some food. I was so happy after almost two days not being able to eat a thing.
For the rest of the day it was just watching more action movies (such as Spiderman, Pretty Women, etc.), being bored, and of course being on the drip. At least I start feeling better after all this.
Hospital leaving day
Today, I was woken up early again, but I told them right away to let me sleep and not clean the room. This is the behavior you have when you already feel better and know how it works. Ha ha.
Thankfully, after a few more phone calls with the insurance company, they finally sent a guarantee letter to the hospital and so could release me. I felt way better but I was still not 100% fit.
In the end, the heli-flight guy kept on annoying me about the insurance because the company rejected to pay him. He even tried to tell them a lie and wanted the hospital to take an x-ray of me to tell the insurance company I had had an accident. All I knew at that time was I’m not gonna make myself a fraud and I had to leave. I knew at this point that if I had to pay 7,500 USD, I would have almost had no money left to continue my travels around the world for another 8 months.
Opinion about the hospital
After all, I thank Vayodha Hospital for taking great care of me, for getting me back on track and especially providing me with such a great drip all the time – such a magic cure. I was actually positively surprised how well this place is run. In Vayodha Hospital you ARE in good hands.
Opinion about the Helicopter Company “EasyHeli”
Some last minute words I want to leave about the helicopter flight company EasyHeli:They are a corrupt dubious company that rips off travel insurance companies big time in corporation with Vayodha Hospital – trust me, I’ve experienced it. You may have already known that Nepal is really corrupt; but when the owner told me: “it’s about saving people’s lives,” it’s not true ! – all he cares – even if he doesn’t want to make it seem like – and can see is the money from travel insurance, from the beginning to the end – amen.
MY TREKKING DAYS VIDEO SUMMARY
In German: TREKKING MOUNT EVEREST REGION SUMMARY GERMAN
I TRAVEL FOREVER’s VIEW & RECOMMENDATION
I think this was the most incredible day in the Himalaya Mountains considering the things I had done that day, what I’d seen and how emotional it was being on “top of the world” at 5,360 m with the most spectacular sunset in a scenery that is indescribable. You can decide by seeing the images. So happy about the travel experience and felt so lucky.