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    Posted November 27, 2014 by
    Courtenay, British Columbia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Extreme hikes

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    Peril in the Himalayas


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Maroc2 was very concerned about his health on this hike, at one point worried he might have High Altitude Cerebral Edema.
    - hhanks, CNN iReport producer

    Hiking in the Himalayas is on the bucket list of many people but it is not without risk. You cannot trek in Nepal without hearing stories about people who have become disoriented and/or died due to the effects of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). The problem has reached a point where the government of Nepal has attempted to mandate that all foreign hikers be accompanied by a guide.
    I found out about the dangers of AMS while hiking on the Everest Trail in 2012. I had previously hiked several times at high altitude without any ill effects. My partner and I felt strong during our two week approach to Mt. Everest. Unfortunately, my health took a turn for the worse as we travelled toward a mountain pass to the west of the world's tallest mountain.
    I awoke with a nasty chest cold. A British doctor examined me and ruled out the presence of swelling in the lungs. However, I started to notice numbness in the right side of my face which can be indicative of swelling in the brain known as High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). I asked our guide and porter to have us descend to a lower elevation in order to reduce the effects of high altitude. When we finally reached our destination, our guide had to continue onward in the darkness to Pheriche, site of the world's highest hospital, in order to obtain medication to reduce the swelling in my brain. Luckily, the drug had the desired effect so the other people in our group were extremely relieved when I awoke symptom-free on the following morning. When we arrived in Pheriche later on in the day, the doctors there confided to me that they had wondered whether I was going to show up at their clinic in a body bag.
    I subsequently returned home thankful for the time spent in the Everest region but also with a healthy respect for the potential dangers lurking in the mountains.

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