Archive for April, 2017

STUNNED

Absolutely stunned.

I cannot believe what just happened.

I am pretty sure most of you know that the high altitude training I did leading up to my trek up MT KILIMANJARO was done at a gym that is set up in the packing plant of the orchard where I was born and raised.

My brother set this gym up last fall and I remember my first time training out there and how cool it was that I was working out in a room we used to store apples in when I was growing up.  It was our family’s livelihood.

I also remember training day after training day how grateful I was to have that access to that gym and the concept of being able to train at 8,000-12,000 ft above sea level right here in Fenton, Michigan.

Dr Erica Peabody - Stunned - High Altitude Training Chiropractor Fenton Michigan

high altitude training in Fenton, Michgan

Kelly, my mountain sister and training/trek/tent partner, and I would meet out there a few times per week.  We would text each other during the day and share our nerves and how we were feeling and then we would get together regularly and talk each other down from the anxiety during our workouts.  This happened over and over and over, week after week.

We also met each other out there 2-3 nights per week to spend the night at high altitude (which is really where the magic in high altitude training comes from, endurance at the altitude which is what is happening while spending hours sleeping there).

The training days were pretty brutal yet gratifying, but the slumber parties were more like mild torture…for me anyway.  I would sleep for about 5-6 hours and then I would wake up and not be able to get back to sleep.  When you sleep at altitude it is as though the body is working out all night long, and for me it was very difficult to rest.  Couple that with the fact that my comfortable bed in my precious tiny home is roughly 3 miles away and here I am sleeping on a cot in my sleeping bag.

I remember one morning after a difficult night at the gym, I called Kelly in tears that “I am going to fail the sleeping portion of the trek, I just know it!”  (funny thing is I DID FAIL that part if you had a chance to watch my short documentary video log<<—click link to watch.  Ugh life is such a self-fulfilling prophecy, isn’t it?)

Hours and hours and day after day I spent there prepping my body to handle the 19,341 feet summit that is MT KILIMANJARO and because I don’t have a current need to suffer excessively, I sort of boycotted trips back to that gym since I got home a month ago.

Today is a beautiful sunshiny day in Michigan and my brothers and I spend a lot of time out at the orchard when the days are like this.  I was there all afternoon.  I was more focused on the sun, getting a heavy dose of vitamin D, playing with my nieces and nephews, Jeeping and hanging out today that I didn’t go inside.

At the end of the afternoon, I gathered my things and sat down in my vehicle to drive away and then my subconscious chimed in and said “just go and walk in the gym.”

And so I did.

Do you remember the smell of your grandmother’s house when you were little?  I remember the soap smell she had and anytime in my entire life, when I smell that, I warp right back to being a child and all the memories of being in her home (which I always had a great time there with my cousins).

Chiropractor Fenton Michigan - stunned - high altitude sleep training chiropractor Fenton Michigan

high altitude sleep training

The gym has a smell.  It is a distinct “PEABODY HIGH ALTITUDE” gym smell.  It is sort of a rubbery, apple storage, air compressor air kind of smell.  Ok, maybe it really doesn’t have proper descriptor words to tell you about it.

Anyway I walked in, the gym is at 8,917 feet today and I instantly choked up and then burst into tears.  In fact, I cannot stop crying as I write this.

It isn’t a sad cry, it is a “HOLY CRAP!!!  Because of this place, all the training, all the conversations and all the hard work and shitty sleeps, I MADE IT TO THE TOP OF MT KILIMANJARO!!!”

All the planning and plotting and scheming that Kelly, my brother and I did in and around training for the trip GOT ME TO THE TOP!!!  

But then the other layer kicked in…because I was born and raised right here and am part of this incredible family, I MADE IT TO THE TOP.  Because my family had a vision a few generations ago for this orchard life and this land and building that they built, I MADE IT TO THE TOP.  Because my brother is such a crazy out-of-the-box thinker I MADE IT TO THE TOP.  And because I am a Peabody, I MADE IT TO THE TOP.  

Every single day on the mountain I had my brother’s gear on, something of his that I would be proud just to have and I would gather strength knowing that he was rooting for me.  That would then extend my thoughts to the family, the orchard and my many blessings of having Peabody blood and the perseverance that runs far and deep through those bloodlines.

So I sit and think, “could I have made it to the top if I didn’t have that gym to train and sleep and learn the deep meaning of embracing the suffering?”  Yeah, I may have been able to, probably would have found success regardless, however I will never know for sure.

What I am certain of, I am stunned and shocked that a gym could choke me up like it did…and I am blessed to be a Peabody because as a family, we always MAKE IT TO THE TOP!!!

 

 

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A SUNDAY SHARE

I was driving back from Chicago this past Sunday and deep in thought about life and living.  Here is a Sunday share…

I hope this message finds you happy and healthy and enjoying your week…and your LIFE!!  I was realizing as I was sitting in the car for all those hours that we really do have a lot of power in the intention we set for our own lives.  I hope you are making the most of it all!!!  As the title of this blog says…we only get one chance.

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DON’T DIE WITH YOUR DAYPACK ON

“DON’T DIE WITH YOUR DAYPACK ON!”  they said.

These words stuck in my head from our briefing after dinner on summit night.

Every evening after dinner, they would come into the mess tent, do our medical examinations and share with us how they thought we were all doing and what will happen the next day, or later that night in this case.

Dr Erica Peabody - Don't Die With Your Daypack - Chiropractor Cafe of LIFE Fenton

Me (Dr Erica Peabody) Ready for Summit Night

We had 12 guides with our group for our normal day to day and about 50 support staff.  The porters were the ones that carried all of our gear, food water and tents and such.  Everyday they would pass us on the trail and get to camp ahead of us and have everything set up for us for when we finished our days.

The intensity of summit night required the assistance of our normal 12 guides along with 18 additional porters in order to have one to one support for the final hike to the very top.  Having this one to one support for the final summit is the reason this particular company has such high summit success rates.

I woke up nauseated and although I ate a tiny bit of food, I really couldn’t manage to stomach much at 15,000 ft and almost no sleep.  So the climb begins at 1am.  We line up in our hiking line and start to make our way up the trail.  It was the most beautiful night with bright stars in the big African sky.

As we begin to hike, the phrase “DON’T DIE WITH YOUR DAYPACK ON” came back in my mind.  What exactly where they talking about?  I feel absolutely fine.   Were they really serious when they said that?  I am surprised they made such a point to make sure that was clear and that if we needed to hand over the load on our backs to a porter, we could easily do that.  “I won’t need to do that, I feel super strong.”

An hour goes by and I had already overheated once and had to strip my outer expedition-weight goose down jacket off.  The guide warned me to keep it close because I would want it back sooner rather than later.  As I thought about it all, it is close to zero degrees and I should not be overheating at this point.  Then I got the chills.  Then I got goosebumps from head to toe.  Then I got hot again and then the chills.  What on Earth was my body doing???  It felt as though my body was confused and couldn’t regulate my temperatures.

I felt my stomach start to gurgle (which will be an entirely separate blog post) and just after the first hour I realized I was not going to be able to do this summit with the current situation I had going on.  I tried and tried and tried to remain calm and keep pressing on.  I tried so hard to the point I got blurred vision and lost all my strength.  Unfortunately for me my camelbak water hose froze and I no longer had easy access to hydration.

Dr Erica Peabody - Don't Die With Your Daypack - Chiropractor Fenton Michigan

Me (Dr Erica Peabody) Finishing Kilimanjaro Trek

I fell to the ground.  I needed a break and I needed help…and THIS is exactly what they meant when they said “DON’T DIE WITH YOUR DAYPACK ON!”  I understand now.  Sometimes that extra 10-15 pounds, although comfortable and distributed evenly on my back, was just going to be too much, and for me, it was.

Now let’s back up a minute and discuss this concept.  I am not one to ask for help from others.  Of course in my office, I cannot do that alone and have hired help.  But life in general is manageable and when I focus my mind and efforts on something, I almost always can be able to come out on top.  I rarely ask for help, I guess maybe I was raised that way.

There was absolutely no way I could have gone on from that point which is common in those circumstances, hence them having one to one support for that part of the trek.

The greatest thing happened when I fell down.  I was in tears and yelled “I NEED HELP!!!!”  The next thing I heard was “Erica we got you covered.  As I lay on the ground, those from the group that hiked past me put out their hands for a high-five and I heard things like “Erica you are my hero.”  

I realized in that moment that I wasn’t a hero because I was so strong and powerful, I was a hero in that person’s eyes because I recognized that I needed help and asked for it.

Sometimes our admitting defeat is where we really grow into the person we are supposed to be.  Admitting defeat and receiving the help we need is a sign of vulnerability and inside vulnerability is where true power lies.

Turns out that not only did I need my assigned porter to carry my pack, the final 50 steps to the summit, I needed him more than ever.  When it got to the very end of the climb, I would take 2 steps and lean over so my chest would lay on the top of my trekking poles and take a few breathes.  Then another 2 steps and lean over my poles.  You guys, there is a reason NOTHING LIVES THAT HIGH!!!  It was so void of oxygen I didn’t know how I was going to do it.  My porter took my left arm and put it up over his shoulders.  He then took my trekking pole and he took the final 50 steps as the left side of my body (picture the 3 legged race during field day in elementary school).

Even as I write this right now, I get goosebumps from head to toe as I re-live the intensity of that scenario (again, sorry Mom).

“DON’T DIE WITH YOUR DAYPACK ON!!”  I get it now and I am so glad that my subconscious took good note of that when it was said that night.

 

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A MONTH LATER

I have made a commitment to blog frequently and I am not sure how it is one month later since my last blog. I am not sure where the time goes. I am not sure what happened to that month…but to say it has been one of the most impact-ful months of my life is a massive understatement.
A month later I look back and cannot believe the trek up MT KILIMANJARO even happened. It feels like it was all just a Dr Erica Peabody - A Month Later - Chiropractor Fenton Michigandream. My life here in this precious little town of Fenton is so vastly different than the 10 days in Africa that it feels like I was swept into someone else’s existence when I went to do that. I am only brought back to my reality when I stand up in the morning and my feet are still screaming “Yup, it was us that did that!!!”
A month later I sit in my office, CAFE OF LIFE CHIROPRACTIC, and am so very grateful for this life I have created and how much of it I have shared along the way. Although sometimes I feel like technology and social media has taken us a step backwards learning how to have human to human interactions, I am so grateful to have been able to share the experience with all of you over FACEBOOK LIVE specifically and of course YOUTUBE as well (<<<—links provided to my Facebook page as well as to the YouTube clip of my video logs along the entire trip).

A month later I am still stopped all over this precious little town so that people can congratulate me on my mission accomplished.  I get stopped at the gym, grocery store and absolute strangers continue to walk up to me and introduce themselves.  I am so happy I have been able to share far and wide that people have followed the story and lived it with me.  When I get stopped people say things like “Hey!  You don’t know me but I know that you are Dr. Peabody.  I caught wind of your story and have followed your updates along your trip.  Thank you so much for sharing that because I don’t ever think i could possibly climb that mountain but I want you to know that because you did that, I have been inspired to take on ____________ challenge.”  This is the most incredible part of this trip, just knowing that it has spread and ordinary people like myself are dipping into reserves of strength they didn’t know they had.  I FREAKIN’ LOVE THAT!!!  I ABSOLUTELY LIVE FOR THAT!!!!

A month later I look back at just how serious the trip was.  I haven’t shared yet, but two women in the group ended up getting high altitude sickness.  When this happens, the porters put them on piggyback and have to run them down to lower elevation as it can be fatal.  When I say piggyback, I mean 2 hour piggyback while the porter is running 4,000ft down the mountain.  We had an awesome crew and they were able to recover well however in retrospect I can see why my mother was fearful for her stubborn, strong-willed daughter that decided to climb MT KILIMANJARO in the first place.  Sorry Mom, life was waiting for me.

A month later I cannot believe how much richer my life is because I was taught the great lesson of surrender.  Surrender to the elements.  Surrender to the body.  Surrender all thoughts and dreams and aspirations.  Surrender to the moment.  Surrender to the sensations.  Surrender surrender surrender.  In the most intense peak moments of this trip, there was nothing I could even think about aside from putting one foot in front of the other and taking one breath in and letting one breath out.  I know there were a lot of people pushing for my success but I couldn’t even think about any of it or I would instantly choke up and lose my breath.

And just a month later I can look back and say that was one of the most rich and rewarding experiences of my life and I am so very grateful to have taken the time and done the work to make it all happen.  Thank you to each and every one of you for all of your encouraging words and positive energy you sent my way.  Many have asked what is next on my list?  I am not sure as I am still processing this one a month later.

 

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