Sanguenay Fjord 2013: Epilog


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On the first few days of our trip I mentioned that I didn’t feel in shape for this adventure.  I was having trouble lifting and carrying the boats and hauling gear up and down in our campsites.  What I didn’t do was describe the nature of the “trouble”.  I was feeling a “heaviness” in my chest and a shortness of breath.  The discomfort in my chest could have been GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux disease).  I occasionally suffer from this condition and the discomfort I was feeling was very similar to what GERD causes.  Still, the inability to catch my breath was a concern.  Several of the guys noticed the difficulty I was having and stepped in to do the heavier carrying of boats and even some of my gear.  I can't tell you how much I appreciated that.

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After the fjord, it would be another three weeks before I would get home.  Nothing felt critical.  Yet I was concerned enough about what I was feeling to call and make an appointment with my doctor for two days after my return.  The short story is that I wound up seeing a cardiologist who said I was suffering from Angina.  An angioplasty revealed two relatively minor blockages in the arteries around my heart.  The big surprise was that my iron levels were very low (I was told that they see iron levels like that in patients who have lost two pints of blood).  The combination of the blockages and low iron levels kept my heart from receiving the oxygen it needed; thus the chest discomfort and shortness of breath.  

I suppose when you have any blockage around your heart you could have a heart attack.  In reality there was very little danger of this.  If it hadn’t been for the low iron levels keeping my blood from taking up oxygen, the blockages would have gone unnoticed.  The doctors are still trying to figure out why my iron levels were so low.  They have me on iron supplements while they work on it.  

That being said, having a serious medical problem in an area as remote as the Saguenay is a serious thing.  I did weigh the need to share my problem, as unfocused as it was, against knowing that Scott in particular would have wanted to rush me off to a hospital with what I thought was probably an acid reflux problem.  This would have delayed and spoiled the trip for everyone.  Yet, having the "big one" in some remote campsite would surely ruin the trip as well.  I guess, given how things worked out, I made a good decision  Still it was a gamble, a gamble, as I now know, with my life.  

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I am feeling much better now, but have been told that I can’t be kayaking or go on any kayak trips for three months.  Bummer!  There are lots of great trip opportunities around here this fall.  But I need to follow doctors (and Lisa’s ) orders for the next few months.  Then, hopefully, I’ll get the all clear to get back in my boat!

Hope to be with you on the water again, very soon.

Yackman






 © Don Yackel 2017