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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Day 21: Camp Verde, AZ (Leg: 133, Trip: 1,703)

The beginning of the 6% downgrade to more plentiful air!


If you read Carol's blog today, you already know we aren't where we expected to be! Back in 2005, I had an operation called a "lobectomy" where they remove one or more of the lobes in your lungs. We all start with a total of 5 of these lobes, 2 on one side, 3 on the other. (the one side also has your heart, a sort of important organ, so that side only has room for 2). The lobes are not all the same size and the one I had removed is about 25% of my lung capacity.

Well, the Grand Canyon is right at 7,000 feet and many people have problems adjusting to the altitude that high. With only 75% of a normal lung capacity, it is almost impossible. The whole time we were there I was taking it pretty easy. The first night I had no problem sleeping because I was tired from the drive. But the last two nights, I only got about 5 hours total between them because I was short of breath.

I'm not sure why this should bother me so much while sleeping and not as much while awake. If I sit up, the problem is lessened, but lying down I really have to work to get enough air and it kept waking me up. Anyway, this morning, I was totally out of it. I had a hard time even focusing to read a book.

We talked it over and decided to head for lower ground. Fortunately, we had visited all the key spots we wanted to visit and were just going to spend more time at some of them, so the loss was not as bad as it could have been. So while Carol showered and dressed, I took a cat nap in the easy chair up front. It was short but felt real good and made it so I could at least function.

I also discovered that our front tires are not wearing properly. One side is wearing quickly and the other not at all. This is a sure sign of an alignment problem and can be easily fixed. Tomorrow I have the number of a place to call to set up an appointment for later in the week.

So we packed up, hook up, and saddled up and left the Canyon. We went through Flagstaff down to Camp Verde, AZ. What I didn't know was that after a small initial descent, we climbed up to almost 8,200 feet on the way to Flagstaff. Fortunately traffic was light so I could go about 55 both to make the drive easier and to help offset the wind which was blowing at about 35mph.

Flagstaff is at 7,000 so we pulled into a Target parking lot to have a quick lunch. We came down I-17 directly to Camp Verde which is at 3,225 feet. The last 16 miles or so are a 6% downgrade and as we came down, I could immediately notice the change and how much easier it was to breathe.

As an aside, I used to work in a job where I had to fly from Portland OR, to California each week, down on Monday or Tuesday, back on Thursday. Loved the job but the flying gave me the same problem. A pressurized airplane may be flying at 35,000 feet, but the cabin pressurization system gives you an internal effective altitude of about 8,000 feet. So after about 2 hours of flying, I would have some breathing difficulty, but then we would start a descent and the problem pretty much went away.

So, now we are at a much lower altitude and I took a nice nap with no problem. Tomorrow we will see some of the Sedona area sights and also check on the alignment. Probably be here for a few days then to who knows where!

1 comment:

Jerry and Suzy said...

Hey, Dave! Thought we'd take a look at your blog, visit for a while, see what we think. Camp Verde is one of our favorite areas in Arizona -- have stayed at the Western Horizons there, as well as Thousand Trails near Cottonwood. And at a Sunrise resort in PAge Springs.

For your breathing, would a CPAP machine help? It's constantly sending air at pressure to you, not so much that it's uncomfortable, but it has helped me sleep better with COPD.