With the help of a new medical treatment, my health had improved beyond recognition. However, I did feel that this drug regime was not the whole solution, because I still had aches in my back and other joints sometimes, which showed that AS hadn’t been stopped entirely. When I took up sport again, it realised that the more I could exercise my body, the less pain I had. I want so much to live again without pain. I learnt of patients for whom the medication stopped working after a while. Maybe the long-term outlook would be better, if I took lots of exercise.
At the same time, being too preoccupied with keeping healthy might let the disease determine too much in my life. I still find it difficult to find the balance between ignoring the diagnosis and just enjoying life, and respecting it as a part of me and giving it space. I’d had back pain and other health problems for such a long time, but no diagnosis. It takes a while to realise that I’m not just neurotic and imagining it. I would plan carefully with respect towards my body.
In late mountain Springtime (June), the climbing and hiking season had begun, so out I went. That helped me to develop basic fitness. I saw beautiful landscapes, birds and animals. With friends from the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) we walked in the Bächlital in the Grimsel area, or to the Grand Muveran on the border between Vaud and the Valais.
In addition, my physiotherapist recommended some specific training the gym and I enrolled for a 3-month course at a local fitness centre. So now I am lifting weights and doing some funny exercises on very strange looking machines. It is surprising how much difference those rather comical exercises make. If they didn’t make a difference, I probably would stop, because I find them rather monotonous and it needs discipline to do them regularly. I really admire the people who go regularly to Fitness centres!
But what is the point of all this? What mountain tour am I going to attempt? The first mountain that I thought of was the Matterhorn. Isn’t it the icon of Switzerland, if not of mountains worldwide? That would be cool! I’ve never climbed the Matterhorn. But I go to the mountains is to be in wild nature and to find quietness and solitude. That’s not so easy on the Matterhorn in August. Every fine day there will be about 120 people queuing up to go up the popular Hornli ridge to the summit.
Finally, I decided on a 5-day tour in the Monte Rosa, a mountain massif located between Valais and the Piedmont and Aosta Valley. It includes some the wildest glaciers in Europe, the highest mountain in Switzerland (Dufourspitze) and the twin mountains Castor and Pollux, which I always wanted to climb because my zodiac sign is Gemini.
A local mountaineering tour company offer a very challenging 5-day program staying in mountain huts in Switzerland and Italy and including 15 4’000m peaks.
Day 1. Roccia Nera 4057m
Day 2. Pollux 4092m and Castor 4223m
Day 3. Lyskamm traverse over the the Westgipfel 4479m and Ostgipfel 4527m
Day 4. Punta Giordani 4046m, Piramide Vincent 4215m, Balmenhorn 4167m, Corno Nero 4321m, Ludwigshöhe 4341m, Parrotspitze 4432m, Signalkuppe 4554m
Day 5. Zumsteinspitze 4563 m, Dufourspitze 4634m and Nordend 4609m
That is quite a daunting project.
But I keep reminding myself: “the journey is the destination”.