Don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty sure that climbing Kilimanjaro is not a walk in the park, in spite of the title of this blog. But I’ve always been of the mindset that you can do pretty much anything if you want it badly enough. Obviously there are some exceptions. But you only have to look around at the amazing things that many disabled people get up to, to realise that it’s the mind and not the body which is self-limiting. When I was 18 and travelling in New Zealand, I never thought I could do a bungee jump until I saw a video of a 70 year old doing one. “If he can do it at that age, what on earth is stopping me doing one?” And with that I signed up, threw myselff off a 141ft (34m) high bridge above a swirling river, and thought I was going to die. It was the best and worst moment of my life rolled into one. I didn’t die, but I did rip my stomach muscles and couldn’t walk properly for a week, let alone laugh or cough. But that moment set the scene for a lifetime of pushing myself to the limits to regain that sense of achievement.
Having turned 40 this year, I set about finding myself a challenge. At this point I should mention that while I currently feel fitter than I have in the last 20 years a least, I have numerous health problems and I’m very aware that my body may not hold out for nearly as long as I would like. In fact my fitness might deteriorate from now on. I’ve had type 1 diabetes for more than 30 years, I lost a lot of my sight 15 years ago and am technically registered blind (though I still have a fair bit of usable sight in one eye) and I have asthma and IBS, not to mention the minor health niggles that pretty much everyone has – bad back, dodgy knees, and so on. Oh and I’ve broken something like 12 different bones at varios times. What spurs me on perhaps the most though is the fact that my dad, a type 1 diabetic for over 50 years and now in his 70s, lost both his legs last year as a result. That really brought home to me how fragile we are, and the fact that if I leave it too long to do these things, it might be too late. So there we go….I can still walk. So I can climb Kilimanjaro if I put my mind to it. It really doesn’t require any other skills except for a bit of fitness, a bit of luck and preparation to avoid alttude sickness, and the right mindset.
So, assuming I get medical clearance, in February 2013 I shall be climbing Kili and raising some money for charity. I have no doubt that, like the bungy jump, it will be one of the worst and best experiences of my life. I’ll be updating this blog throughout my preparations, as well as my regular blog for other topics.