Welcome to Nepal

Welcome to Nepal

Monday, 5 February 2007

Sea-level testing

Back in the smoke

Arriving in London on the 30th January, I settled down to finalising my wife's 50th birthday treat. We had all managed to keep this quiet since September last year and I was hoping that it wouldn't be spoiled right at the last minute. I was half expecting one of the family to bump into her as she wandered down Oxford St on the 31st, whilst I was absent attending my base-level testing.

I awoke on the day of testing (31st), conscious that I had to locate the UCL site where I was to complete my Xtreme-Everest medical tests. Following a light breakfast, I said 'bye' to my wife and headed out for Highgate Hill. I managed to stay on route, dodging the traffic and people as I navigated my way along the main roads. It was a steady climb up hill and after about 4 or 5 miles and three quarters of an hour, I reached my destination.

Upon arrival, there were a couple of presentations. One about the testing day itself and the other about the medical background to the project. I was weighed and measured (67kg and 169cms respectively) and was then made to fully exhale through a machine, and then fully inhale again... apparently my lung functions at 144% that expected of a man my age and weight/height. Comforting to know... the result of having never smoked and regular physical exercise I understand.

I was then passed over to the lady carrying out the neurological tests. Memory tests, dexterity tests, problem-solving tests, brain function tests - all were thrown at me. About one and a quarter hours later I was taken back to the main testing clinic. My skull was measured every which way, my eyeballs were photographed, copious amounts of blood taken, blood pressure measured and my pupil response tested. My day finished with the bike tests, where I was rigged up with electrodes and sensors, with a breathing mask to measure my lung input and output under physical duress. This testing was 'ramped up' for me, due to the level of my fitness. This was to enable me to reach maximum output earlier, because had I had the settings for a man of my age and weight etc, the doctors would have been waiting for ever for me to reach exhaustion... apparently.

Overall, the day was intensely interesting. I particularly enjoyed the neurological and physical tests, although carrying these out at sea-level was hard enough. Goodness knows what it is going to be like as we gain altitude in the Himalaya.

I jogged back to the West End, the lactic acid feeling heavy in my legs. During the journey, I stopped to watch a film being made, where a stunt man threw himself out of a plate-glass window into the street. It could only happen in London.

Returning back to my wife, I need not have worried. Her day had been uneventful. The surprise on her face as we came out of the lift into the foyer, to find all the family sitting there... all I can say, is that a fish out of water has nothing on my wife. She stood for a good couple of minutes, her mouth opening and shutting, with no sound being uttered, as she struggled to understand how/why everyone was there in her hotel in the West End. Excellent.

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