By Audrey van Petegem , Senior Editor
the climb of my life Kelly PerkinsWe all have the stack of books waiting to be read. I have mine on its own shelf in the family room. There sit all the books I plan to read this summer (yeah, right…). One such book that I have been wanting to read for a while was finally selected by our book club this month. It's Kelly Perkins' book (a fellow yoga student), titled " The Climb of My Life, Scaling Mountains with a Borrowed Heart ". It is based on her true life experience needing a heart transplant at age 32 and how her love for mountains helped heal her and bring purpose back to her life.
Kelly grew up loving the outdoors in Lake Tahoe, California. Her husband, Craig, also shared this love and both were especially drawn to mountains. At the beginning of their marriage they planned a trip to hike up Mt. Whitney in the California's Eastern Sierras. At 14,496 feet this is the tallest mountain in the continental United States. Ironically, Craig did not make it toKelly Perkins author the climb of my life the top. They continued to scale mountains until one trip, that was supposed to be a trip of a lifetime, turned out to be the last time Kelly's heart would hike a mountain. During this hike up The Matterhorn, Kelly became very ill and was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy . Upon returning home, she could not even climb her own stairs. She was so close to dying that at one point she was given only one week to live. If it was not for someone donating their heart, Kelly would not be here today.
After her heart transplant Kelly needed to start hiking mountains again to know that she and her new heart were a team and that she had her life back. Craig and her decided to hike Half Dome in Yosemite, since this was one that they had climbed often before Kelly's heart transplant. Kelly learned some valuable lessons about her new heart. One being that her donor heart is denervated, meaning the brain cannot automatically send messages to hasten the supply of blood to the body during strenuous activity. Kelly's heart does not "know" immediately when to start beating faster to match the exertion of her body and therefore has to rely on adrenaline. This was something to get used to, especially at high altitudes. Next was Mt Whitney. It was a first for both of them; Kelly with her new heart and Craig making it to the top with her. Craig approached the local paper to run an article on Kelly's accomplishment. It was noticed by an Associated Press reporter who ran the story nationwide. Their path was being set to be an international advocate for organ donor awareness.
This is one of those books that I will think about long after I finish reading it. It is well written and easy to read, but more importantly, it also made me think: how am I making a difference? One thing is that I am a donor and so is my husband. When my son became a driver he put "organ donor" on his driver's license.