Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wednesday Wonder: A Motivating Mind

Her name in Nepal is Sagarmatha, Goddess of the Sky.

In Tibet, she is called Chomolungma, Mother Goddess of the Universe.

She is Mount Everest, the highest (29,035 feet) mountain in the world, named for Sir George Everest, who was the first person to record her height and location. 

For those who can make it to the top, Mt. Everest will reward you with a view as far as the eye can see and the mind can comprehend. For those who cannot, she will open a door to heaven.

* * * * *
Kenneth Kamler, M.D., has been lucky enough to get to the top of Mt. Everest. He's made many climbs, sometimes as a researcher and mapper for National Geographic, sometimes both to climb and to treat the punishing medical problems that can arise while climbing Mt. Everest in deteriorating conditions. He's also been on the frontline of one of the worst disasters ever experienced there — in 1996, when five of the world's most expert climbers never made it back to their families and friends. A sixth, who had lain in snow for 36 hours and been given up to the dead, managed to defy his medical odds and stumble into Dr. Kamler's tent at 21,000 feet, where a tackle box of medical supplies and hope were among the only aids for hypothermia, extreme frostbite, and snowblindness. Dr. Kamler tells his story in Doctor on Everest: Emergency Medicine at the Top of the World — A Personal Account of the 1996 Disaster

Below, in a 20-minute illustrated TEDMED talk recorded last fall, Ken Kalmer leads us back through that 1996 expedition and recounts the remarkable motivation of the sixth man, Beck Weathers, who drew from somewhere deep within himself a will to get up and go down the mountain, even after he'd been pronounced dead. Dr. Kamler also highlights how Weathers' brain might have looked, had it been studied with a SPECT scan (a tool to measure brain function) as his medical situation became increasingly more dire and then again as his will to survive took command. 


Mount Everest
Historical facts about Mt. Everest
National Geographic (Extensive coverage is here.)


Kathleen Overby said...

The power of our will. For me, it's building the muscles and using it. This might sound like a strange analogy, but because I'm unmedicated, I have to use something like this with depression. I recognize the thoughts and actions that 'light' that part of my brain up-to choose life. It's love and empathy for my family. Choosing to be creative, exercise, eat well, engage in pleasure producing activities, etc. I really appreciated making the personal connection, Maureen. Powerful. The spec scans sealed it. Seeing it.

S. Etole said...

That sounds like a fascinating story.

Anonymous said...

i watched the video and i am just starting to digest the information from his story.

sarah said...

Isn't it a shame we know the mountain for the man who first recorded its details, and not a bigger name, a more beautiful and poetic name - for the mountain is more than man's ability to measure it.I'm going to call it Sagarmatha from now on. :-)