It was a cold Friday night, and as always, waiting for my husband I sat covered in a wool blanket with my favourite book.
Absorbed in the content, I didn’t notice his presence until he shouted in his loud voice:
– “Honey, we’re going on a trip tomorrow. I heard from a colleague about a great mountain trail.He showed me pictures. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen such sights, start packing. We’re leaving tomorrow morning.”
We both love mountains. Yes, we are of those who choose them instead of the sea. I’m really glad we’re going for the weekend. When we were teenagers, we used to go for short trips every week until the work and other commitments came, which meant less time. I started packing. I took a small backpack in which I packed the basic things for the road and a suitcase with clothes. I always preferred to take more stuff because you never know what will come in handy, especially since we were going for two days. After packing everything, I had a shower and went to bed. My husband was up all night checking the trails and reading about the place we’re going to.
. . .
We’re driving, and as always, I’m watching the world around me. I look out the window and wonder about the world while my husband is driving the car in focus. In the background you can hear our favourite song “Satisfaction” The Rolling Stones. We would have been there a long time ago if it wasn’t for the traffic jams and constrictions on the roads, but we couldn’t help it. After 3 hours we managed to get to our destination – a beautiful apartment with a jacuzzi. We always choose isolated places. My husband and I love to feel the freedom and space so we never go to crowded places like hotels or a big guesthouse. We approach the front door, pick up the doormat and take the key to open the door to our place. We unpack, change and go on the trail. My husband is prepared with a map, camera and binoculars and I prepared the food. Our division always looks the same. We walk calmly, observing the beautiful nature and the temperature drops more and more the higher we go. I loved this moment because I already feel the surge of emotions connected with reaching the top.
“Let’s go this way” – says Krzysztof, deviating from the main route, and I feel a rush of adrenaline because we enter the unmarked trail. We are both similar to each other in this respect, we like to explore new places which are completely separated from the rest of the routes. I didn’t feel fear because I fully trust my husband. He is always prepared for all circumstances… Almost all.
I am screaming.
I am screaming.
I am screaming.
I can’t concentrate. I feel my heart beating hard, it feels like it’s about to explode. The blood in my veins is flowing very fast, my pupils are getting bigger and I don’t know what to do with myself. I feel like I’m crazy. I’m all flooded with sweat. It all happened in a second and I know what happened to my body. I’m a doctor. That’s why I can describe every process that happens in me. What happened in that moment? I felt stress like I’ve never experienced before in my life. My two systems started to work: sympathetic nervous system and the axis of the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands. The first one was stimulated by adrenaline and norepinephrine from the adrenals. The hypothalamus released corticotropin, the hormone causing the release of adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) from the pituitary gland. It activates the adrenals to secrete cortisol, the stress hormone. This is what happened to my body within seconds. I experienced stress and the mechanism of fight or flight switched on. When you find out what I saw, you will understand why I was so stressed. My husband told me to step aside and calm down. I started stomping on the ground with all my might, screaming, actually trembling. I was releasing my nerves and stress, at least partially. It is worth knowing that in very stressful situations the most important factor is to react. It allows to get rid of the accumulated tensions, even in the worst situation. In order to react effectively you can scream, run as fast as you can, hit the ground or do any activity that will can move your body and get rid of an anchored tension. Later I took a dozen or so deep diaphragmatic breaths in order to calm down to the point where I can help my husband and save this man with him.
My wife and I reached a cliff and wanted to sit down, but we heard screams. I leaned over the precipice and saw a man, a living man, fighting for his life over a huge chasm. I will never forget the words I heard from him
“Save me. My girlfriend is already dead. He was screaming while crying.”
My wife panicked. She was so stressed, she lost control of herself. I’m a psychologist and I can control my nerves, at least I’ve always managed to do it. I, the rational one, see a hanging man who can fall down at any time, I see my wife who can’t cope with her emotions. I’m not surprised by anyone, it was hard for me to calm down and think in focus. There are two types of stress assessments. One is primary and the other secondary. The first one determines my wife’s behaviour, seeing a bad scenario of the whole event. The secondary one determines my assessment. I always try to find a solution and not assume in negatives, despite the circumstances. I started to take my clothes off and tie them together to form a long rope. I sent my wife aside so that she could get over it and be able to help. She couldn’t cope with her emotions, so the moment of her recovery was crucial for her further cooperation. While making the rope out of all my things, she came back and started undressing just like me. We created a long rope together, which we threw to help the hanging man. We held it as tightly as we could. The man grabbed our clothes and we started to pull him in. We almost managed to save him… At the last moment the man couldn’t stand it and let go of the rope, falling into a wide chasm.
. . .
“Honey, wake up. It’s late. We have to leave in an hour.” -I heard a voice, completely confusing me.
I opened my eyes wide and saw my husband preparing things to go to the mountains while I was still in bed.