Stories From The Camp: Meet Faizal, Our In-house Medic
Adjusting at 11,400ft can get a little tricky, but Faizal, our in-house camp medic is here to ensure that your stay with us is nothing short of spectacular! Rupert Winchester met him on his 1st day in Ladakh and this what he had to say…
When you arrive and check in at TUTC’s Thiksey Camp, you’ll notice a tall young man, impeccably turned out, who will sidle up to you discreetly, fit an inflatable collar to your upper arm, slip a clip over your index finger, and take your blood pressure and blood oxygen levels. Not what normally happens when you check into a luxury hotel. But the camp at Thiksey isn’t, you quickly realise, your normal sort of five-star retreat.
The young man is camp medic Faizal Baig. He is a trained paramedic who studied in Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, and this is his second year working with TUTC.
The major problem for new arrivals is the change in altitude, and everyone at the camp is aware of the potential problems of altitude sickness.
Baig says that a little breathlessness is perfectly normal. “Everybody has a slightly elevated blood pressure and a lowered blood oxygen level because of the change in altitude, if they’ve come from the plains. Because we’re at 11,400 feet here, it’s a big change.”
But it rarely causes major problems. “Within a day people’s oxygen levels increase and they’re back to normal,” he says. “Obviously, don’t drink anything alcoholic for the first day, and don’t smoke for a day or so,” before adding, in medically approved fashion: “in fact, don’t smoke at all, ever.”
Baig says he has had very few problems to deal with. “Last year one guest came here and his body wasn’t adjusted to this climate, and this altitude, his body really wasn’t accepting of this altitude and his oxygen levels were getting low, but that was the only serious case I’ve had to deal with. We eventually sent him down south, and he was fine.”
Baig suggests that guests go to a pharmacy before they get here. “Before you arrive, you can take a drug called Diamox, which is a high-altitude medicine, and it can deal with the breathlessness, the headaches, the nausea, all the symptoms of altitude sickness. It’s a great help.”
If health issues become more serious, there is plenty Baig can do once he’s called into action: “If the patient has a serious problem, there’s a hospital in Leh and we can admit them, and if they’re very serious, I have access to an air ambulance which can take them down to Delhi.” But, he stresses, “I’ve never had to use that.”
Otherwise, Baig says the worst problem he has encountered was accidental: “Last year there was only one problem, where a lady hurt herself cycling, but really not too much. And I have all the facilities I need here on site: oxygen, drugs, bandages, a wheelchair, everything.”
He goes on: “I’m here 24-seven, and can look after people any time day or night. But I almost certainly won’t need to.”
Now that your acclimatisation and altitude queries have been put to rest. Why not book a stay at The Ultimate Travelling Camp?
Take a look at the experiences offered by TUTC