From Bryan Taylor, Ph.D.
So, here we are. Mount Everest base camp, 17,500 feet above sea level, blood oxygen saturation level of 70-80% (it’s 95-100% at sea level), plus an elevated heart rate. Sleeping, poorly, in a tent at sub-zero temperatures on a glacier that has shifted approximately 30 feet in the last month! Sounds like fun, huh? Well, actually, to us it is. The scenery is quite spectacular with rock falls and avalanches in the mountains around us (don’t worry, we are all safe). Each morning the rising sun illuminates the staggering peaks around us. Breathtaking. We had an excellent first experimental testing day and looking forward to an even better one tomorrow. Somewhat miraculously all of our equipment arrived and we have set up a pretty cool environmental laboratory.
So far, so good. But as I sit here and reflect on our journey so far, I can’t help but think of all the people back in the US (and the UK) without whom we would not be here. While we have been interviewed, filmed and photographed, there are a number of people who deserve so much credit for the current and, hopefully, continued success of this research expedition. So, here goes my poor man’s Oscar speech. First, enormous thanks must go to our lab mates back at the Clinic, in particular Andy Miller, Rob Wentz, Heidi Johng and Kathy O’Malley. Their hard work and dedication to this project has been invaluable. For me personally, I have to thank Beth Cloud and Kristen Greek (physical therapists at Mayo) who “fixed my broken calf”; approximately 7 weeks ago a tear in my left calf had me in a walking boot and on crutches. Without their help I would not be here right now.
Obviously, our friends and family are continuously in our minds. Knowing that they love and care for us truly helps us get through the physical struggles of each day. For me, the support of my parents and sister back in Scotland is a continual source of strength. And my girlfriend, Michelle — her unwavering support and dedication to me throughout this whole process is one of the main reasons I am here writing this blog right now. So thank you. Thank you all. Our current and future success is in great part due to all of you.