Monday, March 20, 2017

Review of "Towards Thin Air: From Cardiac Bypass to Everest Bypasses" by Vijay Malur

Before a tragic accident changed his life in 1998, when he was 54 years old, Dr. Vijay Malur was doing extremely well. He had a successful Sports Medicine practice in Boston, a fine family, a penthouse apartment, a boat, a Rolls Royce, and money in the bank. Then, while walking down the stairs with his laundry on the evening of October 6, Malur stumbled and fell down a flight of steps....and everything changed.

Malur's broken bones and injured body were the least of his problems. A severe concussion resulted in loss of vision in his right eye and extensive memory loss that made it impossible for him to continue his work as a doctor. To make mattters worse, physicians found four blockages in Malur's coronary arteries, necessitating quadruple heart bypass surgery.

Malur slowly healed from the fall, regained his vision, and recovered from the surgery, but - unable to work - he went bankrupt. The bank foreclosed on his practice and confiscated his equipment, and he lost most of the accouterments of wealth. Malur's religious and spiritual beliefs carried him through these difficult times and helped him accept his fate. Moreover, after two years of recovery Malur was determined to give back to others.

In 2000 Malur started to volunteer for 'Meals on Wheels' and became a 'Big Brother' to less fortunate children. He also traveled with friends, and was captivated by the beauty of the Alps and the Rocky Mountains. Finally, hearing that the Himalayas dwarfed the great Rockies, Malur decided to visit Mt. Everest.

Hoping to reach Mount Everest Base Camp (MEBC) Malur booked a trip with 'Parikrama Trekking & Expeditions' in Nepal. To pay for the trip, Malur refinanced a house he still owned. To prepare himself physically, Malur walked 10 miles a day, climbed steps on his Stairmaster, took cold showers, and meditated. Lastly, just before his trek Malur visited family and friends in America and of whom asked him to meet the Abominable Snowman and get a lock of hair. (I wouldn't mind a lock of that hair myself. LOL)

When he was almost 60 years old Malur was ready for his great adventure, and he left for Kathmandu, Nepal on May 7, 2003. Malur describes Kathmandu as a busy, crowded, polluted city where people, cows, sheep, and chickens stroll down the middle of the streets....and intrepid drivers navigate with barely a ding!

Malur kept a diary of his travels, and describes what he saw and did in detail. It's interesting to read about Kathmandu's religious sites, historical areas, and large nature preserve housing exotic well as the people, restaurants, food, and shops. After a couple of days touring Kathmandu, Malur flew to Lukla, Nepal where - with his guide and sherpa - he started the 21 day hike to MEBC (elevation 17,598 feet) and back.

About half the book is devoted to the momentous hike, and Malur faithfully describes the scenery, weather conditions, mountain villages, overnight accommodations, people met along the way, and so on. Malur carefully monitored his physical condition, which was especially important because of his age and quadruple bypass surgery. As expected Malur experienced fatigue and breathing problems as altitude increased and oxygen decreased but - with frequent rest and meditation - he was able to complete the spiritually fulfilling journey.

Photographs taken in Nepal accompany and enhance the narrative.

This is an inspirational book about a man who suffered a great loss and fought his way back to a rewarding life. People who have experienced a disabling trauma might gain hope from reading Malur's story.....and everyone can enjoy it as an uplifting adventure tale.

Note: The website of this book's publisher, LifeRich Publishing, notes that Malur celebrated his 70th birthday on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. So good going Vijay Malur!

Rating: 3 stars

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