WA News Letters Risk is life-affirming
Risk is life-affirming
Written by Dr John Hilton
Thursday, 03 August 2017

Dear Editor,

In response to Phil Chapman’s story of chasing adrenaline and a near-death experience (Risk it All…Pay the Price?, July) I can see a lot of merit in his argument. Too often we follow our narrow paths in search of the goals of our profession and building our little kingdoms without facing the risks of real-world experience.

Somewhere in the late 1980s I signed up for my first Avon Descent and, armed with rudimentary skills, I set off with training runs down the valley with real palpable risk and many close shaves. I relived a lot of it in disturbing dreams for years afterwards.

When I took up whitewater paddling again after 2000 I began to develop skills and a little more control over my own destiny but maintained the thrills of trying to master the river in all its moods. The danger seemed to diminish but there were still some twists left.

Competing in the Dusi River marathon, from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in 2012, I overheated and underhydrated on the second day, carrying my kayak overland through a steamy jungle and hill-climb section and crossed the line in delirium. Some IV therapy in the medical tent restored me sufficiently to start the third and final day the following morning.

While training for the 2014 Avon, I took an experimental line at a bend called ‘The Wall’ and as I fell out I solidly head-butted the said wall with immediate shooting paraesthesia/anaesthesia into my right C6 dermatome. Fortunately, an expedient MRI ruled out discs and fractures, although the thumb still feels odd. Less lucky for my friend Sue, who lost her life last year doing a routine run down a flooded Blackwood river in Bridgetown.

Regardless, life would be less memorable without these experiences.

Dr John Hilton, GP, Cooloongup