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'I choose not to dwell on the what-ifs' - Letshego Zulu

It's been three years since adventurer and sports personality Letshego Zulu lost her husband, Gugu Zulu during their attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro as part of the Trek4Mandela initiative.

Her book on life with her beloved Gugu and rebuilding her world after his death was published in July.

RELATED: #FridayProfile: Letshego Zulu shares her tale of triumph

ALSO RELATED: 'I don't think he was well'- Gugu Zulu's friend and fellow climber

Zulu joins Pippa Hudson and a live studio audience to talk about I Choose to Live: Life after Losing Gugu.

She recalls fond memories of her romance with her race driver husband, which started when she was a schoolgirl in Grade 11.

My friend said: 'I found the man for you'.... We pretty much chatted to each other via text for seven months before we met and it really was love at first sight.

Letshego Zulu, Author

Zulu says she and Gugu had an adventure bucket list, which included climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

During their ascent, he experienced breathing problems and was rushed down the mountain and into an ambulance to get him to hospital.

The lack of oxygen gets to you and it affects all of us differently... You can't really train for that.

Letshego Zulu, Author

I think it was on Day Three when I realised he is really not himself... He did seek medical assistance from the doctor, but on Day Four he opted to walk with the 'slower' group... There is a very thin line between knowing someone is not well and needs to descend, versus someone who is just reacting to altitude, which is a normal thing.

Letshego Zulu, Author

Letshego describes the frantic eight-hour descent to try and save his life.

In retrospect it was hell, but I kept my composure. I'm a very optimistic person and I hung on to hope the entire way.

Letshego Zulu, Author

I choose not to dwell on the what-ifs. It's a choice that I made after what happened.

Letshego Zulu, Author

The truth is, you can't bring him back. Yes, you do play around with the what-ifs a bit, but I chucked them out the window because I'd end up going around in circles because no-one is going to answer those what-ifs.

Letshego Zulu, Author

Audience member Donovan asks how Zulu managed to get herself out of the dark hole of grief and tackle life afresh.

She says the support of other women who'd lost their husbands was pivotal, particularly being in contact with an American whose partner had died on Mount Kilimanjaro. One night the author found herself on this widow's Instagram page, coming upon a picture of her on a beach and looking happy.

All I saw was life, and I looked at it and I said, this woman has gone through exactly what I've gone through and look at her picking up the pieces and living life so you know what, I choose to live.

Letshego Zulu, Author

That was the point I decided to just keep going.

Letshego Zulu, Author

To find out more about altitude sickness, Pippa Hudson speaks to Dr Ross Hofmeyr, associate professor of Anaesthesiology at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

The greatest physiological challenge we see is the decreasing partial pressure of oxygen, which is also something that occurs in illness states

Dr Ross Hofmeyr, Associate professor of Anaesthesiology - UCT

On the summit ridge of Mount Kilimanjaro, the atmospheric pressure is about half of that which is at sea level. There's still the same concentration of oxygen but you've got about half the number of molecules circulating.

Dr Ross Hofmeyr, Associate professor of Anaesthesiology - UCT

Dr Hofmeyr says it's this dramatic decrease in the amount of available oxygen which puts a person into a state of hypoxia, which puts strain on all of the cells in the body.

To find out about all the other factors at play at high altitude, take a listen:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'I choose not to dwell on the what-ifs' - Letshego Zulu


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