ABOUT WILDERNESSWISE JEWELRY

I often wonder who really ever reads a page titled "ABOUT" and now I find myself writing one.  The curious thing is that I will never know if anyone does indeed ever read it.  But here is it, written just for you. 

My passion for making jewelry was a serendipitous evolution. Professionally, I am a registered nurse and spent my 30+ year career as an ICU nurse and the last 18 years as a helicopter flight nurse. During my years as a flight nurse, I began doing a lot of out-reach education in rural communities throughout southern Colorado. This uncovered another activity which I fell in love with.  Teaching and adult education. 

I had an invitation to speak at a national conference on wilderness medicine which I enthusiastically accepted yet had no idea what I would even think about speaking on.  I was given 20 minutes.  I knew it was the audition for future opportunities.  I chose to speak on the "Pioneer Women Physicians in Colorado."  I passed the "test" and was then invited to speak at other conferences around the United States and now, in 2020, this is my 23rd year of teaching wilderness medicine. 

My wild med teaching expanded to as many as 6 conferences a year.  From there, I had opportunities to teach wilderness medicine on adventure trips.  Adventure trips include an activity and a location such as scuba diving in Fiji, trekking in Patagonia, rafting the Futaleufu River in Chile, hiking the old Inca Trail to  Machu Picchu, climbing Kilimanjaro followed by safari in Tanzania., and trekking the Mont Blanc circuit.  The adventure trip I really fell in love with and have done more times than any of the other adventure trips and the one that led to my jewelry-making, is trekking to Everest Base Camp (EBC).

The story is involved and I will share only a brief synopsis here.  I was with my group of medical professionals on the way down from EBC.  We had stopped in a small village to camp for the night.  While dinner was being prepared, a porter from another trekking group brought a young man into our camp asking if there was a doctor available.  Yes, there were.  This young man of 30 years had developed high altitude pulmonary edema, an illness that can occur at high altitudes and without proper medical care, can result in death. It is indeed an emergent, life-threatening condition.  

My group and I immediately gathered our resources for treating such conditions (oxygen, medication, and a portable hyperbaric chamber) and initiated treatment. We were unable to descend him to lower altitudes due to weather and lack of resources to carry him.  I spent 2 nights and 1.5 days caring for him until a helicopter could safely come to our location for his evacuation.  My husband continued down the mountain with our group and our local guides.  Because of my helicopter flight experience, I was able to fly with him back to Kathmandu.  The young man did well and fully recovered.  As I spent the next day now waiting for my group to catch up with me since I had taken the fast way off the mountain, I kept thinking that this person could have, would have died without our medications and most importantly without the hyperbaric chamber which was what ultimately saved his life.

I walked the streets of Kathmandu wondering what could I do to help others in that situation when a wilderness medicine group isn't there?  Living in Colorado, I have always loved turquoise and it seemed like turquoise was popping up in every store and shop window I passed.  On my flight home, I had in my possession a huge bag of hand-picked turquoise beads from Nepal.  I had no idea Nepal was rich in its gems. I bought them directly from local, Nepali people knowing there was no other middle person. Fair trade.  I came home, started making necklaces, and started selling them at conferences where I taught.  My goal was to raise enough money to buy 5 hyperbaric chambers to take to Nepal and to place them in high altitude villages frequented by trekkers and to teach the locals how to use them.  At about $2000+ each, that would be $10,000 I needed to raise.  I made jewelry, sold it, raised the money for the bags, bought them, and took them to Nepal.  I delivered them to the villages and one of the greatest pleasures was watching the locals learn to use the portable hyperbaric chambers.  Instructions were written in both English and Nepali.  

Fast forward.  I fell in love with making necklaces which expanded to making earrings which expanded to making bracelets.  And now it is time to expand my jewelry business to the internet!   I will eventually be adding necklaces and earrings to the website as time allows. Until then, I hope you find a bracelet that fits your passion in life, that gives you energy, that reminds you of a wonderful place, or simply has for you a silent message. 

Most importantly, be well and honor the roses in your day. 

Sheryl Olson