Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Day 21: My worst day on the trail... maybe ever?

March 21: I woke up in the morning with an excruciating pain. It felt like I pulled a muscle where my right leg connected with the rest of my body a little to the right of my groin. It felt like a charlie horse, except I hadn't had a charlie horse. I had no idea why it formed. I hadn't fallen, or stretched too much, or done anything obvious what would have caused the problem. And it didn't just appear suddenly. It kind of grew on me during the night, but by morning, it was a big problem and I could barely walk. Bending over to put on my shoes and socks--at least on my right foot--was excruciating.

I hobbled down to the dining room for breakfast and Kicki saw me, "What happened?! You can't even walk!" Truth was, I could limp slowly on flat ground. Walking around the floor we were on wasn't too bad, but going down the stairs was where I really had trouble. Or up stairs. The steeper the ground was, the more difficult I struggled.

And, unfortunately for me, today was a relatively long day of walking: 24 kilometers. I was a little worried if I could make it that far. If I were hiking on my own, it wouldn't be a big deal. I could slow down and do half-days if I needed to, but as part of a larger group, I had to keep up. I couldn't do a 12 kilometer day. I had to somehow make it 24 kilometers.

Of course, everyone noticed pretty quickly that I had a problem, and during breakfast, four different people offered me drugs for the pain. Apparently some pretty good drugs too. Our group was a walking pharmacy! There were several nurses hiking as the group and all of them seemed to have a lot of medications, not to mention the support crew who had to be prepared for all sorts of medical problems.

I passed on the drugs, though. I didn't want drugs dulling the pain. To me, pain is my body's way of telling me to take it easy and helps prevent me from over-exerting myself. I'd be more inclined to use something to help dull the pain at camp in the evening, especially if I was planning to sleep soon, where I didn't have to worry about over-exerting myself by accident. For now, I would limp along as best I could.

The good news, however, was that the day would mostly be flat. Almost the entire day was a long, slow descent with a single, sharp but short descent near the end before flattening out again. It still hurt to walk on flat ground and I still limped, but I limped a lot faster on flat ground. And most of the day followed relatively flat gravel roads that were much easier for me to walk on than rocky terrain. So I had that in my favor, but 24 kilometers over generally easy terrain was still a lot to ask for in my condition.

I finished breakfast, then hobbled back to the room to brush my teeth and pack all my gear before hobbling back down to the lobby to start the day's walk.

The group took off, and while I often hiked near the back of the group, today I hiked in the back simply because I just couldn't keep up. I'd catch up at short rest breaks, and the pain--fortunately--didn't seem to be getting worse and, later in the afternoon, even seemed like it hurt a little bit less. In the morning, I could barely lift my leg even one inch off the group, but after lunch, I could pick it up a whole two inches. It was small progress, but it was progress! I hoped this was a sign that the worst was behind me.

But damn, it still hurt. A lot. And I continued limping. I decided that today, I would take a break from picking up trash. I had bigger problems to worry about. For the first day in over two weeks, I didn't pick up a single piece of trash.

At the first break, I borrowed some device--a roller kind of thing--from Damean that was supposed to help loosen tight muscles. I decided to give it a try, and it hurt quite a bit but it didn't really feel like it was helping at all. I asked if I could borrow it for the day and figured I'd try using it at other rest breaks. Maybe it didn't help, but it didn't seem to make anything worse either so just in case.... maybe I'd try using it a little bit more. (I never did, however.)

I'm using the rolling-pin type device that Damean carried on my injury, but it didn't seem to help much.

A few hours later, I had to pee. I told Karolina to go on ahead--she had been hiking pretty close to me to help if I needed it, and was especially useful taking photos with my camera for me that required the camera to be close to the ground. She became my part-time photographer getting those otherwise cool shots that I just couldn't do.

But anyhow, I preferred to pee in private and let her and the group get ahead of me before I went behind a large boulder to take a leak.

But it went horrible, horribly wrong.... As I relaxed the muscles to pee, a felt what seemed like a small fart escape. Except... it seemed a little too solid to be a fart. OMG! I just pooped myself!

And I was in serious trouble. I couldn't stop peeing... it was coming out and I couldn't shut it off, but I tried desperately to hold back everything else and... OMG... why was there so much pee!

Finally the pee ran out and I was terrified to check the damage in the rest of my pants. I hoped it wasn't too bad. I didn't even have spare clothes I could change into if I soiled myself badly--it was in my duffel bag being driven to the next campsite.

After taking a quick look around for witnesses and seeing the coast was clear--for now, at least--I set my pack aside and pulled down my pants and underwear and was relieved to see absolutely nothing in the underwear. Whew! That was a huge relief right there. But I knew there was a leak back there.

I pulled out the toilet paper I had in my pack and started wiping, and it was a gooey, melted-chocolate-looking mess. Crap.

Normally, I like to pack out used toilet paper, but I hadn't been prepared for this new disaster and didn't have a ziplock bag readily available, and bending down to dig a proper hole would be a huge challenge with my leg pain. And I decided, screw it! I'd just shove the used toilet paper in a crevice in the boulder and cover it with a rock. It would have to suffice. It was an emergency!

It seemed like wiping myself clean took forever, but I finally got cleaned up and pulled my pants back up. After sanitizing the hell out of my hands with a hand sanitizer, I got back on the trail and limped quickly trying to catch up again. Karolina had stopped to wait for me a short ways up the trail, probably wondering why it had taken me over 10 minutes to pee.

"That pee went horribly, horribly wrong..." I started explaining.

I couldn't bend down to take photos close to the ground, so when I saw something that I wanted a photo of, I'd give my camera to Karolina and ask her to take the photo. So any photo that looks like it was taken close to the ground today... Karolina took those phtoos.

We eventually caught up with the rest of the group where they stopped for lunch, and I was happy to take a break.

The short but steep downhill lay just ahead and I was a bit worried about it. It was the most painful section of the day for me to walk and my progressed slowed to a crawl, but I made it.

The last couple of kilometers was on an almost flat, paved road. The temperatures had soared. It felt like it could have hit 90 degrees in the sun, but I didn't check the temperature. It had been a long, painful day, though, and maybe it just felt hotter because of my injury.

Late in the day, we finally reached camp. It was, Lama joked, tile-camping. Kind of like wild-camping, but on tile. We were camped at a developed hot spring. There wasn't lodging on the site so we still had to camp in tents, but there were toilets, tables, chairs and other facilities. The flies were absolutely awful! Hundreds and hundreds of them. I had trouble getting into my tent, unable to fully utilize my right leg.

Glamping at its best!

Everyone kept telling me that I had to soak in the hot springs--it would certainly make my injury feel better--but it was still so warm out that a hot spring did not appeal to me at all. Later in the evening when it had cooled, though, I definitely wanted a soak in the hot spring.

The facility had what looked like abandoned carnival rides around the place and which gave the place somewhat of a horror-movie feel. I laid in my tent most of the rest of the afternoon just resting.

Near sunset, I decided to venture over to the hot springs. There were enclosed in a building with separate sections for men and women. I went into the men's side and found the room empty with steam coming from the hot water in the pool. I wasn't sure if naked swimming was allowed (we were in Jordan, after all), but no one else was around, the room was only for men and there weren't any signs that said nudity was prohibited so I took off all my clothes and waded into the water in the nude.

The warm water felt good, but not as warm as I had expected and went out to the area of the pool where the hot water first entered since I figured the water at that end of the pool would likely be warmer. I hugged the little water fountain for that extra hot water and lounged around for the better part of an hour just relaxing.

Hot springs!

I made one mistake, though, and didn't bring anything to read, and after about 15 minutes, I started growing a little bored. The warm water felt nice, but I was bored. I had no one to talk to, nothing to watch, and nothing to do and I was just plain bored. But I suffered through the boredom because I wanted to enjoy the hot spring and hoped it would make my leg feel better.

But like I said, after about an hour, I finally decided to leave the water--mostly due to the boredom, but knowing that dinner would be ready soon was a close second.

My leg didn't feel any better after leaving the water, but it was nice to soak anyhow. I felt much cleaner and soaking in warm water was a luxury on the trail.

Dinner was great, and afterwards we had a local guy who played a one-string instrument called a rebab that lots of us got to try playing a bit before everyone was sucked into dancing and singing.

Then we called it a night. It had been a long day and I sure hoped my leg would feel a lot better in the morning! I had more offers of drugs, but I passed on them again. As long as I wasn't walking or moving, my leg didn't bother me and I didn't think I'd have any trouble getting to sleep. Drugs didn't seem necessary!

Found all sorts of fossils the trail today!

The carnival equipment kind of gave the area a horror-movie vibe, but fortunately nobody got murdered! =)

Dinner was delicious!

There was much singing, laughing and dancing after dinner!

Then it was time to return to the tents and hit the sack. *yawn*

1 comment:

MSmith said...

Way to handle a terrible day with perspicacity and a good attitude! Praying for healing and improvement!