Who takes care of you when you’re sick?
I woke up the morning of day 19 feeling ok. I had some bubble guts- a generic term a friend from study abroad in France had for everything that just didn’t sit well- but otherwise felt ok.
The night before, I’d been upset to see a headlight making its way to the shelter. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be Handmade, a thruhiker Bent and I had loved trying to find in the shelter logs! Bent had finally met him at the NC/GA border (and sent me a very excited text and picture, so I knew what he looked like).
He remembered Bent, and we talked some about Handmade’s unusual handmade pack and hiking style, and in the morning we took a picture together before saying goodbye.
We made it most of the way over 3 ridges before I started getting hot.
Sar Tec felt my head. “You’re a furnace!” I started feeling sicker, and slowed the pace some. We decided on a longer break at a shelter just over 3 ridges.
We finally got there, in rain and drizzle, and I had moments of feeling fine and moments of absolute misery during the hike.
But once I started trying to eat, things went south. I settled for drinking some water instead, then laid down.
And, as it turns out, I wouldn’t get up for a day and a half.
The boys brought me water and covered me in sleeping bags as I shivered on the shelter floor. They collected wood for hours and built a roaring fire and tried to get me to sit in front of it in Sar Tec’s gortex bag, but I couldn’t.
I woke up sweating and thought it was over, but in a few hours I was hot and cold and fevered again, sick to my stomach and still not eating.
Who takes care of you when you’re sick?
The boys made plans and alternate plans and I slept.
Other hikers came that afternoon, lots of them. The boys built another fire and made friends. They brought me water and tucked me in, and made more plans. They snuggled close when I was cold, made me tea when I asked, put their cold hands on my hot head, and then made the decision after one zero that we needed to get out of the woods.
We waited for the rain to stop, then hiked 3 miles to a road. Sar Tec had set up a shuttle for us to get to Buena Vista. I felt ok, or really pretty good, but every tiny 2 foot climb had me gasping for breath after 3 days of not eating. My shorts hung off me like they were 2 sizes too big (a feat for lululemon!!). Even the downhill gave me jello legs.
By the time we got to the motel, I was exhausted.
I’d been upset that Popcorn Hat’s parents pushed back their schedule and were coming up a day later than planned, but I think I need the time off trail. I’m still having a hard time eating after my bout of food poisoning or giardia or whatever it was (Dr Anna Foust wasn’t sure but did tell me how best to proceed, and yes, I’ll be more careful about purifying water).
Will I finish on time? I don’t know. I cried in the motel room this morning worrying about it. It’ll take at least 18 miles a day to do it. Sar Tec says we can just do a few big pushes at the end when it’s flat; don’t worry. If I don’t, I don’t.
But it’s hard to let go.
On top of that I may have broken a toe this morning while packing up. It’s fine, I can tape it up and hike on it, but I won’t be doing 30s off the bat, that’s for sure.
Who takes care of you when you’re sick? When I was single and living in Nashville, there were times when I had no one to call. Even when I was in Rock Island, sometimes I would be stuck with a migraine and no way to get to a doctor.
I’m so lucky I have this trail family to care for me. And for me to care for. Community is so important to feeling like you belong and are safe and secure when things fall apart.
But being able to ask for help, well, that’s hard. So if you know someone on their own, or someone who needs a few more people in their life,tell them you’ll take care of them when they’re sick, if you can. Tell them they can call you at 3am and you’ll go to CVS for NyQuil and popsicles or whatever they need.
But only do those things if you mean it. Being able to count on your family to stay with you when you’re sick is the most important thing of all.
MVP: trail fam
LVP: obvs being sick with no sprite