My 35-year-old dream of completing a thru-hike of the Appalachian trail may have DIED today!
First … my aching lust for the trail has been brewing since I first sampled her curvaceous footpaths some 35 years ago. However, life, jobs and family responsibilities prevented me from consummating this dream.
Fast forward to 8 months ago – I was now completely retired from the tethers of a full-time job and with more free time, enough available coin and the blessings of my loved ones… life had opened a path. Without hesitation, I starting to plan for an Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike for 2020. I was giddy with joy and bursting with eager anticipation as the planning evolved and the calendar ticked away toward my goal.
Then it all started to fall apart and joy began to slither away.
Six weeks ago I developed a mysterious swelling in my feet. It was so profound and painful that I was unable to bear weight or even sit. Apart from many doctor appointments and medical tests … I was bed-bound.
My first medical intervention was in the emergency room where the doctors suspected stress fractures. It made sense to me. I had backpacked over 1200 kilometres this year and just returned from a challenging 80-kilometre solo backpacking trip in the Adirondacks of New York.
That prognosis was eventually rejected. 6 painful static weeks have passed with no improvement and only clues but no answers. I’ve gained weight and lost muscle. My body is fading like my AT dream. Despite all the unknowns … I still harbour hope!
I can tell you without hesitation that the most painful part of this whole medical kerfuffle is not the physical but the emotional crash and burn of my AT dreams. I have “low-grade” symptoms of depression.
I did see a likely relevant specialist – a Rheumatologist. She too was confused about my potpourri of symptoms and suspected I was likely inflicted with two types of autoimmune arthritis with an unknown source, cause and hence no clear path to resolution. This prognosis presented more questions and few answers and deepened my depression.
It’s now only 125 days until I board my flight to Atlanta Georgian to begin my AT dream… with my physical future still unknown, I have some peace knowing I bought flight insurance.
My AT dream isn’t dead yet… but it is on life support.