Day 13-3 (cont) Canterbury to Concord
After the dinner dishes were cleared, I turned to Griffin. “Get in the car,”I told him. “We’re going to Urgent Care.”
Griffin had to have his blisters looked at and I wanted to see if there was something else I could do about my sprained ankle.
After I had seen the doctor, I sneeked out of my room and quietly tip-toed down the corridor to join Griffin in his room. It was 9 o’clock, the clinic was closing soon and we were its last patients. Both of us being seen for various injuries related to our New Hampshire border to border walk which we had begun 13 days earlier.
Yeah, I know, we had injuries from a walk.
Griffin was sitting on the examination table, crinkling the paper every time he moved, waiting for the doctor to return with some prescriptions. His shoes and socks were off and his feet sported new bandages and tape from those he had put on in the morning. “What’s up?” I asked as I gingerly limped my way to the only chair in the room, glad once again for the chance to be off my feet.
“Well,” Griffin began, “Because of my suppressed immune system, he’s not going to pop the blisters.” This had been a bone of contention between the two of us the entire walk. “Pop them!” I would plead nightly as I saw them grow bigger and bigger, but Griffin had just played the winning card – I wasn’t going to challenge a doctor’s opinion especially if it sided with medical caution.
Griffin had a decades-long history of chronic Lyme disease that had because it hadn’t been diagnosed and treated for too long triggered an auto-immune reaction in his body. Every two weeks he injected medication into his body that helped to keep his symptoms under control. It worked by suppressing his immune response thereby keeping his body from attacking itself. Of course, this also left him with a compromised immune system. He was vulnerable, if he got the flu or a cold, a normal occurrence to most other college kids, it could send him straight to the hospital.
A skin infection on his feet from popped blisters could also mean big trouble. My son constantly danced a delicate line between being healthy and not.
I knew that Griffin had 5 angry red blisters from our days of walking on New Hampshire’s roads. The first had shown on the third day of our journey and the last two had popped up only a few days ago. The largest of his blisters were the size of half dollars and located on the outside of his heels. Moleskin, bandages, friction cream, and hikers tape hadn’t stop them from growing, each night in the hotel when he took off his shoes and socks, we’d both exhale in awe at his mangled, pulpy appendages. He’d been limping for days with only a steady stream of Motrin allowing him to literally stay on his feet.
“The doctor is writing a prescription for oral antibiotics, he wants me to also use antibiotic cream, a foot spray and bandages with hiking tape on the blisters. If any of them get infected, I could end up getting pretty sick.” He told me.
I sighed. We had 3 days to go on our planned border to border walk. Almost 2 weeks ago we had started at the New Hampshire/Canadian border and in in just a few days we were planning on finishing our walk at the New Hampshire/Massachusetts border.
“How about you?” Griffin asked looking at the air cast on top of an ace wrap on my right foot. The elastic bandage that had been on my right foot when we arrived at the clinic was now on my left foot.
I looked down at my own mangled body. I was sporting two knee compression braces and now I had two additional braces on my feet. I imagined someone coming up to me and saying –
“Oh my God what happened to you?!!”
“Oh this? I’d casually reply, “nothing, I just went for a walk.”
I also had chronic Lyme disease and between the resultant arthritic damage and that caused by a car accident when I was young, the walk hadn’t been easy for me either. Each day I had wondered what it would feel like to be able to walk without pain.
And then to top things off, one of my ankles had started hurting. Really hurting. I had thought that perhaps I had inadvertently sprained it.
But seriously, when’s the last time you sprained your ankle and you didn’t know you did it?
“Oh, I’m okay,” I said. “Apparently I’ve slowly shredded a tendon on the top of my foot from walking at a constant incline on the side of the roads. The same thing is happening to my left foot, but it’s not as bad. I have to wear the air cast because if I twist my foot, I could potentially sever the tendon completely and that would mean surgery.”
“Huh,” said Griffin. He looked at my ankles.
I looked at his feet.
Again I sighed not sure what to do.
When we had begun the walk, there had been no bandages, no braces, and no blisters. There had been no pain. We had naively started off on our 220 mile walk assuming that because we were walking roads, it “couldn’t be that bad.”
But it turned out that it had been more difficult than we had imagined. Our long walk had thus far included buckets of rain, a tornado warning, a bear, getting lost, running out of water, and having the constant companion of unrelenting pain that drove us to our knees each night. While we had seen breathtaking views, solved a small town crime, and met new friends the length of the state, it had certainly taken a toll on our bodies.
Our trip had long ago become so much more than “just a walk.” It had become a challenge, something that proved to ourselves that even living with chronic illness, we could still participate in life. We could. Just watch us.
We were so close to the end. We had about 32 miles left. So very close.
But I was a mom first and a chronic illness patient second. “Well, what do you want to do? You know we could stop now and there wouldn’t be a person out there who would blame us. We could end this, right here, right now.”
“Mom,” Griffin said beginning to pull his socks over the bandages and tape that covered his feet. “We can do this.”
I considered my son, he who had been through far more than many adults had. He whose character had been forged early by pain. He who was not going to give up.
He had learned well.
“Okay then,” I replied pulling myself out of the chair rising up on my painful legs. “Let’s go get that prescription and we’ll plan to be on the road at 6:30 tomorrow morning.”
There was a good chance both of us would end up in the hospital if we continued our walk. But there was the better chance that we’d never forgive ourselves for giving up when we had finally gotten so close to the finish line.
Ever onward it was.
(Here’s some information on why we took this trip.)
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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