I don’t like going to the doctor. It’s not that I don’t like them or that I hate hospitals or anything like that. It’s more like a risk vs. benefit assessment for me. I would rather ride out a cold in mild discomfort at home than go through the anxiety of a physician’s waiting room. I don’t like being stuck in a room with people. I like the option of leaving at a moment’s notice when I feel anxious, and realistically that’s not going to happen in a waiting room because I have an appointment with a specific person at a specific time and I’m not going to just leave. So, I sucked it up, and went to three doctors last week. Self high five! I went to my ob/gyn to get my IUD switched out for a new one. Check! Not all gear comes in the form of titanium and cuben fiber. I don’t usually take medicine, because it mostly doesn’t help me so I don’t bother, but I was thinking I could do some preventative health maintenance and add a few things to my first aid kit. I found a new primary care doctor (my doctor sold her practice and rudely didn’t tell her patients) and got some good information. We talked about my backpacking and I was relieved to find she was very receptive to my concerns. We decided on a flu shot and a prescription for Wellbutrin to quit smoking. I need all the help I can get. We also talked about more urgent, on-trail, issues I might encounter. I don’t see this being a serious issue on the A.T. in peak hiker season but I am a little worried about the 96-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail in winter. I don’t know what to expect. It’s possible I won’t see a single person most days on the LSHT, especially in winter. I really don’t know. The two things we could think of were pain killers and antibiotics. Just in case. If I get a cut or scrape and it looks like it’s getting infected, or if I get a tick bite and feel symptoms of Lyme, I can start taking Amoxicillin before I get off the trail. If I injure myself and have no cell service and there is nobody around, the pain killers will help me force my body to a road crossing. Unfortunately, I have bad reactions to hydrocodone and its friends so I walked away with 800 mg ibuprofen, which is really just like taking four regular 200 mg over-the-counter ones. Hey, I tried. I was sure it would be hard to find a doctor that would write prescriptions for conditions I don’t currently have but when you think about it, they give meds to people travelling out of the country all the time so it’s kind of a similar situation. Makes sense. I felt a little silly walking away from the pharmacy with this big bag of pills but I’m okay with it now. It’s not something I was totally stressing about or anything, but I feel like if I have the means to lessen the severity of a situation then I have no reason not to. I don’t need to carry the full bottles, just enough to make it to town. I think carrying a couple of tiny pills is totally worth the peace of mind. I also plan to add to my first aid kit some regular ibuprofen and some Imodium. Meds, check! Then I went to the ortho office and got good and bad news. First, there was this:
But then the ortho doc showed up and he sounds exactly like Matthew McConaughey so I stayed. He thinks it could be a couple of things. Chondromalacia or patellofemoral syndrome (wonky knee cap) which would be treated with rest, ice, and a list of stretches/exercise. They did a knee x-ray and everything seems fine but x-rays don’t show motion or soft tissue. It could also be a meniscus tear which would be treated by lots of stuff, possibly surgery. Well, I didn’t find out because I couldn’t bring myself to hand over $560 for an MRI. Apparently, our health insurance requires a $600 deductible before they help pay for advanced imaging. On the one hand, I know I need to get this taken care of before I hike. On the other hand, what if I pay $560 for an MRI just so they can tell me nothing is wrong? That’s a lot of money just for Dr. Doppelganger McConaughey to tell me it’s alright, alright, alright. If I do have a tear, I think it has to be minor because there was never any swelling or severe pain so maybe it’s not a tear? Plus, the ice in my freezer is mostly free so that’s the current plan. I’m going to give it a little more time. Rest. Ice. Stretch/exercise. Got it. If it doesn’t help, then I’ll go back and get the MRI. I think part of it is that I’ve already spent soooo much money on this hike and it’s still five months away. Gear and travel expenses for my guys to see me off at Amicalola Falls… not to mention what it cost me to get to the Gathering in MA. Then the rational part of my brain tells me that of all the things I’m spending money on, my body should be at the top of the list. It’s what’s getting my sorry ass to Maine after all. I’m torn… maybe literally! Honestly, I think my brain just needs a little more time to process it. I’ll get the MRI as soon as I realize that my ortho homework isn’t helping or the sticker shock wears off… whichever comes first. Knee, check (sort of)!
Anyone with a knee injury have advice? Also, do you carry medications for the outdoors that I didn’t mention or is it something you’re not even worried about?
Side note: I’m considering participating in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) in November. I don’t think I have enough things to talk about that would warrant a blog once a day for a month BUT I could do an A.T. prep twist on it. I could post every day from my cellphone which is what I would be doing on the Trail when I have reception, and something that I’ve been putting off learning how to do. It’d be good practice. I really like this idea but then I’d have to, ya know, actually do it. So maybe not.