The Magician and I travelled back together to Bangkok from Koh Tao. Unfortunately life was about to get complicated for me and I would have to face reality versus the idea of a dream. I’d taken a simple fall on Koh Tao, which at the time had caused my muscles to stiffen up. But it was getting steadily worse and worse, to the point where I was struggling to carry my backpack. The Magician was starting to learn quite how stubborn I can be and steadily repeated the chant at me, ‘Why can’t you just take care of yourself and let people help you’
Now, for those outside my immediate close circle, I have had issues with slipped discs for over 15 years. This culminated in back surgery 10 years ago, which at the time significantly improved the quality of my life. Lying flat on the hotel bed, I felt the familiar nerve spasms. But this time, they were going down my stronger left leg. The leg that through all my years of back issues carried the bulk of my weight so that I could still walk. The Magician waited on my hand and foot, helping me to get some strong pain killers in Bangkok, before he left himself to get his flight back to Nepal. I was left in the hotel dreading my solitary 24 hour journey back to the UK. I don’t generally cry, but this time I let the tears come unbidden. I was meant to be starting the 2,200 mile hike across the Appalachian trail.
After landing in the UK, I headed straight to the Chiropractor and Doctor, to try and reduce the inflammation as quick as possible and increase movement in my back. The Magician arrived shortly trying to help me move about. Quickly though I started getting seizing cramps down my left leg leaving me crying out in pain. My mother and the Magician made the tough decision to call for an ambulance as I started to lose feelings in parts of my lower part of my body. For those who haven’t had to watch for these signs, if you lose feeling in your genital region or become incontinent, there’s a chance that one of your discs has split. This needs to be dealt with delicately and quickly, as you can end up paralysed if it’s not fixed quickly. Being rushed off to the hospital, morphine only gave a short reprieve to the screaming cramping pains. Only sleep or the Magician’s constant massaging of my legs giving any relief.
I was having to face my stubbornness to want to hike the Appalachian trail with a 50 pound backpack, versus whether I was really well enough to do this. Being stuck on the living room floor I felt something start to shift. It wasn’t just that I started to see the irony that my reason for hiking was to learn how to listen to my body. But something deeper was taking route. My body had already shown me after the years of being severally obese, then losing weight too quickly through starvation, that it would still carry me 1,000 miles across Europe. What did I really need to prove this time?