June 29, 2018
Woke up super early again. No surprise there. Enjoyed some coffee in the quiet of my room and wondered how early was too early to start making phone calls again.
I went for a short walk around Kris and Bobs’ neighborhood in the morning, but most of the day consisted of phone calls, being put on hold, and talking to numerous people in different states, trying to get them to just freaking work together! I spent a lot of time waiting. I hate waiting. I hate sitting around with nothing to do but update Instagram and try to let social media know what was going on with me when I didn’t even really know myself.
On what should have been my 100th day on trail, I felt a lot better. I reasoned that it was technically only about my 85th day on trail if you count all the necessary (and some unnecessary) zeroes, and unlike the previous day spent waiting and making phone calls, my 100th day was very productive. And I got packages, which made it feel like a Day 100 celebration!
I was able to successfully reroute some Amazon packages to Kris and Bob’s house that were intended for Sierra City since the Amazon (or UPS?) warehouse where they were currently being held was right there in Reno. Good thing, too, because I desperately needed new hiking shorts. I’d started the trail in a brand new pair of Oiselle Roga shorts in a size 10 Long to accommodate my long legs and the Christmas Cookie Baby that had been making all my regular pants fit too snuggly. I don’t know how much weight I lost between Campo and Reno, but somewhere before entering the Sierra I had to open up the seam of the waistband and cinch the elastic so my shorts would stay up while I hiked. By the time I’d reached Mammoth Lakes after my epic 25-mile day, my shorts were baggier than ever around my legs and the waistband was bunched up so much by the elastic that the folds were digging into my waits beneath the pressure of my hipbelt. At Kris and Bob’s house, I took a side-by-side photo of my new smaller shorts beside my old shorts, a difference of two sizes. When I put the new ones on, they felt comfortable and even a little loose.
Kris is a tutor and had been working most of the time I was staying with them, but that day marked the beginning of a week-long vacation for her, so we finally got to spend some time together. She was moving out of the office where she and another tutor had been set up and I gladly hauled boxes from the second story down to her car for her. It felt glorious to be physically active AND helpful at the same time. After a quick stop at her bank, we went to REI, which is always a treat. Then she took me to an enormous health food store called Sprouts, where I put together a wonderfully healthy resupply. Everything was coming together.
During all this, I was on the phone intermittently with Mammoth Hospital and Urology Nevada. They were having trouble faxing my records so Ramona, the nurse at Mammoth Hospital, asked if she could just email them to me and I could hand-deliver them? This seemed like a solid idea to me, but when I called Urology Nevada, they stated very firmly that no one there would even look at my records unless I scheduled an appointment first, a $300 appointment. When I came in for my appointment I could bring the report then.
I’m sure all specialists and doctors have their methods, but this seemed pretty unnecessary to me. I told them my insurance wouldn’t cover me and that all I needed was for someone to look at the report and tell me what to do next (i.e. is the situation emergent or can I get another antibiotic and keep hiking). No, they said, don’t even come to the office without an appointment. I was stunned by their rudeness and complete lack of concern. It genuinely seemed to me that they did not give a shit about my health, they just wanted my money. After how wonderful everyone at Mammoth Hospital had been, I was genuinely taken aback by the attitude of the nurse/receptionist at Urology Nevada.
I understand that they probably hear sob stories from people all the time, but it wasn’t as if I was asking for something for nothing. The work was already done. I had lab results in hand and I was happy to pay a doctor to look at them. Well, I thought, my health is important to me, and $300 wouldn’t break my bank account. I asked when the next opening was.
“We have an opening on July 12th at 3:00.” She said.
July 12th!? That’s two weeks from now! I couldn’t afford to loiter in Nevada for two solid weeks! I had everything they needed in the report from the hospital, why were they making this so difficult!
“But in order to see you, we need a referral from your primary care doctor.” She went on.
Ugh, it just kept getting better and better. I was screwed.
This whole phone conversation took place during the drive back to Kris and Bob’s house. After talking with Kris about my situation for a bit and then calling my mom to get her thoughts, we all decided I should just get back on trail. I had no symptoms, so there was no reason to quit my hike just yet. Rather than try and hitch back to Sonora Pass, though, I’d get on at Echo Lake, where it would only take me a few days to hike to Truckee. If my symptoms returned and I had to get off, Truckee is very close to Reno and would be a good emergency exit point. Otherwise, I planned to hike on and hope for the best.
Back at the house, I threw my bear can, microspikes, and extra winter layers into a box and mailed them home. That evening I got a call from my brother who is a nurse. Earlier I had given him the names of the bacteria that had shown up in the lab reports and he said he’d do some research when he got to work that evening. He approved of my plan to hike out with a solid exit strategy, which gave me even more confidence about my decision. Later that evening he began texting me some information and recommendations, specifically to start taking the stronger antibiotics I’d been given in Mammoth Lakes if my symptoms returned, but in the meantime, to eat raw garlic and put Oregano essential oil on my feet.
Sometimes I wonder if my brother shouldn’t have become a holistic doctor rather than a nurse. All his advice sounded good to me except that last bit, not only because packing out garlic would be a hassle but because it’s gross and bad for your teeth. Bob was going to give me a ride to the trail the next day and said he’d be happy to swing into Sprouts so I could get a good raw garlic supplement. I just hoped I could find one that wasn’t too smelly. My illness wouldn’t matter one jot if I got eaten by a garlic-loving bear.
After a healthy dinner, we sat around chatting and drinking wine long past hike midnight. I was exhausted, but couldn’t help celebrating. I was getting back on trail!