Since my last update, we’ve had good if challenging times. NJ was easy(ish) to hike but full of mosquitoes. We ran into Handstand and Apollo again and had a few good days on the trail with them. Our new shoes did make a difference on our feet. Southern NY is known to be a very difficult part of the trail and it was true for us. Yet somehow, I enjoyed it. It was the right sort of difficult for me.
We made good time to Bear Mountain/the Hudson River and got a hotel in Fort Montgomery. Unfortunately, that was Thursday. We’re still here.
I’ve mentioned in past posts that my skin has not liked the hike. My legs especially have broken out in angry bumps quite a bit. The heat and sweat makes it worse, but I try to counter that with cleaning cloths, clean clothes, and bandana bathes.
I have also been susceptible to a more painful, serious condition of ingrown hairs causing abscesses in my inner thigh/groin area. (Oh, you didn’t want to know that? My bad. It’s not exactly a joy for me to share either. But it is what’s going on in our hike right now.)
I’ve had two or three angry, hard abscesses/boils/what-have-yous through out the hike until now. And until now, I have been able to treat them with my general cleaning regimen and frequent coats of Neosporin.
But the day before we arrived in Fort Montgomery, after two days of walking in wettish clothes (light to medium rain every day for a short period of time) and insufferable heat, I had the mother of all ingrown hairs. Out in the woods, I had no other remedies. So we walked to town. I still didn’t realize how large it was, although I should have because none of the others impinged on my hiking the way this on did.
At the hotel, I tried a bath and more generous coats of antibiotic ointment. I was stubbornly against zeroing. I thought maybe I could do five miles to a monastery where they let hikers tent and shower. But it was clear in the morning I couldn’t go anywhere.
Outfitter headed out to find a store that sold Epsom salts. After some soaking in the morning, it seemed worse not better. So I bit the bullet and we went to the Hudson Valley Family Health Clinic.
The lady who did my history and intake? Did not know that the word “labia” meant. Because I was a hiker, she kept staring at my feet trying to see the problem.
Thankfully, the nurse practitioner was better versed in anatomy and medicine. She was very, very concerned for me. She felt very strongly that I’d need “surgery” (I put that in quotes because it’s a surgical cut, not knock-me-out on an operating table surgery) but nothing could be done right then because the area was so inflamed.
So she put me on two antibiotics, got me an appointment with a GYN who can do the incision and drain at their clinic on Wednesday (!!), but was adamant that if I got a fever or felt worse, I should go to the ER for IV antibiotics.
She was amazingly quick-thinking on ways to handle the fact that right now I don’t have transportation or true health insurance. (We have some six-month policies in place to cover major accidents or illnesses. Fingers crossed this does not escalate to “major”.)
I did have a fever (about 101) that evening, but we countered it with ibuprofen and ice compresses, hoping that once the antibiotics got into my system I’d feel better.
And by yesterday mid-morning, I did. The swelling had gone down some and no more fever. I am continuing the Epsom salt baths (per Dr instructions) and those are somewhat helping.
But it does not appear that drugs and soaking will help enough. We have currently arranged to stay in the hotel until at least Thursday. If something changes, that will be awesome. If not, I am resigned to the idea that my hike is over.
I do not believe I can keep an incision site clean enough and healthy enough while hiking. I also think the recuperation time until I can walk the miles needed might be too long. It’s one thing to say I can go for a walk the next day. It’s another to say I can walk 15 miles into the woods and repeat that two or three more times before I get a shower.
I’m numb to this conclusion right now. I’m in a lot of pain and don’t want to put myself through more. While this is a kinda superficial illness, it also is serious. Most bacteria that cause this kind of thing is staph. This is not something I want to play around with and take chances.
For now, please keep your fingers crossed that I get better before Wednesday. And I will try to write up the missing days of our hike. It’s not like I’m doing much else.