Wednesday 3 May 2023

Where have I gone?

Have you noticed I've not been hiking much recently? Perhaps it was my absence from social media? Most likely you didn't notice at all! But I have been absent, and my last big hike was in Norway 2018.

Everything changed towards the end of 2018 when my Father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Anybody who's been down that road knows how it completely takes over everyone involved and your life becomes one long series of appointments. Time for anything else is minimal and certainly, there was none for long self-indulging hikes. Shortly after my father's death, we were all struck by COVID-19 and travel of any type became nearly impossible. Not long later, cancer hit again and this time it would be my mother. Fortunately, that outcome was different and Mum's doing well.  In addition, during this period I moved house and Brexit caused Tramplite Gear to, effectively, cease trading. None of this was helpful to my hiking. However, the big stopper has been my own health.

In my case, it appears I have become allergic to hiking! Seriously, I go out, I hike, I get sick. Almost every time. This isn't a completely new condition and I have, over the years, had to abandon or take breaks on several hikes because of it. You can see evidence of that here in my blog under Colorado Trail, CDT 2016, Norway 2017 and 5 Deg West. I've seen many doctors and they have normally brushed it off and put it down to conditions like food poisoning, Giardia or food intolerances. However, I have never really found out what was causing it and it's a condition that has got steadily worse to the point where, towards the end of 2021, I could no longer hike at all. 

Diagnosis hasn't been easy and, actually, I still don't have a definitive answer as to why it happens. I've had many tests and scans but the only one I've ever failed was a recent blood test for vitamin D. My own thoughts on this are it's a combination of issues, some I've had long-term, such as IBS and Gluten Intolerance. Which, combined with the extra stress over the last few years, and the more recent vitamin D deficiency, has become too much. 

At the moment I'm feeling much better and following a strict Gluten Free diet. The IBS is well-controlled. My Vitamin D topped up and there's not so much stress. I'm out training again and getting myself hill fit. Last week I actually managed an overnight backpacking trip, without vomiting! That might not seem like a big deal to you, but trust me that's a big step in the right direction! I don't know what the future holds but I am at least more positive that there will be one!