When you’re unwell, do you allow others to take care of you, or do you prefer to soldier on alone? What does it take for you to ask for help?
Let me tell you a story about hiking. Several years ago my family and I were the avid hiking family. We live just an hour away from some fairly epic hikes. We even managed to climb the highest peak East of the Mississippi River. We were well on our way to hiking 100 miles in just a single summer.
After our success with Mt. Mitchell and some even more grueling hikes, we were ready for a full weekend excursion. We had selected a somewhat flatter park, with miles of loop trails to make for a full weekend. We arrived early Saturday and set up camp. After securing our gear we packed our food and water for a 20 mile loop.
The weather was warm and muggy. It was Summer in South Carolina after all. The hike began with enthusiasm and energy as we started out along the rolling path. We made great time and enjoyed the scenery. The trees gave us good shade and kept the sun from being too intense.
However, 20 miles is twenty miles. After about 14 miles my wife was no longer able to hike. She was simply too drained from the heat and the distance. However as fate would have it a road crossed the trail in the middle of the park. This was a perfect spot for her and our kids to set up a temporary camp and allow me to return to the car ( another 6 miles away)
I removed all my gear and made sure that the kids and her had everything they needed to stay hydrated and safe while I returned with the car. I took off at a respectable runners pace. I was wearing hiking boots, but otherwise was in ready to run condition. The first mile or so was smooth sailing, except for the spiderwebs that seemed to cross the trail every five feet or so.
With the first mile under my belt I was confident that the rest of the trek was going to be easy. Then disaster struck. The trail changed from soil and stone and I found myself in thick mud almost to my knees. My boots were filled with sand and water. My socks were soaked. I continued to run towards camp. My family’s safety the foremost thought in my mind.
Despite my good conditioning the miles and the mud and sand began to wear me down. I had not brought any water as I left it all with my family. The heat was beginning to rise and the 14 previous miles began to weigh on me. I had what I can only describe is an out of body experience. I lifted above myself to watch me run through the muddy trails. I was aware only of my running. Each step was my focus now.
Each step began to get slower and slower. I was now aware of a great burning in my shoes. I was beginning to slow to almost a walk. Then a shuffle. At long last I had made it to the car. I was breathing heavy though I had walked most of the last mile. I was able to get behind the wheel and after having a gatorade from the camp i was able to drive to get my family.
I quickly found my family. Thankfully all were safe and had recovered from the exhaustion. I however, was not quite as well. I of course had my wife drive back to camp. we decided after the days events that going home was the best idea. She and the kids quickly broke camp as I reclined in our car.
Again i was aware of the burning in my feets. I unlaced the now mud caked boots and removed the boots carefully. each sock was blood soaked as the sand and water had sand blasted my feet as I ran. I was able to remove the socks as a wave of intense pain set in. As we drove home shock began to take control. My body went in to a high fever. I was shaking uncontrollably as we drove the hour home.
My wife, who I should add is a top notch nurse, suggested the hospital was where I belonged. The word hospital snapped me from my shock long enough to argue the expense and germ ridden nature of modern medicine. She agreed i would not go to the hospital, provided I follow her instructions without argument. I agreed.
Once home I attempted to shower off the mud, sweat and spider webs, but the act of standing was now impossible. I crawled from the shower (still quite dirty) and managed to get myself into our bed. This is the point where I needed and asked for help. My wife watched over me that night and all of that Sunday.
Thanks to her care I was able to return to work on Monday. Though I was walking slow and had my feet bandaged heavily. I am not saying anything about this story is smart, but that is the point I need to reach in order to ask for help when I am sick.