March 29, 2017
I am two miles from Erwin, TN, our next resupply town. Jay is a good ways ahead, and I am alone with warm sun in a bright, cloudless blue sky. My pack is light, birds are singing, the trail is wide and mostly level. Life doesn’t get better than this, and I am unequivocally happy!
The trail begins a steep slope downward, and I think, “Pay attention, Sarah! Just because it is a beautiful day, you still need to watch your feet!” And so I obediently watch my foot land upon some leaves, feel a golf-ball sized rock roll under the leaves, under my foot, pitching me head first down the hill. Down I go, trying to protect my head as I approach the ground, and I know, right as I land – it’s a bad one.
The world whirls around me as I lay in the dust. I groan, and take inventory – head fine, right arm fine, right knee bleeding slightly, left leg fine, left arm – not okay. Fire and brimstone have suddenly taken up residence across the length of my left shoulder, dripping down my back and arm.
Slowly I undo the straps on my pack and struggle to sit up. There, amid dirt and rocks and leaves, I cry a bit. It hurts so much, and I can’t believe I’ve fallen on such an easy section!
Jay and I have crossed ridge tops where wind threatened to shove me over the edge. We’ve hiked through thunder and lightning on mountain balds where the rain made the muddy trail so slick, Jay dubbed it ‘trail snot’. We’ve slipped down several miles of ice-packed trails, struggling to maintain our balance as physics overcame shoe leather. HOW could I have fallen on THIS easy section?
I stand, and pick up my pack. Lucky it is so light, for I can barely swing it across my right shoulder, and there is NO WAY my left shoulder can take its share of the load. Slowly I limp down the trail, sobbing when I occasionally jar my left side, and sobbing with relief when I finally see Jay, returning up the hill to find out what was taking me so long.
We have reservations with Mike and Peggy at Cantarroso Farms, so we call to ask for a pick up. Then Jay carries my pack toward Erwin, and I walk, holding my arm against my side. Mike from Cantarroso Farms hikes in a little ways to check on me, and carries my pack the last few hundred yards. His comment on the lightness of my pack – “Now this is a lady who knows how to pack!”
Mike takes us to Erwin Urgent Care, where I am x-rayed. The doctor there is charmingly frank, “I’m a family practitioner. I won’t be able to tell you if it’s broken until the radiologist reads the x-ray tomorrow. I don’t even like orthopedics! Wear a sling, and go to Johnson City or Knoxville for an expert’s advice.”
March 30, 2017
We spend the day at Cantarroso Farms, drinking in peace and quiet, watching the chickens, listening to song birds, and learning about bees! The owners, Mike and Peggy, kindly let us watch and assist as they split a bee hive and feed their bees. It is fascinating!
Erwin Urgent Care calls and I hear the verdict of my shoulder – “You have a cracked clavicle. Yes, that is your collarbone. It will take four weeks to completely heal. You might want to consult an expert.”
March 31, 2017
So, once again, my sister becomes trail angel extraordinaire. She drives four hours round trip on Friday after work to bring us to Knoxville, and Monday she takes me to see an expert – a doctor at Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic.
The doctor describes the break. “The skinny part of your collarbone has crunched into the knuckly end part, with several bits and pieces cracked, like a cone scrunched onto a scoop of ice cream. It’s not a simple little hairline fracture. You should consider this a thoroughly broken collarbone.”
The good news? All the pieces are in the correct place, so, as long as I give it plenty of rest, it should heal very well. However, the doctor does get rather agitated when talking about the importance of not falling. “Those bits and pieces are almost impossible to put together surgically, so keep it calm, and whatever you do, DON’T FALL!”
A follow-up appointment in 10 days is made. In the meantime, what am I to do with myself?