Day 24 Zero’d into Hiawassee from Top of Georgia.
Today I decided for sure I was going to go see the doctor in town. I took the shuttle into Hiawassee and thankfully he dropped me off at Serendipity Clinic.
This is an awesome clinic (and the only urgent care in town) owned by Dr. Kilee Smith and her husband. She is a DO who specializes in long-distance hiking injuries. She does not take insurance and operates on a cash only basis. She is one heck of a doctor!
She took no less than an hour and a half just listening to ALL of my history. By the time I went through everything, she said she had a strong suspicion that I had Ehlers-Danlos Type 4.
When she performed the physical examination of my ankles, she knew there was no way I was suffering from tendonitis. Because of the Ehlers-Danlos, all of my ligaments are like rubber bands with no snapping point. The ligaments cannot really be stretched to the point of breaking before the bone is affected. Most people would sprain their ankle as a safeguard, but I don’t have that, so I just kept pounding on until I had a stress reaction within the bone which usually results in stress fractures. Basically, only a person with Ehlers-Danlos Type 4 would ever present with this.
Taking all of this into consideration, she said that the terrain of the AT just wasn’t compatible with my condition. She said it would be possible for me to complete the AT, but a different trail like the PCT would be easier for my ankles.
She said the only way to completely heal them would be to rest for 6 weeks, but if I wanted to get back on the trail now, she would recommend 10 days of rest for healing, then I could continue on with ankle braces but only at a pace of 3-4 miles per day.
Because I do want to finish the trail, I am going to go with her 10 day rest plan and 3-4 miles per day. With this pace, I will not be able to make it to Katahdin NOBO, so I will have to Flip Flop. That is kind of a bummer, but better than nothing!
Right now, I’m at the Holiday Inn Express in Hiawassee with Nooner. He’s keeping me company and entertained.
Thanks for joining me on Expedition Elizabeth!