2016 was physically and mentally challenging but not altogether in an active way unfortunately.
In September 2015 when I arrived back home in London after finishing the PCT, I was immediately restless and needed to walk. I had limited time so I decided to walk the Camino Frances for a second time. The mistake was thinking my ankle injury from 4 months earlier on the PCT was all healed up… it turned out that it wasn’t and the pain was excruciating on the many hard surfaces of the Camino. Stubbornness and determination got me to Santiago but I knew something was really wrong with my left foot.
A trip to the doctor and an MRI confirmed I had torn my ATFL and CFL ligaments as well as cartilage and joint damage. It wasn’t in a good state and probably wasn’t the best idea to walk a further 2,500 miles after that initial roll, (the one with the loud popping sound that ended up with me on the ground and holes in the knees of my pants and the immediate feeling of sickness followed by fear and then tears through clenched teeth).
I was told it needed to be operated on immediately because each continued step was only doing more damage, so off I went for a Brostrom Ligament reconstruction. The surgeon cut through my ankle bone, reattached some ligaments, stuck some metal in and sewed it up, leaving me with three sets of stitches and holes around the ankle. My hopes of becoming a foot model (for wide brick-like feet with bunions) were now forever dashed!
I’d never been in a plaster cast before or on crutches and I hope never to be again. The cast was from my toes to my knee and the crutches were just a pain in the a***! Oh, and the pain felt exactly like someone had sawed open my ankle with a chainsaw. (I decided to omit the gory stitches and scarring photos!)
I’ll skip the part about feeling sorry for myself, frustrated or even being a terrible patient and just say that I wasn’t allowed to walk for 5 months after the operation and there were some moments during that time when I thought that I would never be able to walk again… like really walk, like PCT walk.
Along came September, my 5 months was up and I was desperate to walk. I also had a little project which needed me to be in Portugal so off I went with my pack and walking gear. I spent 3 months seeking out the best Pastel de Nata, exploring the incredibly beautiful country, and meeting some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. I fell in love with Portugal all over again and I also managed to walk just over 1,200km. The human body is a miraculous machine. I’ll be writing more about some of the walks I did over there in future posts. Here’s a taster:
I was also incredibly humbled to be interviewed by the awesome Sarah Williams – founder of the inspiring and motivating Tough Girl Podcast. Most of you will know that I’m scared of my own shadow so it was nice to be considered tough 😉 If you want to listen to me ramble on about walking, click here.
So that was my 2016. Since my first Camino in May 2013, I’ve now walked over 10,700km (6,687mi) and hopefully I can continue to walk thousands more. I’m back and I’ve got so much planned for 2017, so stay tuned!