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Published: January 17th 2010
On Wednesday, during a quiet moment whilst chasing monkeys, Kat stated that she was disappointed we hadn’t yet experienced a tropical rain storm. Famous last words. With genius comic timing, the heavens decided to open the next day (our day off) just as I was hanging up my last sock to dry on the washing line! Since then it has been raining on and off with stupendous force. On Thursday I also noticed that my feet, ankles and calves had started to swell up. I had no idea why but it was rather disturbing to look at and the flexibility in my feet was greatly reduced. Rhea suggested that I was probably dehydrated so I should drink lots and sleep with my feet elevated.
After we had all gone to bed on Thursday evening Kat got her wish. Once a minute or so there would be a flash of lightening that would enlighten our previously pitch black cabin, followed a few seconds later by a crack of deafening thunder. The storm persisted into the morning. Karina’s watch woke us up at 4.10 and we were faced with the horrendous thought of walking through the jungle in not just the usual dark but the pouring rain as well. At 4.30 we received a messenger from the heavens themselves. Actually, it was just Gideon but as he had come to tell us that we were going to wait until after breakfast, at 6am, to go out to see if the rain would stop, he could very well have been!
That extra hour in bed was greatly received. Over breakfast it was decided that I would be going out with Kat, Gideon and Mini to bait traps and attempt to follow the newly discovered group with an infant. Despite drinking a litre of water and sleeping with my feet on a pillow, the swelling hadn’t gone down and I was starting to get cramps in my calves. I tried to ignore it and carry on but the swelling was making my boots very tight and difficult to walk in.
With all the extra rain of the previous night, the ground was very slippery. We managed to find the new group and followed them over some rather tough terrain. The slipperiness of the ground and my feet meant that I spent the majority of the day on the ground, having just fallen over! At one point I managed to slide down a bank, fall face first into a stream, stand up only to then fall backwards onto my bum!! After a few hours of falling over (and following some monkeys) I slipped down as I was climbing up a slope and twisted my left ankle. Shortly after that it started to bucket down again so we had to stop for a while. By now from the knees down I was a big lump of pain. Mini gave me some ibuprofen but it didn’t help. At about 1pm it was decided that I should call it a day so Gideon helped me find my way back to the main trail. From there I limped back to camp and managed a quick shower before flopping onto my bed. The next thing I remember is Mini and Gideon waking me up two hours later to check on me. They prodded, poked and manipulated my feet for a few minutes until they decided that I probably had plantar fasciitis, caused by my wellie boots and the rugged terrain of the jungle. This was not good news as its not something that can be cured quickly as the best treatment is complete rest. Collectively we came to the decision that I should go out the next day to see how long I could do before it became too much for my feet.
The next morning I took two of my favourite co-codamols(!) to stop the pain before it started. I was out with Kat and Rhea following and taking data on the main group. The previous night they had decided to sleep in a tree surrounded by 8ft high bamboo so the day was spent crashing through the stuff and getting cut to ribbons by the leaves. At one point I was leading the way and literally charged at the plants, trying to run through them - I could barely tell where I ended and the plants began. Funnily enough my feet weren’t’t too keen on all this. At about 9am (4 hours into the day) they started to make themselves known. I tried to ply them with another co-codamol tablet but they kept on shouting at me, “We don’t like this!”. I decided to stick it out til 11am so as not to seem like a complete wimp. At 10.45am I started taking a focal of the twins so couldn’t really leave for a little while. 11.30am came and went and the monkeys were all resting in a spot with a perfect view for us so I still couldn’t leave. At 12.30 we got to a point where we were only 30 metres away from the trail so I finally managed to make my escape, by which point my feet were screaming at me.
I got back to camp and again laid on my bed with my feet in the air hoping for some kind of relief but none came. I had thought that I would come back early that day so had made a mental list of things to do but I was in so much pain I couldn’t get out of the bed. A few hours later Karina came into the hut to get her shower things. As she had been out with Mini and Gideon it meant that they were back too. I shuffled my way from the cabin to the lab where Gideon was unpacking their backpacks. He could see I was in pain so asked to have a look at the offending objects. He barely touched my ankles but still managed to make me wail with agony. Mini walked in at that moment and immediately made the decision that I should take the next few days to recover a bit before we even thought about me going out again. I felt both relieved and disappointed; I had come to CICRA to go out into the jungle, not sit around camp twiddling my thumbs! That said, I knew that resting was the only available option. So as not to look like a lazy skiver I offered to do a load of data so that is what I have been doing today - hours and hours of data entry. Stupid feet!!!
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