Back in August 2015 we had a team building event at work. This involved silly highland games (hunt the haggis), a navigation challenge, a speedboat trip up and down Loch Lomond, a nice lunch, a nicer dinner and best of all, a free bar. Although the rules were changed when it was noticed that we were all drinking spirits (at a fast rate) and not the odd glass of beer. Hey invite engineers to a free bar and what do think will happen? We’ll drink all the lemonade? Anyway during one of the games I “did” my back. Hurt like hell unless I sat a certain way. The next morning, nothing, no pain at all. I actually forgot I’d done something.
Two weeks late I was up on the Invercauld Estate (Braemar) when it went again. I was 6km from the car and it hurt. It took me 2hrs+ to get back and my back was not best pleased. A quick diagnosis with Google suggested a slipped disc. I took it easy for a few weeks then I had to restart my daily rowing. That regular exercise was an essential part of my diabetes management and my sugars were not good without it. I took it easy but soon was able to row with little problem but not as hard as before.
October and I was in Dublin for a conference and I bagged Ben of Howth. A trivial walk to be honest but my back let me know it was not happy and I should be very careful. It would stab me with pain at random whether I was moving or not. I felt distinctly unwell TBH. Then November I was in Lanazarote. I had a few simple summits lined up. The warm weather did wonders for my back as did a fair amount of swimming and canoeing. Finally in December I was in Southern France for work and managed 2 hair raising but easy walking summits. No pain at all in France. But as soon as I was back to inactive or Scottish weather it was grumbling away.
The normal treatment is to keep active and let it heal itself which it was doing. By late January I saw my doctor who agreed it was a slipped disc but only minor. I wouldn’t be rowing at all with a proper fully slipped disc. He prescribed some stretching exercises from the UK Arthritis Society which are zero effort and take about 10mins a day. These (and some similar) exercises that Neil 2M0NCM sent me have worked wonders. My back isn’t 100% yet but it is so much better. It’s probably 90-95% fixed.
Today was a cracking day and I had marked this as a day to check back performance to see if I need to revisit the doctor. Trahenna Hill GM/SS-143 is a nice hill, about 40mins from here and has the advantage of having a steep bit and a gentle bit of walking. It’s only 2.1km and 270m ascent. I thought I’d try it and immediately abort if anything felt wrong. It took me an age to find all the SOTA gear as holiday SOTApeditions and my general lazyness meant everything was scattered. I had to double triple check I had everything and then came the moment of truth at the car park. Could I do this?
Boots on, hat, fleece, gloves and we’re off. No problems apart from less exercise (plus holidays, Christmas) meant the walking trousers were a bit snug. It was great to be booted up. The computer says 52mins to the summit. Whilst I had to stop for a breather when I normally wouldn’t bother, I still got to the top in 45mins. That surprised me as I didn’t feel at all fit climbing. Seeing the summit cairn and just standing on a real Scottish summit again looking about me was a wonderful feeling. I spent my youth as a slob, got fitter, lost weight and got my health somewhat sorted doing SOTA and to have had to give it up for nearly 6months was terrible.
Anyway it was punishingly cold, I’d forgotten that part. I set up and was about to start when about 11 walkers in a group turned up with lots of questions etc. Anyway they moved on after they had their coffee etc. and I called CQ on 20m CW then spotted myself and had some fun. First, my CW was awful after nearly 10weeks QRT but slowly I worked the stations. It was nice to be on after 1500Z as KA1R was easy, KG3W a bit harder and my ODX was Frandy ND0C in Minnesota. 20m was not busy so I switch to 30m and and a few more contacts. By now it was 1545Z, I was frozen and I wanted to be QRT by 1600Z max. I pulled down the station and hightailed it back to the car. 32mins to get back to the car to complete the warming up.
Now Trahenna is a bumble but when you’ve been stuck in the shack. OK I did 6 activations whilst injured but they didn’t count as they were not hard. This was the first with proper boots, my rucksack on my back etc. The fact it went well is such a boost to me. Now to keep on stretching and rowing till next week and then hopefully another simple summit.
It feels so good to be able get out. Really it does.