What do you do when you realize you have a badly infected tooth while you are in the back of beyond, miles from any town? Whine a little, moan a little, panic a lot, and try not to bawl or cuss. (Don’t want to scare daughter…or other hikers…or woodland creatures!)
1. Assess your options. Miles of walking and a hundred dollars or more for shuttles to and from a town with medical care seems prohibitive. (Plus, odds are good there will be little help available on a weekend.)
2. Make a plan: call family dentist to request antibiotics be called in to local pharmacy back home. (Explain more than once where you are and why you are wandering in the woods!) Call hubby to ask him to pick up meds and mail them asap to the next town you will reach. (No extra explanations needed for him...)
3. PANIC when there is poor cell coverage, even at an overlook. Whew! Say a thank-you prayer when both calls get through and help is on the way (“only” a few days down the trail).
4. Try to distract from pain while hiking. Look for beauty, hum, kick a few rocks, etc. Soak bandana in cold stream and hold to swollen cheek.
5. Throw balled up bandana across the shelter when it isn’t cold enough to help. Try holding water bottle to cheek. (Better, but still not much help… waaaaa!)
6. Try using tea bags as a compress. Isn’t that a folk remedy? At least it’s DOING something…and the tea is soothing.
7. Nighttime are worst: laying down increases swelling which increases pain and crying isn’t an option. Gotta let the other hikers get their sleep.
8. At least there are other hikers smart enough to carry both Tylenol and ibuprofen…and generous enough to share their stash of Tylenol. By alternating, one can safely get some level of pain relief every two hours. (Is it terrible to confess a wish that someone had some percocet to share?!)
9. Finally reach town three days later. Go to post office, saying lots of prayers that meds are already waiting for you…do a happy dance, hug the package, and hum the hallelujah chorus when the clerk brings out the little envelope. (Would have jumped the counter and given her a hug…but didn’t want to cause an incident!)
10. Hopefully by tomorrow, antibiotics will be working, swelling and pain will disappear, and we can get back to ENJOYING our walk in these lovely woods!
(Actually, injury or illness is the biggest danger of backwoods adventures. Read a post HERE discussing what people worry about when they hear we are heading to the woods…)
(Read about a big “owie” on our first hiking trip HERE.)