Aftereffects

I’m writing this post 1 week and 2 days after my successful Kilimanjaro summit.

You may remember that I mentioned my poor toes when I wrote about our descent on day 7.  What I haven’t mentioned is that my toes have yet to recover.  Two of my fingers are also acting a little weird.

I left Tanzania the day after day 8.  We summitted on a Tuesday at 6:41 am and I was on a flight out on Thursday at 5 pm.  Yes, I followed 8 days of walking with 3 days of economy travel.  Wearing Keds.  Comfortable shoes, but still, closed up shoes.  Perhaps not my wisest decision.  Here’s how those 3 days went…

I spent 4 hours on a flight from Kilimanjaro to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), with a short stop in Mombasa (Kenya).  Since the stop in Mombasa wasn’t scheduled when I booked my ticket, the flight arrived in Addis one and a half hours later than originally scheduled so I had to hoof it through the airport, including a security check, to get to my next flight on time.  My feet bravely took the abuse and delivered me to my gate by the skin of my teeth.

Then I spent 10 hours on a flight from Addis Ababa to Hong Kong.  I sat in a cramped window seat with hardly any room to stretch out my legs, much less to elevate them.  Let me pause here a minute to say that I slept for about 6 hours on that flight!  This is remarkable because a few weeks ago, I was telling you about how I don’t sleep on long haul flights.  My Kili guide, Elly, had assured me that I wouldn’t sleep on my 1 night back in my hotel room (the night of day 8) but that I would knock out on my long haul flight.  Yet again, he was right on both counts.  Anyway, back to Hong Kong…

I spent about an hour walking around the Hong Kong airport, stretching my legs, getting my blood circulating, and just moving and taking things in (that airport is like a giant shopping mall – all I bought was a converter, though).  I spent the other hour of my layover drafting some of the posts that you have been reading.  Soon enough, it was time to get on my next flight.  This was a 5 hour flight from Hong Kong to Jakarta; I spent about half of it writing and the other half watching Black-ish.  I had 2 seats to myself on that flight but have you ever tried elevating your legs sideways across 2 airplane seats and still be comfortable?  Yeah, not so easy.  I settled for stretching them out under the seat in front of me as much as possible.

I overnighted at a hotel in Jakarta – best 5 hours’ sleep EVER (I spent about 3 hours that I should have been sleeping writing about Kili instead because I wanted to get it all out while it was fresh.  You’re welcome!).  Then it was back to the airport to catch my last flight – 3 hours to Banda Aceh, most of which I spent cramped into an aisle seat just in front of the exit row, so my seat didn’t recline; I couldn’t even begin to comfortably stretch out my legs.

And finally, I was done.  My big toes and second toes were swollen and in agony.  Also, they were blue.  And kind of purple.  And they stayed that way until about a day ago.  I’ve been elevating my legs every chance I get but there’s a lot of walking about that needs to be done every afternoon when the children arrive for classes at the centre (more on that in another post).  Still, they’ve started getting back a hint of pink and the feeling is starting to return to them.

Both of my middle fingers have been kind of odd over the past few days as well.  They’ve been a weird combination of tingly and numb.  They haven’t been uncomfortable enough to be distracting though, so I’ve barely paid them any attention.

My understanding from my Kili guide is that these are all aftereffects of the cold at the summit.  Bluish-purplish, swollen toes and numb fingers – thank God those are the only aftereffects I’ve had to contend with.  Plus, you know me, I’ve been praying over my toes (like I do just about everything) so although I’ve been doing what I can to ease the pressure on them and keeping an eye on what they’re up to, I haven’t been worried about them at all.  Tired of the discomfort, yes; worried, no.

And I’ve realised that even though it’s been uncomfortable, I wouldn’t change the circumstances under which I got them for the world.  I earned every ache and pain fair and square and I’m going to suffer through it and relish every memory of how I got them in the first place.

Aftereffects may be painful but they’re also downright precious.

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