Yesterday I went bushwalking. It was certainly a walk in the bush, of which I mean the following of paths and not straying from them unless I knew with absolute certainty that it was safe to do so.
A friend and I headed off into the Royal National Park. It had been almost three months since my last bushwalk and I wasn’t quite fit enough for that one. Considering the amount of physical activity I had done in the interim was somewhere in the range between very little and not at all, it’s quite safe to say that I was not quite fit enough for this one either, though that wasn’t quite what took me down.
We started early and got a good pace. The first part was a fire trail and it was easy to move along. Kind of interesting, kind of not. If it had been my first time I did this particular walk, then I’d probably have found this part of the track more interesting, but I’ve seen it enough to not quite care for it.
Eventually the fire trail ended and we continued along the path we needed to follow in order to continue our walk. We checked out a waterfall and it was quite strong (the last time I was at this place the waterfall and the creek it fell into were quite dry). We walked through a semi-open, rather windy area. Saw sweeping valleys… you know, stuff easy to see in quite a few bushland regions.
Eventually we reached a major rest point and so rest we did. We were doing quite well for time. Had The Honeymoon Track as the last major hurdle (a part of The Royal National Park that I don’t like to walk, though still find it appreciable). The rest was somewhat-smooth.
Whilst we were resting I started getting pain around my right lung (or at least what I’m assuming was around my right lung as it was in the vicinity. It went from the front of my chest through to my back. There was also quite a bit of pain in my right shoulder and in a small part of the right side of my neck. I began to have difficulty breathing. I stood up, tried pacing back and forth just to see if it helped, which it did not, though on the plus side it didn’t make things worse.
My friend had gone to the bathroom whilst this was happening. When they came back I told them what I was feeling, then made my way to the bathroom. I wasn’t able to walk too fast. On the way back to where we were resting I was slower. I told my friend a bit more about what I was experiencing, but that I could keep going; we’d just have to go slow. They were fine with the change of pace.
My friend took a few items I had so my backpack was lighter. It helped out quite a bit.
We walked up to a short bridge we needed to cross in order to continue. I was struggling more with breathing. When I say struggling, I still was breathing, but my breaths were quite shallow as it hurt quite a lot to breathe. We stopped on the bridge for a moment, then kept going. Still was moving quite slow.
On the other side we kept walking for maybe a minute before I said I needed to lie down. I had been somewhat-concerned beforehand and here I still was, but I was quite calm by this point. I had panicked a bit when I went to the bathroom and came out, but I wasn’t feeling faint and was still quite conscious and aware, so I felt that there was a good chance that I had only strained something and didn’t require a hospital visit.
I lay in the shade partially in the recovery position (right shoulder was too sore to allow myself into recovery position properly) and my breathing was much better. I couldn’t quite breathe deeply without some pain, but normal breathing was easy. I lay there for a bit and my friend and I talked. My friend made it clear that if I wanted to stop and call an ambulance, or get a lift out of the park and to a train station, they’d support it. I think there were a few times I told them what I was experiencing and I went through my reasoning as to why I didn’t feel it was necessary to call an ambulance.
I don’t know if I should or should not have called an ambulance. Skills gained from Marine science studies don’t quite translate well when it comes to medical deduction (depending on the specific field of course, but in my case it comes to very little, if any of what I’ve learned is useful for medical stuffs) and I’m not entirely sure if my deductions were sound. However, I felt that, considering I was still conscious and aware, I was still able to talk and when in a position where I could breathe more comfortably without that ability to breathe growing more difficult made me think that I’d strained something rather than grievously injured myself. Well, there’s that and I was too stubborn to give up the walk.
Considering where the pain was I figured that it was the weight on my backpack being quite poorly balanced, creating a lot of strain that could’ve been avoided. Not 100% certain, but it was (and still is) what I felt was the main cause.
Eventually I got up and the pain, whilst still quite prominent, was not as bad as earlier. We kept going slowly, though I was a little faster. When we reached the start of The Honeymoon Track I had another rest. Then we slowly made our way up.
The Honeymoon Track is short. It is (if I remember correctly) one-and-a-half kilometres and usually takes around twenty minutes. When you start it at the Audley End, it’s mostly uphill. Going slow and stopping semi-regularly made it a lot easier for me to handle.
By the time we got to the top my breathing and walking was much better, but still not great. We had one more rest, I called my partner and let her know what was going on but that I was mostly fine (as, whilst I was in pain, I was functional and coping). My friend and I then did the last bit of the walk.
We followed the Loftus tram track to near the park’s edge (saw an eastern brown snake along the way), took a turn away from the tracks and followed a path that took us to where we needed to cross a road to get to Loftus Station. By that point I was significantly better, though still in bad shape.
Caught the train, went home, rested. Took it easy. Still am at the moment. Today has been rough. Deep breaths still aren’t great and they lead to me coughing a bit, but the pain is nearly gone. Well, I think it’s nearly gone. It’s probably going to linger for a few days. My legs are more sore than my chest, arm and neck are, so I consider that some sort of positive.
The walk was a good one. Needing to rest and slowing down added extra time but it was time well spent. We got to see some great scenery and a good amount of birds. The air was crisp and lovely, and all around the sound was rather peaceful and relaxing. It was worth the effort, which is more than I can say about writing out all of this. However, at the end of all of this, I feel that it is important to state one rather important thing:
Make sure the weight in your backpack is properly balanced.
I’d say something about fitness but I don’t feel as though I overestimated that as the walk we did isn’t a difficult walk so long as you’re careful. Being fitter would’ve helped, but a lack thereof didn’t do much to impede. The backpack weight balancing firmly stands, however.