Pacific Crest Midlife Crisis/My Why
My PCT journey began with back pain and a dreaded problem mothers everywhere joke about quietly and middle-aged women ramp up the courage to seek help for. Here is a hint, ladies… don’t sneeze/cough/jump without squeezing your pelvic floor. Yeah. My PCT journey started with surgery for bladder prolapse and urinary incontinence.
I knew from my experiences as a midwife and several decades as a mother of three that this problem was not going away no matter how many Kegel exercises I did. When my surgeon went to fix the bladder issue, she found another small problem: a rectocele. Essentially a rectocele is a small hernia unique to the female anatomy. She fixed it.
The moment I woke after a night in my own bed without a searing back pain I knew something really amazing had happened because for the previous seven years I had been suffering from chronic back pain. When the pain first started, I could not sit down for THREE MONTHS. I went nowhere. Using the toilet was excruciating and I laid down 70% of my day because I could only stand stooped over with pain.
No one could identify the problem. All the tests suggested my back was normal. I felt like I was going insane, and the doctors assumed it was in my head. Just as an aside, this is how women’s bodies are treated: like they never read the user manual and some other person is more capable of telling us how to use the thing.
And now—the morning after a random surgical repair having nothing to do with my back—I felt AMAZING! I was a 43-year-old woman, and I could suddenly imagine doing the things I couldn’t have in my 30s. My longtime dream of hiking the PCT suddenly seemed viable and I was on fire to do it!
I live on the outskirts of Yosemite National Park, and I began day hiking five to ten miles several times a week and read voraciously about the PCT. Eventually, I told my husband, who is 100% adoring and 100% supportive of everything I do, but he wasn’t entirely sure about me hiking ALONE for four months straight. He was terrified. Slowly (so slowly) he began to see how I could do it safely and how we could keep in contact with each other while I am living in a tent for months. He day hiked with me and we went on backpacking trips into the backcountry.
And so it begins. I am 44, and for me, it is now or never. I am going to do it!
2022 is my year.
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