The Tough Mudder aftermath and other first world health problems

I’m sick and I hurt. This is really a classic example of a first world healthcare problem. Yesterday, I woke up with a very bad cold and I ran a Tough Mudder anyway. If you’re not familiar with the Tough Mudder, it’s a 10+ mile obstacle course of mud, barbed wire, fire and electric shocks. There’s a lot of crawling over gravel and pulling yourself up and over walls.

Tara Courtland

Communications Director Tara Courtland

You pay a lot of money for the adventure — between $75 and $250, plus travel, hotel, gear, etc. And then you hope that you don’t require a trip to the hospital (plenty of people do) during the run. Best case scenario, you spend the next 48 hours mostly unable to move, covered in bruises and scrapes and muscle soreness that make even climbing the stairs difficult.

Spending the day running through mud and extreme heat and cold didn’t do anything to help my sinuses, my cough or my throat either.

So today I can’t move, except to cough and whine for someone to bring me more tissues.

I mention this to illustrate the incredible disparity in medical problems in our society. On one end of the spectrum are people without access to healthcare, people with chronic health conditions who can’t afford medicine, people who don’t go to the doctor when they’re sick or who use emergency rooms for minor ailments because it’s the only option they have. Thousands or millions of people in this country live in fear of an injury that will leave them unable to work, even for a few days.

On the other end are people like me who pay good money and travel long distances for dangerous recreational activities figuring “there’s a fairly good chance I’ll break an arm but it probably won’t be any worse than that. And I’ll get sicker because I’m not taking care of myself, but I can just take the day off tomorrow to recover.”

And I’ll buy stuff for the symptoms: ice packs, some Arnica, an extra bottle of Advil, a heating pad, a box of Benadryl, a bottle of Sudafed, some nose drops, a couple boxes of tissues, several flavors of herbal tea and a jar of honey.

No big deal, it’s just money. In fact, more than a full day’s worth of money for people making minimum wage in my state.

It doesn’t make me hurt any less and it doesn’t make my sinuses feel any better, but it’s somewhat comforting (and guilt-inducing) to know I’m here cause I chose this. I get to pick my health problems. Plenty don’t.

TM wall

Tara Courttland (in black) spent 5 minutes climbing this wall and five hours complaining about how much her arms hurt afterwards.

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About Tara Courtland

Tara Courtland is the communications director at NEMT.
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