Bionic Woman is hiking the Appalachian trail
Team Member: Jay O'Hare
EVENT DATE Mar 06, 2015
Ekieh Rellon wrote -
Interview Q&A - NikiRellon (for Hilary Oliver) 5.4.15
Nowadays, income is my biggest challenge. Adidas has supported me with gear, and GoPro to document my story. But I have no income for food, fuel, incidentals…I would love to spread the word about my CrowdRise fundraiser that will help me to complete the trail:https://www.crowdrise.com/oneleggedwomenwants…/…/ekiehrellon (Copy will be edited this week FYI)
What prompted your AT hike?
After I got out of the ICU (after I broke my pelvis, spine, foot/amputated leg, ribs and sternum, etc.) ICU, I went to Germany to do my rehab and live with my parents. After a long time doing all the PT and doctors’ visits, I found myself depressed, on pain meds with little leg strength to show for it. Having hiked the PCT before, I knew that a long hike on the AT would aid in my recovery, to regain strength. My goal is to reach 90% leg strength by the end of the trail. My goals are to return to ski instruction, become an adaptive ski instructor, and compete on an adaptive snowboard team in Colorado. (I plan to be finished by the second week in October.)
How did you decide on the AT?
I completed the PCT in 2006 (2600 miles). The AT is an easier trail than the PCT, physically and logistically, so it is a perfect fit for my goals. I knew it would be easier to get off the trail and find Prosthetists along the trail to make adjustments to my prosthetic.
Were your doctors supportive?
Nope. I didn’t believe what they told me or that all the prescribed medications would help me recover. Massage, PT, Opiates, etc. is not my idea of getting back to normal.
In Germany, they prescribed so many medications forthe pain (that I needed to take daily) but I found myself becoming angry and depressed. I knew that I had to make a change because it all starts in your brain, and I think negative thoughts/depression begets pain. All I would hear from the doctors and my parents was “You cannot do…You cannot hike.” The AT is my escape from the negativity and truly, the pain has subsided so drastically….I only take pain meds every once a while vs. every day Germany. I am a trained EMT and Paramedic, so I knew what would work for me. It’s important after injury to make your own mind up, research and talk to people and educate yourself to aid your own recovery.
Do you have a trail name?
“Bionic Woman”- it was given to me by a friend and it stuck.
What were the first couple of days on the trail like?
Very frustrating. It was hard to have people pass me on the trail. I can usually hike any pace…I averaged 43 miles a day on the PCT, but my first day on AT, I only hiked 7 miles.
But today, I can keep up with the average hiker on the trail… I can do 20 miles without my pack or 12-15 miles with my 27lb pack. (sometimes Trail Angels haul packs for hikers.)
How has this challenge pushed you beyond what you'd be doing in a typical rehab program?
Controlled Rehab is very good at the beginning of the recovery process. You need to take slowly as you begin to walk with a walker in a hospital.But as soon as I could walk with a cane, I knew that twenty minutes of rehab 3x a week would never get me back to 100%- back to a real life…that’s why I left for the AT. On AT there is no excuse…there are no day breaks if you’re tired, you have to keep moving.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?What kinds of challenges have you had specific to your prosthetic and leg? Limbs can change in size a lot from day to day — has fitting your socket be difficult?
At the start, I had the wrong prothestic leg.It createda lot of friction. My stump was swollen with bad hot spots, and scar tissue was becoming a real problem. I had to quit the trail or 10 days and go on crtuchesand take antibiotics to ward off infection. Thanks to Click Medical and RevoFit, I have a new socket with Vacuum system and the Boa Closure System. The Boa dial is so helpful because I am swollen in the morning, but throughout the day my circulation improves and I can just tighten the dial while I am hiking for the perfect fit.
Nowadays, income is my biggest challenge. Adidas has supported me with gear, and GoPro to document my story. But I have no income for food, fuel, incidentals…I would love to spread the word about my CrowdRise fundraiser that will help me to complete the trail: https://www.crowdrise.com/oneleggedwomenwantstohiketheappalachiantrail/fundraiser/ekiehrellon (Copy will be edited this week FYI)
What kind of possibilities will new technology like that open for other amputees?
What Click Medical is doing by providing a better fitting prosthetic with the Boa Closure System, amputees are able to participate in more activities than ever beforebecause the prosthetic fit can be changed instantly as the body changes.
What response do you typically get from other hikers? What kind of support do you expect along the way?
People seem more motivated and more confident. I think they think, “If she can hike this, I can too.” I think an amputee, a man, hiked the AT in 2004 and was supported by a van. My goal is to do this 100% and carry my own supplies…I think I can do the whole thing.
Biggest Support: I have arranged for 8 food supply boxes to be sent to me along the way and Boa and Click -they got me my new leg.
How many miles have you covered so far? Or, how many do you average per day?400 (been on the trail 7 weeks; see average mileage above)
How do you define adventure?
Adventure is living life to the fullest.
A comment from my Friend Jay !
Jay : I want you to support my dear friend Niki Rellon, we have been good friends for a long time. Niki was the German Women's Welterweight Kick Boxing Champion, she Boxed professionally in Europe. she rode her Bicycle from Alaska to Mexico City by herself. She backpacked the entire Pacific Crest Trail (Mexico to Canada by herself. She was a ski Instructor Colo. and also Ski patrol. She got her own Motorcycle and rode it to Alaska from Colorado and back by herself.
She was repelling in Utah with friends last year ... made a mistake and fell 40 feet and landed on her back in rocks .... She fell so far that the impact broke her Climbing helmet in half.
I can't begin to list all her injuries, too numerous... her foot was broken so badly ... She said "Take it off" as it could never be repaired or made whole. Look at her Facebook page and see what she has been doing since she lost her foot during the last years. I can't describe the pain and tribulation she has told me about... It is her story not mine, she is one of the most inspiring friends I have ever had.
She wants to hike the Appalachian Trail this Spring.
If you need something to give you some hope and inspiration connect with my friend and help her to raise the money to keep her on the trail that she can accomplish, as the FIRST one legged women who is hiking the Appalachian trail !