Editor’s note: Dr. Mark Plotkin is president of Amazon Conservation Team, a nonprofit organization that partners with indigenous people of South America to preserve their cultures and protect the Amazon rainforests. This is one in a series of columns CNN Opinion is publishing in association with the Skoll World Forum on people who are finding new ways to help solve the world’s biggest problems.
(CNN) — “What’s wrong with your foot?” asked the medicine man as I ducked into his grass hut to escape the tropical downpour. He could see that I walked with a slight limp.
Like many an aging athlete, I had injured myself while training for a hike. I knew I had to condition myself to be able to walk 50 miles carrying a backpack at 9,000 feet. So strenuous was the training that I hurt my foot and had to hobble into the offices of physicians, orthopedists and chiropractors — in short, anyone who might heal my affliction.
I tried massage, ice packs, heating pads and whirlpool baths. I took aspirin, ibuprofen, anti-inflammatories, prescription pain pills and a cortisone injection in search of relief. The pain was reduced to the point where it became bearable, and I completed the hike. But I felt my injury every step of the way.
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