Y’all, I love the outdoors. I love hiking and camping and days on the lake. Being outside, away from the city, away from everyday life, away from road rage and noisy neighbors, away from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and screens in general…this is where I have always been happiest. I regularly ask Hubs if, when I’m better, we can just be homesteaders who live off the land in a cabin in the mountains somewhere. (And he regularly tells me I shouldn’t have married an electrical engineer if I wanted to live off-grid! Haha!)
For the past two-ish years, I haven’t spent a ton of time outside. I’ve been indoors resting and trying to coax my body into healing itself. And while we have attempted a few very short hikes, they have been few and far between, as the required post-activity rest time is pretty substantial and makes it hard to do everyday tasks. Needless to say, our adventurer spirits are getting a little stir-crazy.
You’d think that after all this time I’ve spent at home “trapped like a duck in a pen” as we say on Rocky Top, I would be overjoyed to plan a camping trip with Hubs.
But you’d be wrong.
Not entirely wrong, but still wrong.
Truthfully, as we’ve begun planning this upcoming camping trip, I’ve felt more anxious and fearful than happy or excited. The happiness and excitement are there, but they’re definitely being overshadowed.
When you’re chronically ill, even the most exciting plans can be tainted by what-ifs and worry. When you’re chronically undiagnosed, the what-ifs are multiplied by 50. I never know from day-to-day what new symptoms might spring up or what fresh way my body might decide to fail me.
And that scares the daylights out of me.
So to leave the comfort and safety of my spot on the couch in favor of a stump in the woods makes me uncomfortable, to say the least. What if I need to go to the hospital? What if I have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom (probable)? And what if there’s a bear (improbable, but possible)?! What if? What if? What if?!
It upsets me that I’m so nervous to do something I love because of this illness. It angers me that despite all that this sickness has taken from me, it still wants more. Can’t I have just one thing?!
This camping trip then, in my mind, is a small act of defiance. This is me putting my foot down and saying “no more!” Get back, you nameless illness, because I’m tired of you running things around here! You can’t take anything else!
Even in my defiance, I know this is going to be a hard trip. We aren’t hiking and we’ve planned low-spoon activities, but I know that simply being out of my own space, traveling, and sleeping outside will cost me dearly. These are not things that my sick body is accustomed to doing anymore.
It’s hard to find a balanced, healthy way to do the things that I’ve always loved. My mind, which still seems to think I’m healthy and fit, tells me that I should carry my gear to a backcountry site, that what we’re planning isn’t real camping. My mind wants to climb mountains! And then, my mind tells me that if I’m not doing those things, I may as well not go at all. It’s a challenge not to listen when my mind says these things, but this trip is, I hope, a first step in reconciling my old self, who never passed up an opportunity for an adventure, and my new self, who still longs for adventure but isn’t as physically capable.
In the end, even though we aren’t hiking or having extreme adventures, I hope that Hubs and I (and Kona) will return restored and refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of the next few months!
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