Fall: Day 28ish

I love fall.  It is the perfect temperature to be outside.  It is cool, so I can look forward to warming up and building body heat as I exercise or work in my yard. I can wear sweaters and layer my clothes. I know that one day it will be warm when I go outside and cool the next.  The garden is coming to an end, and the leaves on the trees are turning color and falling off.

This year it has taken longer to get to this point, but it is here. We close up the patio doors at night to keep the heat in and open them in the day to air out the house and let the sounds of my waterfall in. It is peaceful. It helps me want to do things. This week, while I was supposed to be recuperating, I made mincemeat with my green tomatoes wishing that the apples were from my trees as well. I dream of the year that my soon to be orchard will produce enough for me to preserve the fruits and eat an abundance.  The only thing left in my yard is my butternut squash; they have a little ripening to do, so they sit under a tarp soaking up the heat changing color as well.  I have peas in the greenhouse for the first time growing little peas to help carry us through the winter with fresh vegetables.  Shortly img_20161029_090049676I will be planting lettuce and tomatoes. I might even try cucumbers.

When I hike, I watch for the changes in the desert.  There are many. Tarantulas come out. Rain washes new paths and cleans the brush. The fresh scent of rabbit brush and sage taint the air. Some things are flowering and others are turning brown. All are getting ready for the winter hibernation.  The cool air leaves my cheeks pinched pink and my hands sensitive to the breeze.

I am mentally ready to be back on the trail. The fall is calling me. The cool air teases me. I can picture the bright green trees and the spongy undergrowth up in the hills with the overcast backdrop. I want to be on the trail. Maybe next week, I’ll be physically able to go for a little hike.

Overdoing It: Day 27

I have been an over-doer for most of my life.  If anyone can overdo something, it can be me.  I don’t like to be told I can’t do something. It doesn’t matter what or why. I have been told to take it easy, don’t push things, a little goes a long way most of my life.

There is a reason for that. If a little is good; isn’t a lot better? I feel fine one day, so I take on more. More responsibilities, more work, more projects. But always there is a time when I can push further no more. Today is the no more day. I have been beat all day.  I can hardly get myself to get off the couch.

What led to this? I had a fundraiser yard sale last Saturday. I did all my weekend chores on Sunday to make up for what I didn’t do on Saturday. Then I taught all day Monday and tried to fit in errands that I knew I couldn’t do on Tuesday. Tuesday was surgery day, and I still tried to get some work done before going in. Wednesday, I took it easy. Kind of. I did work but easy work. I didn’t go in to work though because my husband asked me to stay home. Thursday, I felt really good, so I helped to pick up my new to me elliptical and I canned until late into the night. Today, when I got up, I was good for nothing.  I have been lying around all day feeling bad that I am not cleaning or doing any of the things on my list. I made myself go in to work to get some prepping done. Then I went grocery shopping to only find myself dragging the cart through the aisles putting stuff in that I didn’t really need. Back at home, I finally took a nap and did some dishes.  Now I am ready to go to bed.  I will get a few stretches or some yoga done so I can keep on with the 100 day challenge. But it has been a hard day.

I know why I am told to take it easy. But taking it easy doesn’t come to me naturally. If someone is working, then I should too. That is what wipes me out so much, though, and gets me into trouble. I will work on taking it easy the rest of the weekend.

General Anesthesia Detox: Day 26

When I told a friend of mine that I was going to have surgery, she offered to help me with a detox for general anesthesia (GA).  I didn’t know that there was such a thing, but I jumped at the chance because I trust her research and knowledge.  It turns out that GA toxins can stay in the body for quite a while.  I have had several surgeries before, and each one seemed to make me groggier than the last.  I felt sluggish and unhealthy.  The sluggishness, symptoms of the flue, and a sense of being ill were mentioned as results of the GA by my surgeon.

My friend told me to take aloe vera juice, milk thistle, grape seed, and gotu kola.  These will help to clean and protect the digestive system, the kidney, and the liver.  This is where the GA will settle and take its time leaving.  So with these items, I can expect that the sluggishness and grogginess won’t stick around as long.

It is recommended to start taking the aloe vera juice and milk thistle a week or two before surgery, but not the day of surgery.  I stopped taking them five days before the surgery because my admitting nurse suggested it.  I don’t want to cause any problems.  Some of these can interact with the medication given during surgery or they can cause bleeding problems in some people.  So, I follow instructions.

It is now two days after my surgery, and I feel great.  I started taking all the suggested herbals the next morning. I still get my tired moments, but my body is healing and rest will do it good.  I did not remain groggy or dizzy past the first night post opp. I quickly regained my energy and desire to do things.

The other part of recovery is to be sure to drink lots of fluids (especially water) and eat plenty of fruit and raw vegetables. This kind of fiber will also help take the toxins out with it as the water flushes out the system.

My doctor stated that the site wouldn’t be very painful, and she was right.  My biggest pain is from the hours of lying in bed while I was waiting to be taken back to surgery. My friend said she could help with the GA detox, and she was right too.  I will continue to take this combination as was suggested. Every day I feel better.

I Wish HeWould Snore: Day 25

When my son was a baby, I would awaken when I couldn’t hear him breathing.  Now I lay next to my husband wishing he would snore.  At least when he snores, I know he is breathing.  There is nothing like having a family member stop breathing in their sleep.  Unfortunately, that is how my aunt lost her husband, so I have been afraid of this for a long time.

My son was a sickly child.  It was something I learned to listen for and would fly out of bed when I couldn’t hear his breathing.  My husband isn’t sickly though.  He may have sleep apnea. This is something I have been thinking about quite a bit lately.  I have seen a handful of doctors recently and they all have asked me if I have sleep apnea.  I had to answer that I probably did as I snore, but never looked into it.  Now that so many have brought it up, I am considering it. However, after a night of laying  awake with my hand on my husband’s arm to make him take the next breath because I couldn’t get him to turn over, I think that we both need to get tested.

The symptoms of sleep apnea are snoring (especially loudly), stopping breathing, gasping for air, feeling groggy upon awakening, falling asleep during the day (and while driving).  There are some online quizzes to see if you probably have it, and there are a couple of tests the doctor can order to be sure.  One is an at home test and the other is a sleep study.  The sleep study is the most accurate.

Sleep apnea can cause weight gain, heart problems, stroke, diabetes, depression, and accidents.  None of these are things I want to risk.  So, why do I procrastinate getting this checked out?  I hope that lifestyle change will turn it around.  Also, I am reluctant to use a CPAP.  But there are other treatments to help with this aliment.  I have been waiting for a lifestyle change to help me out for a few years and finally gave in to treating my blood pressure this year.  So, why not the sleep problem?  My therapist asks me that question.  I like to think that I am trying to space out what I am trying to fix. I had taken care of my back.  I went in to get my feet taken care of and got put on blood pressure medicine and found a lump in my breast.  So I have those three things going on.  I am also now seeing a therapist to help me with my emotional eating and stress management.  I don’t know how I can fit more appointments into my days.  But, maybe it is time to get it checked out.

I am told that taking care of sleep apnea could help with the stress and eating problems.  It would definitely help with clarity during the day. Maybe I will quit forgetting words I want to use.  It would probably make me a safer driver.  This is something I should not put off any longer.  Hopefully, my husband won’t either. I don’t look forward to more sleepless nights.

Surgery Day: Day 24

I have to leave for my surgery check in at 1, so I am trying to get everything done early today.  It is a bit different to do all my exercising at once.  I spent an hour and a half doing my normal morning exercises, stretches, and yoga.  Then I added another 20 minutes of additional weight training to count for my daily exercises.

I had school stuff to take care of and a car to clean out.  Then there was the shower with antibacterial soap that left me feeling like I have a film on my skin.  I now am writing and then we will be off to see the surgeon.

I am anxious, but now that I have decided to cancel classes for tomorrow, a lot of the stress has lifted.  It is amazing how much goes into preparing for a class to be observed by another person and notifying all the right people.  It is also stressful to plan on going to class the day after the surgery because I have to figure out how I am going to get there and if I’ll be able to carry my book bag.  I know that I don’t come out of anesthesia well, so I should have just planned on cancelling classes weeks ago.  But I didn’t want to do that to my students.  Now I am paying for my last minute decision.  I have been told several times last week to take care of myself first, but that is hard for me to do.  I feel I have to be strong and be there for my students.

Although I am anxious, I actually feel good about the outcome of the surgery.  I am only slightly concerned with the discomfort for the next day or two, but I have no restrictions.  Somehow, I feel that the results are going to come back cancer free.  I hope that my feelings are true.  But going into this, I am no longer worried about the second biopsy results.  They will come when they do, and the results will be what they are.  We will decide what to do next after that.  But in the meantime, I am going to continue to exercise to the best of my ability and write.  Hopefully after this surgery, my mind won’t be so consumed and I can find other things to write about and to learn.  I would like to start writing about the things I learn along my path to getting healthy and getting ready for the bigger hikes.

Anxiety: Day 23

I have been very preoccupied today, having difficulty concentrating on anything let alone teach to the quality that I am capable of. My surgery is tomorrow afternoon.  I woke up this morning, and instead of meditating while I do my morning exercises, I fretted enough to make myself nauseous. The day continued that way.  On top of it all, I had no down time until dinner at 8:00.

So I came to my computer without a topic and still needing to do my exercising.  I spent some time cruising around on the internet and playing spider solitaire, but still no topic.  I looked at old essays and articles; still no topic.  Then a flash of brilliance hit me. This doesn’t happen often, so I embrace it when I can. I was on YouTube looking for something to learn or to write about, and I had a yoga suggestion. What a great way to get two things done at once.  I am building a topic and exercising at the same time.  Three things really; I was able to sooth my mind too.

Yoga is great.  I don’t know why I do it so irregularly. I always feel better after yoga. It helps my mind and my flexibility, and it takes my aches away.

I like to follow Yoga with Adrian because she is calm and slow with the movements as well as thorough in her explanations. Tonight I did a wind down session.  I was mellower during the practice than I had been all day.  I got my heart rate up some, and I relaxed.

With this practice, I relearned a lesson today of how valuable yoga is.  It will also benefit my training for the backpacking trip.

Leaving Mt Hood on the PCT: Day22

We had breakfast the first day at the Timberline Lodge, the hotel where the Shining was filmed.  In a way, that set the tone several days later.  Maybe it was foreshadowing what was to come. A carb filled breakfast before setting out on a multi day hike, and the Timberline is known for its great breakfast buffet.  We had juice, eggs, waffles, fruit, and potatoes.  There wasn’t anythiIMG_20170717_0856020218ng we felt was missing.  We even served up some laughter.  Five of us were pumped on adrenaline of what was to come.  We were able to put the 40 pound packs we were to be wearing out of our minds.  Before we left, we bought tokens for marking our trip.  Our ride helped us strap up and took pictures.  Then there were four.

None of us had packed this much weight before, and we were put to the test immediately, uphill.  This was another foreshadowing for the trip.  We met our first backpacker right in the parking lot.  He was a volunteer for the forestry service.  He helped people with advice, direction, and the forms.  He knew the weather forecast and fire closures.  He was our friend right away since none of us had been backpacking before nor had we hiked the area.

Hours later when we saw him for the third time we were happy to talk to him about our first big creek crossing (we’d call it a river in NV). It was the Zigzag and the terminus of his trip that day.  We received great advice and encouragement.  “After you climb this, it won’t be as tough,” he said as we crossed and headed up the mountain side.  We believed him.  He was experienced, and we were supposed to be going down in elevation.  Another hint of what was to come.

After the first mile, we fell into our rhythm – what it could be anyway, and we just kept plugging along.  We stayed together or mostly together that day.  It’s a good thing too; there were obstacles we had to team up to get beyond.  There were downed trees of unexpected size and difficulty to worry about.  The trail was as wide as us or just a bit bigger with a mountain side on our right and a drop off on our left.  Trees surrounded us, stumped us, and stressed us.  At first we could climb over them or under them.  Then we had to take our packs off to push them before us and slide under after them.  The big one, though, was two trees that were wider than we are tall which had fallen along the path instead of across is.  We couldn’t go under, and it would have been dangerous for me and my bum knee to go over.  We had to go down and around.  There was a little social path at first, and then it disappeared.  The drop off got steeper and there wasn’t much to grab hold of.  Camazon and Babyzon could make it easily.  They climbed up and dropped their packs to help direct us or to give us a hand.  I went first.  There seemed to be large stair steps near me.  I took them but ended up having to crawl up the second step because my knee couldn’t lift me and my pack.  Once on my hands and knees, I couldn’t stand up again.  So, I crawled until I had to go under a tree.  My pack and I couldn’t fit under the tree together, and the pack came off.  Babyzon and I drug my pack as I crawled the last few feet back to the trail.  My cousin went the same way Camazon did and didn’t seem to have any trouble.  He was even able to twist around and get under the tree where I had to unload with his pack on.  It seemed that I was going to choose the more difficult way from then on.

We hiked on from that tree like a heard of turtles.  All of us were tired and in need of a break.  When we found a spot to go to the bathroom, we also found a couple of logs to sit on.  The packs came off with an audible sigh from all of us.  The food came out, and the chattering began.  I started counting on my fingers like an abacus – one part of my mind marking the water crossings, 3; another for the trees, 8.  This was a nice area with an overlook of the valley below the mountain.  We will later wish we camped there because there was water nearby, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  This is the last potential camp ground until dusk when we are all forced to set up our tents angling downward.  We crossed several more trees totaling 12 for the day.  But there was only one more water crossing and that was our last snow crossing too.  It was difficult.

The snow covered the boulders so half of us went down the hill and around the snow and the other half went directly across it.  It was scary either way being cautious not to slip on the ice and worrying about breaking through.  Camazon and Babyzon filtered water and filled their packs.  My cousin and I still had a lot left, so we did not.  Mistake number one.  That was the last of the water we were to see for the night.

As the sun set, we began hearing hummm, whap whap, hummm.  I kept listening to see if I could figure it out.  It wasn’t scaring us but we were definitely curious.  There was a group of late teens early twenties who caught up to us and passed.  They were questioning what the noise was too, but you could tell that some were nervous.  “Was that a bear?” “What was that?”  “Did you hear it too?”  Even Babyzon laughed.  After we set up camp we learned that it was humming birds.  We were sitting on rocks looking around us and saw the humming birds zipping around and caught the sound as they passed.  We think that they were echoing off of dead trees or something to amplify their sound earlier.

Past one of our snow crossings (5-6) we saw ice rings on the ground.  It took a few more times to realize that our trekking poles were making snow donuts.  We had fun with that off and on for a few days talking about a new business selling snow donuts in the summer.IMG_20170717_170502446

Once we found and set up camp, Camazon and Babyzon went on down the trail with a few water bags and filters to see if they could find water.  They went about a mile to where the trail really dropped and didn’t see anything.  They could see the waterfall and river many feet below, but nothing close enough to get for us.  We really conserved water in our cooking.  I used Babyzon’s macaroni water to cook my soup.  I ran out of water at dawn.  My cousin shortly afterward.  Camazon and Babyzon had run out during the night.  After dinner, we played card monopoly.  It was fun, but we couldn’t keep focused on it.  Just before dark, we all crawled into our tents and went to bed for the night.  It was a rough night for me.  I kept hearing rustling around outside of my tent.  I kept imagining and even dreaming of chipmunks eating into my pack.  At one point, I flashed my light outside to scare off anything that might have been there.  I even opened up my door cautiously and shown my light around to see what might have been out there.  But the lack of sleep didn’t cause any problems the next day.

Literature: Day 21

I am an avid reader, but I don’t get to read solely what I want to because I have to read the books I assign my students.  So, when I got the chance to read a few books on hiking, I thoroughly enjoyed them.  This summer I read A Walk in the Woods, Gramma Gatewood’s Walk, and Through Hiking Will Break Your Heart. I recommend reading books on backpacking trips.

Reading has always been a way of escaping for me, but it is also educational and enlightening.  Through these books, I learned about different types of backpackers and how they prepared.  I also got a glimpse of the trails I hope to hike myself someday.  The books revealed something about the writers as well.  Best of all, it brings excitement to the training.  I can look at these and think about what I might go through and how I might handle different situations. I am also reminded of the excitement and unexpected encounters we had on our different trips.  There is nothing like connecting to the stories I read.

movieThis summer I also watched The Redwood Highway.  This movie showed beautiful trails and views.  I was impressed with an older woman taking on the hike alone.  She and Gramma Gatewood have shown me that I am never too old to do these hikes.  I just need to have the right attitude and not let fear hold me back.  I don’t think I would backpack alone, but I do see myself out on the trails into my later years.  I feel younger when I am hiking than I do many other places.

So, if you can find the time to read some great books, I highly recommend these.  I will write individual reviews in coming posts.


Trashed: Day 20

Everywhere I turn there is trash.  It looks innocent along the road lying where someone threw it out a window of a passing car or the wind decided to let it lie.  Maybe a bush liked the plastic bag and snared it out of wind’s arms.  Then it starts building.  And wind helps in spreading it around.  There’s paper, bags, a lonely shoe, things that fell off a truck or were left behind from an accident.

Out in the desert, there is trash from people too poor to take it to the transfer station or lacking the understanding that the desert is not our waste land.  It piles up and spreads out.  People go out and shoot up their detritus thinking its broken apart, so they don’t need to clean up, and there is no need to worry about the shells either.

This irritates me.  I cannot help but see it every day as I drive or walk about.  I cannot seem to be able to get away from it. As I drive down my road, I see piles of beer bottles, a trail of booze bottles, and windblown paper and bags. There is no bit of greenery in the county and few in the city that doesn’t hide something discarded.  It makes me sad.

I used to ask what we can do about it, but I know what to do.  I can clean up when I’m out and about, pick up my space, or join a cleanup crew.  But, now I am wondering what it is about society that lets people think that this is okay?  Isn’t there someone who is upset like me?

When I started backpacking, I learned about the Leave No Trace movement.  I thought, finally someone does care.  We backpackers are like minded.  We want to get out on the trail and see nature at its finest, get away from society.  We learned how to pick up after ourselves and to not let the world know that we’ve been here by our discards. But, I was wrong.  Out on the trail, there are signs of someone trying to be Hansel and Gretel leaving behind toilet paper markers of where they have been, so they can follow it home later. Others think they need to pile their trash in a fire ring for the animals. Or maybe it is to help deter wildlife?

Things drop off our backpacks, or we forget that one thing we placed next to a tree for security. I get that.  But, to leave garbage and toilet paper behind is disgusting. Doesn’t the next person deserve to see the trail as nice as the one before? Didn’t we learn to pack out what we pack in and to have a bag or two to put the garbage in? Do we really need to have volunteers to pack out what we packed in?

A few years ago, a group of backpackers made it their goal to pick up all the trash they found on their backpacking trip.  I think I heard that they brought out a 1000 pounds of garbage or more on their on their trip.  They even brought out a mattress and an inflatable. I applaud them.  But at the same time, I ask that everyone start picking up after themselves.  It is not socially acceptable to litter.

We raised our kids to make the camping spot better than it was when we arrived.  We would set up and start picking up the trash before anything else was done.  During the trip, we would pick up what we saw.  In public, we never threw something on the ground or out the car window.  We would rather see our tax dollars go to something better than picking up after everyone.  When I am out backpacking, I expect others to be that conscientious.  On one of our trips this year, we picked up a Mylar balloon (brought in by the wind, I’m sure) and glasses frame and found a pair of trekking poles.  The toilet paper was left for those who were afraid they wouldn’t be able to find their way home.  We hope they picked it up on their backtrack.

I ask of everyone out there to do what they can to make the trail better than how they found it. I also, ask that everyone pick up after themselves.  The trail is not a waste land just as the desert isn’t either. It’s not going to get better unless we do something.

The Green Cloud: Day 19

Exhaustion has settled in.  I have things to do, but as I sit here trying to come up with a good topic to write about, I am falling asleep.  I had good sleep last night, but this is something that takes over during any day when I am seated for a while.

Earlier today I was doing some research that would help this fatigue.  I also suffer with brain fog and gas. Oh, the gas gets me.  It is nasty and burns, and I have to work around people.  All day long my stomach grumbles and I walk in a fog.  What I realized, yet again, is that I am eating too much sugar.  The sugar has caused many problems, but it takes these hard truths for me to make a change.

Sugar, which ifart-deadly-smell-green-cloud-260nw-511689715s in all processed food, causes an imbalance in the flora in the digestive system.  The bad bacteria are taking over. It over powers the good bacteria and creates a craving for more food – sugar. Then the byproduct is gas in many forms.  It is rumbling in the tummy.  And, according to what I’ve read, sleepiness or fatigue and brain fog.  These are all things I have been dealing with lately, but it took a week of extremely embarrassing moments because of gas for me to realize I can do something.  That I need to do something.

I need to reduce or eliminate my sugar intake.  Get rid of blatant sugars and white bread and tortillas.  This is the obvious start.  It is tough, but it can be done.  This little bit will make a difference, but it won’t heal my gut.  Moving away from processed foods will help even more.  I will notice the difference with either option.

But there is more I can do.  I can take good probiotics.  The ones that need to be refrigerated and have higher counts of bacteria are the ones to take.  This helps to bring good bacteria back into the body.  I just learned that aloe juice helps the digestive track lining and fights the bad bacteria.

Having IBS, both C and D, most of my adult hood, I have learned to make changes slowly and for long periods of time.  An irritated digestion system will react to the change right away, severely, then taper off.  The change must be made for a long time for the system to catch on to what you are doing and adjust for it.  Sometimes the change won’t work for long term.  It becomes frustrating making a sacrifice for something that is showing little difference and the change to go back to old ways is taken.  But, that is not always the right decision to make because it might be something that compounds the problem.

When I went off of dairy, the first month my problems were reversed and any little amount of dairy sent me searching for a bathroom.  Now I can have a little slip and be okay.  I don’t see the help that I am doing for my system.  However, the diary and sugar work against the gut, so if I were to eat both again, I would be in even more of a situation than I am now.  I have a more difficult time staying off the sugar, but I know that when I am off of it, I feel much better for a while then it tapers to a decent overall feeling.  Besides this, I have more energy and think clearer.

Thanks to my research today, I am reminded that I can and need to make a change in my life.  I also learned that in the meantime, ginger capsules work much better than the pink stuff and the gas pills.  I no longer need to be as embarrassed as I have been this past week. I am back on the road to recovery from the green cloud.