Vertigo: Day 58

I was sitting in class today watching a movie and struggling to stay awake.  My neck started stiffening – probably from trying to stay upright, I think. Then I notice that my right ear is aching.  Later I have a headache and notice that my eyesight is unfocused…not really blurry but not focusing on any one thing. This is concerning.  I don’t like feeling off.  I know that something isn’t right, but it isn’t unusual for me either.  By the time I get home, I feel a bit light headed.  Sit down and eat dinner, but when I go to get up the movement makes my vision shift, and I am listing to the left as I walk.  Now I know what is going on.  I am having vertigo.

I have been dealing with vertigo for several years.  I know that I cannot watch computer screens zip by, I have to be careful with sudden movements, and there are some things I can do to help myself. The first time I suffered with vertigo was scary; it was also the worse it has ever been.  I drove in to work and when I got out of the car, I was walking like a drunken person.  The lack of movement stimulated by the car sent my balance reeling.  I got to work and called my husband to come get me knowing that I wasn’t safe to drive home.  Two hours later, I was sitting in the emergency room.  Every movement made me sick to my stomach.  My head wouldn’t stop reeling.  I was given anti-nausea medicine and valium to help with the symptoms.  They helped, but it was a full month before I was myself again.  I couldn’t move quickly, driving made me sick, and reading and watching things were out of the question.  I went back to work at risk of losing my job.  I had a difficult time processing my thoughts and understanding what others were saying to me.  I know that given time it would pass and I would get on with my life.  And it did, sort of.  The vertigo looms in the background.  I know that something can start it up again.

I have learned over time that several things set it off more than others.  Dehydration, stress, and barometric pressure change are the leading causes.  I try to stay hydrated, but I am not a big water drinker.  I go until I am dry then I will drink.  Some days this has me drinking 4 glasses of water instead of the recommended 8.  Typically I drink 6.  This helps, but if stress or a storm comes, I will have problems.  I have had a drink water app on my phone before, and I found it helped.  Then I get busy and start ignoring the reminder.  I know that sitting and letting myself relax helps too, but once I notice the vertigo, I keep catching myself checking for it.  That is worrying not relaxing. I have tried meditation, but not during the symptoms.  Going to bed does help.

Recently, though I read that ginger can help with vertigo and to keep it away.  It is something to try.  I take ginger capsules or candy when I fly, another thing that affects the vertigo, so why not take it when I am having problems?

Today, I am stressed about my family coming and getting everything ready in time and it all working out okay.  Also there is a series of storms coming in this week, so the pressure is changing. And, I didn’t drink enough water.  So three against me.  I did learn something though…I have some warning that vertigo is coming.  I hadn’t put that together until just a little while ago, but thinking back, these are symptoms I get the same day I get vertigo.  I can watch for the symptoms and hopefully the ginger and some water will stop it before it actually develops.

Thankful: Day 57

What do you write when you’ve had a long day and you’re tired?  I usually just write gibberish, but I want to write something of significance.  I didn’t do any research or training today. That doesn’t leave much to write about.  I can only write about prepping for Thanks Giving so much. So I thought that I would work on looking at things/people I am thankful for.

I am thankful for my husband. I have probably written about being thankful for him in an earlier post, but he is the light of my life.  Because of him, I am who I am and have what I have.  But to get to specifics, he stopped working on his projects to help me today.  We put together a bed for the guestroom, and when we were done with that, he fixed my space heater.  This week he finished my greenhouse, so today he was checking on the temperatures and trying out the vents. Unfortunately, sometimes I get exasperated or put out because he wants me to stop something and help him.  I will have to remember this more often.

I am thankful for my job.  I don’t get paid a lot, but it is enough.  But, I get weeks like this one and last week where I only have to work one day each.  This allows me to get a lot of my projects done.  It also pays for a lot of my projects. I get summers off, so I can do my thing – mostly hiking and gardening.  I really don’t have to put up with a lot of people, just my students who I get to know fairly quickly.  And I enjoy teaching writing.

I’m thankful that my family is close enough that we can get together for gatherings such as Thanks Giving.  We have a good time when we are together. We have a lot of laughs, and we get each other.

Life is good today.

Thanks Giving is Coming: Day 56

With Thanks Giving right around the corner, I am very busy as I am sure everyone else is.  So we are in the countdown for the big day and for the day that everyone arrives.  I am excited and have my days planned out.  I have a certain amount of cleaning and prepping to do.  So I sat down this morning and listed what I still need to do and wrote up the menus.  This brought clarity to my to do list. Now, I don’t feel like I will forget something and that I will get it all done in time.

I had to stay off my feet today, so I started out with the things that I would prefer to push off until I could no longer.  I graded and paid bills and did laundry.  So tomorrow, still staying off my feet as much as I can, I will clean my office and make the futon.  In doing this I will spend a good amount of time sitting sifting through my paperwork.  But then the real work will come in.  I have four beds to make, three rooms to clean, two pies and two breads to bake, and hiking.

I am going to take my family on at least four different trails in the local area.  I will be doing this around more cooking, cleaning, and setting up.  But, knowing that we will be going on hikes everyday they are all here makes it easier for me to be sitting around now.

Opting outside is a big thing with us.  It started when we were kids.  We would always go to Thanks Giving in the redwoods at my grandparent’s house.  While my grandmother, three aunts, and mother were getting the meals ready, the nine of us kids would be out playing hide and seek, tag, hiking, and going to the beach.  The only years we didn’t opt outside were the years the snow kept my family from going over Donner Pass to get there.  Then we would all hibernate in the house until we drove one of the parents crazy and were forced to bring in fire wood for the night.

Because of the way our family treated Thanks Giving, I look forward to the outdoor activities including hiking and a fire just as much as I look forward to stuffing myself on delicious foods that everyone helps prepare.

Opt outside is a new movement from REI and other outdoors groups designed to get people outside instead of in the malls.  But to my family it is a long standing tradition. Hopefully I will have tales to tell about our trails.

Shots in the Feet: Day 55

What a great way to start a busy Thanksgiving week. I scheduled my podiatrist appointment to get a nerve rebuilding shot in my feet without thinking how close it is to Thanksgiving.  For most people, this might not be a problem, but my family does Thanksgiving week not day. My family likes to opt outside all of Thanksgiving week weather providing.  This is not a tradition I would want to pass up if I don’t have to.

I am one of the lucky ones whose feet are just like their backs.  My feet bother me almost as often as my back does; however, with my back hiking helps.  With my feet, hiking hurts. To get my feet taken care of before I make some longer trips, I started this fall by getting better every-day shoes to help alleviate the pain and discomfort I had been experiencing. At the Reno Running Store, the salesman helped me pick out a pair of Altras with no drop and a wide toe box with narrow heels.  This made a world of difference.  I even thought that I might get away with that and not need the shots in my feet.  But, as I spent time working in my kitchen with them on, I realized that it was helping, but my nerve problem was still there.

So, I went to my appointment to get my shots. To say I was anxious does not cover it. My podiatrist told me that my x-rays showed the bones in my feet are very close together and are pinching and rubbing the nerves raw.  The wide shoebox allows them to spread, but the sheaths on the nerves are already damaged.  The shots he gave me today will help to rebuild them, but it takes several times to do the job.  I was told it would be painful, and they weren’t joking.  The doctor blasts cold air on the location of the shot to help reduce the pain. It did help, but my toes decided to cramp up anyway.

I haven’t been able to walk normal since then, and I am supposed to stay off them the best I can for the next couple of days. Days I have planned to bake and clean and make beds.  So, instead I am going to actually do my job and grade tomorrow and do laundry.  I hope that I will be able to clean some bedrooms and make beds on Sunday.  Then Monday I will be teaching – we’ll be watching movies, so I can sit. But on Tuesday, I need to finish cleaning because that is when a bunch of my relatives will be arriving.  Wednesday is supposed to be baking and hiking. The podiatrist thinks that I should be able to hike by next weekend, but he doesn’t know the rest of my schedule.

Good thing everyone can help cook.

Outdoor Yoga: Day 54

This summer was our first summer with a lawn and a solid fence.  I feel like it is my own special retreat.  I have a waterfall gurgling in the corner and a bench at the edge or the eves.  I like to spend time out there feeling the grass between my toes or just sitting in the sun listening to the water and birds. To add onto that, this summer, I was able to take my yoga outside.

I set my laptop up on the bench and my mat in front of it.  I had to make sure the angle was good for me to see the screen at all levels. Then I began.  The volume was a problem because it didn’t amplify well in the open space.  I will have to get some speakers for it later. But, I was able to follow along with the instructor well enough.  It was very refreshing to be in the cool grass with the fresh air and calming sounds.  When I walked away from the practice, I was at peace.

Outdoors, yoga is amplified.  It challenges the senses and balance. It creates a connection to the ground in a way that indoor yoga never will.  It helps with the meditation portion giving a more complete experience.  I have tried yoga at different times in my yard.  I have come to enjoy all times and look forward to the next practice outside.

I have since taken my own routine to the beach and out on the trail.  Once when we were camping and I was waiting for my husband to wake up to make breakfast, I decided to try it on the beach.  I have a very simple series that I do daily; I did it that day.  I had no mat since I didn’t plan to do yoga. I got right out on the sand and did my best.  The sand definitely made a difference.  I had to concentrate more for balance and make some adjustments during the pose as the sand shifted. The sound of the water lapping the beach and the birds overhead elevated the experience.  I was glad to have done it and plan to do it on all our camping trips. The other time was when I was backpacking with my daughter.  Again, I was waiting for her to wake before fixing breakfast. I did all my stretches and still had time. So, I stretched out my tarp and did the simple series. I had to use logs and tree trunks to aid with balance because the ground sloped quite a bit, but again I felt I had a better experience.  Here there was the creek and fresh air to aid in the peacefulness.  I plan to develop a backpacking yoga flow and start practicing every time I go backpacking.  It helped me get going in the morning, and I was able to squat deeper when I went to fill my water shortly afterwards.

I knew that many people claimed that outdoor yoga was best, and the pictures lured me. I am glad that I finally have a place to practice it outdoors, in good weather of course. And, now I have proof that I need to do it while traveling.

My current simple routine is to hold each pose as long as I can each day. The poses are as follows (in order): downward dog, plank, left leg lunge, forward fold, brief half way up, forward fold, warrior 2, half moon, left leg lunge, downward dog, plank, right leg lunge, forward fold, brief half way up, forward fold, warrior 2 (opposite side), half moon (opposite side), right leg lunge, downward dog, plank. My favorite pose is the half moon, but I would like to mix up the balance pose maybe using dancer’s pose or eagle pose. I do tree pose often in the evenings.

Hopefully you will find a place that encourages you to practice yoga, outdoors if you can. If you have a place, where is it? And what is your routine?

Sleep System: Day 53

I know that I have only backpacked a few nights, but I have found a sleep system that is good for me.  At first, I bought a cheep 25 degreer that said it packed down to a basketball size.  That was an overstatement.  So I bit the big one and went to my favorite sporting store where experts could help me.  I talked to the salesman about my size and sleep temp.  He sold me a not so expensive, but expensive enough, mummy bag.  I was so pleased with the bag and was excited to use it. It even packed small enough to fit into my backpack pocket.  I had a pillow from Cairn and a sleeping pad from the cheep store.  I was ready to rock a night or four.

I didn’t think about how I like to sprawl out when I sleep to help regulate my heat and to alleviate some back pain.  The first night, it didn’t matter. I was too tired to care and fell right asleep only to waken frequently through the night sweating or freezing. I varied what I slept in the next three nights.  Finally, the last night I got the best sleep when I wore shorts, a t-shirt, gloves, and a hat.  Crazy I know, but I had to dress down for the sleeping bag and warm for the exposed parts.  I had to put my sweatshirt over my pillow and open the sleeping bag.  The open bag allowed for ventilation and movement.  But eventually, I was skin on the sleeping pad and sweating against it.  This wasn’t going to work.

I had heard of people making boxed foot quilts out of Costco’s down quilt sets.  So, I shopped around and bought a set. I didn’t want to do any adjustments to my quilts right away because I had to see what would work or not. I also remembered the night on the sleeping pad and knew I had to do something about that if I wasn’t going to have a traditional sleeping bag.  So I shopped around again and found a light weight sleeping bag liner that was rectangle instead of the mummy style.  This summer I set out on a high elevation overnighter with my new sleeping gear all of which fit into my original compression sack.

When we set up camp, I laid out my pad, the liner, and both quilts.  I was concerned that I didn’t have enough to keep me warm because I was already cold.  But I changed into my cotton sleep wear and into my liner, and then I threw the two quilts over me.  Before I was done reading, I had taken both quilts off, put one back on, put the second back on, and then took one off.  I slept that way.  I am glad that I had done no altering since I am still having troubles regulating my sleep temperature.  But I am able to sprawl out and for the most part sleep at a better temperature than I had with the mummy bag. I don’t know if it would be warm enough for every setting, but for the foreseeable future, I like the set that I have.  Now I just need to do something about my pillow that is too flat for me.

The Breakdown of Society: Day 52

Over the past several years, I have asked my students to write editorials where they address the problems of society. If they do not propose a solution, they should at least provide a new perspective on the problem.  For an example, I have been using mass shootings.  It is something that seems to be increasing. Is this because of media talking about each incident more? Or is this something that truly is increasing?  After we talk about this for a while, I ask them what is it about society that leads so many people to believe that their best option is to shoot up a place not caring about the carnage (or desiring the carnage)? Why do young people feel that they need or should shoot up their schools?

These are always great questions for discussion because there are so many answers to the changing climate of society and the desperate feelings and natures of the shooters. But, the question is never answered. It probably will never be fully answered. It could be that the shooters are looking for the minutes of fame as media spreads the entire incident all over the world focusing on it for days or weeks. It could be the same reason that so many youth feel they need to take the dangerous internet challenges.  It could be so many things.

The other night, though, I read something that made me think about this situation differently.  I am reading Intuitive Eating to look at and change my eating patterns and habits.  In a chapter explaining how starvation and dieting have the same effects on people, it was stated that research historians have learned that “during times of famine or food shortages, food becomes an overriding preoccupation resulting in societal problems: breakdown of social behavior, abandonment of cooperative effort, loss of personal pride and sense of family ties” (qtd in Tribole and Resch 61). The fact that famine can cause a breakdown of social behavior caught my attention.  This is what I am questioning. It came to me that we are a society that is worried about our weight; we pass this on to our children at earlier ages all the time.  Is there a possible correlation to this? Granted we are the fattest nation, so some say. But, we are acting like those who have been starved.  Are we starving ourselves creating us to overeat and binge? Thus leading to this breakdown in society?

But looking at it further, we have also seen an “abandonment of cooperative effort, loss of person pride, and sense of family ties” as well (61). Is it that we are starving? Can we be eating plenty to fill us but still starve our bodies. Our bodies do look at calories as calories, but they also need certain vitamins and minerals to be healthy. Are we starving for something else? Can a different starvation cause the same results? Do these things work together? If we have a “loss of personal pride and sense of family ties,” could it lead to a starvation that breaks down “social behavior”(61)? If we abandon “cooperative effort,” does that create a sense of starvation somewhere (61)? Is one element more prevailing than another? If so, we could look to see what we are missing to help solve the problem.

I have no answer to these questions and many more, but I hope that some researcher out there starts to look at the problem as I have and begins a research project.  I hope that someone stops looking at the first go to fixes that society is jumping all over and realize that it is deeper that gun control and bullying.  Yes guns are the weapon of choice, but knives, slingshots, drugs, etc can be as well.  Bullying is a big problem, but it is not the only one. If bullying was, wouldn’t more people be reacting as heartlessly as those who have shot up public places?  Profilers are looking at what makes up a mass shooter. We are getting a better image of the criminal, but we still need to know what is wrong with society to make the biggest difference. Without looking at the problem of our society, we are only using band aids where stitches are needed.

Cooking and Canning: Day 51

I’ve been cooking and canning every weekend for several weeks; partly because I have a lot of family coming for Thanksgiving and partly because I have a garden this year. I haven’t had a gIMG_20181109_234450511arden in several years. Although I had to fight rodents,  it was worth it for the fresh organic foods I’ve got during the summer.  But it is fall now, and I had to take everything off the vines.  So it is time to preserve and use what I had left over.

It’s a good thing I love cooking. I have only been canning on a small scale since my garden was small and it’s just my husband and I. But I am going to have enough for the winter and to give some as gifts. I made green tomato mincemeat, crabapple syrup, piccalilli, green tomato enchilada sauce, cinnamon apples, sweet zucchini relish, and apple pie filling. I also baked cookies, fruitcake, banana bread, and zucchini bread. I pickled asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and green beans.  I love the variety and the fact that I know what is in IMG_20181112_143146252everything.

On top of this, I also made meals such as corned beef shepherd’s pie and corned beef egg rolls.  I will do the same with tri tip tomorrow.  And I have both meats chopped and ready to make hash.  So my extra meals for the week are also about ready.

Today I cooked the first of my butternut squash.  It was sweet and creamy. I will cook more up to put aside for Thanksgiving.  And to top it off, I still have watermelon that is chilling in my garage waiting to be enjoyed.

I am excited to be able to enjoy these foods with my family with little work while they are here.  Also, I am looking forward to savoring the foods on a frozen night remembering the summer.

But it doesn’t stop there; I am in the process of planting my winter garden in the greenhouse. This is also my first year with the greenhouse complete. I can actually plant lettuce, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans.  It is making me want to cook more.

The benefit, though, is that with all these fresh foods with flavor, I will be able to eat healthier than I have been.

Into The Gorge/Bridge of the Gods: Day 50

The last day of our trip from Mt Hood to the Colombian Gorge, Bridge of the Gods, started cool and early.  We were on our hiking time schedule now, and all of us woke early, packed, and had a simple breakfast.  It was cool but manageable.  I had on a couple of layers, my knit hat with cat ears, and long leggings.  We filled the water one more time not sure if we would cross water this day.  Our path out crossed a stream and was much more direct to the PCT than the one we came in on.  With my cat ears, the others kept teasing me that I was Big Foot bait and I should run.  I had to remind them that my body no longer runs.

Almost immediately we met up with a trail runner and some hikers.  All of them talking about the nice trail.  It was nice, but it was steep. This time we didn’t head up; we went down.  We went downward on tiny pebbles and switchbacks.  It was like roller-skating for the first time where we could hardly keep our legs under us.  The girls zoomed down.  My cousin and I were more cautious.  We would catch up with the girls every now and again.  We were all excited to be having fresh food soon.  We had about 10 miles to go on this day.

Occasionally we would go up, cross rock fields, cry a little. But for the most part, it was a great part of trail. My feet throbbed though.  My knees and hips ached.  I was tired, but I was humming and dreaming of what food I would order.  We crossed two waterfalls, filled water one time, and had lunch on a triangular clearing.  From the clearing, we could see Hood River Airport and the Colombian Gorge.  We watched boats on the river and talked about what we would do when we got back.

We went down more and up some.  When we crossed a foot bridge the trail forked. Camazon said we were just a couple of miles from the trail head.  We were all excited and called Korientice to come pick us up and my husband to clean out the trunk so Korientice could use the car; it was the only one that could hold four backpacks and five people.  While talking to my husband, he asked how I was doing. Without thinking, the words flew out of my mouth: “I’m done.” Little did I know that once said, I was really done.  I hurt. I didn’t want to walk anymore. I couldn’t stand anymore. I didn’t want to put on my pack anymore.  But we had two miles and then some.  Camazon asked if we were still going to cross the bridge.  I thought that she wasn’t sure she wanted to so I was vague in my answer not really caring if I did or not at that point.

My cousin asked Camazon how the rest of the trail was. She said, “It’s easy and downhill.” At that point, she turns and climbed uphill.  We groaned and laughed.  Whenever we stopped, we always had to go up hill.  The trail probably wasn’t that bad, but it felt like the hardest two miles I’ve had to hike.  At times, I felt like I was barely moving.  People would let us go instead of us moving out of their way.  They often commented on how we looked like we had been hiking for quite a while.  I had a thru hiker offer me some chocolate cereal for energy.  My sense of smell was heightened, and I could smell people’s odors. I knew one guy had recently eaten salami.  I never smell that well any other time.  My stomach was growling; it knew there was food soon.  When we caught up to the girls, I let Camazon know that she was a true backpacker.

The trailhead was kind of a letdown.  We had to go under an overpass and down a road, but when we came out at the bridge, all complaints were lost.  I was excited to be there and the prospect of crossing the bridge was real.

I should have put everything I could have away.  My hands were full of polls, phone, and hat.  The wind whipped at us, and the traffic pushed us against the rails.  The bridge was a grate making the river visible. Babyzon didn’t like that.  I was nervous of losing something.  But we pushed forward.  We were crowded among other hikers and an idiot.  The instructions were to stay next to the rail because there is no walking room.  The idiot kept going out into the lane and basically dancing around.  We waited at the halfway point to let others go and wait for a clear bridge.  Then we crossed to the other side and returned to the same side of the river.

As we left the bridge, we saw my car arrive in the parking lot.  We raced down the lawn to the restaurant and my car.  Immediately Camazon and Korientice were screaming and laughing.  We dumped our bags in the trunk as a woman walked by and asked if we were backpackers.  When we confirmed that we were, she told us to follow her, she had something for us.  A little leery and very curious, we followed.  She took us to her fruit stand and gave us a bag of cherries.  My cousin being the only male was special and got a fresh peach.  This was the best fruit ever.  She told us that she let backpackers camp at her place on the river and always had fruit for them.  We thanked her profusely and went to the restaurant.

All day, my biggest desire was to eat fresh vegetables, but once I got into the restaurant and smelled the fries, I knew I needed fat too.  While everyone had burgers and fries, Camazon had a veggie sandwich and I had a salad and fries.  They had beer, and I had soda.  This food was the best ever.

Back at the house, I had to take my shoes off.  They were pinching my feet.  I also had a shower and ate more food.  I put my feet up and noticed that on my ankle was a mark growing in the shape of a British pound symbol.  It was great to be seated and eating real food.  It was great retelling our stories and of everything we went through.  But what was best, was the fact that we felt accomplished.  We had done just what we had set out to do. Now we were dreaming of the next big trip.

Happiness: Day 49

Another thing that I have learned over years of trying to get healthy is happiness is not something that comes when we accomplish something or meet the right person or any of the other things we tell ourselves.  Happiness does not hang on an object, person, career, success, etc.  It is something that must come from within.  If we cannot find happiness within ourselves, we cannot grow and make those changes.

It is hard to pinpoint why we must be happy with ourselves, but it does help with self-esteem. It helps with confidence and motivation and the way we look at life.  And, it is hidden within us to find or cultivate.

It doesn’t’ have to be the extreme happiness of teenagers laughing and carrying on for no apparent reason.  It can be being happy with petting a cat or eating that first bite of a food we only get occasionally.  It can be going to bed in clean sheets or holding a loved one’s hand. There are varying degrees of happiness, but we must see them to realize that we are happy.

Without recognizing the happiness in our lives, it is easy to slip into despair. It becomes natural to think negative thoughts and talk down to ourselves.  This is why a gratitude attitude is important too.  We look for those little things in our lives that make us happy; the things we tend to overlook.  With this a change comes to us, and we have fewer negative thoughts.

Our bodies and minds work much better with the positive and with happiness.  It is like fuel to them.  It helps us do what we must to continue to find the happiness in our days.

I don’t always recognize that I am happy unless it is something big like my husband offering to fly my family over to the coast for my birthday.  That is big and obvious.  But, I am also usually in an even keel not feeling negative about much about me.  But I don’t notice the things that make me happy often either. I am trying to change this because I know that there is a lot to be happy about in my life.happiness

I spent some time in my 20s and 30s trying to chase happiness.  I didn’t feel happiness like I did in my teens, so I believed that I would find it when I met some goal or when the bills were paid or when my husband would come home from a mission.  But, this never happened.  Things kept knocking me off track or proving that I was hanging my happiness on the wrong thing.  I finally learned my lesson and started enjoying moments and gifts like I never did before.

But I have become complacent.  Now it is time to teach myself to see the things that make me happy and the things I am grateful for.  It is time to stop and notice the sunset or sunrise.  I try to go outside several times a week just to see the sunset.  I try to stop and really taste that special dish I made.  I am still learning to be happy about how I look or how I can hike up hills like I haven’t done in years.  I need to learn how to accept me and be happy that I am not in someone else’s shoes.  We all have our problems, but they are special to us, and we can be happy about that.

It is time to smile and be happy that I am just the way I am supposed to be.