One of two lengthier updates so bear with me! Lots going on! Let’s start with the Labor Day update which was supposed to accompany the pictures I posted closer to actual Labor Day.
It was a great mountain vacation- great friends, great food, great hot tub that got completely overloaded with too many people, and overcoming some fears to do some activities that I used to do quite a lot.
Exhibit A: Hiking
Ok, ok, ok…so I don’t really CARE for hiking too much. Growing up, my dad’s idea of hiking was ‘let’s carry all sorts of crap in heavy backpacks and spend a week living like our ancestors did off of the land.’ He’d always try to con me into it by mentioning how much I loved the computer game Oregon Trail. But no matter how cool it would be to walk into a store and say ‘I’d like to buy $1400 worth of bullets…and an axle,” I can’t forget that all my Oregon Trail people always died of dysentary.
So I’d compromise with him for this trail near our house. Not too hilly, not too flat, not many roots,we’d catch up, he’d get to be outside, I’d get to not die of dysentary, and an hour later, on the way home we’d sometimes get ice cream.
And then RA happened and I haven’t done it since.
I was nervous on Saturday when my friends announced that the plans for the day included an almost 2 mile hike. For the record, I’ve done multiple 5K’s since this happened. Would I give a 2 mile walk in my neighborhood a second thought? No. I’d be confident at this distance on any flat terrain without roots to watch for. But this particular trail is very uphill, very uneven ground, and lots of roots. I had visions of tripping on a root and falling forward to catch myself with my worthless hands, and really getting hurt. The area is also a tad bit isolated and I didn’t feel like it had a good ‘escape route.’ Donner Pass much?
You don’t know you can’t do this until you try it and can’t do it. You have no basis for this whole root anxiety especially because your biggest guy friend is on the trip and you can make him walk with you and catch you if you need it. You probably won’t need it. If something happens you know your friends won’t have to kill you and use you for food because it’s not even winter yet. If you successfully complete it, you can buy those black and pink plaid rain boots you’re having hard time finding a reason to justify buying.
I am proud new owner of black and pink rain boots. And for the record, nothing hurt afterward except my butt = not a joint.
Exhibit B: Horseback Riding
I grew up riding horses. LOVE it. One of my favorite family vacations growing up was a horseback trip around the Grand Tetons. If you’ve ever even seen pictures of how beautiful it is out there, just imagine how beautiful riding through them on the back of a horse is. Surreal.
I quit riding when I hit high school for dancing. I continued dancing in college- with boys at parties. The closest I came to horseback riding in college was this one time I contemplated riding a mechanical bull in a country line dance bar outside of Knoxville. For the record, I did not.
So when I found out that a couple of the girls on the trip wanted to go riding, I was PUMPED. I had visions of myself yet again flying through the mountains on this beautiful horse in beautiful crisp early fall weather. I was GIDDY. I googled several places, narrowed down the list, and called the final contenders. I emailed the information to the interested parties.
And then I remembered the closest I ever came to getting hurt on a horse. I was really little and I somehow cued my horse to canter (similar to a gallop). I wasn’t expecting it and I almost fell off. And then I remembered how my friend Lisa fell off her horse when we were 12- she hurt her back and broke her nose.
I went ahead and paid my deposit to reserve the horse but didn’t commit to doing it until I got there and saw that it was a slow, guided ride on a very broken in trail. I was a tad disappointed in that- I wanted to RUN- but even with the slow pace, I was really nervous the first few times the horse lurched.
Exhibit C: Getting Tricked Into Hiking A Longer and Hillier Distance
With two successes under my belt, I felt more confidant. So when we were on our way back and a friend asked if I was ok with stopping to do a hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway, I was immediately game. (Graveyard Fields for those who may be interested.) I was even more game when I inquired as to the distance and was told less than a mile.
Yes! I LOVE hiking!
We headed down the paved walkway to the Falls which were indeed less than a mile from the car. They were beautiful- really cool looking rocks- and we all took our shoes off and soaked our feet in the freezing cold water.
I walked back up the rock face to the path when I noticed the group heading off in another direction. I followed suit without question but realized quickly that a) the paved path turns to rocks and roots very quickly and b) this is all uphill. When I saw this, I again directed the distance question to my friend leading the pack. He responded with “4 miles” and apparently I made a face. And then he said it:
“I mean, just how bad are your feet flaring right now? You did yesterday’s hike fine. So do they hurt or don’t they?”
OH NO YOU DIDN’T.
Now keep in mind that this is someone that I hang out with a lot and for the most part really enjoy hanging out with. He obviously knows about the RA but obviously doesn’t understand much about how symptoms can change. In that moment, I really really really disliked him. But I get it- he wanted to do the hike and knew that if I said I couldn’t do it, most of the people we were with would probably join me back at the car. And that is how I decided that come hell or high water, I was going to finish the damn hike.
I disliked him even more as he began showboating for the group. He called it stunt hiking- running up the trail and jumping over roots ninja style. It was really annoying when all I’m trying to do is not fall on really steep and really uneven terrain.
I felt much better when he face planted while showing off his ‘root double axel.’
The whole ordeal very clearly illustrated the principle that one of friends (who is a personal trainer) believes: men are overly confident in their athletic ability while women doubt their athletic ability. Especially women with RA.
Coming up next: white water rafting, Lady Gaga concert, and the ACR Advocates for Arthritis in Washington DC.