Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My next seven days camping alone in Oklahoma

During my next seven days camping alone in Oklahoma, my sinus drainage clears up, I stop and start cholestyramine, I question whether camping is doing me any good, and I long for a clean, dry house with plumbing and electric stove.

Once I adjusted to being alone, I had one glorious daywhere I woke with a clear nose and no more headache.  I dozed off for an extra hour, did the breakfast, water gathering and dishwashing chores, and resumed the writing project I’d left unfinished when I had to focus my energies on moving and camping.  What a delight!  I love writing and editing fiction.  Don’t know if it’ll go anywhere (e.g. if I’m any good) but it’s fun.  Did my resuming this project have anything to do with the fact that that very morning, I’d had a personal remote blessing from Guruji Trivedi in which I asked to be pointed toward my destiny in life? 

I don’t know if fiction writing is my destiny, but I sure get into it and don’t want to stop for food, nebulizing, pills, etc. I only want to stop I get cold from  hunger, or stiff  from sitting over the computer in a slumped pose of concentration.  I had hoped to be settled by November so that I could participate in NAMOWRIMO this year.  I’ve wanted to do that since I learned about it three years ago. 

I continued to find a few hours to write for the next three days.  My sinuses stayed clear.  But to my dismay, I found myself extremely tired.  I took afternoon naps, slept an hour later at night, and generally felt too dragged out to do anything.  I worried a bit that I was getting worse.  My orthostatic intolerance seemed worse, although it was hard to say for sure because my chores require much more standing than I normally did at home.  But where was the energy I’d felt this summer in August?  In sum, things were not developing as I wanted them to and thought they should.

One morning I realized the CSM (cholestyramine) was creating a lot of physiological stress.  I was experiencing this in two ways: as a feeling of being stressed and tired, and  downstream as a decrease in ADH with dry mouth and increased quantity and urgency of urination, I decided to stop taking it.  Lo and behold, the next day was better.

But I couldn’t keep away from the CSM after going to Starbucks, where I spent at least two hours inside the building because it was too windy and sunny to work outside.  I left with a swollen gland and knew I was in trouble.  I gulped down a teaspoon of CSM that evening in the hope of ameliorating the reaction in mid course.

The next day I was even more tired, despite starting out with a Master Blessing from Guruji Trivedi, which usually leaves me feeling more energetic than usual.  Again, my mind degenerated into questioning.
Is something in the environment adversely affecting me?  This was David’s theory from my first sniffle at Osage Hills.  There were several fires this year on the Nature Preserve, one of them only a few weeks ago, and when I drove west to Elk Mountain through the burn area, I could smell the acrid fumes rising from the charred earth.  Wind blowing from this area to the campground might be bringing toxic particles my way.
What a crazy way to live!  Yet I have friends who warn me that the direction of the wind brings ciguatera toxin from lakes and pesticides from crop sprayers and hydrogen sulfide from industries.  And no place is totally isolated from these currents unless one is able to hike into a vast wilderness area and live by one’s own wits.  The RV-ers move on when the wind changes, but packing up and setting up a tent requires too much energy for an impetuous shift.  I need to stay put for a while longer.

 By the end of the day I was doing better.  I decided my worries had been unfounded:  such are the fluctuations of the mind, rising and falling with currents as mercurial as the wind.  In the absence of such mental breezes, I could add up the benefits of my current situation:
  1. I was sleeping better consistently
  2. Elimination was working consistently better than ever before. 
These improvements were a sign that something good was happening, even if the increased fatigue and sleep were unpleasant.  It meant something internally involving peptide and hormonal regulation was recovering its proper function.  By reconstructing the meaning of increased fatigue as a sign of the body doing a lot more healing, I was able to stop the train of questioning about the wisdom of my Oklahoma camping choice.

The rain came on Saturday, soaking the earth and blackening the sky.  I wore myself out in the morning hammering stakes into the hard earth, cutting robe, and tying out every possible part of the tent to maximize its stability.  All night gusts of wind reaching 20 to 30  mph had been moving and bending the tent, disturbing my sleep as the nylon walls flapped and the metal rods shook.  With 50 mph winds on the way, I worked hard to transform the floppy nylon into taut, stable walls and felt proud of my effort.

But the effort left me exhausted.  I drove into the nearest large town with the intention of running a few errands and visiting the main branch of the public library, yet before I could do the first errand, I had to recline the seat and take a nap in the car.  Miracle of miracles, even without sleeping, this 30 minutes rest rejuvenated me.  I added the experience to the list of indicators that whatever changes were taking place were definitely for the best. 

Then I acted out of stubbornness:  I stayed in the library for five hours even though I knew the minute I walked into the foyer that it was not a good place for me.  I should have turned around, but I wanted it to work out and I told myself that I’d leave if the main reading room also smelled musty.  It didn’t at all, so I set up at a large, well-lit table and logged into wifi.  Within a short time I had the initial symptoms of a mold reaction:  my ankles got cold.  I put on wool socks.  I put on a jacket.   I might have left at this point but I stubbornly insisted on unsubscribing from every list I could so that I could limit reading e-mail to once or twice a week, or read it through my phone.  Then I had to do the upgrades, and the anti-virus software, and try to fix a computer program that required getting information online.  By the time the latter was done, with the help of a brilliant young man sitting near me (thanks Andrew), the library lights flashed to announce closing time.  I left with a swollen gland and a working computer.  Not too bad a trade, but one I don’t wish to make again!

Getting back to the tent in the rain, I had the typical trajectory of a reaction with increased energy that was most welcome given the challenge of removing bedding from the dry car through the pouring rain into the dry tent.  Then, a few hours later, cold and fatigue set in combined with the typically wired, unable-to-fall-asleep state with legs twitching and raring to run but no energy or motivation to move them.  Back in Ohio, this kind of reaction would hit me randomly about 6 times a month and I’d usually be awake until 5 am, sleep until late morning, and feel bedraggled for several consecutive days.  Thank God my reaction didn’t last as long this time!  By midnight I was sleeping soundly. When I awoke, I had the fourth stage of a reaction with sinus headache on the left side and messed-up bowels. 

It was still raining, but as a steady drizzle.  I was glad for the parched land, yet challenged.  I took myself and my wet clothes and the pillowcases I’d dropped out in the rain to a Laundromat, wearing my P100 NIOSH respirator without worrying about the stares.  It was still raining at lunch time, so I found a picnic shelter in another area of the camp, and moved into it, setting up my computer and my cooler and my fridge/freezer.  The daytime temperature had dropped from the 80’s to 61, and the metal benches were cold. Still I managed with layers of clothing and a wood blanket until 5 pm when the sun  broke through the blustery clouds and transformed the sky into a magnificent painting.

After I got back to my campsite and set everything up, I couldn’t get the stove to light and it started blowing and raining again.  I had to cart everything back into the tent, into the car, in schlep and pack mode until I could wave goodbye to site 62 and drive to a restaurant.  I chose a place on the eastern side of the nature preserve so that I could enjoy the beautiful sunset, with the summit of Mt Scott covered by a thick clouds while rivers of sunlight washed over auburn meadows and low hills. 

I’m still undecided about the CSM.  It’s normal to get an intensification of symptoms, which in my case would mean increased fatigue, stress, and orthostatic intolerance.  Yet it is these very symptoms which make living on my own challenging, and even more challenging at a campsite!  A friend suggested just taking one dose at night.  I tried that last night and ended up feeling terribly tired and ravenously hungry all morning – clear signs of increased stress hormones.  Could this really be what my body needs?  Should I try to push through it because doctors say this is what I need to do, or trust the wisdom of my body to guide me to better health in its own gentle way? 

I skipped CSM yesterday and slept poorly but I feel much better.  I’m going to stay off it until David comes to join me and can take over the chores when I’m wiped out.  Hope to keep myself out of buildings for awhile longer and see what happens.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! since I came down with ME the stuff that's clogged up my nostrils and sinuses is both ridiculous and disgusting...mucus of every shade, blood, weird stinging transparent burning liquid...gross to mention but such a downer every day several times a day having to clear out this bitter gunk from my head :-(

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