I’ve always loved being outside. There’s something about nature that I find so utterly soothing. It’s beauty is memorizing.
I grew up in a rural area. Our house sat at the back of a five acre lot. Our property was surrounded by a cow farm, and on the other side of the road there was a horse farm. On more than one occasion, fences would go down and we’d find cows or horses hanging out on our lawn. A creek ran through the front half of the property, and there was a little nest of pine trees beside it that I would hang out in during the summer days, writing in notebooks or reading in it’s shade.
When I was younger, I’ll admit that I used to let my disability decide what I could or couldn’t do. I would avoid activities that would increase my daily pain level. I don’t want to blame my parents for the risk of sounding like a stereotypical Millennial, but they did shelter me from activities that they thought would harm me, like horse back riding and contact sports. I went along with it as children do, thinking I should avoid doing all those things that I wanted to do to avoid more pain and more surgeries.
It wasn’t my parents intention to be cruel, but there was limited information out there. For years, none of us even know what the name of my “bumpy bone” disorder was, we just that it caused me daily pain and riddled my limbs in bone growths and strenuous activities made that pain worse. It made sense to avoid those activities.
Back then, there wasn’t a whole lot of people talking about living with this disorder, what it meant and what they could do despite it. Any positive stories were overshadowed by the multitude of worst case scenarios, and my parents fell victim to what we know as Dr. Google, focusing on the worst case scenario of any medical symptoms I experienced.
As such, so did I.
I let the fear of pain rule every decision I made. I let the fear of pain dictate what I could or couldn’t do, without even trying.
What I didn’t realize back then was that completely avoiding strenuous activities doesn’t actually help ease the daily pain. I’m sore even when I’m relaxing on the couch, and I would much rather be sore from doing something fun rather than doing nothing at all.
I’m sure I’ve written about the spoon theory ad nauseam, but each thing I do in a day costs me one of those precious, limited spoons. There are still things that I won’t put my body through because I know that the activity will require more spoons than I am prepared to part with and I’m just not willing to risk it. Since everything I do “costs a spoon”, I sometimes can’t afford to deplete my stash.
But most often, using up my spoons on things I want to do is totally worth it.
I’ve always enjoyed hiking, but it is one of those activities that requires a lot of spoons. Still, I love it. I love being outside in the fresh air, surrounded by nature. It invigorates me when I feel uninspired.
My neighhbour, Candice, is a fellow spoonie, and we like to go on hikes with our dogs, and both of us pay for it. I struggle climbing up and down hills, and my balance is really quite horrendous. I usually avoid hiking in the winter because if I fall on the ice, I risk damaging the tendons in my wrist permanently.
I’ve noticed that by not hiking, I feel more depressed and less motivated. I was afraid to risk going on the trails when I knew they’d be icy, but then Candice got hiking poles for Christmas and insisted that I join her for a walk so I could try them.
Holy hell, they’re magical! I had never used hiking poles before, and I was surprised at how much they changed the whole experience for me. I was less out of breath than I usually get, and it almost felt like it took “less spoons” than usual. I went home and purchased my own set, and tried them on our hike today.
Hiking poles do aggravate my wrists–quite a bit, actually. That being said, they totally help me keep my balance and make it up and down hills safely. I don’t love my hiking poles as much as I loved the pair my neighbour has, but I still like them. Mine have a twist lock while her pair had a flip lock and I struggled with the twist lock, but I’m sure with more use I’ll get the hang of it.
I’m excited to have a pair of my own now, and feel more confident about hiking during the winter months. It’s probably still not something that I can do every single day, but my goal is to make it at least a twice a week occurrence.
Sometimes (especially in the winter), I fall victim to bad bouts of depression where I don’t want to do anything because the idea of being in more pain exhausts me. I will hide out in my house, turn down every offer to hang out, and let myself bask in the woe-is-me feelings. I recently just forced myself out of a particularly bad bout, after two weeks of watching Netflix, reading and hiding away in my house. I didn’t feel any better for disconnecting–the pain I was experiencing didn’t disappear magically with each season of Once Upon a Time I watched, but rather…my body became stiffer and my creativity diminished. I couldn’t write, and I felt like an unmotivated couch potato.
I feel better when I’m doing things and creating things, that’s all there is to it. It’s easier to handle the chronic pain when I’m in a good mindset, and today…I’m in a good mindset! Perhaps I’m giving hiking poles a little too much credit, but since they make it easier for me to go on hikes, I’ve taken a lot more of them lately and it’s been good for my soul.