Saturday, October 18, 2008


It's going down into the 30's tonight with possible frost. So I'm pitching my tent in the yard to test out the modifications I've made to my sleeping bag and warm clothing. While I'm at it, I might as well keep on sleeping out and living out of my backpack, including clothing, bathing (baby wipes), food and cooking.... I've got supplies for 5 days or so and I need a test run of just more than overnight. So I'm going to do it all but the hiking :-)

Saturday, October 11, 2008


And where is it that you get schwag like this?

Yup. Ellie here got admitted to the hospital overnight. For panic attacks. Except that the extreme apprehension, coupled with odd chest sensations, made me a cardiac patient. So I was there 24 hours on telemetry monitoring on a dumb cardiac diet (low-sodium, restricted fat, Mrs. Dash instead of salt, bleah) while I got all kinds of EKG's, echocardiograms, lab tests, and of course no more panic attacks.

But it felt like I might have something lethal during the couple hours that I had them.

They ruled out anything cardiac but didn't seem too interested in finding out what else might have caused it, sent me home with Ativan in case it happens again. The ER doc, however, listened to my history and ordered up tests for celiac disease, which probably won't be covered by my insurance since it doesn't fit my admitting diagnosis of "chest pain." However, I've been wondering about it for awhile, since lifelong IBS symptoms abated when I undertook a low-carb (grain-free) diet, and returned if I cheated with cookies, donuts, or pizza. The day of this incident, I was supposed to have had an appt. with my primary doc, and I had eaten wheat the day before to see if anything would happen so I'd be able to report it to her. So the ER doc ordered the test. And yes, along with the panic I had had bowel hyperactivity, so it wasn't all that irrelevant.

Anyway, I got a cool bucket that will be handy, and a hairbrush I like, and little plastic bottles I can put stuff in for hiking, and baby wipes I can use for bird-baths when I do my week-long backyard-camping gig to learn the ropes, and a toothbrush so I won't have to buy one when my current one gets old. And the little pitcher.... I may pitch it but it has a styrofoam insert that gave me the idea to use a styrofoam cup as an insulator inside a yogurt container for a lightweight heat-retaining cup/bowl/rehydrator on the trail.

Today according to my PT schedule I get to walk THREE MILES!!! It's starting to feel like actual distance. I mean, 3 miles is a distance I might, in my running incarnation, have put on my running shoes for and held in some esteem.

The cardiologist wants me to get a stress test, presumably as a baseline now that we've determined nothing is wrong, to compare to later on when something does.... "Because we all experience coronary changes as we age," he said. I didn't like him much. However, I'll have to figure out with my PT how to walk/run long enough on an incline to get my heart revved up without killing my Achilles. The cardio guy said, "You don't have to walk... we'll give you a cardiac stimulant to achieve the stress." Oh, goody. Sounds like just what I want.... something to make my heart race when I'm sitting still. Maybe I'll just cancel the stress test.

So the hospital experience is mostly behind me except for follow-up. I have Ativan in case I get another attack (it will still be within its shelf life on the trail, I don't want to deal with panic attacks on the trail...) And I have cool schwag that, if not completely useful or something I would have deliberately acquired now, gave me ideas for MacGyvering later.

It still wasn't fun. And I like salt in my food, and as for fat-restricted.... haven't they heard of the cardiac benefits of olive oil?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


I just walked two miles....yup, my second 2-miler in my Achilles rehab/Appalachian Trail training. Tomorrow is its subsequent "rest" day, Thursday a one-mile "recovery" walk, then a rest day, then THREE miles on Saturday. WhoooEEEE!!!

Yesterday I biked to and from physical therapy, then reloaded my daypack for other errands by bike: return library books, pay a bill at an office, do some banking, pick up a few groceries. I returned from all that with 13.73 miles on my odometer, feeling exercised (maybe exorcised) and green -- economically and ecologically, saved money, saved fuel.

Physical therapy is tapering off, from twice a week to once every week or 10 days. I have a SLEW of home exercises and stretches to do. It will be good not to go so often, though... twice a week with an insurance co-pay each time is $50 a week, $200 a month. It could be worse; I could have no insurance at all.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Dee had these questions and comments about my last post:

"You are so organized. I cannot wait for you to go and then report back to us at sometime. What do you plan to do about that? Will you write when you go into town every 5 days or will you wait until you get home? I am so excited about you going. How is your foot feeling?"

Well, I don't know about "organized," but I'm trying to learn! Organization is not my forte but I can't do this without learning some. I'm feeling I should have started earlier.

About reporting during my hike: ShirleyPerley has very kindly offered to be my "scribe." I'll write little journal entries in camp, then mail it to her from towns. She's going to post it on my blog for me. I'll be sending pictures to my husband (I guess sending my camera's memory card, keeping two or three in rotation) so somehow the two of them will struggle to align the pictures with the posts.

There's a huge site,, where most hikers post their journals, but I'm so used to blogging here, and have so many friends here, I think I'm just going to keep it here.

As for my tendons.... big improvements. Thursday at my PT session I actually got to RUN for 2 minutes on the treadmill while my therapist observed my gait. Last week I did 3 one-mile walks and a 2-mile walk. This week I'm scheduled for a 3, a 2, and a 1. She's going to give me an updated training plan tomorrow, plus more/different exercises to do at home, going longer between therapy sessions and tapering that off.

Now as long as I don't do something stupid and set myself back....

Thank you for the questions, Dee!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Photo from Vacpacker

Six months from today, I start hiking. Six months from today!!

So I'm going to start preparing in earnest (as if, up till now, I'd just been pretending.) Steve is going to be mailing me a box every two weeks. So, starting now, I'm going to start filling those boxes. If I get a box every two weeks, and spend two weeks filling it (drying food, etc.), that should take me up to Starting Day.

I won't be taking two whole weeks' worth of food at a time; I'll be stopping in (or detouring into) towns every 5 days or so, and I'll pick up replenishables there: cheese (keeps a week unrefrigerated), a few eggs, a little fresh fruit. But I can go more cheaply and nutritiously if I start hoarding pre-purchased shelf-stable things now, like bags of beef jerky and nuts. I figure on needing three 1# bags of frozen vegetables, dehydrated, a week. They'll take up hardly any room or weight when dried. I'll dry up 3 bags now, add a bag of walnuts and a bag of beef jerky, some dried fruit, a cup of olive oil in a plastic squeeze bottle, a couple boxes of instant rice and/or mashed potatoes, a zip-loc of powdered milk, a week's worth of instant coffee, and weigh 'em, along with a block of cheese, and see how much the week's stash will weigh me down, and what size pre-paid priority-mail box it will need. Then I'll modify.

I'm a champion at modifying. I modify way better than I solidify.