Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Perchance to Sleep

I didn't get any writing done last weekend. I meant to. I even brought my computer out into the woods. But the hike up to Grouse Butte took a lot more out of me than I expected. By the time I got back to the trailhead, I was ready for a nap. 

I didn't take a nap, though maybe I should have. I'm not very good at napping. Especially when I have only a small amount of time in which to sleep. I find that I can't relax enough to fall asleep, because I'm too worried about waking back up on time. That's why I can never nap during my lunch hour at work. 

Sometimes, I'll lie down quietly and try to nap during the lunch hour, on days when I'm particularly tired, but even if I set an alarm, I get paranoid. I just can't relax into sleep. Very unlike my husband, who can drop off at a moment's notice and feel refreshed after a nap as short as a minute. But he was in the military, so I suppose that's something he learned there - get sleep when you can. 

I've gone through different phases in my life when it comes to sleeping. Times when I needed to have some light on, and times when I needed absolute darkness. Sometimes, music that is barely audible, others, a movie (also barely audible), other times silence. Though even wearing ear plugs isn't getting me anywhere near silence lately. And not because of my husband's snoring! No, these days, I sleep to the sound of fans, air conditioning and the dishwasher running. 

Actually, the dishwasher is pretty good at putting me to sleep. I don't know what I'll do if I ever get one of those new, efficient, quiet models. Maybe I can play a recording on YouTube of a noisy dishwasher. 

My brain likes to come up with new tricks to keep me awake despite my best efforts. Spinning on thoughts that I can always think about the next day. Focusing on aches and pains. Considering whether my bladder should be emptied again for so long that it actually does need to be emptied again... 

I don't always have a good way to get around those tricks and fall asleep. There's a book that I like, Quarantine by Greg Egan, that has an interesting bit about sleep. The book takes place in a future where neural implants are commonplace, and owned by the main character. There is a neural implant called Boss, and it allows one to literally choose to sleep with the "press" of a "button" in your head. But that doesn't cure insomnia. You still have to choose it. 

I wonder, if I had the ability to choose to sleep like flipping a switch, would I use it? Or would I wallow in my spinning thoughts, putting off the choice? I'd like to think I'd choose it. Nights when all I want is to fall asleep, but my mind won't quiet, I'd definitely use it. 

At least, I think I would.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Menstrual Torture

The latest period of mine is one of the more intense and unpleasant ones that I can remember having. Of course, the body does tend to forget pain. The memory of pain gets blurred edges, which is a boon I suppose or no one would go through childbirth more than once on purpose. But I don't usually have to walk around half bent over with the pain. 

I don't usually start leaking tears during working hours because the pain is so intense, even with a heating pad firmly tucked on my lap. 

I'm not usually quite so vocal about how much it hurts. 

I don't usually have trouble falling asleep because when I lie down the pain decides that position is just the worst like I did last Monday night. 

So I think it's fair to say that this is one of the worse periods I've had. I mean, I do take notes on my periods as well, and they aren't ALL "worst period ever!" - most of them just note that the period began. Not because I don't have painful cramps or other issues, but because they don't cross my personal threshold of bad pain. 

Sure, it's "just" cramps. And I can "deal" with it. 

But I really wish I didn't have to. That no one had to deal with this kind of pain. Though it might be helpful if men could. . .

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Yeast Experiments

I've discovered that for my particular eating issues, eliminating the yeast in bread appears to be the most important part. Soy sauce has also been a culprit, but not hard cheese or grapes. I have been eating cheeses in my backpacking food without issue, and I ate some grapes when I took my niece camping. Neither of those affected me like eating some meatloaf with breadcrumbs did. 

I avoided eating the dinner roll that came with that meal, but the main course was meatloaf. And I knew that meatloaf would have breadcrumbs and that those breadcrumbs would be leavened with yeast. I ate it as a test, and the answer came back: nope. My body doesn't want to deal with yeast. 

The real question is why this was never brought up as a possibility. An uncommon food sensitivity, for sure, but when I continually expressed that I was not doing well, why would my doctors not suggest something less common? I've been considering what to tell my GP when I go in for an annual exam in the fall. Part of me wants to say nothing to her, just go and do the minimum, no complaints. I've been managing my symptoms without the use of laxatives for months - now that I have stopped eating yeast! 

It just feels so absurd that with all the foods they told me to avoid, they never brought this one up. 

But I'm figuring it out, and I'm doing better. I'm eating more foods than I was before, and I don't actually miss bread as much as I thought I would. I'm eating fruits and vegetables again, which makes me feel better overall. I really like fruits and, sure, even some veggies. I'm hoping that I'll be able to eat beans again - that experiment will definitely be coming soon! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The Monster Expects Perfection

My brain likes to chew on things. I often find myself going over and over something that I said or did. Something that I'm not sure, on reflection, was done correctly or well or with the proper emotion. I can shut the chewing down for a while, but there's a tendency for my mind to sink back into those thought patterns, rehashing the past over and over again until I've convinced myself that I took the worst of all possible paths in my interaction. 

That's a monster. 

A voice popping up and criticizing my actions of the past. Nagging me to be better, to be more, to be perfect. An expectant weight of emotion. Inflicting suffering on myself mentally, but to what purpose? Is it like picking at a scab, only in my mind instead of on my skin? 

I don't think I'm the only person to do this, but it's not something that gets talked about a lot. 

My monster is an isolationist. It doesn't occur to the monster to push any of these feelings out and inflict punishment onto other people. Maybe that's a function of it being my monster. A function of who I am as a person. I'm not one to lash out, not very often. I more often lash in, punishing myself for perceived faults. 

I punish myself when I'm angry. I've read the phrase that anger turned inwards is depression, but I'm not sure if I quite agree with it anymore. I'm not depressed, and I doubt that I ever medically have been. I've just had lots of emotions, BIG emotions to deal with. And, over the years, I've dealt with these big feelings in various ways, some better than others. 

Sometimes I wonder what might have happened if I had been better as a child at suppressing my emotions. Would I have been better off? I would have been yelled at less, because I would have cried less... But I wouldn't have learned how to process those big feelings by avoiding them. I mean, I'm no expert at processing them now, but I have strategies. 

Like, I know that I get irritable when I'm hungry. I fully embrace the term hangry, because I've felt it in my bones when backpacking. Knowing that, I can acknowledge that the emotion is coming from a physical need, and isn't a response to the situation that I'm currently in, or the person I'm currently with. Same thing if I'm frustrated or upset; I try to recognize what the cause is instead of either punishing myself or, on occasion, lashing out. 

It takes time to develop that sense of recognition. Time and self awareness. I've been trying to more fully develop my self awareness as I've dealt with the IBS diagnosis. After all, if a physical need can turn into an emotional state (hunger leading to hangriness), then surely an emotional need can turn into a physical state. Our bodies and minds are intertwined. So by being more aware of my emotions and what I'm doing with them, I might be able to reduce the impact of my emotions on my body. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Big Creek and Werdenhoff Mine Photos

Over the 4th of July weekend, my husband and I spent time at Big Creek. Last week I provided a write up; this week is all about the pictures. 

The Big Creek Lodge is home to more than just guests.

This bird had at least three little ones to feed in there.

Some of the hummingbirds fought, but I didn't get a good shot of that.

There's some baby birds!

Old equipment up at Werdenhoff Mine.

We only looked at the building from the outside.

But a missing wall panel gave me a glimpse of the inside.

And here, from the rear.

The original rock-smashing machine!

View from the mine down to a cabin that seems to be getting some upkeep.

Ambrose making his way down from the mine.

Just one big log was blocking the Smith Creek Cutoff Trail, close to the mine. 

Lots of bear grass growing this year!

I'm not 100% sure what flower this is, but I like it.

Ambrose found some bear sign - the rock got flipped to see if there were tasty grubs to eat underneath.

Ambrose going down one of the cutoff trail's switchbacks.

This dilapidated cabin is next to the cutoff trail.

An animal on the road - we didn't run over it.

We also managed to miss this deer :) 

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Chill Long Weekend

My husband and I decided to spend the 4th of July weekend at Big Creek. Not to go backpacking as we usually do, but just to hang out. Spending the night over 5000 feet elevation is a good way to get acclimated to hiking in higher altitudes, so we would be getting some "work" done, but the overall goal was to relax. 

The prior weekend, I'd taken my niece out camping and backpacking. That was a super fun trip, but it was also very tiring for me. Not only was I leading a trip (which I've done before), I was also shepherding someone who had never done anything quite like this before. Even though she's camped before, the campsites she's been at are not like the remote ones that I took her to in Idaho. 

And so I was ready for a break. A time when I didn't have to take on all the responsibilities for making sure camp was running smoothly. A time when I didn't need to drive OR cook! 

I was still in charge of setting up the tent, but it's different when I don't have to drive AND set up the tent. Though we didn't even do a tent on Friday night, when we stopped at the Trout Creek campground so we wouldn't have to finish the drive to Big Creek in the dark. I was in charge of spreading out the tarp and laying out the car camping sleeping pads for that stop. 

We had made reservations for one dinner at Big Creek, on Saturday night. I am so glad we only did one night for dinner, because dinners at the Big Creek Lodge are generous and I am simply not used to eating that much at once. We ended up saving a big chunk of food (I may have eaten more dinner than Ambrose...). The thought was that we'd eat it overnight, but the nights were only like 50 degrees. Nowhere near cold enough to need such a substantial midnight snack. We ended up eating our leftovers for dinner on Sunday, so that worked out. 

On Sunday morning, we drove out along Smith Creek Road to see if we could make it to the cutoff trail. Well, we wouldn't have been able to if two guests at the lodge hadn't come driving up in their side by side. They had a chainsaw! So when logs were across the road, they got that machine going and Ambrose and I helped move the logs once they were cut. It was kind of fun. I guess we really ought to invest in a chainsaw soon. 

Once we made it to the cutoff trail, Ambrose and I hiked up it to check out the Werdenhoff Mine. We've hiked up there before, but always with heavy packs, so we hadn't taken the time to look around before. It was pretty neat to see all that old machinery. The cutoff trail was in pretty good shape. I counted six downed trees, and only one was hard to get around. 

That took us the entire morning, and then we hung out for the afternoon, just relaxing as the weather threatened more rain. Monday morning, we got breakfast and drove home. All in all, a very relaxing weekend. Even the traffic on the way home wasn't bad, just a bit of a snag at Cascade where the main road was occupied by a parade. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

A Musical Interlude

I brought my niece to town for a visit to the woods and the mountains last week. I'll be writing more about that trip on the hiking blog. This one is about what happened on her last night in town. 

We got checked into a hotel for the night (my studio apartment being too small for guests), and had taken the elevator several times before reading the little events newsletter in it. Now, my niece had been schooling me in musicals on this trip. She shared Hamilton, 36 Questions and Heathers with me while I drove us to campsites and back. And she had also mentioned the musical Dear Evan Hansen a time or two (or ten). 

So when I saw that the Morrison Center's Broadway in Boise was performing Dear Evan Hansen, and that the last date was that very day, I pointed it out to her. 

Immediately she wanted to go, and I was a little less enthusiastic. I was hungry and a bit cranky, to be honest. But then she found a pair of tickets for $6 a piece online. So we walked down to Freak Alley, because she's into art and I wanted her to see it. Then, while we got dinner, I figured out how to get the $6 tickets. It was less than $20 after fees for both tickets, a great deal. 

What an incredible coincidence that this musical, which she hadn't had a chance to see when it was in Chicago, just happened to be playing on her last night in town. And we were able to get tickets to see it same day, at a rate that shocked her Chicago sensibilities. I might just be the best aunt ever. 

But she's also a candidate for best niece. I never would have gone to see that musical without her, and I ended up enjoying it very much. It was very emotionally moving, and I'm not ashamed to say I cried a lot. I'd read that the movie version wasn't very good, and, going in I let that color my perceptions. But once it started, I just let myself enjoy the production. The cast was excellent; almost as good as the company. 

A shot of the stage before the performance began.