Many of you know the health issues I've been dealing with these last 6 months. For those that don't a quick run-down. As a result of chemo and radiation treatment I recieved in 2001 to successfully beat tongue cancer, a nerve in my neck died in 2006. Plus other blood vessels died. Since then, I have been almost constantly fighting pneumonia...aspiration pneumonia...my inefficient swallowing meant I gave it to myself. I lost lots of weight as I could hardly swallow without coughing and ended up asking for a PEG tube which is a stomach tube. Because of complications I was hospitalized for 10 days. This was put in at the end of last May. In June I developed what I thought was a sore throat. By the end of June I was having a great deal of trouble breathing. I had to go into the Twin Cities, St Paul, MN to be exact as our local hospital was not equipped to deal with my situation. By the way, until this year I have gone to Mayo but our company changed insurance companies and Mayo is not in the network. So I have had to deal with completely new doctor's.
Anyway, I went into the emergency room and woke up with a trach in my throat...they tried to biopsy the mass blocking my throat but got an inconclusive reading. My ENT believes it to be esophagal cancer...I disagree and so do my Mayo docs from what we've seen of the PET scans. While in the hospital my heart, which occassionally raced for an hour or two for no reason, decided to race for 24 hours. It was decided to perform what is called an albation to get it to slow down. This was done successfully. Had it not been done I would most likely have suffered a heart attack with 24 hours. Anyway, I was hospitalized for 12 days that time. Came out very depressed, unable to talk, smell and thinking my quality of life was headed down the tubes. It took me awhile to pull out of that depression. Not being able to talk is very difficult and I miss smell and taste. Still, I am slowly gaining strength and even more slowly gaining weight. So, this wasn't just any old trip report to me...it was me taking my medical issues camping and learning to deal with them. Sorry for the long explanation.
The trip report
I have been way too out of it to even consider a bag night until recently. And recently was last night!
I decided it was time. I chose to go next door to the Interstate Park because it was 5 minutes from our house in case anything unexpected happened and because it's a beautiful park.
I drove in at 11am and chose a spot. Set up my Clark North American hammock and put a chair next to the firepit. Or, where the firepit should have been. Someone had picked up and moved the metal round pit away from the still smoking fire...not smart in an area on the edge of a water shortage.
I went up to the office to pay for the site and tell them about the fire pit. A ranger said he'd take care of it. I told them I had set up my hammock and chair which was fine by them. I could put the sticker on the post when I came back later in the afternoon they said. Cool.
At 5pm I drove to the site. No hammock. No chair. Not good for someone taking meds for elevated heartrate. Drove up to the office to report missing gear. I was told the night before there had been quite a commotion at that site. Underage drinking and grass smoking...police, citations...all sorts of fun. We found out the ranger had told maintenance about the firepit. I was told to go back to the site. I ran home and got the camera I had forgotten and threw my HubbaHubba in the car, just in case. I was camping out that night...period!
About 45 minutes later a ranger drives up with most of my missing hammock and chair. There was a slap strap missing, I found after she had left. No big deal. She had kindly offered to help me set it up but I told her I was fine...remember, I am writing everything I want to say...
Anyway, heart beat returned to fast instead of racing and I set everything up. Decided to use the long Exped downmat7 even though the night was a warm one. Glad I had put the lighter Summerlite bag in my car as my new Golite quilt was way too warm for the night.
Lit up the Thermocell to discourage mozzies and shot up a couple cans for dinner...I found the squishy bowls to be really useful. And discovered the ignition switch on my Jetboil wasn't working...I probably messed it up when I was trying to fit half my kitchen in the cup...anyway, it worked great for boiling water which I needed to clean the inner workings of the trach. I found a good system to take care of my health needs with my backpacking gear...this made me feel really good.
It was a really warm night and the campground, nearly empty, was super quiet...I could hardly hear the sound of the highway across the river as it was drowned out by frogs. I read until it got dark then listened to some pre-recorded podcasts through the speaker on my iPod...I had taken off my watch...who cares about time! I went to bed when I got tired. The bugs were not a problem...I never even heard a mosquito!
Woke up about 3 times during the night to water trees. The trach gave me no problems...in fact, I had less trouble with it camping than I did at home...it's funny, I've noticed that to be true before with other things.
I DID notice the Exped was collapsing...I was glad I had taken it on a short trip on a warm night...when I finally got up it was flat flat falt. However, I never got cold. The night was far too mild for that...
The next morning I slowly puttered around camp...ate, cleaned the trach, cleaned my car, caught the maintenance guys and got my missing slap strap back for my hammock, inflated and checked out the Exped Downmat 7 short I have...I think it's easier in the hammock than the long one.
Then I inflated the long and put it in it's lounge chair seat. I must have not closed the valves properly the night before because it stayed inflated all day. I took it down to the river and spent the afternoon lazing about watching boaters, eating and reading...
All in all I had a wonderful time...glad to get outside and glad to see I should be able to handle things health-wise as long as I remember needed supplies. Here are a couple pictures I took...one of the hammock set-up and one with a happy Mata...