No, this post is not about a hike or an adventure outdoors. I wish it was. This is about something I’ve been going through for a very long time, and I’m ready to share my story.
Our longtime readers may remember when I got shingles on the Appalachian Trail in 2013. Well, I never regained my health. Since then and still to this day, I’ve seen dozens of doctors spanning the entire country, from New York City to Palo Alto.
Debilitating fatigue is my main symptom. Headaches, neck pain, buzzing sensations, poor sleep, muscle and joint pain, chemical and mold sensitivity, and other unpleasantries occur daily. My blood work always comes back near normal. Doctors are stumped.
The first round of medical professionals tended to arrive at simple conclusions. During sub-10 minute appointments, some told me to wait it out. Others told me to drink more water, to take extra vitamin D, or implied that depression was the cause of my problems. I’m frustrated, but definitely not depressed. Some doctors admitted they didn’t know what was wrong and sent me to specialists. I had to wait over six months for an appointment with some of these experts, but even they were unable to help.
My energy level remained low. It was stuck at 35% of normal.
North Star is slowly recovering from shingles. The first four days after she began taking medications were rough. The painful lesions grew and she felt terrible. On the fifth day her symptoms finally lessened slightly. She is still low on energy, but we are happy to report that she is now improving a little each day.
Our family, friends, and this online community have been amazing throughout this tough time. Thank you so very much for your supportive comments, suggestions, and good wishes. We’ve read your notes many times. They lifted our spirits and put smiles on our faces. Thank you.
While North Star was out of commission, the Annual Day Zero PCT Kick-Off (ADZPCTKO) event occurred. This Southern California gathering marks the beginning of many thru hikers’ journeys. It’s also a reunion of past PCT hikers. We obviously couldn’t make it, but Gossamer Gear kindly shared our PCT photography book in their booth. Hopefully some of you got to flip through the pages. We wish all the 2013 PCT hikers a wonderful and exciting adventure. Have fun and remember to HYOH (hike your own hike).
North Star probably won’t regain her full health for a while so our plan remains to keep things low key. We’ll be writing essays for two magazines(!), acquainting ourselves with Fort Collins, Colorado, and researching backpacking options in the Rockies. The dramatic mountains here are already beckoning us to come out and adventure…when we’re healthy.
On our Appalachian Trail thru hike, we’ll sometimes buy food at stores near the trail, and other times pick up a food box which we prepared prior to the hike. Organizing and creating food resupply boxes is time consuming, but we love the result: better tasting and more nutritious trail food. For vegetarians like us this is especially true, since vegetarian food is harder to find in tiny trail towns. Mailing food boxes also enables us to stay away from larger towns and remain in the wilderness. There’s nothing like the calm that extended time in the wild brings.
The first step in preparing food boxes is to create a meal plan. This has been an iterative process for us over the years. Incredibly, after hiking 2600 miles in 2012, we still love most of our backpacking food menu. We made a few small changes for the Appalachian Trail and have updated our list of favorite backpacking foods accordingly. You can view the list at any time by clicking the “Food” tab above.