I’m very sick

I’m very sick and have been for six years.

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.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Good memories from Rocky Mountain National Park, February 2011