I am much less disabled!

I wrote a difficult post a year and a half ago in which I accepted that I was actually for real disabled, not just the unlucky victim of a series of unrelated injuries for 7 years straight. (This was probably around the time I bought a second cane in case one cane wasn’t enough to get me the 15 feet from the couch to the bathroom during one of my bad times.) Well, I’ve been waiting to write this post until I was sure, but I’m sure: I am now mostly abled again!

What happened? I stopped eating wheat. Yeah, the whole gluten-free thing? Is trendy because it works for many people. I hesitate to use the term “gluten-free” for myself because I honestly don’t know which part of the wheat I’m sensitive to, but since there’s basically only one wheat product that doesn’t have gluten (purified wheat dextrin, a laxative) it doesn’t matter at a practical level. I’ve had the celiac test and I don’t have the gene for that specific gluten allergy (there are several kinds of gluten and other wheat parts that can cause allergic reactions, celiac is an allergy to a specific one).

I have a lot more details in my Dreamwidth journal about the various weird health problems that cleared up when I stopped eating wheat, but the major one is that my whole body no longer hurts. It was weird when the first major pain center cleared up – it felt like there was an empty hole in my body where the pain had been. I had gotten used to using pain to tell where my body parts were and how they were moving, instead of proprioception. I’m slowy redeveloping that sense, but I still catch myself being surprised when I make a movement and it doesn’t hurt in the way I expect.

I’m not entirely sure what the future holds, other than change. I still have hypermobility problems and I’m working with a sports massage therapist to uncramp the muscles that got injured during this time. While I’m not depressed right now, I fully expect that to change again in the future. My family has a lot of genetically-linked health problems and I already know I have two of them. So I’m not taking my current relatively good health for granted but I plan to take advantage of it while it lasts.

I would love love love to get back to serious hiking but I still feel afraid after years of being unable to even sit up for 2 hours at a time. Today I walked 4 miles like it ain’t no thing, and a couple of weeks ago I went 16 hours straight without lying down. I’m definitely never hiking Mount Whitney again, but the Grand Canyon with an overnight at the lodge at the bottom? Maybe in a year or two.

Grand Canyon trip report

I hate blogging about trips because I end spending the trip thinking about what I will show or tell people instead of actually paying attention to the trip itself. I also hate taking photos because any famous landmark is already thoroughly documented by better photographers than I. But I took a few photos for my family, and, what the heck, I’ll write a few comments around them and stick it on my blog.

I hiked down and back up the Grand Canyon in two days, following the Bright Angel Trail and staying at Phantom Ranch one night. Shortly after dawn, the walls of the canyon lit up in gold. Here is me about 2 miles down the trail, attempting to smile for the camera.

The trail is insane. It’s literally cut out of the rock most of the way, with sheer drop-offs of tens or hundreds of feet. Here’s a little piece of it, about 6 miles down:

I stopped for some lunch near the bottom of this part of the trail, consisting in large part of Ritter hazelnut chocolate (I’d always thought the “Sport” designation on the wrapper was ironic, but it turns out it’s one of the easier things to choke down on a hike). I was startled by a miniature landslide over my shoulder and turned to see a squirrel about two feet from my eyeballs. Ever since I learned that squirrels can chew through lead shielding on phone lines, I’ve been wary of them. Their bite strength is comparable to that of some sharks – around 6000 or 7000 psi. I view them as teeny tiny land sharks dressed up in cute bunny fur. Needless to say, I did not give the squirrel any of my Ritter “Sport.”

It’s hard to get a sense of scale on this photo of the Colorado River. If you peer closely, you’ll see a suspension bridge in the distance. It’s a foot bridge with open metal grating as the flooring. I had a good time staring directly down into the river as I crossed and activating the “Aigh, I am falling!” part of my brain.

I got to Phantom Ranch about 7 hours after I started. I was being neurotically careful of my feet and legs since I knew I had to hike 9.6 miles UP the canyon the next day and I’ve only been hiking again for about a month now. Fortunately, the high in the bottom of the canyon was only 90F that day, so I didn’t have to worry about getting too hot and dawdled my way down. When I arrived, I felt basically perfect, which is a first for a 9+ mile hike of any sort for me. I’m going to hike this way more often.

Here’s the canyon around Phantom Ranch:

And the next morning, looking way too cheerful for 5:45am:

You can see a little of the straps of my cheesy Vera Bradley backpack. I think I’m the only person to hike the Grand Canyon wearing a paisley backpack, ever. Notify the Guinness Book of World Records.

The hike up was harder, of course, but I decided to take my time again because it was so fun the day before. I ended up hiking up the canyon in 7 hours and 15 minutes, 15 minutes more than my time down, which just shows how lazy and wonderful the hike down was.

Sunrise from the bottom of the canyon:

A waterfall in the canyon below Indian Gardens:

Me attempting to smile again:

Halfway up, I was molested by squirrels again. I hate hate hate squirrels, but decided to get a photo for one of my nieces, who thinks sharks in bunny fur are the most wonderful thing ever. As I rummaged around for my phone, the squirrel slipped closer… and closer… [Jaws music] …

And closer… And then the damn thing bit my boot! The dark spot on the upper left is the bite, if you look closely you can see two tiny shark^W squirrel tooth marks:

I threw rocks at the squirrel to scare it away, but it thought the rocks were food and scampered after them. Eventually I just had to get up and go find a less squirrel-infested part of the trail to eat my Ritter Sport.