I Refuse to Let My Medical Issues Stop Me from Exploring

Adventuring through Gastroparesis and Partial Complex Seizures

By: Velya Espinoza

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I have the heart of a lion and a body fragile as a land snail. A storm rages silently in the being that is me.

What it Feels Like

It's lacing up the boots that have significant mileage through rough terrain, yet still, in better shape than I. It's loading and stuffing a 40lb pack with survival gear, hoisting it up onto your back and struggling with every step. Your body rejects the torturous beast you've strapped to yourself, instantly sending crisis signals to everything not operating as it should. Signals triggering thoughts of complete disaster, what if this time I don't make it, what if I seize, what if I make it and become too weak to make it back, what if this push is the one that was too much for my organs to handle...the mind clouded with immeasurable amounts of doubt knowing damn well, I'm going anyway. Truth is, despite the risks, I feel alive when I'm in the wilderness. There is no greater feeling than that of sitting under a towering forest with your feet in the dirt, alongside the wild waters of nature in awe of all things larger than us. 

Disaster While Adventuring

It's knowing my body is unpredictable, and anything can happen at any moment. It's being definitively aware that if the devious little alien inhabiting my body gets bored, there will be trouble. I picture him somewhat like Stitch, he can sit quietly and play nice, but he's programmed to destroy and cause nothing but trouble. I am convinced this is the root cause of all my medical issues. I picture him sitting in the pilot seat snapping my neurological conduits fraying wires, grabbing the ends of two separate lines, looking at them beguilingly and smashing them together ferociously with vindication to see exactly what sort of reaction he'll get - havoc indeed. 

My very first seizure came just after a fantastic trail run when I was in peak physical condition. I was hiking 3-4 times per week, backpacking at the very least once a month, working out in my apartment gym and getting adequate nutrition. I felt nearly unstoppable, but my body had a different agenda. Seizing while on an adventure has happened on more than one occasion, however, I was lucky enough to not be alone, and in the safety of the passenger seat. Each adventure I embark upon I tell myself, it will be okay, no matter what happens you're always better out there which is true, most of the time. 

When I Go Alone

Because of the complexity of the situation, I rarely go alone. Aside from my physical capabilities fluctuating from feeling like a semi-healthy human to not being able to get out of bed, this has been one of the hardest things for me to accept. I have never been one to rely on anyone but myself, and suddenly in my 30's I have to rely on someone to chaperone me for my own safety? - In the words of Sheldon Cooper "and I reserve this word for those rare instances when it’s truly deserved. This is malarkey."

Although it's rare, I do go alone. I risk it because let's face it at my age the majority are tied down with kids and an adventure to those is getting away for a night of shameless debauchery at a local watering hole and the few not tied down with kids, they bury themselves so far into work to live a lavish life and try to buy the time to adventure later. If I always have to wait for someone to go with me, I will only get to go once or twice a year. Life is too short for that kind of nonsense. 

When I go alone, I go prepared. I leave a map of where I'm going and approximately how long I will be gone. One of the perks to building an overland rig is having everything in my truck that I would need if I am unable to drive home. Do I worry when I'm out there in the wilderness alone, knowing what could go wrong, of course, do I let it stop me...not a chance. Granted I have my days where I am unable to drive, or even leave the house because "I know better" but when I am able, I get the hell out of town and into the forest where I belong.    

How I Cope

There's an extremely healing energy that comes with being in the forest, I have found that going on wilderness adventures is really the only way I can cope. Although the ways in which I cope change much like the tides... sometimes it's gag inducing positivity, mind-over-matter, send a wish into the universe and it will come true kind of coping. Sometimes it's relentless anger in which I recluse and try not to interact with anyone as to not project my frustration with life onto anyone else (although I am human and sometimes it is inevitable), and then I have times where I'm dragging myself through the mundane days of life hoping today will be the day I bump into Francis, and get recruited into the Weapon X program to become some sort of immortal superhuman. Like I said, I have many ways of coping.

Adventure Until the End

Adventures keep us young. They improve our health and our minds. They give us unforgettable memories and ground us in ways nothing else can. Not everything I push myself to do is good for me, often times I push myself too hard, but I will continue to push myself and have my adventures until I'm unable to do so.

Stormy ~ Wandering Wild

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