The Hangover

Day 112: Burney, CA

This morning I woke up in a soft, cool bed. And I did not want to move out of it. But I had to because it was a hotel room, and the first I have enjoyed in months. I wanted to stay in bed cuddled and curled in fetal position to nurse my ailing stomach and my crowded mind. A small nap would release me from the last clutches of the poison commonly known as alcohol still raging in my system.

So while it is less than comfortable to be sick on trail (in fact I am horrified when I realize how awful it would be to even have a head cold living outdoors), it is better to be on trail and ill then in town and ill. Sitting in the quiet diner with nausea flaring, I had to sit at the edge of the table and spend half the meal in the bathroom, wondering if this time I would throw up. I went outside for fresh air, but the air was hot and thick with humidity in a Northern California heat wave.

I returned to the table repeatedly and each time, for a moment I felt fine, slowly nibbling at my meager order of plain toast. The worst was that I knew I had done this to myself. House asked me: “What? do you have Giardia?” I quietly laughed and said “no, I wish I could blame it on that, but this is a hangover plain and simple.”

The group left the restaurant to go and do a resupply at the grocery store, but I was already ready. So I sat outside the Safeway on a tiny curb in a more meager shade. I felt awful. Special K sat with me, but she sat in the sun where it was more acceptable to sit but far less comfortable. I scanned for opportunities in civilization to sit quietly ill. Do you know, there are none. There are benches in hot sun, there are curbs in the shade, but there are no acceptable places to lay down. Even if I could find a comfortable, shady spot, I would certainly garner glances of concern and the occasional questioning helper: “Are you OK?” When you are not OK, this is the last thing you want. You just want to be left alone, and this is the last thing he will get if you want to relax or feel ill in society.

I needed to get back on trail. I willed my stomach to stay quiet long enough for me to smile with my thumb out to the cars passing by. I willed my stomach to work with me long enough to not be nauseous in a stranger’s car. I willed my stomach to play nice and allow me to get to the respite the trail would surely provide.

And then, there I was. As soon as I got on trail again, I realized the freedom I had not thus far appreciated in full.
I can lay down wherever I want.
I can pee wherever I want.
I can vomit wherever I want.

And with this freedom, I immediately felt well.

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