Lessons Learned

My friends arrived late Saturday night.  I decided to try to camp with them.    It didn’t work out well.  I didn’t even make it out of town.

Let me start with a little background.   I have been friends with C. for ages.  She is a wonderful woman.   She is someone I trust implicitly.  She’s intelligent, caring, has a wonderful sense of humor, and she’s fun to be around.  That being said, she’s not gifted at planning.  That’s ok- usually.  In the past, I did most of the planning.  This time, it didn’t work out so well.   With the head injury, I really can’t plan things very well.  My current life is more one thing, one day at a time.  I try to keep things routine. 

C and J arrived Saturday.  Sunday, C mentioned doing a grocery run before we left, so off we went.  We started at Andy’s, a local chain that has a lot of gluten free, vegetarian, and organics.  Much of the produce is locally grown.  However, it’s a busy store.   I started having some issues with stimulation.  We then needed to go to Safeway to finish.  As we entered the store, C turned to me and asked what I wanted to eat.  It’s a simple question.  Before my injury, there would be no problem.   The meals most likely would have been planned beforehand and most, if not all, of the shopping done.   Sunday, she might as well as asked me to explain nuclear fusion.  The sheer complexity of planning meals for three days’ camping, on the day of the trip, stopped me dead.  Well, honestly, it triggered major fear/ anxiety.   This wasn’t helped by the overstimulation of another grocery store.     I am sure that C had no idea what impact this was having on me.   I don’t think she really understands the severity of the injury.   If she did, she would not have placed me in the situation.  I know that.  I don’t blame her.  And I’m not angry.  

Good came from this grocery trip, however.  It helped me recognize that I couldn’t manage a camping trip yet.  Honestly, if grocery stores and shopping overstimulate me, I think a camp site would also.  And add the discomfort factor of being in a strange place.  I just really love camping and we have been talking about this trip since before the accident.  I really wanted to go.  I enjoy spending time with C.  We have a lot in common and she’s a great person. 

I learned a lot from the aborted camping trip.   Several difficulties related to the head injury became apparent.  Often, I do not know what I can do until  I am placed into the situation.   Like helping to plan a camping trip.    I did not know I was this compromised in planning/ resoving complex problems.  I also recognize my ability to verbally communicate is severly impacted by stress.  I couldn’t recognize the anxiety at the store for what it was and couldn’t communicate to C that I was overly stressed.   I gained this knowledge after the fact.    

The trip reminds me of the saying “everyone thought someone was doing it but nobody did.”    In retrospect, C asked about planning a few times last week.  I was overwhelmed with other issues and wasn’t as helpful as I usually am.  I didn’t ask what she needed help doing.  Honestly, it didn’t occur to me that maybe she felt overwhelmed.  I think if we had broken the trip into meals, I could have helped.  For example, me being responsible for planning breakfasts and snacks.  I could have broken that into a chart.  Three meals and snack foods.  Or something like that.  At this point, I respond well to specific tasks set to me.  I’m not as good as recognizing what tasks need done. 

C and J went camping without me.  I’m glad they did.  It’s a beautiful area of the state to camp in and there’s a ton of activities to do.   They’ll spend a couple of days with me after the camping trip.  I’m already working on a list of activities I know I can manage that they can choose from.  My friend, Carol, is having us over to dinner on Wed, so there’s one fewer meal to plan.  And she’s an awesome cook.  I’ll be helping with specific tasks she sets.  lol.  Yeah.  Learned that one the hard way.    I’m looking foward to spending time with C and J. 

I use their initials because I didn’t ask them if I could mention their names in my blog.  



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