This is how I decided to celebrate my 3 years survival from my TBI and Diffuse Axonal. I like to push myself and do things I should not be able to do.
When I heard about TWOG (Tents without Gents) with Sarah Herron and Lindsey Gurley I was all about it. I camp in a camper normally, but I am not against tent camping but honestly haven’t don’t it I’m over 7 years.
I had to buy all the gear, but I can reuse it in our camper for anyone needing it or for doing another tent camping trip. I love to buy things that I can use again and I definitely can.
Here is all about my trip. I kept the below as drafts and notes daily so I could keep track of why I did and didn’t forget since my memory is so bad. I did this with my 40th birthday road trip and it worked great! I’m all about the strategies, things that help me remember and live a pretty “normal” life.
Let’s start right off the start. I took a Lyft to the airport no problem. Then got to the airport and you check your bags using a machine so that caught me off guard, had to find the number not on my boarding pass. I had a Fanny pack and backpack plus my bag. Somewhere through it I lost my phone. Umm I cannot fly to Moab without it. But then found it in my Fanny pack after a slight 😱 panic.
Thank gosh for TSA pre check, so easy and quick and thankfully nobody was behind me because I was slow and this is not my first time using it but I’m so glad I have it and did not have to take my shoes off. I just had forgot to dump my water from my water bottle, so lesson here is don’t ever fill my water until through security, I hadn’t drank it yet anyways! Lessons learned in first leg of trip just at airport, backpack is enough or just Fanny pack, both may cause me confusion. Do not fill my water in the am, not until through security. Relax. Take a deep breath. I’m ok. It’s ok. Get to the airport plenty early like I did so no rush. Moab is no biggie of a flight and I have done Florida and customs before so I knew I had this. Indonesia is in September, so I needed this preparation for sure!! I was just gonna try my ID but brought my passport because that’s what’s normal for me so I did it. Otherwise I would probably think I lost it and be freaking out 🤣🧠🤦🏼♀️.
Also a note for later, carry propanol in my carry on, I could use one right now! Coffee and nerves and a Ritalin this morning is a recipe for not calm and propanol would help right now but it’s in my checked bag! I leave some in the truck to for times I need to calm down! Note taken and documented so I can read this later and remember.
And in Moab I get on the plane and can’t find my seat. Well they all had numbers except mine of course. Oh life. The seat across had a sticker but not mine.
And then we take off, we are on a small plane of like 20 people and turbulence is a knocking. Again, note to bring my propanol when I fly because I can’t handle turbulence well now. I grew up flying, I have flown a ton but since my accident turbulence makes me panic.
It’s the day before my trip and I am relaxing. I walked to coffee and in the afternoon met up with another girl going on the trip with the TWOG group from Austin. So nice to grab a meal and meet someone. It was a good realization that brain injury or not there are nerves and anticipation, but I am so glad we met up before the trip. She happens to be staying at the same hotel and will drive me tonight to the meet up that is 2 miles one way, a long walk for someone trying to save her energy for the river part of the trip:) We went to the meet up and met everyone, we did dinner after four of us and I cannot wait for tomorrow to get this adventure going.
It’s Sunday and I am back on land in Moab off the river adventure! Holy crap that was a lot and hard. But I am so dang proud of myself for doing it and I met an incredible group of women, plus our incredible leaders Lindsey Gurley and Sarah Herron and our river guides Emily and Bre. I have never met such genuine women, all of them. I think there were 10 of us ladies from all over, each with our own stories and each of us brought something to the trip that was so huge.
We would paddle board each day down the river, then find a camp and stop, unpack, set up and camp. In the morning we would pack up everything and do it again. We would 💩 into a Grover and always had great water views. We would leave no trace behind and only camp where people had camped before.
The very last night I slept under the stars. We were camped on a sand bar and my tent would not hold up anyways so I slept out and it was beautiful and worth it. In 4 days we paddled 48 miles on stand up paddle boards. We also did an insane hike up and over a huge hill one day to cut off 8 miles of paddling but also to experience the hike. Let’s just say we did a lot of rock scrambling. Look that up. It was insane and honestly I would not have done it if I knew it was going to be how it was, but I did it. And so did the other woman and I was not the only one terrified which felt good. I do not regret doing it and am so glad I did.
As Lindsey and Sarah said, I am not my brain injury. I think for me it’s hard to detach from that as it completely made me a different person, especially in the things like this hike and rock scrambling and “no fall zone”. Old me would have had no problem. It’s just not the same anymore. But with some amazing leaders and tough women I did it and made it thanks to their support and guidance and I could not be happier and more proud of myself.
My biggest takeaway from the trip is that I am not my brain injury. It does not define me. I can just be. Yes it is a huge part of my life, I can keep doing advocacy work like I do with volunteering at Thinkfirst and with my work at Trauma Nurses Talk Tough, but I don’t need to be doing it all the time. I actually created a new Instagram to connect with the group I met and others I am friends with. However I am taking a new approach and really taking in feedback I received and going with it. I am not my brain injury, I don’t need to talk about it all the time. I think it’s hard to do that but I am going to try very hard. It had completely taken over my life and changed me it’s been so hard not to focus on that, especially when I feel like who I was before is not longer there and that it’s hard for me to just conversation now losing so much of myself. But that it one takeaway from the trip I’m going to work on. Advocacy is great, education is great, I’m a health educator so it just kind of worked out but it does overwhelm me. So I’m just keeping insta to connect and if I give them rights to steal my photos and whatever else, who cares. I think when I deleted it on 12/24/20 I was just so overwhelmed by it all so it’s good to have a fresh start and change what I see and follow and to just take a huge step back. I had a decent following and helped others, but that became overwhelming for me so it all worked out.
So thank you to Lindsey and Sarah for this experience and to all the women on this trip, two of whom literally held my hand for many parts of this hike to give me support. It was truly a beautiful thing and there are truly beautiful, strong, genuine, amazing women out there, many who I just met on this trip💚
Link to pics