Camping With Narcolepsy
It is tough being an outdoorsy person with a disability. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise. A disability is defined as a condition that impacts one or more life functions. For every finger I have, I could name a life function that my narcolepsy affects.
Learning to work around my physical limitations
While my narcolepsy has affected and still affects my relationship with the outdoors, I’m continually finding ways to work around these physical limitations. However, when I was first diagnosed with narcolepsy, I lost my connection to nature.
I suddenly was unable to have enough stamina to do much of anything. With an adequate narcolepsy treatment plan, I have rekindled my passion for the outdoors and have learned a great deal along the way.
Camping is different than other outdoor activities
Camping is one of the more narcolepsy-friendly outdoor activities. Most of the outdoor activities that I regularly participate in, such as biking, kayaking, hiking, and more, require reliable transportation and a great deal of effort in general. Driving after any one of these activities is difficult and dangerous with narcolepsy.
Camping, on the other hand, is different. Usually, the bulk of the work is complete upon arrival at camp. Unloading gear and setting up the tent is exhausting, to say the least. However, knowing that I don’t have to drive afterward like I would for other activities is good to know!
Setting up a designated nap space
The first thing that I did upon arrival at our campsite was set up my tent and blankets. By doing so, I ensured that I had a designated napping space for when I suddenly needed it, as I undoubtedly would. This turned out to be invaluable to my experience.
Camping creates a bit of flexibility that works for my condition. Next time I camp, I would like to even go so far as to designate a specific napping area away from the tent area. I pictured this as a hammock near the edge of my campsite. I would be able to enjoy the bits of sky peeking between tree branches as the wind rocked me to sleep.
It’s idyllic scenes like this that keep me hungry for life, even as I struggle to hold my eyes open for it.
Keeping my sleep schedule even when camping
Do you know that feeling you get when you accidentally skip a medication dose? The sinking feeling, the drooping eyes, the headache. One way to ensure that any camping trip goes smoothly is by remembering to take my narcolepsy medications at the correct time.
This includes making time for my scheduled naps. They are my medicine too!
I can be myself in nature
I’d say that having a reliable relationship with the outdoors is extremely important to me. Nature is the one place where I can fully be myself. It goes even deeper, though. When I am in nature, I suddenly know myself.
The doubts of what I am worthy of slowly melt away. I can feel and practice identifying my feelings in a safe place, which allows me to become more emotionally literate with time.
Do you have plans to go camping this summer? I want to hear about your adventures in the comments below!
How has narcolepsy impacted your ability to work?