climbing walls and mountain runs

This morning I got to spend an hour on a climbing wall- you know, those (comparatively) super-safe indoor walls with handholds bolted into the wall every few feet. I actually didn’t do as much climbing as it sounds- only 3 climbs to the top of 3 different “walls” of varying difficulty. There was a good-sized group of us- maybe a dozen or more?- and several of those were young kids (five kids between two and ten years old, and two teenagers). Most of us “grownups” let the kids do the majority of the climbing, but it was fun nonetheless. I’m quite fond of my cousins’ kids.

After lunch, I spent maybe an hour or so on orienting myself to the roads and trails around here. It’s pretty rural so that was challenging. Then I headed out on a run that wound up being about four miles long- four windy, high-elevation miles! I had a watch in my pocket, just so I could check the time and wouldn’t stay out too long, but otherwise I didn’t time myself. Even if I HAD figured out my pace, I’m sure it was slow, but it was totally worth it. I strapped my camera onto my back and stopped several times along my run to take photos. Everything around me was so beautiful and I just could hardly take it in!

Tonight was a bit more challenging for me. I love my extended family- after all, they’re family- but none of them really “get” what it’s like for me to have a healed brain injury. I don’t blame them- I look perfectly healthy, and besides, I’m not sure I fully get it sometimes. One thing that is really hard for me is being in any situation that involves a lot of sensory stimulation, such as a lot of noise (especially when it’s “cacophony”- I don’t always mind loud music, for instance, but I don’t like it when the noise does not make sense). Tonight we were playing “Name That Tune”, and while it really was a fun game, it was loud. I had been told to sit in a seat that was basically in the middle of all the noise. There were people all around me, yelling and screaming, shaking noisemakers to ensure that their team “won”. The “tunes” that were to be “named” were being played. At one point there was a screaming baby next to me. I don’t fault anyone in particular- babies cry and my family is just loud- but it was not fun for me. It’s not exactly like a headache. The only way I can describe it is that my brain just shuts down in a way that is extremely stressful and upsetting. I was of no help to my “team”- I just couldn’t function around all that noise.

I held it together but by the end of the night I was nearly in tears. Like I said, I don’t fault anyone in particular- how are they supposed to know that I struggle with this? But it was so hard for me to hold it together during the game, and not fun. I also felt terrible because this is family- it’s supposed to be fun, so why am I not enjoying it? I wasn’t going to be a wet blanket and walk out of the room- even though that’s just what I desperately wanted to do.

Anyway, this is the last night of the reunion. Tomorrow my family will be driving into Colorado Springs, possibly going up the Cog Railway on Pike’s Peak, and meeting with my dad’s sister and her husband for dinner. I’m debating if I want to go white water rafting through the Royal Gorge– part of me really wants to do that, especially since this will be the first time I’ve ever had the chance, but another part of me just feels old. Maybe I’d enjoy the train through the Royal Gorge just as much.