My two week sojourn in Maine was an interesting time. We arrived with two naked weeks ahead of us with no real plan on what to do. My co-campers were most interested in doing some serious hiking, so hiking we went.
I'm horribly out of shape. I'm getting better about it, but at the time I was horribly out of shape. When you have to devote a month of your life to literally nothing but papers, exercise tends to fall by the wayside. I didn't have the time nor the energy to use one of Pitt's ten billion gyms. Plus, I hate cardiovascular exercise. Always have. Even when I was a kid and an active gymnast in the best shape of my life I hated cardio. Since my heart can barely regulate itself sitting down, it doesn't have much of a chance when movement comes into the picture.
Hiking up mountains is something of a workout. For the first few hikes I went along but the first time we tackled a trail labeled "Strenuous" I lost it. The trail was literally crazy steep stairs for 1,000 feet in the air with LADDERS. I had to stop every 10 feet. I felt like I was going to pass out. My heart was all over the place. I was being cruelly reminded with every step I took that yes, I was different. It was then that my co-campers realized I wasn't having a good time at this and told me it was OK if I wanted to sit things out. So anytime they went on a hike labeled "strenuous" (which was every time after than except for one) I gladly sat in the car watching Angel on DVD.
Being alone in the woods, or even with other people in the woods, gives you a lot of time to think. Although the trip was an overall positive experience, I experienced a lot of darkness on the trip thanks to the POTS. I felt like a weak link. I felt useless. I felt like I was raining on everyone's good time and holding everyone up. The three I was with had been working out for about a month prior to the trip, but I didn't have the time nor the desire (because I hate cardio) to join them. So here they are running up the mountains like they're nothing and I'm some out of breath dragass. Great feeling. I resented them for a while until I realized they really weren't thinking negatively of me for being slow, they don't care. That's why I'm friends with them. They treat my illness like I want it to be regarded: as though it's some minor quirk like having a twin or being left-handed. I don't wish to attract attention because of it, just live among you. And most of the time I succeed.