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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hyperhidrosis and other vocabulary words related to Parkinson's disease summer hikes

            When my wife and I first bought our house (November 2009), I was not a fan of being cold at all. Now, thanks to the magic of Parkinson’s, I actually prefer it cold other than my weird Parkinson’s claw hands getting cold sensitive. Thus, I can save on heating bills (we keep our house at 65° in the winter, and I could go colder – neither of us are uncomfortable), and I can wear sweats and a long-sleeve t-shirt if necessary (though it's getting less necessary - even when cold outside). 

            I also don’t feel that uncomfortable while doing my annual Halloween weekend trek to Butler Knob Shelter on the Standing Stone Trail with Neil Brennen (pictured here and here). My 0° bag and a blanket over it to keep the wind from getting in the top allow me to sleep in relative comfort… i.e. I can wear shorts and a t-shirt, not sweat pants and a sweatshirt for sub 32° nights.

             Nevertheless, when I actually go hiking in the heat for any distance, this is a fair post-hike look for me:

            Part of the reason for the situation is called hyperhidrosis, and what it does is causes the body to sweat… a whole lot more. I used to wake up some mornings (in my nice comfy bed) with a puddle on my pillow and wonder why. Now I know the answer: Parkinson's (stress and Parkinson's or Parkinson's-related stress are the answer to all things). 


           Whenever I would hike, I would be the sweatiest, nasty dude around, sweaty enough to make people think I spent a week between showers on the long trails. Even sweaty dudes and dudettes would get grossed out by me! Who knew there was a name for this, but yes, there is. Thus, I have come to accept that my back is the Great Salt Lake, and that’s just how it is.

For this, when I go summer hiking, I now know I need to carry more water, much more than those ultra-light hikers on the AT and other trails (MAD PROPS to all of them for pushing through in the heat) have to do... no matter how much people scold me about the weight Yesterday was under 80°, and I could really feel it on the local Ephrata rails to trails, which was exposed in some areas (thank God for times spent between the trees). The resident goats looked at me with strange looks to question why I wasn't enjoying this more. I was, but it's just that I felt the heat on my neck and body... a lot.

Thinking about the woods and long distances means extra-preparedness now. For instance, I hiked 23 miles of hills at Blue Marsh (a local dammed-up lake) in June of 2014 when my PD was un-diagnosed and just symptoms (prior to left foot tremors - I.E. dystonia, but well after left hand tremors). On this trek, I went through 140 ounces or so of water, and I was rationing at the end until I could get to the car and hit a gas station for 2 32-ounce Gatorades). I would never do a walk like that with less than 250 ounces in the future. For those who can’t do math quickly, that’s about 16 pounds of quickly decreasing weight on my back. I personally wouldn’t gripe at carrying 300 ounces in the form of 2 100-ounce water bags and 5 frozen 20-ounce bottles.

            Better safe than sorry, even if it makes me a pack mule.

            That said, I’m getting back into motion, even with my claw foot, doing jaunts every day to shake the rust in my knees and lump in my gut (read: too much fat). Thus, I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m definitely getting me back on track. That's a good thing.

            Around the house, I’m thankful for high power fans and air conditioning. MAD PROPS to all of the HVAC guys and gals in the house! When I come back from a hike and sit down, my body goes all Niagara Falls. Yep, I’m a sexy pretty sight (and yes, that was the 8th grade me).

              Pretty or not, handsome as hell or not, I still made it, and I got up off my butt. Cheers to that!

            Alas, for whatever opinions I find myself not caring about, I go on, and I keep being me. Besides, I find my life about being comfortable through all of these heat-related conditions. Be it sleeping scantily clad or extending the underwear radius as soon as I get inside the door (and yes, I’m more Murray Goldberg than Brad Pitt – I get that, no matter what my wife and the neighbors think), this Parkinson’s stuff plays hell with my life (and sleep – as I mentioned the other day when I talked about pillow throwing, pillowcase stripping, rolling around, and scratching myself), but I’m not letting it define me. I’m still Dan, and Dan is a hiker – even if he has a bunch of hidden symptoms people can’t see or recognize as symptoms when they do see them.

            But that’s just my journey, and I’m glad you’re here to learn a little about it. So even if Parkinson’s isn’t your journey, be careful on the trails. Carry water… lots of it. If you see someone sweating, offer ‘em some of yours if they don’t have enough (trail magic). I’m also a big proponent of carrying Clif Shots, which saved my butt when a fellow hiker gave one to me on the way to the Wave on the Utah / Arizona border. 

      If you want to read my Wave hike and failure hike stories, they're here and here

            Remembering that heat now makes me sweat, and it’s for that reason that my wife and I talked of putting the World Petroglyph Tour (Great Gallery, Chaco Canyon, 9 Mile Canyon, Butler Wash, and Canyon of the Ancients) off until Thanksgiving time frame. No point wasting away in extreme heat while exposed in a desert canyon in Utah in August. That just sounds like a recipe for disaster.

            Hike your own hike, they say, and this is ours (my fellow PD people who choose to be active. So enjoy yours, whatever it is, and thanks for getting to know a little about ours.


  1. A friend of mine did the Wave hike a couple of summers ago. They aren't much into hiking so they hired a guide. So they were supplied with what they needed. They came across two hikers who were still hiking to the Wave but had not prepared and were already in distress. They were able to help them and get them out. I have had a couple of incidents when I wasn't prepared enough but not too far out.

    1. I had my issues with the Wave the first time I went.

      The 2nd time, I was happy to get usurped by fellow hikers who helped me in and out (in August). When they left early, I did, too. I didn't want to chance things since the risk wasn't worth the reward.

      Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. Have a great one!