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Backpacker's Health & Safety The Backpacker's Health & Safety forum is for the discussion of health and safety/survival issues that directly relate to backpackers.


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Old 12-08-2014, 12:58 PM
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philman philman is offline
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Backpack: MYOG Cuben, Osprey Atmos 65 AG
Sleeping Gear: MYOG Down Quilt, Enlightened Equipment Accomplice
Shelter: SMD Deschutes CF Tarp, SMD Lunar Duo
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Alton, Illinois
Posts: 99
Benign Essential Tremor

I was recently diagnosed as having Benign Essential Tremor, a neurological condition which causes trembling of the hands. In some cases it also affects the head, voice, arms and legs. I’m sure you all have witnessed this with some “older” folks. It can occur at any age but most commonly 40-ish and on. I fall into that bracket (about to turn 50) and already it has progressed to the point of severely impeding my ability to write, hold a cup or glass without spilling, getting a fork or spoon to my mouth without losing all my food, etc. It has progressed rapidly and has been a source of MUCH frustration! I’m currently seeing a neurologist and undergoing a trial-and-error process of different medications/dosages. Results have been mixed thus far. A final option may be to have a device implanted into the effected portion of the brain which sends small pulses of electricity to counter the “miss-fires”, if you will. I suppose similar to a pace maker (need to do my research). This procedure seems to have a significant success rate but either way I need to be prepared in the event it doesn’t.

I’m certainly not looking for sympathy. There are FAR TOO MANY people with MUCH greater obstacles and conditions to overcome and learn to deal with than what I have. What I’m interested in hearing is this: Do any of you have this condition or a similar condition such as Parkinson’s (manifests itself differently and certainly more severe), how has it affected you as it relates to hiking/backpacking and how have you adapted. Some examples I’ve run across: I can’t hold a camera steady enough to take even the most routine picture (forget about anything involving motion, such as a waterfall) so I concede and take a small tripod and spend some extra time and carry a tad more weight to try to get a decent picture. Tasks involving fine motor skills such as tying knots are very difficult so I’ve adapted by using line locs and ladder locs. Lighting a fire or handling a pot of hot or boiling water presents a challenge as well. Any observations, thoughts, suggestions, and/or advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 12-10-2014, 06:01 AM
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tonto tonto is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 471
Using The Buddy System

I have a 70 year old hiking buddy I met out on the AT the year before who seems to have your condition.
When we first met near Pearisburg, VA he had already managed to hike 638 miles of the AT.
Since then, we've hiked nearly 200 miles of the Trail together in VA, MA, and VT.
One thing I've noticed is that he always hikes with a buddy,
He might hike by himself during the day but he always ends the day where someone is available to help him if he has difficulties or to check out for him if he's late to the shelter at the end of the day.
Most of the times he's quite independent, but, once in a while he needs help with small things.
I've helped with pouring hot water, opening or closing things, knots, even removing a tick from a leg with a pair of tweezers.
Nothing he asked help with was an imposition.

Last edited by tonto : 12-10-2014 at 06:06 AM.
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Old 12-10-2014, 04:10 PM
© 2006-2016 Practical Backpacking™ / All Rights Reserved
philman philman is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Forums Moderator
Backpack: MYOG Cuben, Osprey Atmos 65 AG
Sleeping Gear: MYOG Down Quilt, Enlightened Equipment Accomplice
Shelter: SMD Deschutes CF Tarp, SMD Lunar Duo
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Alton, Illinois
Posts: 99
Thanks Tonto. The buddy I hike with has been helpful with these types of tasks. And since I tend to move at a snail's pace myself he patiently waits for me. In order to remain as independent as possible (and to keep from smashing everything out of total frustration) I am starting to make ease of use and service a much bigger factor in my selection of gear. I like the little Photon lights but changing batteries in one would be very difficult. So I've settled on a ThruNite Ti3 for the pocket and a Princeton Tec Byte for the head. Both use AAA's and are easier to service...though still a bit of a challenge. I used a JetBoil on the AT last time. Just pushing a button to ignite the stove was great but the way the pot locks into the pot stand is a problem. Assuming I can get one hand around the base and the other around the pot without spilling anything or knocking the whole thing over, I still have to negotiate the "twist and lift" thing. I know, sounds pretty trivial but for me it's an adventure. I had been using a Heiny Pot with a cone wind screen and will probably go back to that. I just pickup the pot with the windscreen still on it and pour.

Any other thoughts out there?
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