Updated: Jul 6
Yesterday, I tackled something hard; extremely hard. I joined the CDMC, Comox District Mountaineering Club, and have completed several day hikes in the past few months, but yesterday was a first. Within the first five minutes my anxiety peaked, and I cried,
Should I turn back? Distorted thoughts raced? What the heck had I gotten myself in to?
Mindful, I remembered to ask. Knowing I'm worthy of what I needed: reassurance. I confessed to the sweep' or tail end hiker on the trail that I had FND, or Functional Neurologic Disorder, and was quite anxious about my ability to keep up with the group. She came alongside and said, this was her first hike of the season as well, and when she'd completed this very same hike as a new member years earlier, she too had felt like I did. Capital A- AFRAID.
She encouraged me. It was okay to go slow... She'd be behind me going her own slow place, as she wanted to ensure her own safe footing. Afterwards, I wasn't feeling rushed. I could adjust, as needed, and set my own pace. Her kindness spurred me on, despite believing I was still in way over my head. An auspicious start to my first accent of Mt. Alone, in the the Comox Valley. (BC, CANADA)
Onward, and upward... and up, and up, and up. When we reached the first lookout, the view
from the bluffs was stunning and temporaiily the exhaustion was forgotten. I'd hoped this was the peak. Nope, only another five-minute break for water and a quick snack, before we were back on the trail. Followed by a steady climb for the next 60 minutes and additional drop dead, views of Comox Lake, and the Komox Glacier, known as Queneesh.
I started to stiffen after the first longer, 10-minute break, and learned we'd only accomplished 40% of the elevation gain on our way to the peak.
What? We weren't even halfway. I couldn't believe it.
Daily walks with my dog have strengthened my legs, but anxious thoughts raced, and I conjured a plan to wait for the group on this bluff, until they returned on their decent. Another, foolish thought. They’d never leave me alone on the side of a mountain. Besides, I didn't want to be left, unaccompanied, either as Black bears and cougars frequent this area. I didn't want to meet either, on Alone Mountain!
I followed our fearless leader onwards and upwards towards the peak. An unquenchable
thirst emptied my water hydration bladder inside my backpack, with an aerated gurgle. Before we reached the top, I'd run out. At the next brief stop, I'd refilled my hydration bladder from an additional, back up water bottle supply in a plastic Nalgene bottle. Promising myself that I'd make it last, I funneled 3/4 of my back up water into the hydration bladder. My lungs and muscles screamed, Alleluia, as a very tired though proud hiker sat to eat and recuperate .
I hadn't known if I'd live to the end of 2021, when I'd experienced multiple seizures each day and my brain routinely forgot to remind my body to breathe.
2 years, 3 months, and 2 days post #FND diagnosis, I've worked hard to increase my physical, emotional, and mental stamina. With the first half of a significant goal accomplished the downhill portion of the trail, lay ahead. Yikes!
An unfortunate realization dawned. I felt wet.
Standing to investigate, it became apparent that my shorts were saturated and that water had leaked from the hydration bladder inside my pack ! I'd unknowingly sat on the mouthpiece, in the unlocked position, and drained the remaining water. Only 250ml or (8 ounces) remained.
Gathering what we'd packed in, to hike down, with humility I'd asked for help, after wondering, What if, I run out of water? Would others share? I'd need to jealously guarde the precious last few sips. After seeing my wet back-side, and asking, I was thankful to be hiking alongside a generous-hearted group, who cared about my health & welfare.
We arrived back at the trail head where we'd parked after our 8.58 km hike with an 685 meter elevation gain. After a leisurely lunch break at the peak, all tolled, we'd been on the trails for about 4.5 hours. Blisters weren't discovered until after I arrived home and unlaced my hiking boots. All in all, a fabulous adventure I could not have imagined in 2020-2021, when I was in the thick of severe functional symptoms, and hadn't known if I would live to see my daughter's wedding or know grand-children.
From one summit to the next, I look forward to more backpacking throughout the summer and fall of 2023, while warm temperatures prevail. There may be peaks, valleys & summits in between, but my next big summits (personal goals) will see me striving two attain two new goals:
1. Publishing my FND memoir,
FiNDing Hope: The Mind-Body Connection & Importance of Being Seen and Heard,
By: Jocelyn Bystrom
@jbystromwriter (IG & Twitter), @FiNDingHope_jbystrom (TikTok)
2. Registering to attend the:
@FNDSociety's, June, 2024 in Verona, Italy.
*Hope to see you there! I'll be the girl standing on a pedastal, attempting to influence medical practioners to be FND Aware, from an FND patient's perspective, and advocating for FNDHopeCANADA.
As an #FNDAWARE advocate, I want to attend, share my story, and soon-to-be published memoir, the first of its kind, about Functional Neurologic Disorder.
Available to speak about my lived experiences with FND, mental health & well-being, or to be interviewed as an FND advocate. Looking for someone to share their FND story on your podcast. Get in touch with me @jbystrom writer or at fndinghope.com
Thanks for reading,
Summit to Summit,
I'm striving for health & well-being with FND!
Comox Valley, B.C. Canada ~ 2023
Verona, Italy ~ 2024