I haven’t fought since the demo on June 1st. Sure, I’ve had a lot going on since then. I had the end of the school year, along with its dependent concerns. I had to move in a hurry, so there was the packing and lifting and driving and unpacking to deal with. I also went to Florida for a week.
I attended Northern Region War Camp, but did not fight. It has been over three years since I had surgery on my back. While I am grateful to be able to walk without pain, I have come to the conclusion that it’s not likely to heal any more than it already has. I can bend over to pick up small objects, so long as I did nothing to strain it recently, it’s not going to precipitate in the next few days, or I haven’t repeatedly picked things up off the floor on that particular day. I have realized that I have limitations now. Fighting hurts my back beyond all other things I could do to it, including moving boxes all day. At Northern Region War Camp, I had a choice. I would be able to fight or I would be able to pack up my things (including my tent) in order to go home on that Sunday, but not both. I chose not to fight. I think I chose wisely. And I appreciate the lovely ladies who kept me company while I tried not to look too longingly at the battlefield. I also tried my best to be fun to be around and not bitter at having to make the decision that I did, but only others can tell me how well I succeeded in my attempts.
And now Pennsic approaches. I am camping alone this year. That is to say, that I have started my own encampment for 1 and called it Gunnvorsfjord. It’s on block B02, so I’m close to Serpentius whose block (I believe) is full and my friends in Wolfhaven. Now, before anyone gets any ideas, it was MY decision to camp alone and it has NOTHING to do with my relationship to Serpentius, my master-at-arms, or the reign, so please do NOT draw any incorrect conclusions. I made sure that I have a tent that I could put up on my own and it had enough space for me to do everything I need to do (except shower).
I don’t know how much I wrote about this last Pennsic, but after the woods battle my back got bad. Really bad. Walking was painful. Bending was excruciating. I actually avoided eating several meals because I didn’t want to bend over to reach into my cooler. I was too proud to ask for help (which I admit is my own fault). Someone worked on my back and managed to make it bearable so I decided to fight in the Thursday battle. Needless to say, that was a bad idea. My back started to hurt as soon as I put my armor on. I couldn’t fight, so I guarded the flag. By the time it was over, I was in so much pain, I couldn’t walk up the hill, even leaning on my pole arm, so I took the bus. I had to leave directly after the battle, but my back physically wouldn’t allow me to pull up the tent stakes. I was thankful that nobody was around to see my breakdown of tears on this occasion, as it would probably be assumed that I was at best self-pitying (which I may have been) and at worst attention-seeking. Again, I was too proud to ask for help when people did show up, but someone offered to help anyway. It was one of the most miserable Pennsic memories that I have, that I was unable to pack my own things and that I broke down crying at my lack of ability to pull up a simple 6″ plastic tent stake.
Now fast-forward to this year. Yes, I will be camping alone. I am very afraid that I will hurt myself so badly that I can’t take care of the things that needs doing. I also felt like I had to choose between fighting and helping out with the reign based on my pain levels after fighting last year, when I was in considerably better shape. I have decided to retain on Sunday and fight what battles I can. I also notified the person in charge of the retaining schedule at Pennsic that if I was able to, I would happily fill any holes in the schedule. However, given my experience last year, I didn’t feel comfortable signing up when it was possible that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill it depending on how my back reacts to fighting. I really felt like I had to choose between helping out my house with fighting or helping out with retaining. It was a position that I hate being in. I really want to do as much as I can to help and hate how much I am limited in my ability to do so.
I just hope that if I DO hurt my back at any battle this Pennsic, that I will have the sense enough to avoid the remaining battles so I can pack up my own gear to bring it home without having to rely on the help of others who will, in all likelihood, be putting off their own packing to help me with mine. I don’t know, maybe my independence of spirit is a hinderance, but I would much rather be able to take care of myself and help others rather than rely on others to help me. Sure, when I put it that way, it sounds a bit hypocritical.
I AM looking forward to Pennsic for a multitude of reasons, but am also feeling frustrated of my limitations that my back has placed upon me. I have to make choices and hope that I choose wisely.
Based on some suggestions, I have made changes to my diet and started exercises specifically designed to set my back to rights, so I’m hoping that I won’t have a repeat of last year. In short, I’m doing what I can.