Camping Fever: 5 Tips for when You're Sick in the Woods - Panergy
While on a camping trip in the summer of 2014, as I was sitting near a campfire with my family and friends, I began shivering. Figuring the heat of the flames and the layers I was wearing weren't enough to keep out the chill, I got up to find something more to keep me warm.
As my teeth started to chatter, I realized that I had brought something other than my tent and camping gear with me to the forest.
I'd also brought a bug of some kind.
I spent the next day huddled in a sleeping bag, fighting a 102-degree fever while I listened to everyone else doing the things I had come to the woods to do: leave for hikes, leave to swim at the lake, prep a meal together, play games, even lounge in a hammock. I couldn't actually hear the lounging, but I knew it was happening?and no, lying in a clammy heap under several thick blankets despite the mid-June sunshine is not the same.
I pulled through (in case you were wondering) in time to help break down camp and pick my way up a creek on an abbreviated walk.
Being sick while camping is no fun.
Assuming that it's nothing too serious, though, it's also no reason to cut the trip short for everyone else. Here are five tips to help make being sick in the woods somewhat bearable.
DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS IF YOU GET SICK WHILE CAMPING
This is just good advice no matter where you're sick, at home or in a forest. Be sure you're staying hydrated. Keep a water bottle handy?and make sure no one else drinks from it. Water is the best thing to gulp down or sip, as the case may be, but watered-down fruit juice can be good, too, as can a cup of tea. You'll just need to rope someone into preparing it for you.
If you're unable to keep much water down because of a stomach bug, you'll want to be drinking something with electrolytes if possible. Be sure to watch for signs of dehydration, which can lead to more dangerous complications. If you have a prolonged bout of being unable to hold any food or liquid in your stomach, you'll want to get back to civilization soon. Keep an eye out for dry lips and skin, a lack of sweat or need to urinate, light-headedness, and a persistent thirst. Keep in mind that higher altitudes can contribute to drying you out, too.
EAT, EVEN IF YOU DON'T FEEL LIKE IT
Again, unless your body is forcibly rejecting every crumb you put into it, you should be fueling it. Having some food in your stomach will help to keep your strength up and fight whatever it is that's laying you low.
When I was sick on my camping trip, I didn't feel like touching so much as a granola bar, but my family insisted that I eat. They brought me a plate of that night's dinner? spaghetti? and I reluctantly tucked in. Actually, I devoured it. Once I took a bite, I realized that I was seriously in need of something of substance in my stomach.
A fever forces your body to burn more calories, so you need to stoke that inner fire to keep it going as best it can. More fuel means more sickness-fighting power.
HAVE SOMETHING TO DO
While your fellow campers go rock hopping, hiking, or canoeing, you'll likely be stuck sweating out a fever, quarantined in a tent so as not to infect anyone else. You're going to need something to keep you from getting too bored at best and not insanely jealous of everyone else's good times at worst? if you're not fading in and out of consciousness, that is.
I can't recommend a book highly enough. In this time and culture, we also have access to electronic devices to pass the time while our white blood cells do their thing. There are now tents that come equipped with special tablet- and notebook-friendly pockets that can hold a gadget for movie watching while snuggled into a sleeping bag. These makeshift media centers are detachable for use in any tent (not that anyone else in your party will be wanting to share your germ-saturated stuff).
SICK WHILE CAMPING? BE SMART
Don't push yourself. If you're not feeling well, don't shrug it off and scale a rock wall. If you need rest, rest.
Also, make an honest assessment of your health. If you're a bit coughy, sneezy, and achy, and you know you'd just be recuperating on a couch if you were at home, do the same in your tent. If you feel uniquely miserable and like you're not getting better, or if you have serious digestive issues that are cleaning you out, know when to pack it in, literally, and talk to someone about taking you out of the woods and back to where you can get proper medical care, prescriptions antibiotics, etc.
In other words, trust your gut? especially if that gut is all twisted into knots.
THANK THOSE AROUND YOU
The people you share your site with are more than likely people you want to be around, right? They're people you like? and maybe even love. They're the ones taking care of you, even if it's just making sure you have everything you need before they head out to visit a waterfall that cascades into a swimming hole. They're still having fun, sure, but they were also looking forward to having fun with you.
Let them know you appreciate them.
As I was wrapping up this post, I asked my wife (who did most of the caring for me on my fever-warmed trip of 2014), ?Do you have any advice for being sick while camping??
She just groaned and said, "Ugh. Don't."