A few years ago, after a bout of influenza, I progressively struggled when riding my spin bike during winter training sessions. As a then-avid mountain biker, trail runner, hiker, etc., it was alarming to feel sudden dizziness, blazing hot, and like I could not breathe after barely any exertion.
And then the hives hit. I had hives constantly. An Allergist-Immunologist diagnosed me with “Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis,” and with a sternly written letter, warned me I should NEVER hike in remote areas due to the risk of not receiving immediate medical help. Me. The kind of mom to my first child who carried him in my Deuter KC 1 on backpacking trips to Pictured Rocks … alone. I was constantly outdoors with my oldest, and my nickname was the Energizer Bunny because I never stopped pushing my limits.
It wasn’t just hives, though, and just anaphylaxis with exercising to “exertion.” I became dizzy constantly and exhausted, and I could barely walk. I had to take a leave of absence from my teaching job so I could lie in bed at home because that’s all I could do.
My body essentially lost its chill after the influenza virus. Fast forward to some Mayo Clinic trips, and I was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS.) I could only stay level in bed or risk blacking out. My legs would turn purple from blood pooling if I stood. I couldn’t even grocery shop or make dinner.
I went through some pretty dark days in 2015 to early 2016. By April 2016, after using up all of my time off and then some, I decided to quit my career in order to focus on regaining my health. I started by walking block(s) with my husband because I was petrified I’d pass out on the cement. I could not even think of going on a trail. I’d have panic attacks if we tried to go to a park to walk trails.
Finding healing … one hike at a time
Slowly after months, I let him drive me to a park with a trail that I knew I could see the trailhead at all times. There were a lot of tears and anxiety that day. I still couldn’t imagine walking alone in the woods and having an anaphylactic episode. But he walked and walked and walked some more with me … until I was doing miles on trails again by October 2016 (and feeling the best I could with occasional hives and dizziness). I mostly gained my health back and got pregnant. After Graham Bear was born, I still didn’t walk with just my kids because the fear was way too much.
Until February 2018. I went to my first Hike it Baby walk with just Graham Bear in the Ergo on a trail nonetheless and actually stayed after everyone else left and walked more alone, because I was feeling it. I was hooked. A few months later, I joined the April Hike it Baby 30 Challenge and realized a few days into it that I could hit 100 trail miles by the end, and so I did.
Now? We’ve done three HiB 30 challenges with 100+ miles each. I know it’s about getting my kiddos outside in nature, but I’ll admit, I have my own goal beyond getting them outside. There was a time I thought I’d never be able to hike any mileage with my boys again, and it crushed me as a mother. The potential loss of trips, adventures and memories crushed me! Time in nature with my boys will always be worth the work, so thanks to Hike it Baby for inspiring me to get after it again.
- Making time for yourself on the trail
- How one family finds big adventure in nature’s details
- One mother’s journey to overcome postpartum anxiety and PTSD
Often in the Hike it Baby community, the question is asked what “adventurous” means. And the answer is different for all of us. For some, it’s climbing a mountain with a frame carrier fully loaded or doing a huge backpacking overnighter with a new little. For others, it’s ditching the stroller for the first time and trying a dirt trail or finding the courage to put one foot in front of the other. There are so many levels of “adventure” and we wanted to share stories of families who redefined adventure on their terms.
Liz Goossen has lived on all three coasts of the United States, but currently resides on the Third Coast in West Michigan with her husband, Darryl; two sons, 9-year-old Noah and 16-month-old Graham; and their stubborn yet adorable Husky, River. When she is not out adventuring in the ever impressive Great Lakes region, Liz is probably relaxing at home with her boys and researching their next adventure. She and her family participated in the November 2018 HiB 30 Challenge and surpassed her goal of doing 150 miles. They ended the challenge with 162.89 miles and 3492 minutes.