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What my pictures don’t say (2016 camping trip)

They say a picture tells a thousand words, but what about all the words, feelings and thoughts that aren’t told or seen or understood?

Over the last week (yes it’s taken that long) while recovering from the trip and handling womanly woes on top of everything, I have slowly gone through the almost 1200 photos that Mr. Mango and my phones took over last weekends camping trip. It sounds like a lot, but especially when you’re dealing with lots of people, lots of movement and well… 3 little kids, it’s always better to take way more than needed and get rid of the doubles.

Yesterday while going through the final selection (around 120 pictures) I thought to myself “wow, I really don’t look sick!”

While I’m glad that photo proof of how difficult many parts of this years camping excursion don’t exist (it would definitely put a damper on reminiscing and fond memories), it’s proof in and of itself how hard it is for family and friends to understand what it’s like to still try and have a life while suffering in pain and discomfort.

Every year we take a group selfie all packed up and ready to go. The excitement had taken over, but so did the nausea. I made sure to warn Mr. Mango that there may be some side of the highway stopping necessary but that I still wanted my traditional Slurpee stop, even if I couldn’t drink any of it. It didn’t stop us from goofing around a bit, but it wasn’t the greatest start to a road trip.

It never fails, the humid sticky air that had been eating at my joints decided to turn into a downpour as soon as we arrived and started to set up our stuff. Wet and achy Mommy still came to the rescue with the little dingy as a makeshift umbrella. All our sleeping stuff and clothes may have gotten soaked, but it was thoroughly entertaining to the kids. We were very blessed that that was the only rain all weekend.


After the 20 minute mini storm was over my shoulders were killing me from holding it over us all and the damp cold was eating away at my lower back and hip, I knew from that point on that I’d have a rough go of it trying to get comfortable sitting/laying still. I may be smiling, but it’s no carefree yay we’re camping smile its a “oh my God I can’t believe that fucking happened” smile and the Mr. totally knew it and helped me get the darn thing off my head.


Once my SI dysfunction really starts acting up (along with digestion ‘dysfunction’ that’s going on right now) about the only thing that feels ok is to move, slowly and carefully, but to move. We happened to be visiting on a big day. Smokey the bear’s 72nd birthday and we took a walk to the party. While the kids loved it, I was already feeling distressed. I knew it was going to be a difficult night and I was already so exhausted.


10:30 pm and Little Dude finally peters out. Right here, Mommy duty came above comfort, though I have to admit that his 33 lb body puts off a lot of heat for such a little guy and in his own way he was my little toddler heat pack. An hour before I had ‘expelled’ all that was left of my supper and quite a few tears that came along with that stress. At least it doesn’t seem like the kids had any idea. A night of partying with Smokey, eating smores and talking around the campfire and they were all out like a light.

That is until 3 am when all hell broke loose because Buddy thought our chairs were bears and woke half the campground screaming bloody murder. But hey…. I was awake already anyways.


I’ve had worse nights camping over the last couple years, that’s hard to imagine I know but at least it wasn’t a torrential downpour or legitimately a bear encounter. After a night sleeping with Little Dude and then some in tent chiropractic experiments from Mr. Mango about the only thing in the world I wanted was a nice strong cup of coffee. Wishes do come true. I was actually legitimately in a great mood, I had coffee, I hadn’t vomited in hours and I was about to temporarily loose 2 out of 3 niblets and go do one of my things at the lake.


This is OUR spot. Out of all the photos taken, this was the most genuine happy I was the whole trip. I was probably in the most pain out of the whole trip too unfortunately but I was so glad that I didn’t miss out like last year. We didn’t catch anything worth keeping but lots of little perch to throw back and Buddy even caught his first fish!


A hellish beach day to go through from the morning fishing trip and this evening photo op in the forest area by our camp site. Nothing about laying on hard lumpy sand, walking miles back and forth and back and forth to the bathroom with the kids or having  too much sun is fun when you have a lupus and IBS flare up. Concerns with my digestive tract got a little more dire and my knees and hands decided to join in with the SI for some pretty epic functional problems (like say standing upright or being able to hold a fork). Pain meds and a couple shots of my uncle’s organic tequila (so not my idea) mixed together at least made me care a little less… I think. Still through it all, this happened to be everyone’s favorite shot of the bunch.


It may look like I spent all morning making breakfast for everyone, but really this is a great shot of the little shack in the background where I spent far too much of my weekend time. 7 am and it’s already boiling hot and I’m wearing my spf 80 as always. At least there were no false alarm bear attacks and it was just Mr. Snore-a-lot and me on our air mattress. Then again maybe a bear visit would have made for a quieter night…


This was probably my least happy of the whole vacation. I was in pain, I was grumpy and I was keeping occupied slowly packing up with Mr. Mango’s help, but apparently my family had other plans. I loved the idea of a 3 generations shot at our special swing set but I didn’t want to be forced into a tediously long photo shoot when I was at my worst. I even complained a tad and snipped at being rushed but there’s no arguing with the ‘real’ adults…. after how much pain can I be in for being so young right?


Feeling a little better after yet another trip to the ladies room, some intense stretching, a makeshift heat pack (water bottle and hot water) and of course some more coffee. The kids really seemed to be enjoying themselves after a better night sleep. One more day to get through.


I was really emotional about not feeling up to doing my favorite hike. That’s 3 years in a row we haven’t been able to go due to weather and/or my body being crap. Mr. Mango suggested a compromise of the two of us getting away for the beauty walk here at West Hawk Lake instead (a 40 minute loop going slow instead of a 6 hour loop going relatively fast). It really is a stunning walk. If you know what it’s like living in the prairies, you know how boring the scenery can be. You’d never guess these sorts of views were hidden away in the Whiteshell right next door. What you don’t see is the contemplation I was stuck with. I had made it up to the highest point on the loop…. but was I actually able to make it back down.


My strength and my rock this past weekend. I would not have made it through without not only his extra help but also just knowing he KNEW how hard a lot of it was. He wiped away tears, he comforted anxiety and he problem solved the many complications along the way. I may vent about his man-ness and shortcomings like any spouse does but this guy…. he’s a keeper. My hip came loose about half way down and we had to get into some pretty awkward positions to make it through the steeper parts of the trail. Good thing he has a skateboarders balance, because we both would have been splats on the rocks below otherwise.


Who wants ice cream? Like Slurpees are on the way out, ice cream right before leaving is a family tradition going back to…. well before I was even born really. It had been quite emotional before this though with my dad, aunt and uncle giving us the guilt trip for not wanting to stay for supper and the evening first. Even not being ill it would have made for a late night with the kids and unpacking before another work week starts. I love West Hawk, but I was done and ready to leave. After their input there were tears. I felt guilty, hurt that my family didn’t understand or care and mostly just desperate for relief, there’s only so long you can hold on before enough is enough.

Still there’s no stopping a tradition like this one. Ice cream was enjoyed, everyone said their goodbyes and we finally hit the road back home.

The important thing is good memories were made and that the pictures reflect that. Looking back though it is easy to forget or to dismiss what someone may be going through underneath the smiles, the poses and the fun. I’d love to say I can handle camping while chronically ill like a pro, but I can’t. I didn’t. I know that a picture should say a thousand words, but even still, it doesn’t always tell the whole story.



2 thoughts on “What my pictures don’t say (2016 camping trip)

  1. Aww, I love the photos! I think it takes a while for people to sort of comprehend how difficult “normal” activities can be for us. It seems like your manchild gets it, and it’s the best thing in the world to have a supportive partner for those moments when we come apart at the seams. I’m glad you survived your trip. 😉

    Now, let’s get those inerds to behave themselves! (I’ve no useful advice to give, because 💩)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha that’s exactly how I feel! It’s funny I think the man ‘gets’ it, I just think it frustrates him a lot which comes out a lot more day to day at home than it does when he sees me struggle while we’re out. Frustrated because he can’t help or fix it. I think the rest of my family is still in a there is a cure and I’ll be better phase. They’ll either eventually get it, or there will be less family gatherings!

      Liked by 1 person

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