Wednesday, August 17, 2011

AWOL blogger

(Edited to add that this was written back in May, I just never got around to looking up the wicking bed links and posting. Actual new posts to come soon!)

That's what happens when family comes to town for an extended stay and then one's adrenal system decides that it is had quite enough, thank you, and did I really think that I was supposed to be keeping up with the 20-somethings at jujitsu? Sigh.

I've likely been in some degree of adrenal burnout since the fall of '09 when I caught whatever pernicious virus was going around then. But I had a lovely crescendo at the start of the month when I decided to go all out at the jujitsu class Willow and I are taking, the day after my folks left for home. Hit a wall so hard that I could barely think straight for the exhaustion, couldn't walk five steps without being breathless, couldn't sleep for the mental agitation and just wanted to curl up and die.

The symptoms were so extreme that I was (crazily) worried that that virus might have damaged my heart somehow, but was relieved that my allopathic doctor found no signs of cardiomyopathy and kindly patted me on the head, saying reassurance was 85 percent of his job. He told me I was just out of shape and needed to build aerobic conditioning more slowly. Hah. After trying his exercise plan for a week and hitting yet another shocking wall when I fast-walked a little too fast for 20 minutes,  I went to my naturopath, who said it was classic adrenal fatigue. I'm actually relieved to have a diagnosis that makes sense, fits my episodic symptoms to a T, and as an added bonus, inspired the Rolling Stones to write a song about it (Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown, anyone? Apparently, that's what we used to call adrenal fatigue, though allopathic medicine does not recognize anything short of adrenal gland failure. Because organs just up and fail, all at once, with no precursor state or warning, right?)

So, the prescription is lower stress (mental stress, mostly for me, no more reading about peak oil and economic crises, however much they might be looming, daily meditation again), lots of rest, keep the diet scrupulously clean and balanced and wait patiently.

In the meantime, I ran across this cool concept, which I'd like to try out at some point:
Wicking Beds: They're essentially a raised bed or row-cropping variation of the self-watering container. Since we live in the arid high plains (14 inches of rain a year and 25 percent more  solar radiation to dry us out, thanks to the altitude/thinner atmosphere) , minimizing water usage is critical. The beds are either raised or dug into the earth 18 inches, with a non-porous liner, a perforated pipe running down the middle  at the bottom level to distribute water through the length of the bed, and filled with bark chips or other absorbent mulch at the lower depths and soil on top.

I doubt I'll have the time or energy to build these this spring, but perhaps next year. One variation I may try is growing peppers in large plastic bins set up as mini-wicking beds -- i.e. don't drill drainage holes in the bottom of the bin, just a drainage hole 4-6 inches up from the bottom on the side. Fill that 4-6 inches with bark chips, wedge a fill-pipe (with the bottom cut at an angle, not flat across, to let water flow better) in the center of the bin and fill with potting soil. Use the fill-pipe to soak/immerse the bark chips and see how that does for bottom-watering through the summer.)

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