There are several ways to describe occupational therapy, particularly because we, as occupational therapists, can address impairments in such a wide array of environments or situations. Our profession is difficult to describe well in a succinct manner. However, this is a decent sentence to help clear things up a bit:
Occupational therapy is about helping people do the day-to-day tasks that “occupy” their time, sustain themselves, and enable them to contribute to the wider community.
Each day-to-day task, or activity of daily living (ADLs), can either be broken into tiny segments or evaluated from a more broad spectrum. One of the ways to evaluate one's day is through his/her routines. If you think about your day, think about how many routines, big or small, you complete daily. Something as finite as wetting your toothbrush before you start to brush, or something as broad as waking up, coffee, then shower, then breakfast, then work, etc.... With our blog and Facebook posts, we have spoken to very broad manners. With another guest appearance by yours truly, I decided to play my role as an OT and evaluate our daily routine and share it with you.
A typical day on the road, camping. Things obviously change from a hotel.
Depending on forecasted high temperature, the alarm sounds between 4:30-5:30am (the hotter the climate, the earlier the alarm). Seth is not a morning person. I am. However, I really like lazy mornings drinking coffee. None of this has changed much since leaving the comforts of home. We have realized we need about 2 hours from the time we actually climb out of bed until we are rolling down the road.
I get dressed first, my clothes laying on the tent floor next to the sleeping bag for easy access. Pack up my pillow and the compartmental bags of clothes (thank you, Blank Brand) into my pannier that's sitting in the vestibule next to my tent door. Grab all of the small things that attach to my bike that are too valuable to leave on due to theft or rain -- light, the GoPro, and items from my handlebar bag like my wallet and phone. Pack up the electronics, the Nook, iPad and headlamps. Pack up the journals that go into my Camelbak bag. Set all of these separate bags next to the door so that when I get out of the tent, I can easily reach inside and move them outside. Seth has yet to start his day at this point. He's awake, but not moving. It's too difficult for the both of us to move around too much at the same time.
I climb out of the tent, in the process evaluate the saturation of the rain fly (lately, it's absolutely soaked with rain or dew)... I grab the bags I've just packed and start to pull apart our bikes, unlock them and open the trailer bag to remove the standing water from the top. While I start to organize our stuff outside the tent, Seth is getting dressed and packing up the remainder of stuff in the tent -- included the sleeping bag and folding up the sleeping pads. I advise him on the layers of clothing needed in the outside temperatures. Then I unpack the stove and get water boiling for coffee.
We try to move constantly. There is always something to be done. While the water is boiling, I remove other small bags from the trailer bag so that I can repack it properly (sleeping bag and tent have to go in the bottom or the puzzle just doesn't work).
Seth's wheelchair fits under his side of the vestibule but it blocks him in. I unzip his side of the tent, allowing him freedom to get out and continue with the morning. By this time, the coffee is typically ready. I have a titanium cup and he drinks from a Kleen Kanteen bottle. This is the only time we stop. If possible, I sit down with my coffee. We typically take a moment to enjoy the scenery, typically mountains waking up amongst the clouds with us. Once the coffee is gone, though, it's back to work. Clean the pot, pack the stove and have bags lined up along the trailer to organize them before packing them up for the day. Seth is disassembling the tent and I start making breakfast. Breakfast is usually a white bread product with peanut butter. I fill up Camelbak bladders and bottles with water I've hauled from the day before.
Put all the panniers back on my bike, load up the trailer bag. Seth gets on his bike and we take off in the southern direction, hopefully before the sun has poked its head up over the mountains.
We try to ride for about an hour before having our first stop with consumption of more simple sugars. If the riding is easy and we lose track of time, it's 2 hours before our first stop. Seth will eat some orange slices, I prefer a Gu or gel product. If possible, we've stopped at a place that I can pee in the bushes.
And we continue. We try to stop at least every hour for a bite to eat...sometimes more or less frequently depending on the road quality. We have a mid morning snack, typically consisting of a granola bar. Through Ecuador, we've been drinking iced tea or coke as well. As we ride, we stop to buy items where ever convenient or necessary. The tea and coke purchase is typically in the morning so we can sip throughout the day. Around 1-1:30 we have lunch. Depending on our supplies, it's a repeat of breakfast, but sometimes it's that same white bread product with cheese. Sometimes fruit, too. And coffee. We typically make enough coffee in the morning to make a 'road coffee' - filling the kleen kanteen for the day. I clean up and we continue. If the afternoon grows long, we stop for another sugar snack -- orange slices and gu. But we try to plan our lunches so that it will carry us to the end of the riding day.
Since we don't know what the towns will be like, what they will have or how frequent they will be, we stop at gas stations or stores when we can. Seth will typically take advantage of the toilet at a gas station since camping toilets are non-existent and squatting is not a possibility for him. We will get snacks for the afternoon -- chips, nuts, more fresh bread, but most importantly WATER. Because of the weight of water, we try to save this purchase for as late as possible. But I will carry it all day if needed.
Depending on the terrain and the long term goals, we start looking for a decent camp site in early afternoon. Things we consider: the next day's terrain -- are we coming close to a HUGE climb that we can't finish today, so lets get as close as possible and hit it hard in the morning?; are we meeting someone soon and have to make so much mileage in a day to get there?; do we feel awesome and just want to keep going?; do we feel like shit and just need to call it a day?; don't want to pass up this perfect campsite?; we need supplies, so we HAVE to keep going?; etc -- there are several things to consider. After 5 months on the road, this is getting easier....
If the day goes as we hope, it's about 3:30 when we find a camping site, look for a person to ask permission, and start evaluating the ground. Where do we put the bikes? My bike is far too heavy to stand on it's own. It does best with a wall or something solid for stability. If no wall, Seth's bike will do. Where do we put the tent? Flat land, away from water, shelter from wind, shelter from the road and any potential people who are going to want to talk to us all night and the next morning. Where can I go pee?! My bladder is about to burst!!
Set up the bikes, Seth gets out of his and we start setting up the tent. If there is someone who wants to riddle us with questions, Seth entertains while I set up the tent. Before I put on the rainfly, I put down the sleeping pads and sleeping bags, then throw in the electronics, my Camelbak bag, get out a headlamp. Then put on the rain fly. I put our clothing panniers under the vestibule. Then I jump in the tent, clean off as best as I can with baby wipes and change out of my riding clothes, leaving them next to the sleeping bag in preparation for the next morning. Seth is probably still talking to whomever. If there is a dog, I'm attending to him/her and beginning to get out snacks to replenish our system before dinner.
It gets dark around 6:30 and it's nice to be in the tent by then. So we cook dinner and eat around 5 or so -- typically as many calories, grams of carbs and protein we can pack into one pot. We eat a lot of rice, pasta, eggs, tuna, peanut butter and bread. Not really exciting, but it does the trick. We clean up with as little water as possible since we are usually using drinking water. I put everything back into the trailer bag but not packed completely since I'll be getting the stove and pots out for coffee in the morning. I pack up everything water tight for any potential rain and lock up the bikes. We pee and brush our teeth. Seth jumps into the tent first so I can put away his wheelchair. Then I get into the tent. We read and write in our journals. Darkness falls and if it's quiet, we are fast asleep with no problem.....hopefully through the night for about 10 hours.
The ideal campsite consists of what is so easily found in the US: level ground with decent shelter. But most luxurious of all -- running water and a toilet. But given the rarity of these, we are continually finding ways around whatever obstacles come our way....like spending a day in the tent in the middle of no where when we were both exploding in both directions. Luckily we make a pretty good team. We are opposite in almost every sense of the word. We see things differently and are able to use each other's opinion to make the best of most situations.
If I were to go through our routine from a hotel, it would be pretty similar -- we plug in and recharge our electronics and take a shower!! A shower both in the evening and in the morning. We have learned to never pass up a good cleaning -- especially if there is hot water. Now we're really talking luxury!
And in case you were wondering, Seth and I like a wet toothbrush before we brush.