I’m back! (Managing sensory issues in the field)

Wow. Lots of new followers after I posted about parental entitlement last week. Hi everyone! Pull up a squishy chair, grab a weighted blanket and a stim toy and get comfy.

I’m back from my LRP festival. Which was pretty good despite the challenges around my sensory problems and dietary requirements. It rained, it was cold. My 4 season sleeping bag and thermal long-john’s didn’t make a dent in the night-time chill. But it was pretty epic. Cooking over the communal fire seems to be the smart way to go about feeding me. Rice, tinned curry and tinned beans are adequate for a couple of days of running around in the woods shooting people with arrows.

So managing my sensory, dietary etc. issues in a field in the middle of nowhere, far away from the convenience of shops. It’s not easy.

Transport.

Oh my goodness transport. Our driver’s never driven an automatic before. We’re speeding, there are unnerving wobbles every so often, and the vehicle is a big people-carrier so I can’t even squash myself into a comfortable corner. If it wasn’t for acupressure techniques I wouldn’t have got through it without some serious car-sickness. I wish I’d taken my acupressure bands (I will next time, definitely). There’s not much to be done for the proprioceptive angle other than requesting a seat that isn’t near a door, probably right in the back amongst the kit would be better. Not being able to wedge myself into a corner meant that I was very tired by the time we got there. I’d had unpleasant vestibular feedback (hence the car sickness) the whole way, and no proprioceptive feedback to “balance” it just made it all worse.

Food.

The shop we went to after pitching our tents had no obvious “free from” section, so finding convenience food that was gluten-free was practically impossible. I bought some crisps, things in tins, and rice. Packet risotto is a bad idea, don’t do it if you’re planning on cooking on a BBQ in the rain.

Cooking

Fire is the best thing in the world. At least when I’m cold, wet, hungry and tired. Once we get the fire going, everything gets better. Cooking on it, even with just a small pair of saucepans, is easier than you would think. Rather than positioning the pans right above the flames, pull a few glowing logs to the side and rest the pans directly on top of them. A good camping saucepan with a lid will reduce the need for things like sieves or colanders, just pour the water out through the lid. Regular hot meals that taste familiar are a big part of keeping me stable.

Weather

Ideally, I’d have been in many cozy layers of clothing with waterproof and pockets and gloves and things that don’t go cold and icky when wet. As it was, I was in costume, and had to rely on a waterproof shoulder cape and my thermal undergarments to fend off the worst of the weather. It rained, as it always does. The thermals and the cape did a reasonable job. Having damp hands the whole time made me a bit sad. There’s not much option for getting out of the rain when it starts in games like this, really the only option is to waterproof almost everything, wear good underlayers and hope for the best.

Stimming

It rather goes without saying that my character doesn’t stim like I do. Flapping, bouncing, squeaking, meowing and purring are all very inappropriate when you’re playing a stealthy huntress in a player-vs-player game. I manage this by having plenty to do that is character appropriate. I always have one hand on my bow, usually also supporting an arrow. My other hand rests on the string so I can draw and loose very quickly (important in a game where you can be ambushed at practically any time). Verbal stims are suppressed mostly by virtue of me constantly being out of breath negotiating the very difficult terrain.

Sensory aversions

While I can’t avoid everyone who feels the need to whistle, and I can’t really wander round with ear defenders on, there are a few things that help with sensory aversions. Gloves are a wonderful invention, they keep hands dry (hopefully) and  free of mud (mostly). Excessively gravelly parts of the site can be avoided, or at least not trodden on (thank goodness for moss). Luckily, most of my sensory aversions seem to be related to man-made substances, I think I dodged a bullet with just a dislike of mud and being damp.

Sleep

No Otter, and no weighted blanket. I woke up a lot in the night.

I get somewhat worried, when sleeping in a tent, about ventilation and not being able to breathe, to the point where I often sleep with the door partially unzipped despite the cold. I did discover that I could comfortably sleep with my nose towards a vent, and spent the nights rolled up in my mummy bag as tight as I could get it.

So that’s pretty much it. It’s trying, it leaves me tired and irritable, hungry, emotional and prone to fits of tears. By the time we got home I was barely capable of thinking for myself. And you know what? Next month I’m going to go back and do it all again, because nothing beats the way combat archery feels.

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