Sunday, August 24, 2014
As you amass ailments, you start crossing things out from the list of things you used to enjoy but no longer. I have a very long list of things I used to enjoy and can't any more. I used to kayak. I liked to kayak. I stopped kayaking when my back starting going bad. Then rheumatoid arthritis complicated things a bit more. Combined with lingering tennis elbow in my right arm. I often wear a wrist splint on my right hand as well to reduce the pain in my left elbow and wrist.
Then we came to Cape Cod on vacation with my family. My brother said he was bring kayaks - one hard shell and a couple inflatable ones. In my mind, inflatable kayaks are like any other inflatable boat - you don't really have to worry about ramming into anything because you will bounce off. But they are impossible to steer - like trying to paddle a balloon. You get my drift (okay that was a bad pun) that I am not interested in paddling an inflatable boat. I figured my brother and his four children would be happy with those kayaks and I would stay away.
But then it turns out two of the four children don't like to kayak much. One of the two remaining children who like to kayak also likes to sleep late. Leaving one child who might want to kayak but temper tantrums are not invited.
The other morning, my brother, husband, and I set off on a morning kayak. I wasn't sure how far I could go and how my arm would feel - as well as my back and shoulders and other body parts - but I just went. My brother was so confident of my abilities he brought a long bungee cord so he could tow me back if necessary. My husband limited himself to giving me advice not to over do myself.
But we kayaked. I did fine. Getting out of the kayak was another story because I landed on my butt in three inches of warm ocean water - and then I had to stand up from the ground. But I was wearing my bathing suit. I did need a nap but didn't feel horrible amounts of pain during or after kayaking.
Yesterday morning, my brother and I were up early and decided to go kayaking again. We were discussing the complete lack of wind and how calm the water was.... Until we put the kayaks in. Then the wind immediately blew up and the tide was running hard out. We chose to paddle slightly downwind across the channel so we could paddle along the leeward side of the island. Finally I needed to stop and turn back - my shoulder and arm were telling me it was time.
We paddled back along the sheltered side annoying the birds until we got to the channel Then the fun began. We set up our plan. My brother offered to tow me. I said he could go behind me in case I ran into problems. It was a hard paddle diagonally across the tide current and the wind, but I made it.
In thinking about it, I really did challenge myself to try something I haven't thought I could do for several years. I am not sure I am up to kayaking again this morning because I can still feel it in my arm. But I did it successfully. I didn't have to hop in and swim for shore or get towed in and I didn't cause excessive amounts of pain.
I'm happy. That was a big personal success.
I think as a long term patient, I have let myself get in to the realm of being a patient where I find it easiest to say no I cant instead of challenging myself to see if I still can.