Saturday, April 25, 2015

I am On My Last Leg

On My Last Leg

And Now To Take Care Of It

   My life (and, I believe, yours) is full of life-changing events that contribute to the rich texture of our existence. Such an event happened to me , somewhat late in life, when a fragment of a lumbar disc broke off, cut a nerve and left my left leg weakened. Suddenly I was unable to continue many of my passions including running (I had a 3:30 marathon in my fifties), sail boating (a beautiful 42' cutter) and Judo (I was a black belt and actively competing and teaching). A period of sadness and self pity followed as I sought out an activity to replace what I had lost.
   Somehow, I ended up at Rutabaga Paddle Shop in Madison and took a 6-hour intro to sea kayaking class from a man I have come to know as my mentor, my friend, and JB. It was instant love. My background of decades sailing on Lake Michigan, Judo and SCUBA all came together. I found it easy to learn what was to become my new passion (which, when I became a certified instructor, married well with my other passion: teaching).
   Jump ahead a bunch of years to last month. I am on Lake Michigan in one of my kayaks when I develop a pain in my right upper thigh. Driving home, the pain was even there when I moved my foot from the accelerator to the brake. In spite of my medical background and having taught college level anatomy, I was uncertain about what had happened. There had been no sudden injury. After poking myself, resting and trying to paddle again (on 3 occasions), I finally sought out the help of a profession for which I have great respect: Physical Therapy.
   It took Sarah 4 minutes to diagnose psoas tendinitis (Psoas: Latin: sore as....never mind). She gave me PT, showed me stretches I had never seen and told me to stay away from my kayaks. I was concerned. Hey, teaching session was only weeks away, and I wanted to be there. I did go on line to partsforthebody/youwish.heavanehlpme but to no avail. Apparently they were no longer making parts for a model as old as me. Bummer. So I followed Sarah's orders, did my exercises and reported back for my next appointment.
   Good news. Sarah saw great improvement and gave the clearance for a gentle test paddle. Hurrah! I put my Cetus MV out on the lawn, sat in it and gently edged the boat. I rotated. I pressed on the pegs. No pain. Within the hour I was in the boat and on the lake...and it was heaven. I did a gentle 40 minute paddle, called it a day and counted my blessings.
   I do not believe in stretching cold muscles. That's why I warm up with a slow paddle and then stretch in the boat (something that I realize beginners cannot do). I cannot, however, conceive of a way to stretch my sore-ass muscle while aboard and have taken to doing so daily at home. 
   Hey. My time on the water is precious and depends on my last good leg. So, I plan to take care of it.
Paddle safe


pshimmons said...

Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing. You should share the stretches you do too!

Douglas Wilcox said...

Greetings Silbs, it is very good to hear you are back on the water :o)

Our paths to sea kayaking sound pretty similar, I gave up sailing, windsurfing mountain biking and mountaineering because of dislocating patellae and other knee ligament troubles. Eventually I was not able to kayak but after two rather nippy operations and some amazing PT I am not only back kayaking but even managed up two mountains this past winter. A positive outlook and a good physiotherapist is a pretty winning combination! (A high pain threshold helps!)


Silbs said...

Bing Images has nice photos of psoas muscle stretches

Silbs said...

Thanks, Douglas. When there is a strong will there will be some way.

Rosemary Nickerson said...

A happy ending to a scary story. Paddle on, dear soul. Many wait to learn your secrets of a happy kayak experience.

Silbs said...

Thanks, Rosemary, for the kind remarks.