Saturday, June 06, 2015

First Row of the Season

Barb Polan
Barb’s Recovery
Posted 25th July 2011

After waiting patiently to figure out when, based on the boat's and other rowers' schedules, the day of my first row this season was yesterday.

Although it was reasonably successful and fun, it was not the emotional trip it was last year.

My new splint had a couple of the same problems my old splint did: Tom had to place his hand over mine and the splint (which means I cannot go without him) because it kept popping off the oar and a spot on the splint wore into my wrist (which just means I need a little more padding there).

Getting into and out of the boat was easier than last summer - like last year, I wore my AFO to minimize the risk while climbing in and out. To get in, I crouched down on my haunches to sit on the gunwale, which was at the same height as the floating dock, then pivoted so that my legs went in. To get out, I again sat on the gunwale/dock and swung my legs to the dock. I went from sitting on the dock to on my hand (right) and knees on the dock and then took another rower's hand to straighten my legs and stand.

It was the first post-stroke time I had gotten into and out of the gig without my friend Bart's assistance. Another rower noticed that too, saying," Yes, I looked around for Bart and, when I saw he wasn't here, said, "Shit.'" So she stepped in and helped as Bart has always done - supervising the process and providing physical and emotional support when needed. Plus, she was capable of catching me at any point if I'd fallen.

The row was on a beautiful, sunny and calm day, and the cox kept us rowing for most of the scheduled hour, with just one break, although he checked with me frequently to see how I was doing. He and his wife were very sweet to be on my row, given that they had rowed in the 22-mile Blackburn Challenge - a circumnavigation of Cape Ann - the day before, and the boat had set a record time for itself, as had our club's other boat. The race generally takes something under 4 hours to complete. 4 hours is a heck of a long time to row. I would like to do it myself someday - emphasis on the "someday." As many runners say after completing a marathon, for me, the sense of accomplishment would not be about the time it takes, but about finishing the race.

In a way, it's an unrealistic goal, but we all set those. For example, Dean (another hard-working stroke survivor, 4 years post-stroke) recently tried to ride a normal bicycle - and succeeded. Accomplishments like that are nothing short of miraculous to those of us still struggling to pare carrots one-handed and to walk without an AFO and cane. To say nothing of those who cannot yet eat except through a feeding tube. What is (or seems) impossible now gets closer and closer to accomplishing each day.

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