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Friday, August 16, 2013

No Barriers- what's within you, is stronger than what's in your way!

So, how's life after rehab. you may ask.  To be blunt, everything feels the same.  There should be a more definitive transition program.  I Say no to a lot of things.  It's like  an instinctual program for my mind, and I wish there was social rehabilitation.  Meeting new people, or seeing acquaintances can feel pretty awkward, especially because I forget that it's harder for me to speak clearly now, and when there is so much to take in, I forget to watch listeners faces, to discern if they're having trouble understanding me.  I always question my undeniable enthusiasm for new people, and new situations, the second I arrive.  Though, I'm always immediately reminded how generous, and thoughtful people can be.  I got on the bus, ate whatever I could find in my day pack for an on-the-go breakfast, and took in the splendour of the scenery going by.  I talked to the young couple behind me, mostly about where each of us was from.

After 45 minutes or so, we pulled into a rec. area, at what appeared to be a very small glacial 'lake'.  In Maine, we say pond, if you can see each edge of he body of water.  I was not about to go there though, as I didn't want to seem ungrateful, and so on, but initially, I was a bit disturbed by the lack of space, our group of 20-30 had on the water,  as a lot of it was clearly divided off for a dam.  Dam it!

I was pretty excited when I realized paddleboarding was a option.  It's really big in Burlington, and I've  never gotten around to checking it out.  Mostly because I know I could never paddle, while standing on a board on the open water.  My balance wasn't that good, before I had my injury. I tried surfing, fell off the board, got my feet, when the wave literally put the board in my mouth.  Funny, I never tried again.  I also had a I wind-surfing board, I liked to try to stand on, on the lake, I fell off that more often than I stood on it.  I will never know why people thought I was a cool college kid, I fell, and bruised myself so often, it's not so dis-similar from life now.  Guess I can't hide fom it, I'm a walking klutz, born, and bred.  

Needless to say, when I jumped at the chance to try paddleboarding.  These people who work in the adaptive field, realize how important it is to start off small, and work your way up.  My personality, is go big, or go home, in terms of outdoor activity.  It's not terribly unreasonable, but when, it just doesn't occur to me to work my way into things.  Which, I should realize, however, rarely do.  It was a genuine revelatation, when the guide suggested I try kneeling kneeling on the board.  Knew it may be able to Mage st anding for maybe 10 seconds, but if I tried to paddle, I'd  be in the drink.  When my balance is compromised, my body freezes, which actually causes me to fall, rather than not.  Therefore, I was all about kneeling on the board.  I loved every minute paddling around on hat pond-err, lake.  Although my Kees began to complain, and I needed to check out the kayaks.  We came in, and I immediately got into a kayak.  It was slightly frustrating that I had verbally state my prior paddling experience, mostly as it was windy, and I could tell they weren't hearing me.  I started to loose myself to my emotions, until, I just went and t in the boat, and paddled away from other people.  I went out to he do not cross line, paddled back a bit,took in the scenery, and began to reintegrate with the group.  I was so thankful for the space, as I'd really needed it.  Once I rejoined the group of paddlers, I was myself again, and met a few people, until we were all called in or lunch.  It was also pretty apparent a storm was rolling in.  It looked far off, but I was disappointed when it was decided we should call it a day.  We scarfed down brown bag lunces, and waited or the bus to return.  Eventually, we all ended up finding seats, in program vehicles.

That day, I'd dropped my phone in Kristen's car, and not realized.  I was upset, as I didn't know how to reach reach nyone I was staying with.  I tried to remind myself not to get upset, or panic, and amazingly enough, I didn't.  One of the staff at Telluride adaptive, kindly brought me to their office, and called the on site No Barriers 'office'.  We had to be creative in dealing with security measures in places.  I don't know what it is about smarty pants, on the other side of tht phone, but dealing ith her sent me right back into my angry place, and I shut down.  Somehow, contact was made, and I was able to meet up with Kristen and George, at the resort Starbucks. So grateful!

I went for decaf, as angry, nd hopped up on caffeine do not mix.  Met a few new people there, but I felt so relieved when Kristen, and George appeared.    I did find my phone, under the seat, later on.  Not my day, although dinner was fun, as I ran into so many people I'd met with different adaptive groups.  It took an hour to stand in line, and get food, but you hardly realized any time went by, as there was so much going on all around.  I was so excited to see Amy Purdy, as I'd met her, at my first trip to No Barriers, at Winter Park, 2 years before.  No Barriers is such a unique community, as once you start coming to these summits, the idea of not attending he next one, is not an option.  It was so incredible to see familiar faces everywhere.  That brightened up my evening.

As soon as we returned to the condo, I collapsed  onto my bed, and didn't rise again, until 6:30.  Before my alarm, it never happens.  I hit the shower,and was somehow ready to leave, an hour later.  We headed for the favoured breakfast spot, Maggies.  Amazing morning sunlight, delicious pastries, and great selection of fruit.  Yum!

That was Saturday, we headed to our meeting spots, although, I'd misplaced my schedule.  I felt like I'd lost my mind, on this trip.  For 6 years, I've learned to depend on others, to help me keep it together.  I felt as I'd been smacked in the face, and sent back to start.  Loosing my schedule meant that I confused when/where I was supposed to be.  I did rock climbing that morning.  When I'd signed up for ambulatory rock climbing, I missed just how ambulatory you needed to be.  I found myself looking up at a narrow switch back path, of what I'd describe as a mini rockslide.  It wasn't very far, but knew it'd be troublesome to walk up with help.   It ended up that 3 of us walked sideways up this path.  We all made it, by taking our time, and strategizing our complicated moves.  I was so thankful to them, for their assistance.

As I caught my breath from, the mini hike, I got my harness, and helmet on.  That was a slight production, because everyone wants to help.  I eventually, had my turn, on the wall, but as soon as I got on the wall, I snapped, and started refusing assistance.  It was really hard to get my giant sneakers on tiny holds, and look for new holds to move to, while climbing.  I felt as if I was taking hours to inch my way up the wall.  I loved climbing, before my injury, but the passion wasn't there for me that day.  It was my first time on actual rock, since college, and it felt great, but, I hadn't expected to have such a hard time strategizing my moves.  Then again, I forget, I have this injury, that makes everything physical, far more challenging than I think.  Especially now, that I've progressed in so many other areas.  

After the climbing expedition,  I remembered I'd signed up to go horseback riding, so I got on that bus. I was very excited to go for a ride.  By the time, I got on the horse, I ready to gallop off, over the hills.  Instead, I walked the horse in large rectangle, in a field, with the other riders. On every turn, someone made a comment, about how I must be a rider.  I was really surprised.  I am a rider, and I know what I'm doing, but I didn't expect my brain to be able to tell my muscles what to do, as it had been a year.

Riding is my biggest passion, I love horses.  Unfortunately, they're extremely expensive, and require many things I lost, such as transportation, and income, to keep around.  I wasn't able to get it together to ride in CB again, so I was happy to be on a horse at all.  I don't see them, in my day to day life now, so, I don't always think about what I miss about them.  I spent the first 17 years of my life, with them, and never reallize the hole they've left in my heart, until I'm around them again.

We plodded in a single file line, down the trail, and could hear thunder in the distance.  In that moment, I recollected my schedule.  I'd wanted to ride in the morning, because I learned last year that storms roll in, in the afternoon.  But, in that moment I was happy, it'd worked out that way, because Kristen wanted to skip Sundays activity, and I'd been signed up to ride Sunday morning.  We all began to turn around, to make way for the barn.  The forests were gorgeous, elegant, old trees, a winding path, crossing a stream, I wanted to last forever.  But alas, it ended, around the next turn, and we could see the barn.

When we returned to the ski resort, I got a message, I should take the gondola, down to town.  I had to ask several people to find it.  The view was amazing, but I felt weird, getting on alone, with 3 couple in the gondola.  They were tourists from all over, enjoying the scenery  Colorado has to offer.  It was a quick ride, they were all very nice.  But, now I had to find my way around a new town.  I'm not used to being alone, in new places anymore.  I kept asking people, as I walked.  It didn't take long to find people who knew where 'Old Gold', a bar, and expensive restaurant, was.  I eventually found them drinking, a tacky, red drink in martini glasses.  They insisted I try one, and in first said no, as I wanted to eat, before I drank.  They had appetizers, so I picked at then, while anxiously awaiting the food trucks, I had tickets for.  An hour passed, and I tried the devis kiss, drink.  It reminded me of sugar, and menthol.  Lovely, but, it filled my stomach, for a brief moment.  We made our way down the street, to the bar I'd originally gone to, to find them.  They have the same name.  Still, no food trucks.  I had some water to start, and soon moved on to another drink, as the intense hunger returned.  Why I never left, to go get food at a restaurant, I don't know.  I know that alcohol, and brain injuries don't mix.  That's why I don't exceed 1-2 drinks, and make sure I eat, and drink a lot of water.  It's not something I miss, so I don't usually fall off the wagon.  But, when that's all there is to fill my hungry stomach, that's how I filled my stomach.  I'm not ptoud of my choice, but it did help with gnawing hunger..
It, however, didn't help me be more sociable.  I just sat in the booth, and tried to respond, when spoken to.  I remember seeing this guy, I've had a riciculous crush on, since the mont I saw him, last year.  I didn't get up, and barely responded to his comments.  Not my finest moment.  When we finally headed back to the condo, I ate everything I could find, which wasn't much.  It was strange for me, I used to love to go out, meet people, party, and now I try to even like it, but, it's really scary to let go of mind, now, because I lost it, for so long.  I was so relieved, as I got to sleep, that night.

The next morning was Sunday, our last day.  We had closing ceremonies to attend, and a final activity to take part in.  However, it had been agreed, the final activity should be skipped, to allow us a more reasonable return time.  We enjoyed breakfast a bit too long, and then were in a mad tear to make closing ceremonies.  I got let out at the building, as I take more time to walk.  I found an open door, and fortunately walked tight into the full auditorium.  It took me a moment, but, I felt so relieved to see. A few open seats together.  As I turned in that direction, I saw Amy Purdy, a double amputee, from surviving Meningitis.  We met at the last summit, in 2011, and I'd really wanted an opportunity to catholic up, and hear more about her experiences.  She joined the US Paralympic snowboarding team, and is training for Socci next year.  She has come so far, and has this spectacular perspective, it felt likesuch an honor to get that time with her.

The speakers  were all enigmatic, and told inspiring tales, of courage, drive, and, of course enthusiasm.
Many people were recognized for their work within the organization, and others for truly impressive feats, of courage, and physical stamina.  For me the speaker I recall, most of the story about. ,and had  already been looking forward to seeing, was Kyle Maynard.  My aunt and I had met him, while grocery shopping, at the summit, in 2011.  He, and a friend, Billy, had a similar idea, and the conversation began.  I remember how impressed I was, that they'd approached us, as Kyle seemed to know everyone at the summit, that year.

Acquiring this disability, has really changed how I see myself, and the rest of the world.  From when I   realizedwhat I was facing, back in 2007, I knew it was now a solid, steady goal, to reform the connections I'd lost.  It has literally taken until now, to realize I will never be who I was, before this injury.  Though, I've learned, that this is who I am now, and there's nothing wrong with that.  Were all different' and unique, in our own ways.  Having the opportunity to participate in events like this, has shown me that the keys to happiness are in pursuing your passions, and maintaining a close group of family, and friend. it's such a beautiful perspective, one that I hope follows me thought life! 

1 comment:

Julie/Mom said...

Here, here Court! Your perspective and outlook on your new life is amazing and it's what helps you get as far along as you have!! You have made incredible strides in dealing with this disability and I know you will continue to do so. It's good that you realize when to step back and take a deep gather your wits about you and regroup. We all need to do that and most of us don't do it.
So happy you had such a great trip to Colorado last summer. There is a couple of feet of snow there now according to Mary.
Keep on's so good for you and we all love reading your blogs.
Love you the most...Mom