Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Art of Boogey-Boarding

When we moved to California 5 years ago, I was excited to participate in three of my favorite outdoor activites. They all begin with the letter "B": Bicycling, Backpacking and Boogey-boarding. As I fell ill, the ability to do these sports also fell by the way-side. My new heart gave me new hope. I now am able to bike ride for short distances, but I am not yet ready for back-packing. I have anticipated all year our family vacation to San Diego where I could once again ride the waves.
Boogey-boarding is not surfing. Surfing is more work and more addictive. But you still get that thrill when you catch the perfect wave. As a sport, it is not an issue of strength or coordination; rather it requires timing. You can't catch a broken wave (well, you can try but it is not as much fun) and if you are too far out, the wave rolls underneath you. The idea is to swim into the wave just as it is breaking such that it lifts you to the crest and you ride down the face. At that point you are in control, not the wave.
Last Monday I grabbed my boogey board and waited for the perfect wave. They come in sets and I usually wait for the second wave in the set. This one was big. I caught it just right and as oftens happens, when it breaks you drop. Only this time when I dropped, I felt something snap and experienced immediate pain in my left chest. The word 'osteoporosis' flashed through my mind. I am the only person I know that can break a rib water-skiing which I did ten years ago. Now I did it again. The pain was bad but not excruciating so I kept catching waves while trying to protect my left side. I wasn't going to give up this easily.
I was fine until Tuesday. I went and caught more waves and did fine, but when I went in the beach house, something happened and the fracture felt as if it moved into my lung cavity. I couldn't breath without the sense of being repeatedly stabbed in the chest. I worried that I might have started bleeding since my platelet count before we left for San Diego was 50,000. (This is low). Every movement, every breath, every heartbeat hurt. I waited to see if it would improve. After a half hour it resolved a bit and I was able to enjoy a delicious grilled salmon dinner that Michelle, my daughter-in-law, had prepared.
The next day we went to Disneyland. Fortunately, Wednesday is my Decadron day. Steroids have a strong anti-inflammatory effect which great reduced my pain so that I wasn't 'California Screamin' on Space Mountain. It was a magnificent day. Unfortunately, steroids also give me the hiccups which don't bode well with rib fractures. I guess you take the good with the bad; se la vie.
Otherwise, our week in San Diego was perfect. Bike riding, scooter riding, jogging, walks on the beach, s'mores over a campfire, good food and good company. It was a perfect way to celebrate the anniversary of Samuel and Michelle's wedding, my heart transplant and my 50th birthday. (I got into Disneyland for free on my birthday). I doubt that next year will be as eventful as the last, which is fine with me, but I plan on enjoying it even more.
I am still on the cusp of the wave waiting to ride down and take control of it. That is always where the thrill is and I am in for the ride of my life.



Kent Johnson said...

Wow!! What a blast you had in San Diego! You give me hope that there is some fun waiting on the other side of the heart transplant surgery. That rib fracture sounds painful. I've had a couple of those myself.. not fun at all.

Keep the chronicle of your journey coming. Thanks for the gift sharing your life with others.

Best always,

Kent Johnson

Anonymous said...

Elle and I enjoy tuning in and reading your comments. I too am currently taking revlimid and dexamethasone and now just finishing my third month of the stuff. My counts are staying stable, but I have a few other side effects that are troublesome but so far I've put up with hoping that a course of the meds will arrest progression of the neuropathy that is my clinical manifestation of amyloidosis.

You and I have another symmetry to share: I'm off to Florida to the "other" Disney park in Orlando next week. I'm giving a lecture in the Tampa area and then spending a few days in Orlando with family.

Keep up the good work both your personal healing, treatment, and sharing your experiences online.

Rich and Elle in Anchorage

Anonymous said...

What a nut! boogey boarding and Disneyulanding with a cracked rib! One would think that by now you would be a little bit better at taking care of yourself. Talk about going for the gusto, dam the torpedos and lust for life all in one. We love you, Kevin. Effa.