I usually mark each summer by the expedition or expeditions that happened that summer. Last summer was the “Polar Bear” expedition to northern Labrador. The summer before was the “Will the plane ever land?” expedition to the Kanairiktok River in Labrador. 2014 was sea kayaking in Bonavista Bay and trying to rescue a navigational buoy. This has been the summer of hand(s). Truthfully, it’s been a year of hands. A bit more than a year of hands. About eight years or so of hands. With intense focus on my left hand this summer thus far, and about to be right handed focus for the month of August…it truly has been and will continue to be a summer of hands.
When we climb a big mountain, we have to move supplies up the mountain in waves or carries. We can’t usually move it all in one shot because of the volume and weight and we need to acclimatize to high altitudes so we usually make moves up the mountain more than once. The first carry is hard because you don’t know what the route will be like or what the route will demand of you in terms of effort or risk management. It’s usually a tough go because you aren’t acclimatized yet and you have to focus on route-finding. You make the carry, drop the load, and then head back down to your previous camp. The second (and third sometimes) carry is always harder mentally because you know what’s coming and how hard it was to do the first time. I always dread the second carry. But most often, it turns out to not seem so hard even though you are more tired because there are markers along the way. You know the route. You know how much further. You know you can do it.
So here I am, almost back to two good hands, about to go back down to one hand and dreading the second carry. I never thought I would be doing my second hand surgery this summer but I realized fairly soon, that having one “good” hand doesn’t help me on long paddling expeditions. I had a pretty hard go last summer that it made me want to consider finally (after eight years) to have the surgery I needed to make life better. That I was losing the battle managing my hands without it…so I decided to go ahead with my left hand. That was ten weeks ago and it’s been a tough climb but a good climb and the views have been spectacular and goodness knows, I’ve spent a lot of time staring at my left hand. The view changes each day and I’m pleased to say that it’s healing well and I’ve got all my strength back and can too 95% of what I want to do including paddling and hockey 🙂
So, with a deep breath and a commitment to do it all over again, I plunge back into the healing process on Thursday with the long term goal of an intense paddling expedition next summer making this, the summer of hands, worth going through for all the other summer expeditions this one will foster in the future…and indeed, we’re quickly closing in on this summer’s expedition which doesn’t involve a boat, canoe, or kayak but does involve camels, yurts, and a five peaked massif…and hopefully a country high point…all fodder for attending to the massive to do list between now and Thursday with two hands and one handed after that for about 3 days and then once again, activity as tolerated, hand exercises several times, lots of scar massage, and lots of mental strength to do the carry all over again-hopefully with the same great results, good views, and interesting times staring at my right hand for the next ten weeks 🙂 Send some encouragement for the second climb my way and I promise to take you on a grand adventure to the lands where Lungta fly in a few weeks time. More on that soon…I have to get back to Squeezie Cow…my favourite squishy hand grip exerciser and pull off a few more reps!