Sunday, February 15, 2015

2015.01.260 - Back In the Paddle Again

For a kayaking blog, Louise and I haven't done a lot of kayaking lately. In fact, we haven't been on the water since last July. And the fault is mine, or rather my right knee's. After stoically braving chronic pain and stiffness for some months (I call it "stoically braving" -- others may call it "living in denial"), I finally sought out medical advice. I could not fully extend my knee, nor could I fully bend it without extreme pain. Sometimes I could barely bend it at all. While some days I could walk on it fairly comfortably, on others I was reduced to dragging my leg behind me seemingly in a vain attempt to impersonate Charles Laughton. Paddling my kayak wasn't so bad, but it became quite a struggle to get in and out of my boat, never mind the travails of loading, unloading and carrying it around.
Last July, my knee finally reached its metaphorical breaking point, and clearly brave stoicism was not getting me very far. After an assessment with a physiotherapist, I was diagnosed with patella dislocation. Basically, this means that my kneecap was not resting correctly in the patellofemoral groove at the end of the thigh bone. While generally an injury that is the result of a sudden impact or twist, it can be the result of a chronic muscle imbalance, and that appears to have been the case for me. There had not been any sudden impacts on my knee, but there had been a slow decrease of function and increase in discomfort going back years. I first dismissed this as simply a sign of the aches and pains of an aging body, but now, after a few months of physio and more months of near normal function, it appears that I was mistaken.
The obvious question is what sent my knee down this road. Was there an incident that injured my knee just enough to create a minor injury that at first was an unnoticed inconvenience but without treatment developed into near-debilitating aggravation? Or is this the result of a long-untreated residual injury from my bike accident? Or just a chronic slight misalignment of parts that finally became unbearable?
That is an unanswerable question. But at least now I can walk around free of pain while I think about it.

So having been off the water for over seven months, this was really nothing more than let's-get-reacquainted-with-paddling paddle. Working out the kinks and seeing if everything still works. Where's my paddle? Did I remember my waterbottle? Where did I put my lucky kayaking underwear? Am I the only paddler who has lucky kayaking underwear?
One thing we suddenly remembered was that the last time we went out paddling, Louise blew out the knee seam of her neoprene pants. Clearly, that might have been an issue for a long day of paddling on the ocean, but not so much for our little jaunt in The Gorge. But Louise came up with a great idea -- she put a piece of duct tape on the inside of her neoprene covering the hole. Not a permanent solution, but it worked for today.

So we wheeled the kayaks down the hill and put in at The Gorge. Although quite mild for February, it was still a bit cool overall, but I was hoping the sun would be enough to keep us warm.

And we're on our way!

I took along a new piece of gear, a selfie stick. I was hoping to try and get something other than the same old kayaking camera angles. A bit of a work in progress, I think.

We headed under the Craigflower Bridge....
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...and into Portage Inlet.

Louise was starting to feel the brisk air. Fooled by the bright sun, she was wearing thin gloves instead of her Hot Shots paddling mitts and the cold was getting to her. We turned to head back as we weren't planning to stay out long anyway.
We saw a hawk fly by, but not much else. But as we began our turn around, I saw a heron in a tree. Then another. Then another....
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Twelve herons in all. Do we have a new heron rookery in Portage Inlet?
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We'll have to check it out next time we're out here. In the meantime, Louise needs some hot tea!
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Trip length: 4.95 km
YTD: 4.95 km
More pictures are here.

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