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Friday, September 16, 2011

Kidney March Day 2-One Foot in Front of the Other

Tent city (borrowed photo)
The worst best thing you can do for a sore, aching body is lie down in a small tent on the hard cold ground. I think the first night I woke up every 30 minutes with my hips and thighs feeling like I was lying on a pile of jagged boulders. I wasn't-the ground was actually grassy and not even really hard but my body wasn't up for the sleeping arrangements. Part of the problem was the cheap mat I had bought to sleep on-word of advice-that is not where you suddenly want to get cheap when shopping. It's been awhile since I've slept in a tent and I had also forgotten how cold it can get at night. I was glad I hadn't been thrifty when buying the sleeping bag. Otherwise spooning with a stranger might have been required.

Before starting off on the march I went for breakfast-again pretty impressed with the choices. No matter what kind of a breakfast eater you are, your needs were served. Eggs, bacon, yogurt, fruit, oatmeal, cereal. All there. And of course coffee. It wasn't Starbucks but it was warm and on a cold morning, it got my vote.

After breakfast I headed over to the medical tent to get the cankle wrapped up. It was amazing what a difference that made (in conjunction with putting my running shoes on). It was slightly sore but I could walk normally. One of my marching buddies had seen me in my flip flops earlier and had pronounced my gait as being "terrible" and recommended I not walk that day. A little ankle wrap was all it took for my gait to be approved by her.

We hopped a school bus and headed to the middle of nowhere-somewhere west of Elbow Falls. Beautiful middle of nowhere. We were the last bus to arrive therefore were the last herd of marchers to get out on the road. I kind of wish I had made it onto the first bus to give myself more of a head start-I think I'll make a point of that next year. I was excited to be walking with my new friends Sue and Marian. Sue had been such a great walking partner the day before and I was curious to learn more about her sister in law (Marian) as she is also a donor (and a very interesting lady). We started out into the rolling hills of K-Country, past streams and ravines. Every since I moved to Calgary almost five years ago I've wanted to see a bear or a cougar. As we were walking and I surveyed the wilderness, I realized how stupid that wish was and hoped that today wasnt going to be that day that the wish came true.

I was feeling positive, strong and like I could walk as far as I needed to. As we walked along we talked about everything from dogs to blisters to kidney donations. Marian was outraged to learn I had gotten to eat not once but 3 times (with the option of more) the day before my kidney donation-she had not been permitted to do the same. Once again-different programs-different rules and process. It was really cool to find out what she experienced vs. what I had, ans also lean more about the "recipient" side of the actual surgery from Sue. Even thought I spoke to other donors prior to surgery, our conversations had nothing on all the details and comparisons that come out over hours of marching. It was "good for the soul" kind of talking with belly laughs and even a few teary moments.

I found myself also being a bit of a tour guide, explaining some of the hiking areas we past along with the texas gates. Not bad for someone who this time 5 years ago had to Google what a texas gate was. On a related note, I do not enjoy walking over those...they scared me a little bit. The only one of the three we encountered I could walk around resulted in my also cutting my leg on barbed wire. This was right after Sue said "watch the barbed wire". I am good that way. Funny how you can cut your leg but your pants remain intact as well.

Bleeding leg and all we trudged on in the beautiful sunny weather. The day warmed with time, much like it had the day before.We stopped at every rest station and stretched and also did the odd bit of stretching and photo ops in between. This was by far the best day for scenic views. My right hip and both thighs as well as the cankle were achy but with a regular dose of Tylenol I was getting by. I was happy I was doing so well. Although lunchtime was a welcome relief.

The lunch spot was pretty in a park beside a pond. When we arrived it was pretty clear we were within the last few to get there. There was a musician serenading the thinned crowd seated at tables in a field. Nice touch. We got our lunches and were happily eating and airing our feet. One small beef I had with the march was how obvious it was you were last to certain checkpoints (like this lunch). Its hard to relax and rejuvenate when they are literally packing up tables and chairs around you. I had left my stuff on a table while I went to go see the paramedics about the barbed wire cut and the table I had been at was fully packed up, my things placed neatly on the ground to the side. One of the few elements of the march I would suggest changing because it did kick at morale a little bit.

Despite the fact that I was feeling fine (tired and hot kind of fine) a bit of a scary thing happened at lunch. One of the marchers (also a donor) ended up developing symptoms of heat stroke and was taken by ambulance to hospital. While in the end the marcher was okay, it really made me wonder if I was pushing myself too hard, so soon after surgery. And I wasn't the only one thinking that. My marching buddies were equally concerned if not more so that the heat and hills for the rest of the day would do me in as well. They kept reminding me I was only at three months post surgery. We continued on after lunch but that was weighing on my mind.

We kept marching, up and down short and long hills. Cars waved, trucks honked and bikers nodded in appreciation of our efforts. We made it to Bragg Creek and I'm pretty sure we were in last place. I stopped to use the washroom and came out. I was feeling the heat and the exhaustion was about to kick in. I think Marian saw it on my face because a little ways down the road, as a sweeper van approached, they flagged it down and put me in it. I didn't even put up a fight. I'm glad I complied because about 25 minutes later, safely at camp, I started to get dizzy and lightheaded. Nothing that a shower and a massage couldn't just about fix :)

To be continued.

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