Xtreme Sports

If you were in a crowded room and you had to pick the person into xtreme sports, you’d never choose this wobbly woman with the walking stick but perhaps it’s my broken wings which turns even a humble walk into an agonising fall, resulting in an X-ray and a broken foot.

Being more at home in a cafe with my cappuccino and chocolate cake swimming in luscious sauce than bungy jumping or climbing Mt Everest in anything other than the metaphorical sense, I was plucked out of my chocolate sauce and landed smack bang in an adventure camp, with Muscular Dystrophy NSW in  2012. This was the beginning of the end.

I went down this water slide twice, after almost blowing my brains out the first time down when water blasted up my nose.

I went down this water slide twice, after almost blowing my brains out the first time down when water blasted up my nose.

For me, even being away from the known and predictable at home with my mobility issues wasn’t easy but being with people who knew and understood my limitations provided me with the safety net to launch myself way beyond my comfort zone and take on what really were xtreme challenges and yet, it just felt like going with the flow at the time.

Camel Riding. This was more challenging than expected.

Camel Riding. This was more challenging than expected.

This confidence was greatly aided, too, by the unofficial MDNSW Mantra “find a way”. Just because your disability or chronic health condition might prevent you from participating in an activity in a conventional way, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Here I am riding the quad bike. Of all the activities, this one took me most out of my comfort zone.

Here I am riding the quad bike. Of all the activities, this one took me most out of my comfort zone.

Trying out the quicksand. It felt really weird gripping onto my leg and it took a bit of  assistance to get out.

Trying out the quicksand. It felt really weird gripping onto my leg and it took a bit of assistance to get out.

Sandboarding, Stockton Dunes.

Sandboarding, Stockton Dunes.

Going parasailing changed the colour of my day. It's the closest I've ever come to feeling as free as a bird.

Going parasailing changed the colour of my day. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to feeling as free as a bird.

Ready for Take Off!!

Ready for Take Off!!

A year later, I did a second adventure camp and this time, I was thrilled to have a go at surfing. This was quite a big deal riddled with challenges before you even considered trying to stand up. There was finding a wet suit big enough to fit and then managing to squeeze into it, which isn’t easy when you have muscle weakness. Then, there was carrying my board down to the beach. Actually, I did get assistance and later ended up being able to drag the thing along the beach. Not very cool but I was stoked!! Although I didn’t get anywhere near standing up, I did manage to start in a kneeling position. That was as good as it got but I was certainly living the dream!!

Not so cool...lugging my surfboard.

Not so cool…lugging my surfboard.

Skiing down the mountain at Perisher in August 2013.

Skiing down the mountain at Perisher in August 2013.

From here my next big leap into the wild world of xtreme sports was skiing. This was where I was really taking myself way beyond my comfort zone!! There I was perched at the top of the Village 8, peering over the edge of what felt like an almighty precipice…a sheer cliff dropping down, down, down towards Perisher village, which looked like more than hundreds and thousands sprinkled on buttered bread. If I was ever swallowed up by my own fear, this was it and instead of gliding smoothly down the slopes, I soon fell over. Was gasping for breath. Indeed, I was consumed by pure panic. I mean just because you’re doing an xtreme sports that doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. It means you’re brave, courageous…or perhaps just a fool going where angels fear to tread.

You try wielding a paddle with a great big Border Collie in your face! Geoff said Bilbo was actually lying across him when he took Bilbo out.

You try wielding a paddle with a great big Border Collie in your face! Geoff said Bilbo was actually lying across him when he took Bilbo out.

Not content to stop there, I undertook what might have been the most xtreme sport of them all…going kayaking with two dogs on board. When I undertook all those activities with MDNSW, I had a solid, well-trained team behind me who could leap to my rescue, if necessary. Take it from me, it has been necessary… especially for the more xtreme challenge of walking along a footpath with all its inherent dangers. Anyway, when you’re trying to paddle with 35 kilos of terrified Border Collie quite literally in your face and 20 kilos of naughty Border Cavalier perched on the very edge of the kayak with her tail dangling in the water about to topple it any second, there is no safety net. We’re just going to fall. Fortunately, being an inter-tidal zone, it’s not very deep and despite the shenanigans of my fellow passengers, we managed to stay afloat. See more here: https://wordpress.com/post/35828219/6564/

However, there is another side to all these incredible achievements. You see, although I’ve been able to pull these off against all sorts of odds, I have struggled and indeed failed at times to manage the simple, every day stuff. Indeed, since I had chemo for 7 sessions over Christmas  2013-2014, my sense of time has been completely wiped out. I have no idea and now manage with the help of routines plastered on cupboard doors, alarm clocks, buzzers and indeed, multiple screw ups. It completely dumbfounds me how I can achieve the extraordinary and yet completely fail the ordinary. However, it’s unsolvable questions like this which ultimately fuel my writing and keep me off the streets.

xx Rowena

17 thoughts on “Xtreme Sports

  1. TanGental

    Rowena, I really went with you on this post. You are one heck of a determined (maybe that translates to dotty and bonkers over here) lady. I can’t imagine the physical components that you have to overcome, leaving aside the entirely natural human fears you are enveloping yourself within. As someone said in another context ‘Top Banana’.

  2. roweeee Post author

    It was funny because with all the activities at camp, I just seemed to leap those hurdles without even trying. That is except for the Quad Bike riding. I have had multiple falls on footpaths and even broken my foot just walking on grass, which still seems totally preposterous. The skiing took a lot of courage, though. Yet, I had an instructor and we worked on the beginner’s run for days before I stepped out onto the mountain last year so i was also skilled up and prepared. I say this not to lessen my achievements but to also show others that I didn’t just click my fingers and make it happen. Moreover, I have a long standing fear of driving which isn’t altogether unfounded and that is still a challenge. I wrote a few posts about that awhile back.

  3. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much, Geoff. Yes, I think determined, dotty and bonkers describes me well. As much as looking after my kids has been incredibly difficult for long stretches of time, they really have stretched me out of my comfort zone. From what I have found, that incidental exercise has helped keep me mobile. There have been a few times where I’ve thought about getting a scooter, most seriously after breaking the foot but I’m like that irrepressible phoenix who keeps rising from the ashes. Once I respond to these comments, I’ll be popping over xx Rowena
    PS Australians call Queenslanders “Banana Benders”. AS a parting gift once my Queensland cousins made a banana out of a yellow plastic bag and filled it with lolly bananas. It had a piece of cardboard as a spine so it could bend.

  4. roweeee Post author

    Thanks. The canoeing was certainly challenging for both dogs. Bilbo, Border Collie, really doesn’t like water but he frets when I’m out there so I think he was coming to my rescue. It’s worth a try though.

  5. roweeee Post author

    I’m sure I’m hitching with angels. I’m not naturally courageous but after going through a bit, I have definitely become stronger. I am a real believer in the effects of resilience and the need to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones. xx Rowena

  6. wilsonagaba

    I would like to nominate you for the Premio Dardos Award because of the great work you are doing bringing kindness and helping the world.

    Here are the rules for this award: You can accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his or her blog. Include the image of the “Premios Dardos” in the post. Pass the award to another 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement!

  7. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much, Wilson but I have already received the award. I had some technical difficulties when I accidentally changed the theme of my blog and the awards got dropped. I am trying to rectify that but am having trouble. Thank you so much for the commendation though. Very much appreciated. Hope you are having a wonderful day!
    xx Rowena

  8. Shirley Corder

    Rowena, I find this post totally mind-blowing! You have done SO MUCH in your life – despite your disabilities. I feel as if my life is so tame and pathetic compared to all you have achieved thus far. You rock, girl! WELL DONE!!!

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