I am a grandmother paddling alone over 2,500 miles from Maine to Guatemala. Along the way I will be:
- telling the story of the children who live in the Guatemala City garbage dump community
- honoring their entrepreneurial mothers
- talking about the success of the Safe Passage model school and
- raising funds for additional grades for the school.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Diagnosis in Charleston, Treatment Plan and the Expedition goes Forward!

One of the more expensive images of the expedition
We finally have a diagnosis, and a treatment plan.  Expedition hosts are surrounding us with love and care.  The expedition goes forward!
How does it keep happening?  How come there is always the perfect host at the perfect time?  I knew that Chris and Keri were the right folks in Awendaw, because they have a kayaking education business.  In fact, Marcia called her cousin in McClellanville to find out who could give me good info about kayaking conditions down the coast.  The cousins called Keri and Chris!  But what I didn't know was that Chris had recently had a disc problem in his back, which was my preliminary diagnosis.  Chris even showed me the mutilated disc that was removed!  He had done a lot of research into the surgeons in the area, which made me very comfortable with the facility that Marcia and others had highly recommended.

The visit was a too short, but wonderful!   I was ready to take Olivia along with us!
Olivia is ready to kayak!
Deb, Chris, Keri and Chris
On the way into Charleston we stopped at Epic Kayaks, one of the sponsors for the expedition.  They also gave us advice about shipping a kayak from Guatemala.  "Hasn't been done."  But they showed us how it could be done if absolutely necessary.  Thanks, Epic, for the great paddle I've been using and the advice.
Wayland, Deb and James at Epic
In Charleston we are staying with Steve and Susan.  On much of this expedition I had been fantasizing about the one thing I most wanted to do when the trip is over - sit down and read a book.  So here I am staying with literary folks - a writer and a archivist.  Not only are there great conversations about books, but Steve loaned me a copy of one of his books: "Upheaval in Charleston: Earthquake and Murder on the Eve of Jim Crow."  It is the perfect combination of history about an era that I find fascinating, and a narrative that zips along.  I just wish I could stay awake long enough to read more than a few pages at a time.
Drugged Deb with Steve, Susan and Chris (who didn't get the black memo)
On Tuesday I spent the entire day with the medical profession, getting a diagnosis and then planning the treatment.  As was suspected by the ER doctor in Georgetown, I have a disc problem.  When the Charleston folks saw the MRI they were amazed that I was not more debilitated by pain, as the herniated disc is a massive problem.  I guess being stoic is not an asset.  I should have paid more attention to my body much sooner!  But this diagnosis seems right, as it captures all of my issues into one explanation.  Because of the severeness of the problem they have fit me into the surgery schedule for next Tuesday.  They will remove the damaged disc, put in a spacer, and then screw two of my vertebrae together.   I'll be in a neck brace for a little while.  In the best case, I could be pain free immediately after the surgery, or if there has been nerve damage it could take up to a year to regain my lost strength on the right side.  I hadn't even realized how much strength I had lost.  I must pay more attention to my body!

They say the earliest I will be able to kayak is in three months after the surgery, but even that is unlikely, as I will not be recovered enough to start the physical therapy until 6 weeks post-op.  We have arranged to stay in this area for the next seven weeks, staying with some of the hosts who had already agreed to help me out as I kayaked along.

I am in a drug induced haze as I await surgery.  The pain is decreased, but not eliminated.

The expedition continues!  The goal has always been to share the stories of the children and their parents at Safe Passage, and to raise awareness and funds.  That will continue in a couple of weeks.  The only thing that will be different is that I will be sitting under the kayak, instead of sitting inside the kayak, as we travel along the coast towards Guatemala.   Bernie Horn will take me to Guatemala in early April, and we will celebrate the expedition with the children and families.  Once I regain my strength, I'll start kayaking up the coast to complete the sections of the trip I missed.  


  1. Sending healing wishes, Deb -- so sorry you have to go through this. And yes - you DO have to listen to your body more. My thoughts are with you!

  2. Hi Deb, I'm so sorry you are dealing with this, but glad to hear that you have a specific diagnosis and solution that will resolve the pain. Best wishes for a successful surgery...thinking of you!

  3. Deb, how do i get you the information on the condo in st simons

  4. Good luck to you, Deb. Hope all goes well with your treatment.

  5. Sorry about your condition. Wish you recover soon and well.
    In case you have little chance of to continue with your nobel trip, why don,t you organize a chain of kayakers to continue your trip in as many steps as available paddlers?.

  6. Oh, shoot, hope your surgery goes well and you have a recovery to amaze the most jaded of docs!