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.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Injury Update: Salt, Sun, Oysters and Possible Plans

Melancholy at the McClellanville dock
What I thought was muscle injury is likely to be a spinal problem.  This will require some creative thinking about how to proceed.
I was so fortunate to be staying with Marcia and Nat when I finally decided to stop trying to paddle through the pain.  Marcia's extensive experience as a nurse, combined with her fine detective abilities, led to me go to the Georgetown Hospital for a diagnosis.  Dr. Eugene Mauyoux listened to my symptoms, did some exploratory manipulations, suspected a spinal injury and sent me for a CT scan.  Bingo!  Looks like a disc problem in the cervical spine.  With this information, a prescription for painkillers and an order for an MRI I realized that my kayaking days would definitely be delayed.

Marcia and Nat have graciously hosted me for many nights, as I waited for Chris to drive down and pick me up, to take me back to Maine for the rest of the diagnosis and treatment.  Spent several days tracking down cervical spine experts in the northeast, and going through the preliminary steps to set up appointments, with the help of my Maine physician.  We arranged for getting more painkillers to enable me to make the long car ride back north.

Once Chris arrived, we loaded up the kayak on the car in McClellanville.  I was very sad to have come to this point,  and was feeling very melancholic,  even in this lovely waterside fishing village where the streets are lines with ancient live oaks (some over a thousand years old) draped with spanish moss.  (I heard there were more PhD's per capita in McClellanville than anywhere else in South Carolina, and I can definitely see the attraction.)
Hurting arm under a live oak over 1000 years old
Fortunately, I was quickly distracted by my hosts Rustin and Teresa Gooden, who have the first artisanal salt works in South Carolina, Bulls Bay Salt Works.  It was fascinating getting a tour of their operation and to hear how the business started from a dinner where everyone was bringing local foods.  They were smoking some of their own pork, when they were inspired to make a tiny batch of smoked sea salt to enhance its flavor.  The sea salt was such a hit that they eventually stopped their CSA of vegetables to devote their efforts to producing salt.  Their salt is taking their area by storm!  Their area includes New York City, with a great article in the New York Times.  Their Bourbon Barrel Smoked Flake is "to-die-for" delicious.
Teresa and Rustin showing us the salt works
Part of the elaborate process of producing salt
The clouds had cleared, the sun came out and the weather warmed to the 50's and 60's.  Chris was enjoying this instant change from the minus 17 degrees he had come from in Maine.  Why we wondered, were we thinking of driving back north? When I finally found that it would take over a month just to get a consult appointment back home, I explored the options of using a highly recommended spine institute in Charlestown.  There they were so apologetic about the long wait of four days for an appointment.

Back in Georgetown with kayak atop the car, Chris and I spent a final day being tourists, visiting Brookgreen Gardens to learn about the rice plantation culture, seeing the lovely formal gardens that form the perfect setting sculpture and soaking up the sun as we walked past early blooming daffodils.
Brookgreen Gardens reminds us of Guatemala
The song birds were everywhere, and their constant chatter enhanced our feeling of spring and new life and new beginnings.  A new beginning for the expedition?

More local culture came from attending the Oyster Roast and Rock on the grounds of the Kaminski House in the evening.  Standing around a table covered with clumps of roasted oysters, we shucked and consumed the delicious oysters for hours, stopping only to enjoy the wine, the clam chowder and the chicken pilau (pronounced "perlo"), which is the slightly drier version of the chicken bog I enjoyed further up the coast.
Oyster clumps

Marcia, friend and Nat shucking and eating
The sun was setting over the water as we listened to the band playing on the lawn.  It was so tempting to dance, but just thinking of moving more than is absolutely necessary made me cringe.  Fortunately there were lots of fascinating folks to talk with instead.

Sunsetting over the Sampet River at the Kaminski House
Another favorite evening with Marcia and Nat was an after dinner tour around the world with liqueurs.  An excellent dessert substitute!
Around the world!
Oddly enough my kayaking schedule would have had me staying in Charleston for the next few days.  Different hosts there have graciously agreed to take me and Chris in as we wait for the medical diagnosis.  Once the pain is under control and a treatment plan developed, maybe I can continue with the speaking engagements and travel with my kayak on our car as I continue down the coast until I can paddle again.  Perhaps I am being overly optimistic about how quickly I can heal, as I listen to stories of minimally invasive spinal surgery to replace a disc that result in instant pain relief.  More news when we find out the actual diagnosis and prognosis.

Georgetown, SC Hosts: Nat and Marcia Kaminski
McClellanville, SC Kayak Storage: Rustin and Teresa Gooden


  1. Prayers for you, Deb! Keep the faith!

  2. Best of luck, Deb. As much as we'd love to have you back in Maine, we would love to see you in that kayak, heading south. Take care.

  3. Take care, Deb. We hope for a good report and a prognosis of paddling in the near future--pain free.

  4. Sending healing energy Deb; you've had a tremendous journey so far -- hopefully this is only a small detour!

  5. You've already accomplished so much! I hope you can continue paddling after you address the injury. Best wishes!

  6. Good news, bad news, who can say. We've often had (important) plans severely altered only to realize later it became a better plan than the original. In the mean time, just keep doing everything you can and especially keep trusting!
    Sincere hugs from Gwynn's Island~

  7. (((Prayers))). Delay maybe a God send. Be patient take care of yourself and all will work out for your cause is just.. Hope you heal quickly Yorktown VA

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  9. Hope that the resolution is an easy one, and that you're on your way again soon. Remind Chris that if he needs a stopover on the way back to ME he's welcome here!

    (Had to remove and repost my comment! It was listed in my old last name and I knew you wouldn't recognize it!!

  10. I wish you had taken up the sunset's offer to dance. Hahaha! It would've been a great setting, considering how lovely the view looks on that photo. In any case, I hope your spinal injury hasn't been acting up any longer. I know you've already undergone surgery, but how are you feeling nowadays? Hope you've been faring well, Deb! Thanks for sharing that! All the best to you!

    Nathaniel Quinn@ Superior Healthcare