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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Whiplash Smile

Ahh, that title.  Not only is it the title of my favorite Billy Idol album  (affiliate link) but it definitely applied to our vacation.  This was our 4th trip to Traverse City and by far our most turbulent.

We paddled our first full day and thought we'd launch from a new to us site...the Old Mission Bay.  We got everything ready to roll and launched from the beach to a glassy bay.  We marveled at the crystal clear waters that morphed to dreamy blue and finally a foreboding black that was still clear as far as your paddle.  While the paddle out seemed to take forever to reach the end of the bay, it felt like I was paddling through molasses.  When we got out to Lake Michigan, you could see the different currents going from slightly wavy to a light chop.  It was nothing we hadn't encountered before.  The Mr set a pretty good pace and I was keeping up.  Thing is, I have no rudder on my kayak and he's got a nice fin to give him some direction.  When you paddle, you tend to set your sights on a landmark and paddle toward it.  We were both eyeing the same outcropping which seemed like it never got closer.  When it finally did, I thought I recognized it as the little "tree island" that was close to the Old Mission Lighthouse.  It had crossed my mind earlier in the paddle "how cool would it be to paddle there" but I thought it was on the other side of the peninsula.  Turns out it was on top and we just found it.



I burst into tears because I was so proud of what we'd just accomplished.  I had no idea how far we just paddled but we'd gotten pretty battered the last bit of the journey so we felt pretty triumphant.  The winds kicked up and we ate our paddling snack on our boards.  I'm sure the people at the lighthouse thought we were nuts and yeah, we were but we had no choice but to paddle back.  As we headed on the side back down, I was already exhausted.  My shoulders hurt so bad from trying to keep up and then having no real break at the lighthouse meant it was going to be a rough paddle back in the best of conditions.  What I was contending with was a rudderless yak that should've had the advantage with the waves behind it but there was a horrific undertow.  This meant for every one stroke I should've been able to take, took 4 strokes and that was to keep me from spinning mercilessly in a circle much less making any forward progress.  I finally broke down crying because I was getting sucked backward away from the Mr and these were the conditions for the entire paddle back.

I had to take the Mr up on his offer to put a tow line on the yak because otherwise, I was going to get sucked out somewhere in the middle of Lake Michigan which people don't realize is like an ocean.  There are waves, currents, undertows, riptides and all of the regular things except big sharks and salt.  As he tried to tie me, I had to paddle furiously to attempt to stay even with him.  I was exhausted.  He mistakenly thought he could hook me up and I could take a rest.  Nope.  My goal was to not have to have him even feel me back there but he could instantly feel what I was dealing with.  We had some seriously close calls that had us both terrified and completely exhausted.  As we got within 200 feet of the bay, the line snapped.  We had no choice but to be on our own and he felt instant relief when he got there.  I didn't.  We still had a good 20-30 minute paddle until we hit the beach.  While it was mild on top, the current was still underneath and it would sometimes flip me completely backward at which point I would paddle backward while making forward progress toward the beach.  The last hour of the paddle, both of my shoulders were popping in and out of the socket.  Not popping like that cute little old age popping sound when you are working out, I'm talking between that and Riggs popping his dislocated shoulder back into place on the door frame.  When we hit the beach, I wanted to throw the paddle in the trash and leave it all there for someone else.  We both declared we were never paddling again this year after that.  I couldn't raise my arms to grab a glass or point for two days.  It sucked.  A check online showed we paddled just over 8 miles, our longest ever in more ways than one.



But then the Mr's birthday came along and paddling on Crystal Lake which was perfectly glassy sounded like a good idea since we were both healed up.



Well, of course halfway through the winds shifted and it was a bumpy ride back.  Thankfully no undertow to suck me back so I was able to use the waves coming against me to leverage some paddle power off their crest.  It still was exhausting and then we really were done with paddling.

That was all bad enough...here's where we get to the whiplash part.

It was our last night and we were home while there was still light.  We got in the hot tub to soothe our muscles and we laughed as I ungracefully slid into the hot tub for the umpteenth time.  Between the dolphin skin-like texture of the hot tub edge and the last minute pair of dude swim trunks, I had to bring because I couldn't find my bathing suit bottoms meant it was always a slippery entry.  When our time was up, the Mr said he could get out first and help me out and I said that was okay.  How I wished I'd listened.  As I swung my foot over the hot tub, I felt like I didn't have a good stance on either side.  I knew I was in between the two sets of steps going in and as I tried to steady myself, the steps kicked out from under me and I fell backward hitting the stairs, wooden deck and finally my head on the ground.  The Mr stood up watching me helplessly and the last thing he saw was my head bouncing hard off the ground and back into it.  It's funny exactly how many thoughts can go through one's head in about 4 seconds.  As I saw the roof and sky as I fell backward, I thought "wow, I haven't seen this perspective in like 20 years.  This is going to suck.  I wonder what part of me is going to hit what.  Wow, I had to look like Rikki Rockett falling out of his drum set like in the Talk Dirty to Me video, I bet that was pretty funny looking."

*crash*

(White arrow shows the stairs that slipped on the leaves they were on and red shows where I ended up.  If I hadn't turned mid-fall, I would've hit on my spine the bottom wooden stair.)


I felt an instant headache, a tingling in the back of my head and a weird sensation I couldn't quite identify.  The Mr ran over to me asking me over and over if I was okay.  I started laughing which hurt intensely but I said that had to look pretty funny and he assured me it wasn't.  I felt like someone had sucker punched me in the back of the head.  Actually the back of the neck.  He helped me up and said he was going to Google concussion symptoms as he helped me inside.  I did the same and when I saw pressure in the head, that was the sensation I couldn't pinpoint.  Pressure.  He grabbed some acetaminophen to help with the pain and swelling which several websites said was suggested but definitely not ibuprofen in case there was internal bleeding.  He had me lay down to rest and told me he would be continually quizzing me on the details of the accident.  After thirty minutes, I felt better as far as the thumping in my head and the pressure but the stiffness was setting in.  We went to the fire pit and made some smores.  We only had that night and I wasn't ruining it due to my accident.  As my head started to feel like a bobblehead where I couldn't hold it up well on my own, I started thinking about actress Natasha Richardson who fell on "soft snow", was joking and talking through a headache and refused medical treatment.  Six hours later she was gone due to internal bleeding on something coined "talk and die."  That freaked me out so we went inside and called our insurance nurse.  She asked the Mr a series of questions about my behavior and symptoms and I seemed to pass that with flying colors though he was told to watch me for a period of 6 hours, wake me in the middle of the night and if symptoms get worse, take me to a doctor.  I felt better and we set another fire in the pit and enjoyed a late dinner.  I got up in the middle of the night for a wee so the Mr knew I was still alive.

The next few days sucked because as the pain/stiffness in my upper back, neck and side of my face got worse and a quick check showed I had every symptom of whiplash.  I'd been a passenger in two car accidents so I knew what that felt like and this was the worst case I've had.  I couldn't even turn in bed without holding the back of my head because I couldn't support the weight of my own head.  Though I'm grateful I didn't have a huge knot on the head, I knew landing on your neck could be equally disastrous.  (Though I did crack my head on the huge lipped headboard earlier in the stay so it was not a good head trip for me!)  Frankly, I'm thankful to be alive after all of that!  I think of how if I hadn't instinctively turned to my left as I fell, letting my knee and butt take the brunt of things initially, it could've been my spine that hit directly on the wooden deck platform and I don't even want to think about that.  This is on top of the leg injury that had me hobbling the whole time which is taking a helluva time healing up.

What I learned from all of this?  I'm lucky AF.  Lucky things didn't take a turn not once, twice but three times between one treacherous paddle that had us both terrified and two head injuries that had me seeing stars.  I'm lucky that I have someone who didn't hesitate to be my rudder both literally and figuratively in times of hardship.  I thank God for him and his quick thinking in all situations.

Ever had a head trauma (or two) or close call on the water?

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13 comments:

  1. Very thankful that, if you had to fall, you fell into the grass for most of the brunt of it. Could have been so much worse. Just glad you're okay!

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    1. Yeah, if I'd fallen sideways out of it, it would not have ended well. Very thankful even though it wasn't fun. Looking forward to the last of the stiffness going away soon!

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  2. The Great Lakes are no joke, and in some ways are even more dangerous than an ocean. I'm impressed that you took on Lake Michigan. I'm glad you are ok, falling like that could have led to all kinds of injuries. I hope you have a few uneventful weeks at home to recover.

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    1. They certainly aren't! I think our biggest problem is we start paddling too late. We said next time, morning paddles only. After noon, everything shifts and it ain't pretty! LOL Thank you, I'll take uneventful fo sho!

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  3. Did you tell the hot tub owner? Needs to put traction strips on those steps.

    Sounds like you need a new paddle board. (Or kayaks.)

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    1. Yep, she's aware. He's got a top of the line board and special fin for just those conditions so that undertow would've thrown anyone around. Honestly, I don't think any yak even with a decent rudder would've fared much better. We were the only fools out on the water that day! LOL

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  4. How terrifying and yet how blessed that you can see the silver lining and be grateful for your wonderful partner. Your love story is my favorite thing about your blog.

    I fall all the time but have managed to avoid hitting my head. I know the muscle pain that comes with it and I'm so sorry you are going through that. I had one fall on wet cement in the parking garage at work (after then inexplicably removed the mat from the elevator lobby). I went down flat on my front and if I weren't so chunky I'd probably have broken my nose and lost some teeth. My breasts acted like air bags and saved my face but the fall popped a lot of blood vessels and they were varying shades of red, yellow and purple for a few weeks. The fall was frightening but the aftermath was quite amusing. The elevator was full of people including one co-worker who watched me fall and they all froze in panic until my co-worker jumped out to check on me. I'll never forget the looks on their faces!

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    1. Aww, that is so sweet! We both appreciate that.

      OMG that is awful!! I'm so sorry you had to go through that and thank God your airbags deployed! ;-) I did notice some busted blood vessels in my neck now that you mention it. I'm not litigious but after removing that mat, I'd have stayed down and owned that building after their negligence! That is inexcusable. (Good Lord, I just sounded like my grandma! LOL)

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    2. I didn't miss any work or have to go to the doc because of it but I did report it then nag the building until they put down a new mat and made other changes. I can only imagine how much fun they had watching the security footage.

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  5. Oh my gosh I'm so sorry to hear about your fall! It could have been worse, but it was awful nonetheless. I fell at work a couple of weeks ago - isn't it awesome to fall in front of your co-workers EML? Ugh. I fell off my chair and somehow got wedged in between my chair and my desk. The lawyers came running out because the secretary started screaming - she thought I had passed out. It was quite the scene. And by the time I could get my footing to try and get up, my arm was killing me and of little help. I laughed because I didn't want anyone to feel bad for me, but I really wanted to cry.

    As for things happening on the water - I survived what we now in my family refer to as "Hell Weekend" when we owned a boat and took it from Quincy, MA down to Martha's Vineyard....in a storm. I was ready to just jump overboard and end it all - I actually kissed the dock when we got home that Sunday.

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    1. OMG, that sounds awful too! I'm sure the co-worker screaming added a nice spotlight on you that you'd rather not have had. I know that feeling of laughing when you want to cry.

      Oh Lord, y'all are nuts! LOL I would've kissed the dock too...after I yakked 20x from motion sickness. Bwaahahaha!

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  6. How utterly terrifying for you both!! I cringed reading about your head injury and the horrible pain you felt for days afterwards. And the whole Lake Michigan thing is frightening. I had a very scary incident years ago while on a boat and it's no joke that the "lake" feels like an ocean. One of my favorite places to go is to Kenosha on that side of Lake Michigan and you can't see a thing for miles. I did get sucked into an undertow up on a huge lake in Wisconsin as well. Multiple concussions throughout my life (which is a possible factor with the glaucoma because two of them involved the my face rather than the back of my head, but caused a concussion nonetheless).

    I am SO glad you are okay and that you were able to continue with your trip and still enjoy yourselves. It's land trips for you for a while missy!!!! xoxoxoxo

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    1. Yes it does feel just like the ocean. Ugh that undertow is the absolute worst! So glad you got out of it okay. Yes maam, no water for us for a while!

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