Tag Archives: paddling

as powerful and as strong…

Last week we did a fairly strenuous canoe paddle, more than 60km, in a remote northern area of British Columbia.  The paddling wasn’t so daunting (3-4 hours per day of solid work), but it was the portages from lake to lake, the lightning storms, and the persistent pelting rain that quickly dampened my sleeping bag and all of my clothing that took their toll.

Now that it’s over, however, so much of that difficulty is forgotten.  And instead what remains are the gorgeous images imprinted into my memory and onto the roll of film that we shot as we traveled.  Such as this one, taken on the home stretch to Bowron Lake:

glassy waters(Note: the horizon is slightly crooked due to the boat leaning a bit to the right side that morning)

As I was writing in my journal when the journey was completed, the first thing I put on my list of lessons learned was:

I like to do hard things

And it’s true.  The stretch of an ambitious endeavor makes me happy.  Doing the mundane, the repetitive, the easily achieved task…boring.  I thrive when presented with a challenge, which is why the trip to British Columbia was so much more appealing than a resort stay or some other leisure activity.

While on this trip, these two books, Tracks and Paddling My Own Canoe accompanied me everywhere:

two books for my travels later this month…journey narratives ftw #JSLFL #booklover

A photo posted by @janaremy on

I just finished reading Tracks today, which is a book about a woman who walked across the Australian desert with four camels in the 1970s.  At the close of the text, this quotation jumped out at me, as a better expression of my thoughts about hard things, than I expressed myself in my journal (emphasis my own):

As I look back on the trip now, as I try to sort out fact from fiction, try to remember how I felt at that particular time, or during that particular incident, try to relive those memories that have been buried so deep, and distorted so ruthlessly, there is one clear fact that emerges from the quagmire.  The trip was easy.  It was no more dangerous than crossing the street, or driving to the beach, or eating peanuts.  The two important things that I did learn were that you as powerful and as strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision. 

why I stopped taking PPIs for gastric reflux

This post feels a bit like a PSA rather than a typical pilgrimsteps post.  But I wanted to share my experience with PPIs just in case it might be of help to some of you….

Last year I struggled to paddle because of severe back pain that was due to some problems with my prosthesis.  But it wasn’t just back pain, it was horrible painful muscle spasms that I had in my back, but also happened just about anywhere whenever I exercised vigorously.  My muscles just simply didn’t seem to be responding well to exercise–I was continuously fatigued and got cramps easily no matter what type of supplement I tried.

As a result, I quit paddling about halfway through last season.*

It wasn’t until a few months later that a lightbulb went on in my head as I talked with a friend about my chronic gastric reflux problems.  She told me that long-term use of over-the-counter PPIs did have long-term side effects (despite my thinking that they were nearly-benign meds) and that one of those was mineral loss.  I realized that the muscle cramping symptoms that I was experiencing were quite similar to the problems I’d had more than a decade previous when I was calcium deficient.  Given that I already have the double-whammy of bone density loss from being female and from having had high-dose chemotherapy, I started to become nervous about my dependence on PPIs to get me through dinnertime (it was almost always dinner that gave me problems–causing acid reflux for hours afterwards).

So…I stopped taking the PPIs cold-turkey and modified my diet as much as I could to compensate (such as no citrus or tomatoes and more yogurt).  Within a few weeks my acid reflux symptoms mostly disappeared–with only an occasional flare-up during stress.  And I found that I regained my muscle endurance fairly quickly after that.

I know that PPIs are necessary for many people and I’m not suggesting, necessarily, that you do what I did and stop taking them.  But I think it’s worth reading this recent article that warns of their side-effects, and to consider whether they are drugs that you really do need to be taking regularly.  In my case, I think the PPIs caused me to exercise less which exacerbated my reflux and led to weight gain (weight gain being one of the major contributors to reflux issues).  And I needed to get off the PPIs to I could become more active and healthy again.   My hope now is that the year I spent taking them won’t result in any long-term effect on my bone density.

*Additional motivation for quitting mid-season was due to some problems with my coach and the need to focus on my studies.  But the major reason was that I was in terrible pain each time I tried to paddle, I and I simply couldn’t figure out why my body was hurting so badly.