Thursday, March 24, 2016

Small Victories

 The task ahead of me was monumental, some might even say epic. The challenge? Descend a near vertical cliff face through clutching mud in blistering rain, the trail dangerously exposed, before traversing miles of devastatingly slick boulders to reach the final goal of my pilgrimage: the shores of the Pacific ocean. Well, at least that’s what a short quarter-mile hike in a light drizzle down a trail at Olympic National Park felt like to me, a seriously gimpy dude with multiple sclerosis.

The park rangers suggested Ruby Beach had the easiest access for someone who is handicapped—“it might even be accessible for someone who was pretty good with a wheelchair” they intoned. I guess by “pretty good” they meant a Paralympian with tree-trunk arms and no fear since there were many, many steps. So, possible, yes. Realistic? Hahahaha.

But I like a challenge. I was pretty sure I could make it down with my forearm crutches, I told Laura. She nodded.

“I’m sure you can make it down, too. I’m just worried about the whole ‘up’ part.”
She did have a point. When I bonk, I really bonk and need rest… a lot of rest. This hike, a total of a half mile, could take hours. I figured, bah, there was a light breeze that easily carried any caution (and perhaps sanity) away.

The trail was a touch muddy, but not sloppy. The trail in places was a bit steep, but not steep steep. The stairs were many, but not too many. The pebbles on the beach were tricky, but not too tricky. Best of all there were places to rest all along the way—a bench, a rock, a perfectly placed log.

When I finally made it to the beach (and since you are reading this, made it back without the help of EMTs), it’s hard to relay my elation for such a small victory. I just sat there with Laura and took in the Pacific and all of its vastness as the afternoon unwound, the regular trappings of my disease the furthest thing from my present.


For some, small victories might elicit a shrug--remembering that coupon in your wallet to save you $1 off your kids’ Happy Meal or guessing the right TV channel in your hotel room on the first try. But small victories when you have a disability are just like big victories, only without the fanfare. And we have to celebrate them. Be proud of them, no matter how insignificant they may seem to an outsider. They all matter in their own way. We are all champions.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Loved this!
Small victories and small pleasures -- that's what life is about

Dave Bexfield said...

Thanks Anon. Sometimes with MS we forget that and dwell only on the things we can't do as well...

My Odd Sock said...

Way to attack...throwing caution to the wind...and just go.
That's the way to do it. Congrats Dave!

Dave Bexfield said...

MOS, I'm just glad I made it back in one piece!

Anonymous said...

Yes!! Small victories!!
For me it's stuff like "I didn't madly/embarrassingly have to rush around looking for a toilet" (Is it just me? When I have to pee, I can hardly walk. So counterproductive, considering you need to rush to a toilet!)
IE

Dave Bexfield said...

Ha, Anon, it's not just you. And when you can hardly walk, it allows ample time for someone to pass you and take the one available bathroom you were heading toward. Hate when that happens!

Anonymous said...

I can relate. Been there, done that. In Mendecino Calif there is a beach where drift wood accumulates. There is a narrow access trail to get there and no hand rails of any kind. My wife reluctantly agreed to go there with me and my Rolator. In my case my balance is better going up hill so I did the "Rocky" leap when I reached the bottom. I take pictures to help me remember my sucessess and I take many pictures! Gotta keep on truc'n while you still can!

Dave Bexfield said...

Anon, I played the Rocky theme in my head when I got down to the beach. And then on the way back, it was all The Little Engine That Could!

acrossthebloodbrainbarrier said...

Just keep doin it!

Dave Bexfield said...

Always, ATBBB.

Kim Standard said...

You seem to do the impossible! Wow walking that far is a challenge! I love to celebrate those small victories in life....like get a gallon of milk open, cook, etc.

Dave Bexfield said...

Kim, I'm with you there. I often assign Laura milk opening duties.

lifewithmichele said...

Oh... Ruby Beach... it is so lovely there!! You go get'em, Dave! I remember struggling several years ago with my asthma, before I had any inkling of MS. You are an inspiration my new friend. <3 girl1dir

Dave Bexfield said...

Ruby beach is crazy cool. We were going to go to another beach, but a crazy wind storm downed so many trees that the park service had to close the road to get there. All worked out in the end, G1D. :)