Friday, October 24, 2014

I just can't walk that far around the lake. What do I do?

Last Saturday my husband and I drove up to a mountain lake. Since I knew I couldn't walk very far, I had checked online about the trail. It said that the trail was a "great way for seniors and handicapped to enjoy the outdoors".  It also said that "the lake is circled by a boardwalk" and would require about 30 minutes to walk around the lake. It sounded like something I could do. I could walk some and ride in the wheelchair the rest of the way. We call it going for a "walk and roll".  It looked like all would be well, but we didn't know for sure. Later we found out we were wrong.

When we got there, I looked at the lake and it seemed pretty big. I thought this might be more than I had planned on, so ate a nut snack (some stable calories), took 5 mg extra of hydrocortisone and drank some water. It was cool but I can easily get dehydrated with exertion. I dressed warmly, but in layers I could take off if needed (I can become very hot quickly).

We looked at the trail. Both ends were boardwalk just as it had said online. We brought my wheelchair and started out. I was well rested after riding for more than an hour, so I walked the first part of the trail. After a ways we came to a dirt part of the trail. I could see more boardwalk in the distance. I was getting tired, but thought I could make it that far. I did only to discover that the boardwalk soon ended. Now what? We were half way around the lake and my husband couldn't push me on the gravel. The only road was on the far side where we had begun, so he couldn't drive around and pick me up. I had to get back to our van somehow.

What do you do when you realize that you are in a situation beyond what you can handle? 
I had done my research and it wasn't what I had expected. Anyone who has pushed a wheelchair up a gravel path knows that it is not "wheelchair accessible".  Now what? The weather was good and it was only early afternoon so we had plenty of time and there were plenty of people around. Good! I was already tired and couldn't walk much more, and my husband, though strong and in good health is nearly 68 years old. Bad!

We sat and rested for a while (my husband took a nap and I enjoyed the lake). We agreed that he would push me at every opportunity; ground firm, not muddy, or uphill. I walked the slight up hill parts and around muddy spots. We rested frequently on the benches along the trail. It took us several hours, but we made it and I was ok. I avoided over-fatigue by watching my body very carefully. When I began to get out of breath, I stopped to rest. I did not keep going til I became dizzy and sick to my stomach. If I began to move slower, I rested and it worked.


  1. Prepare by eating before exercising, taking more medicine, and drinking water
  2. Bring a wheelchair if you aren't certain you can walk the distance
  3. Rest at the first signs of fatigue - out of breath, slowing down
  4. Don't push to exhaustion (it takes days to recover when you reach the point of dizziness and nauseousness)
  5. Allow others to help you - they are far tougher than you are
  6. Take your Time
  7. Enjoy the experience - I loved the time at the lake. Getting upset will quickly make me ill.

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