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Canoeing & Kayaking™

Kayaking with MS
by Suzanne Powell

What do manatees, owls, alligators, monkeys and flamingos have in common? They are the wonderful wildlife I have seen kayaking in Florida. I have been kayaking for over 10 years now, but when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in April of 2008 at the age of 50, I thought my physically active lifestyle was over. All the outdoor activities I once enjoyed seemed out of reach. What was I going to do?
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Deciding to Follow a Passion for Kayaking

How was I going to continue doing something that had become a passion? Fortunately, I have no significantly debilitating symptoms at this time. I have the usual fatigue, pain, and somewhat limited use of my arms and legs. Unfortunately, I have been overweight and out of shape for many years. I decided that I am not going to let this disease dictate what I can and can’t do.

Getting into Shape

So what changes can I make to me continue to kayak for as long as possible? Of course, losing weight and becoming more physically fit will help. In order to accomplish this goal, I am staying as active as possible. When I am able, I walk three times a week. I swim as much as I can weather permitting.

Adapting Paddling Gear and Techniques

In addition, carry a tow rope in one of my hatches in case I need assistance reaching the take out. I have continued to kayak with my on the shorter paddles. In the past, my usual paddling trips would take anywhere from 5 - 7 hours. I decided that at this time it is best for me to be on the hour short paddles. Have I given up on the long paddles? Absolutely not! I envision someday being able to participate in some of the longer paddles I used to enjoy.

I can Paddle with MS

Having MS doesn’t mean that we have to stop living. It only means that we have to make adjustments in our lives, and have the courage to stand up to this disease.  So, I want all of you with MS to try something even if it seems impossible. Take that first step … or paddle stroke! Anything is possible.
See you on the water!

Suzanne Powell