Accessibility Issues Didn’t Spoil My Canoe Trip Adventure

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by Jen Cueva |

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Since my previous column was heart-wrenching and vulnerable, I decided to make this one fun.

At the end of April, my husband smashed his first MS 150 ride. He started in Houston, Texas, and crossed the finish line in Austin.

Though I do not have multiple sclerosis, it is another rare disease that affects more than 2 million people worldwide. Due to my physical limitations with pulmonary hypertension (PH), I was unable to drive to Austin. So, my daughter and son-in-love (kiddos) drove with me to greet my husband, who had been pedaling vigorously for two days. I was very proud of him as I cheered him across the finish line. I found it inspiring to watch him and his fellow cyclists compete, and I am grateful that I had a chance to be there.

I’m happy to sit on the sidelines and cheer on my family, and I enjoy watching and encouraging them. However, I also like to participate in some adventures, even if it requires some assistance. My kiddos, who are energetic, adventurous souls, surprised me with a planned canoe trip at Barton Springs Pool.

But there was one small problem: The boat rental and boarding area was not quite wheelchair accessible. We had to navigate down a steep, rugged path strewn with rocks and branches. I had a bumpy ride in my wheelchair, often requiring the help of my strong kiddos. However, we saw it as part of the adventure, and I described it like an amusement park ride and laughed most of the way.

We finally arrived at the water and rental location. I was thirsty, and after rehydrating, I was ready to suit up in my life vest. The water was clear enough to see fish and turtles swimming below the surface. We loaded onto our canoe with paddles in hand. The kids told me to enjoy the ride. While I did relax, I wanted to feel that I was contributing something — that’s just me — so I grabbed a paddle and sang “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” I soaked up the sun as I watched the activities of turtle families along the banks. I love turtles, maybe because of their tendency to move slowly while appreciating the finer details of life.

After the canoe ride, the day became even more adventurous. What goes up must come down, right? Do you remember that rocky path that we took to reach the canoes? Well, my wheelchair and I had to make a return trip. In some places, my kiddos had to lift me and my wheelchair. Some of our fellow hikers glanced over and laughed. I responded with “No worries, I come prepared. I am thankful that my kiddos work out.” They smiled and continued on their way. The kiddos and I found it amusing.

Getting ready to paddle. (Photo by Kayla Newnam)

We had a spectacular time, and I’m grateful to have such an intrepid family. Despite living with a rare disease, I can still join in on their adventures. Because of my limitations with PH, I depend on my family to literally “lift” me up some days.

Overall, it was an inspiring trip. I suggest that if you have physical limitations and are planning to canoe or kayak, be prepared. We had an awesome weekend and made wonderful memories. Isn’t that what life is about?


Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


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