The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders

by Milton "Skip" Johnson
Guest Columnist

Paddling Cross-Legged

Lest I forget. I will never ever paddle cross-legged again.... Ever. Five days in the hospital flat on my back being pumped full of blood thinners and anti-coagulants should remain fresh in my mind for awhile but let's remember whose mind we're talking about.

Seriously, I'm one of the last people in the world to give medical advice, but feel an obligation to recount my experience. On a recent Monday I went to my Primary Care Physician because my right leg had started to swell below the knee and felt a little uncomfortable. A quick trip to the hospital and a Doppler ultrasound later and I was a guest in the hospital with a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot just below the knee). Treatment was uneventful but prolonged, all week in the hospital getting anti-coagulants so the clot didn't get any larger and blood thinners to help dissolve the clot. Untreated consequences result in phrases like "pulmonary embolism" and I feel extremely fortunate not to have traveled down that path, since many do not return. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is usually associated with long airflights, multiple day’s confinement in bed and other events that I hadn't been involved in.

The only change in my lifestyle recently had been starting to paddle EasyB about 3 times a week usually for about 45 minutes at a time plus portage to and from the creek. I was going to fit a seat and put in some foot braces just as soon as I got some time, but sitting cross-legged on a 3" cushion worked really well and I was a lot more concerned about a new paddle to match the boat. The Doctor couldn't say for sure that the cross-legged paddling caused the DVT, but it was the prime suspect. So please practice safe paddling, use a seat and footbraces.

Got out of the Hospital on Friday evening and roughed out a seat from 2 layers of 2-1/2" thick urethane foam on Saturday. Normally I'd fabricate a seat from 2 part expanding foam (custom formed) but I didn't have any available and had plenty of the 2-1/2" from a project a nephew was working on. Took EasyB down to the lake Sunday with new seat and temporary foot braces to make sure I could stay upright 4-1/2” to 5" off the bottom of boat. Fortunately all worked well, and I didn't go swimming unexpectedly or feel particularly unstable. I'll finish the seat and footbraces as soon as I get caught up on some of the other things that fell behind while I was on my behind.

Parenthetically, Susie likes to tell family and friends how I got out of Hospital on Friday, built a seat on Saturday and paddled on Sunday. Friends and family usually shake their heads and go tisk-tisk. We went to a bon voyage dinner for Julie and Colin, who are moving to Perth Australia, and when Susie told the same tale to the assembled members of the TCRA (Texas Canoe Racing Association) the response was a shrug of the shoulders and "So?"....

Good paddling or whatever else floats your boat...