Soon, if all goes according to plan, my mornings will look something like this. My internet access will be limited to a day a week, but fortunately river life is pretty ripe for stories (the etymology of 'riparian'? wah wah. But maybe). So fewer posts, but potentially juicy. I'm anxious; both in the sense that i can't friggin wait, but also nervous as a black dog lost in the junglous Philippine highlands. (i'll think of a less stereotypical analogy, but my apologies to all the none-dog-eating Filipinos for now.)
River guiding was my identity. I knew since i was 9 that's what i wanted to be. My sister and i were lucky boogers and spent a couple summers 'swamping' for an outfitter friend of our parents. It was back in the days before self-bailing boats, so we'd ride along on the cargo rigs and run the bilge pumps. We helped set up camp and in the kitchen (where i'm sure we were much less help than we believed ourselves to be). But, regardless, we were pretty good at schmoozing guests.
When i turned 16, i called up the outfitter and solicited my fairly physically adept derriere for the summer, that he might teach me to row boats in return. I never told him i had seizures. I'm sure the realm of 'reasonable accommodation' is about as thick as an anorexic butterfly in the river guiding business. And wilderness ingress is probably grounds for immediate equal employment opportunity defenestration. Who in their right mind would hire me? Seriously.
It was really, really foolish, i know. But in my defense, at the time, the most frequent i'd ever seizurecise was once every three months, and the water element plus exercise lends some degree of amnesty (not perfect i've since learned, but up to then it pretty much was). I was deeply entrenched in denial. At the time my mom didn't even know. So off i went to Salmon, Idaho. Totally stoked on a summer rowing boats on the River of No Return.
Only some secrets, it turns out, are pretty hard to keep, no matter the willpower you devote to their concealment. Fortunately i wasn't on the river when the fecal matter whizzed all up into the blades of the metaphorical air-circulating device. Since i wasn't old enough to be licensed to row guests, i didn't have a full summer's worth of trips, so i spent a few weeks babysitting my boss' kids.
His wife (their mom) owned a sporting goods store in town. When they first called to report the babysitter maybe just died, the store girl who answered the phone, familiar with the kids (whom we affectionately dubbed 'Birth' and 'Control') thought it was a grand idea to play dead and didn't think much of it. Until they called back five or so minutes later and reported she still wasn't awake even after they'd poked her eyes and stuck some Pokemon something or other up her nose (what, i don't know. Nothing's been dredged up as of yet and that was ten years ago.) So they dispatched a neighbor to the house where the cat had effectively gnawed its way out of the satchel.
For the first few years i just rowed cargo, but after countless rounds of worst-case-scenario-ing and much consideration, my boss convinced me to row guests. (!)
Now, you're a guest. Maybe you've never even been rafting before. Your guide looks fairly capable, for a mere female. But little do you know, not only is she suffering from Y-chromosome insufficiency, she's got the epilepsy. (Gah. I've come a long way, but i still don't like to type it or say it out loud.) Now tell me you're not gonna be a little freaked out. I wouldn't blame you. (For reals, comment away- tell me how you'd feel. I'm super curious.)
Anyhow, in '07/'08ish, it seemed i'd grown a tolerance to the medications that had formerly worked pretty well for me. I'd maxed out on the dose, so i had no choice but to try a different drug and hope for the best. It went really well, (if by 'really well' you mean the noun- deep and dark and terrifying and you're drowning and hopelessly disoriented and alone.) I tried one drug, then another, and another. I was a disaster. By the time summer rolled around i had no choice but to relinquish my beloved job; my summer lifestyle; the very thing by which i defined myself. I was devastated.
I mourned it like a death. I figured my life rowing boats had been long since dead and buried. But this mortal coil seems bound and determined to take me by surprise, because my stars and garters, this summer, provided the cosmos remain in some semblance of alignment, i'm going back to work as a river guide. Holy smokes. Oh my jeepers. Cross your fingers.