Friday, August 03, 2007

Anticipatory Anxiety

One doctor is back. Sort of. For the moment. And yes, I have coverage.

A week in Canada, all that free national health care, and the place is kind of pretty, too.

Talk about a room with a view:

Traveling with teenagers, though, you can't just Look at it, ya gotta DO something. Hiking led to some amazing views, a surprise waterfall, a tea house in the sky, even a rainbow, but was still deemed "boring," "pointless," and ultimately, "not worth it."

I decided we needed to go whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River. Note, this was my idea.

I've been rafting once before, decades ago in Montana during a draught when there was no whitewater to be had. We floated along scraping the bottom. And I've been on a canyon float trip, this isn't what my kids were looking for. So, credit card in hand, I signed us up for the non-refundable Classic-- all participants had to be over 12 years and over 90 pounds-- and the half-day trip provided a barbecue lunch (these I'm good at) and Class III and IV rapids. The other option was a shorter Family-friendly trip suitable for children over the age of 5. That one sounded nice. It sounded safe, too.

I asked the Concierge if I'd be okay.

"I don't like roller coasters," I said.

"Sit in the back of the raft," he told me. Everyone returns alive. I'd be fine.

Still, I worried. The next day I asked another concierge, a nice young man named Rory.

"Will I have a heart attack?" I asked.

"Yup," he said.

"What should I do?"

"Go on a different trip than the kids."

Gee, thanks Rory.

"You'll be fine, Mom," Kid said.

You know, I wasn't really worried about injuries or death. I don't like roller coasters and it's not that I think they're unsafe-- it's that I'm afraid I won't like the feel of my stomach being stuck inside my knees, or that I'll get sick, or terribly frightened, or that I'll want to get off really badly and I won't be able to. If safety were the issue, I would be worried about my family. No, I was worried about the possibility of Unpleasant Sensations.

We drove an hour and a half to the rafting place and went to sign in. I was handed a bunch of waivers to initial in three places and sign on the bottom. I promised not to sue if I died. Okay, now I was worried about safety.

"Does anyone get hurt?" I asked the young woman with the Australian accent who told us that a 45 minute safety session would precede the adventure.

"Well, yes. But, it's rare. It's not like someone gets hurt every week. It's not like someone even gets hurt twice a month."

This didn't sound so Rare to me.

"How hurt?" Scrapes, right?

"Oh, about as bad as it can get," she said.

My anxiety mounted. Maybe we shouldn't do this, I told my husband. My family glared at me.

The trip was delayed for hours. They were clearing a log jam-- an event that entailed sending swimmers into 42 degree water with chainsaws to chop up a tree and make the river safe. I ate a buffalo burger. Really. I worried. The safety lecture began.

We were instructed on how to put on wet suits, life jackets, and helmets. (No pics of this folks). How to hold the paddle so that it doesn't knock out any one's teeth. And what to do if you fall into the river, how to pull someone back onto the raft without dislocating their shoulder. What to do if you get separated from the raft. What to do if you miss the line that's thrown to you. What to do if the entire raft capsizes and everyone is in the river. What to do if you get trapped under the raft. What position to take while being reeled in and another position for being swept away. Don't get caught in a log jam-- too much paperwork. Really, don't get caught in a log jam. This is rare, I'm thinking, how often do people actually fall in? Oh, on a trip this size of roughly 70 rafters, 1 or 2 usually fall in. 42 degrees in the water. I waddled in my wet suit. This really wasn't sounding like a good idea.

We split into "teams" of 9 and boarded our craft. No seat belts. We sat up on the sides of the raft and Darren, my very experienced guide, showed us how to hold tight, get low, cross over to balance weight of the raft.

"When I tell you to row, it's a command, not a suggestion," he said. "Any questions?"

"Is there a seat for someone who wants to just sit and pray?" I asked. Darren glared at me. My kids wanted to die.

I got on the raft. I paddled when I was told to, even when I'd rather have been holding on. When we hit the rapids we bounced about, I got wet, and I laughed out loud. It was fun in an addictive sort of way. No one fell out and any sense of danger dissipated. No Unpleasant Sensations whatsoever. And to think, I almost bailed before we even began; after the fact, all that worrying was a waste.

Of course, there was my emotional support goat up on Sulphur Mountain: