I woke up Saturday morning with an instant feeling of anxiousness, excitement, and nerves. I had made the decision a few days ago that today would be the day I would once again conquer my fears and create my life to the best of my abilities. It would be the day when out riggors would dictate my water ski fun no longer. I would promote my position as a professional quad tri-skier to that of a professional quad mono-skier.
Since I began the activity of waterskiing, I have known that my graduation to that of a monoskier was inevitable. I decided to take it slow in my progression so that I wouldn’t run the risk of having a heart attack and scaring myself out of ever getting into the water again. Scaring myself that badly is hard to imagine thinking back to the day of July 10, 2004 in which I broke my neck in water, almost died in water, and spent several hours in water under excruciating pain and torment, but nevertheless the possibility is there. So considering this possibility, I’ve been using a water ski that requires no skill level to use because it is impossible to fall over. While using the ski I have been experimenting with what it would be like to get on monoski. After some frustrating experimentation, I finally realized that the ski I had been using compared to the monoski were two totally different things, will be two totally different experiences, and I’ll never know what my limitations are unless I break them. So I made the announcement on Thursday that Saturday would be the day I would bust out the monoski. The initial reactions of the volunteers and staff were pretty much the same emotions I had about it, fear and anxiety. They shared some of my excitement as well.
I fought through the horrible but necessary experience of that morning’s bowel program(yeah I said it, BOWEL) with the help of my friend Jerry Seinfeld, and then awaited the arrival of my real-life friends Sean and Kerry to escort me to the Lake Norman YMCA. I still was not absolutely positive I wanted to try it, but then Sean showed up with the video camera and I saw it as a sign. Whenever the opportunity arises to get some cool stuff on footage, somebody has to make sure that the task is fulfilled. So I was sure that I wanted to use a monoski, everybody in the van was sure, but there was still one person I had to convince, Jennifer Moore, the director of the Adaptive Sports program.
We arrived at the Lake and I looked out over the smooth, greenish and slightly disgusting water. It was a perfect day to disregard safety and have a little fun with my old friend adrenaline. Jennifer walked up, we said our hellos, and then I told her my plans. Now I didn’t get a verbal response but I kind of picked up on the vibe as I saw her eyes go wide, roll up and to the side, and then watched her walked away. I was definitely going to have to whip out some of that old Colin charm and do a bit of persuading.
After lunch Jennifer voiced her concerns about me using a monoski, which were all very understandable concerns for I shared each and everyone of them with her, but she agreed that it was just not possible to know what was going to happen unless I tried it. A couple minutes later the life jacket was on and I was sitting in my chair about to get lifted onto the dock and into the water. At this point I began to get some serious nerve issues and had to tell the procession to stop because I had to meditate. Everyone laughed thinking I was joking but I proceeded to close my eyes and focus my consciousness. The 10 seconds of meditating actually helped and I proceeded to give the go-ahead. It seemed like only a few seconds later I was in the ski, attached to a rope, which was attached to a boat, getting ready to give the signal to push down the throttle. Advice on what I was supposed to do began to hit me from all directions.
“Make sure you hold on tight especially in the beginning, but lean back so the nose of the ski is up in the air!”
“But while leaning back make sure you maintain your balance so you don’t topple over!”
“Take deep breaths in case you fall and maintain your focus!”
“If you do fall just stay calm and don’t thrash around! ”
“So, are you ready!?”
“I’m ready!” I yelled. While really thinking, “I’m about to bust my ass”.
The boat began to ease forward and so did I as the guy starting me stood on the back of the ski. “I’m going to let go now”, he said. Suddenly the boat took off like a jolt and my head snapped backwards. “Balance, grip, deep breaths, focus”, I thought. The ski wobbled to the right, I shifted by balance to the left. The ski wobbled to the left, I shifted by balance to the right. “Deep breaths, deep breaths, don’t drink the water”, but my worries were pointless for I was upright and balanced having the time of my life as a professional quadriplegic monoskier.
A few moments later, I found myself getting pretty comfortable and began to make slight turns to the left and to the right. The water outside of the wake was calling my name, but I didn’t want to push my luck. I was extremely focused because I really didn’t want to fall despite the lovely and capable jumper, Suzanne. I thought that holding onto the bullhorns was going to be difficult but I guess I underestimated my strength because it was really no problem. Then the time came for the boat to make its first sharp turn. I leaned to the left as the boat whipped around and I made a perfectly smooth turn. Now we were heading back into the choppy waters we created coming in, which was one of Jennifer’s concerns. I hit the bumpy waters with ease and for the first time I broke my concentration as I stuck my tongue out and smiled.
I made it around the Lake and back to the dock without falling once. My hair didn’t even get wet. I was immediately bombarded with hoots and hollers and a whole lot of praise for a job well done. Everyone was shocked at how well I did, including myself. I’m extremely happy I decided to push for this advancement in my water ski fun. It adds a whole new level of excitement and thrill to the sport. I’m no longer sitting there just going along for the ride but I’m actually participating and exhibiting some sort of skill level in what I’m doing. Also now that I’m on a monoski I’ll be able to push the limits every time and try more advanced maneuvers. Meanwhile, me and adrenaline can become reacquainted as I completely scare myself and everyone around me. It’s gonna be great!