Wednesday, August 26, 2009

UPDATE - This Isn't The Make a Wish Foundation

So it took two more months before people finally got fed up with his condition...

If you're joining the party late, one of the rowers I coach is fighting Parkinson's Disease. I feel awful because I totally admire his effort and dedication to keep exercising to do anything he can to slow the advancement of his condition. But watching him day-by-day has become exhausting and frustrating. He is incapable of squaring his blade (the part of the oar that enters the water - must be vertical to push water during a stroke) and doesn't have the muscle control to lower the blade into the water (instead just lightly dipping a couple inches of the blade in, and pulling it about 6 inches toward himself).

So two months after I first posted about this, the club has decided he's a liability. I had to meet with two members of our board this morning to discuss how to tell him he can no longer row. We've decided to take the "safety" approach in that it is too dangerous to have someone that big, who can't help lift, carry, or properly row the boat, and that it affects the rest of his boat too dramatically to be 100 percent safe.

Hopefully he's more aware of how far advanced his condition is, than I think he is. I feel awful every practice letting him slide with excuses about how the shoes don't fit, or the boat is rigged improperly, but its better to let him save face than to constantly yell at him to get his oar deeper or come farther up the slide, when he quite clearly can't.

We're going to try to allow him to save face, by offering him a lifetime membership to the club, and some sort of honorary status for his time served on the board in the past. Hopefully, this will all go smoothly, but I confess that I really don't want the responsibility of telling someone they just can't do something they love anymore...


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