Checks followed by rechecks, panicked last minute trips to the shops and the odd flutter in the tummy. Just a few of the things happening on my last day before the adventure begins.
It is a strange state to be in, so close to the start that you just want it to begin already, but feeling apprehensive and wanting just a little more time to prepare.
There is no room for self doubt. A little part of my mind creeps into the place where i keep my 'what ifs'. What if i don't fit in with the team, what if we don't complete the mission, what if one of us gets hurt.
As usual, I've been thrown a curve ball. Ngaios dad calls me 'Brando neveradullmoment Yelavich' and it is starting to seem more and more true. I may have to change my middle name. Anyway, in 2016 I had to have surgery on my back due to a prolapsed disk. The disk was pushing on a nerve and giving me so much pain. After the surgery I had a long recovery and I was very lucky to have such great results. Earlier this year, I fell 3 meters off a cliff then kept rolling another 10 metres. I definitely hurt myself, my elbow was sending pain up tp my shoulder and down to my wrist and blood was during out of it. My legs were bleeding and I was very shaken up. I managed to make it back to Ngaios house where her dad met me and sent me to the Drs. I was distracted by the initial pain in my arm and blood and cuts, so I didn't notice the throbbing pain in my back that was radiating down my leg. It soon became apparent that I had re injured my back. Ive gone and done the same injury, but on a different nerve root. Ive had an MRI and a steroid injection but the pain remains the same. Sitting is the worst, walking is good but sleeping is not my strong point because of the pain when laying down. So I am feeling apprehensive about the flights, I know I will be uncomfortable. I need to make sure I don't let this overtake my mind and make me feel negative. It is difficult learning to live with pain. This pain may not be forever but I don't have time to have surgery before Greenland, so I am going to need to suck it up and find a way to cope. On a positive note, my most comfortable position is walking, and I will be doing a lot of that! Always pays to find the silver lining right ?
When I leave on a big expedition like this, I need to be prepared. I need to be prepared and organised with my gear, with my flights and timing and with my headspace. I want to go into this kind of adventure feeling positive, but I also need to be realistic. There is no point in convincing myself its going to be all sunshine and unicorns, because it won't be. That isn't why I do these big expeditions. I need to accept that I will be uncomfortable and that it will be a challenge. If these missions were easy, more people would do them. Its kind of cool to think we are a certain kind of person, a person who will put themselves through trying conditions to test themselves, to learn and to be a part of nature. It won't be a glamorous adventure, im starting to worry about what my tent mates will think of me by the end of it. 30 days isn't all that long to get to know someone. But when you are thrown into small confines from day one, in the depths of nature, under gruelling conditions, its bound to speed up the process of 'breaking the ice' (haha get it? because we will be on the ice cap).
My feet will stink from never truly being dry, the soles of them could peel and ooze in my boots. My fingers will be numb regardless of my three layers of mittens. Ill be pooping into a bag in the ice trying to make sure my bum cheeks don't get frost bite.
We will be walking for approximately 8 hours a day. During these 8 hours I will have a lot of white to look at, my senses will be numbed by the lack of stimulation and my hyperactive brain will go into overdrive. For me it is so important to acknowledge this is likely to happen and to accept it when it does. I will try to use this time in my own head to use my imagination for future expeditions, new dreams, goals for the year and what to do if I see a polar bear. As I have mentioned before, our mind is our most powerful tool. If we try to fight it we are only fighting ourselves.
It was an honour to be selected to be a part of the team and I will do my very best to make the most of this opportunity, to learn about the country, the history of Nansen and his crossing and to make it to the other side! I am so excited to be working as a team, after my Sterwart island expedition I decided I didn't want to go on anymore solo trips. This will be my first expedition with a group and I know it will be an excellent learning opportunity. Learning to work with a team, to be an effective team member and to have a positive effect on the team dynamic will be a really great experience.
Tomorrow I am off to the airport to begin this great adventure. I will be nervous and excited and jumping out of my skin to get started! Then I have the long flight to Singapore to worry about all the things I may have forgotten.