Back at home what a relief, we pull into the driveway at midnight, the car is packed with all the wet soggy gear from the swim, I am an ” unpack on arrival type of person”, but not tonight, with Jeff’s help I stagger into the house, up the stairs and flop into bed, before I can roll over to wish Jeff goodnight he is out cold, exhausted, I lay there, my body aches, the kind of ache you have when you have a fever, there is no position that feels good, I toss and turn, drift off to sleep, later to wake in a sweat, I change my clothes, drift off to sleep again to be awoken by the same feeling, I am burning up, I glance at the clock 4am, I edge out of bed and creak down the stairs navigating them one at a time, it seems to take forever to make it to the kitchen, PHEW made it, ” now the doctor said potato chips and Gatorade, don’t feel much like it but maybe it will help”, I think to myself, I shuffle over to the couch and collapse down with my Lemon Lime Gatorade and Cape Cod chips.
I sit for a bit, the simplest of tasks feels like such a challenge, I am banged up and banged up good, what is next…. time to reflect, research and reevaluate. But all in good time for now my body is beat and my mind is battered, it is still whirling with images of the dark, stormy night, swimming alone, swimming into the daylight with a picture perfect sunrise the crew by my side, losing track of time, emerging out of the water at the end of the lake on Canadian soil, then an afternoon of deterioration of my mind and body, the whirlwind ride to the hospital and now back home, an action packed 32 hours, there has not been a moment to take it all in, I feel numb.
I sit on the couch, simply not knowing what to do with myself, Jeff is still sound asleep and quite rightly so, if I could physically pace around I would but my body won’t support it so I just sit, actually more like a slouch. I am about to surrender and go back to bed when I see a shape behind the front door, then it is gone, I shuffle over creak open the door and see a big paper bag, inside is a jar of Vermont honey and some locally made chocolate treats, written on the bag….
Congratulations Charlotte! You are our wonder woman!
Treats for your recovery ( can be shared with superman Jeff)
Love to you + yours,
“Margaret”, my quiet voice crackles through the crack in the door, there I see her, it is my dear friend Margaret, she replies ” I am not here, really I’m not, I’m just dropping off this bag” she says, ” come in Margaret, please”, I say, she does and we sit on the couch for a bit, I tell her about the swim and a bit about feeling sick, then poor Jeff comes down the stairs looking a bit worse for wear, ” are you going to rest some more!”, exclaims Margaret, ” well I have to go back to the emergency room today to get checked out and Jeff is off to Burlington to pick up the kids”, I reply, Margaret looks at me with a strange look, one I have not seen before, it is a ” you must not realize the state you are in ” look, she then politely asks ” do you need help today”, “I don’t think so, I just have to go to the hospital, thanks though”, I reply, ” sure you wouldn’t like me to drive you?”, Margaret asks, I pause a moment before I answer, I then remember how hard it was to get down the stairs just a short time ago, I notice how I can’t even manage to sit upright at this very moment and then I concede to myself, YES I NEED HELP, I do my best to communicate my thoughts to Margaret…… ” you know, thank you, a ride would be great, as long as it’s not too much trouble”
Margaret departs, I go back to bed, a few hours later she is back to drive me, she steers me into the car and we are off to the hospital once more, I am convinced that they will take one look at me and send me on my way, like getting my entry stamp when I arrive in New Zealand to visit my family ” you’re all set mate”. Well today I don’t get a “your all set mate stamp of approval”. I check in at the Emergency Room, the receptionist takes my details, I am getting tired, my legs begin to waver, Margaret is steadying me, I feel weak. Into the emergency room I shuffle, before I know it I am on the bed and collecting a few more bags of fluids. Margaret sits with me and we wait while the IV bag empties into my body, Margaret calls her family to let them know where she is and explains our predicament, ” more IV, now I know how she does it, I’d be bionic too if I got a few bags every day” says Margaret’s husband over the phone, it makes me smile, I feel safe. Hours go by, more blood tests and more results, I have improved since yesterday, but not out of the woods yet, the physician orders more tests for tomorrow, it’s Sunday night, I am released…. back home and back to bed.
So what happens next?Well there is no swimming for the week, the doctors orders took care of that and a good thing too, Monday and Tuesday are consumed with more tests and an ultra sound of my liver, things still aren’t back up to speed yet, the prognosis is a referral to a specialist if things don’t begin to improve over the next week. Each new doctor I see begins with the story…” Well, I had a long lake swim”, each day I feel like I am getting a little more energy back, finally the week is over, Sunday arrives and I am allowed to get back in the water, I am excited. 8 days later I am able to dip my toe back in the Green River Reservoir.
8 days later……. how things can change in 8 days!. It is 9am Sunday morning and welcoming me back to the lake is a cool 42 degree air temperature and a water temperature of 63 degrees. I have declared the goal of a 2 hour swim ( yip 2 hours, what am I thinking, right!), remember I have the New England 10km Open Water Championships in just 7 days and I am eager to get back in the water and get ready, as I said I am excited to swim, but what I didn’t tell you is that I am also a little scared, I haven’t been in the water since the battle with Lake Memphremagog, I haven’t swum since I felt so sick, I haven’t asked my body to perform at all and I still feel out of sorts, this is unfamiliar territory, I know I have to get going again but at what cost, I have embraced the last week of rest and repair, now that week is over and I am entering into a new learning phase, a new type of patience, ” Has my body repaired enough?, What should I feel like one week after swimming a marathon?” These are just a few of the questions to be answered by experience….my experience, I have to figure this out myself, so here we go into the water, learn by doing coming up!
Down to the waters edge and off to one of my favourite swims, picnic island, Paula is swimming with me, we make our may out of the canoe launch area, it feels like I am home, it is great to be back in the water, my shoulders creak a little bit, but overall things feel pretty good, I stroke away down the center of the lake, I feel like I am flying, WAHOO! 30 minutes down and it is time for my first feed, Deb passes me my hot Maxim, the smell of it makes me gag, memories of projectile maxim vomits come rushing back, I scrunch up my face as I tip the feed cup back and most of it pours down my face, not a very good feeding effort. Back to swimming, around picnic island we go, we start heading back up the lake and stop for my one hour feed, I notice we are not as far as we usually get in one hour, “weird, Deb must have taken us a longer way”, I think to myself as I swim on, I am into the second hour, my energy levels tank, my stroke loses power, I try to kick it up but there is nothing there, to make matters worse I am getting cold, ” swim harder to keep warm”, I tell myself over and over, but there is no speed improvement, Deb tries to speed me up with an enthusiastic pick up signal, even that doesn’t work, I continue to slow down and sluggishly complete the 2 hour swim, I emerge from the water, I managed to drink the rest of my feeds without throwing up and only ate one Jelly Baby, I am not back to my usual self, I self prescribe a few short pool swims and a few more days of rest, I feel despondent.
Deb later tells me I was swimming painfully slow, my stroke count barely 60 strokes per minute, ” you’re not your normal self, I can tell because I am dry and you usually drench me with your arm strokes when you swim, I couldn’t get you to speed up a bit”. I reply with the following, ” funny I felt rocking fast for the first hour and then things got really hard, but the hot chocolate afterwards was the best”. It might have been a toughouting but boy was it the best to get back outdoors, and visit with the crew”
What will the next swim feel like and will I get the Doctors stamp of approval to swim in the New England 10km Open Water Championships just 7 days away? I’ll keep you posted
Closing Thought: ” He who limps is still walking”
– Stainslaw J. Lec