I’m passionate about ocean swimming haven’t swum since January when the heatstroke at a triathlon race gave me a bad case of brain inflammation.
Since heat stroke knocked me over, literally with vertigo and headaches, I’ve been forced into bed rest the entire year. I felt so confined in my four walls, disconnected from the world, nature, society, community, friends and hardest of all, the ocean.
Ocean swimming is a never ending surprise, the unknown element that I can’t get at a pool. I get so excited wondering what will the conditions be like each day.
Will it be calm and smooth, like swimming on a lake, gliding through water, actually feeling like I’m flying through the sky.
Will the water be clear and blue, like swimming through an aquarium, seeing the gropers, rays, reef sharks, turtles and dolphins.
Or will it be wild and crazy, choppy waves, like swimming into a washing machine, the waves smacking me in the head and seawater in the mouth.
I feel so calm knowing there’s nothing I can do about the conditions, it is the ultimate surrender. The ocean reminds me that life is so random, unscripted, a mystery. Sometimes the water can be lovely and sometimes it’s a battle to get a breath.
I’ve had the entire year of chronic debilitating illness caused by brain inflammation. It feels so random to me. Yet, when I picture this chapter in my life, is another set of waves, and I got dumped on the shore real bad. There’s no reason why it was my turn to be dumped, it’s just how life rolls out the waves on the beach, I am having a choppy, washing machine of a year. And I’m fighting like crazy to keep the water out of my mouth.
Back To My Happy Place
After my pep talk from Dad last week, about not over identifying with my illness and obsessing with my symptoms, I thought it would be time to get out of bed and return to my happy place, the ocean.
Diving into the waves feels so good, to feel buoyant again, a big hug from the ocean and salty taste, feels like coming home.
I swam for a full 5 mins and then, suddenly felt like I was no longer in my happy place. My heart starts beating rapidly and I can’t breathe. I turn and head back to shore. My blood pressure drops, circulation stops, my hands and feet are numb. I’m shaking, dizzy, nausea and get an instant headache. My brain swells and I can’t think straight.
My friends walk over to say hello and I can’t recognise anyone. Everything gets really loud, noisy and the sun is too bright. I want to crawl up into a cave and sleep like a vampire. I am exhausted for the rest of the day.
Respecting Where I’m At
I’m truly shocked by how my body is reacting to the ocean. It’s meant to be my happy place, and I feel like allergic to the ocean.
I feel so let down by my body. From what I understand, the inflammation in my brain has made me super sensitive to changes in temperature and the simple dip in the ocean sends my nervous system into overdrive.
This time last year, I was outdoors every morning for a swim, ride or run and then find time in my lunch break to swim at the beach.
I feel so free and alive when I can move my body. It’s the simplest form of expression.
After two days in bed, severe fatigue and headaches, my symptoms calm down a little for me to get up and about. My nervous system feels safe to relax all the “fight or flight” response and I can take those darn leg compression socks off.
I didn’t mean to give my body a shock, it’s happening automatically. I don’t want to harm myself but it seems my happy place, it not so much my happy place, at this moment.
I feel frustrated about craving something that makes me feel sick.
I know eventually my brain will self regulate and learn to feel safe and calm again in the ocean.
I’m learning to honour where I’m and be ok with what I can do. Only when I accept where I am at, then I can move forward.
Sustainable is SEXY
This is a word my sister mentions to me frequently. Not a sexy concept right now, but in the long term it is.
Today I went down to beach to see everyone, say hello and put my feet in the water. I hicked my dress up, walked up to my knees and wet my mermaid tail.
I realise this is just as important as having a swim because I’m still staying active, (salty) and connected in this world without making myself worse.
And not smashing any tea cups, that’s not sustainable either.
Thanks for listening.