A year ago last June 21st, I was training for a triathlon and had a severe asthma attack in the middle of Lake Washington. The stars were aligned for me, though … I was training with my friend, there were a couple of burly fisherman that just happened to be there to schlep me up on to the dock (at the stern direction of my buddy), the fire station paramedics were a mere minute and a half away, and there just happened to be a police boat patrolling the area. Any one of those things not in place, and I would have been toast (or fish food, as it were).
I remember thinking … it’s a beautiful sunny day, I’m in a boat speeding across Lake Washington with four handsome young paramedics (ahem … young enough to be my son), and I look like THIS?! Then … “we’re going to give you something to relax you”. From then on, it was lights out for a couple of days. Apparently, between the asthma and the lake water in my lungs, my heart was “stunned” and quit beating efficiently enough to keep me alive. Because everything was going my way that day, though, they got me to the hospital in record time. I had an intra-aortic balloon pump inserted in to my heart to keep it beating, and they intubated me to keep me breathing. Sometime the next day, I was conscious enough to hear (with alarming clarity) what was going on, but they had me paralyzed so I couldn’t move anything … no fingers, toes, eyes … nuthin’. That was very, very scary, trying to put the pieces together from what was going on in the room. My doctor tells me that for everyone on duty that night, I became an ER legend for surviving the night. Scared the heck out of my family, though. My first act upon regaining consciousness was to signal for a pen (I was still on the ventilator), and scribble, “WTF? Fine yesterday”. They knew I was going to be okay at that point, AND that I had maintained my sense of humor.
There are minimal lingering effects, but I am significantly more “fluffy” than I was a year ago. Exercise, which had previously kept my weight in check, had to take a sabbatical. I did three triathlons before this happened, but I think I’ll be hanging up my wetsuit. Try something more sedate and land-bound. Like mud runs. These life changes tend to give you a different perspective. Time to take action. I changed jobs. (My previous one had me on the road EVERY week.) I finally bought another house, which I had been longing for. (My own patch of dirt! I can plant flowers! And cook in my own kitchen!)
Since my “really bad swim workout” last year, I’ve gained 20 pounds. This is bad. I am ready to get back to early-morning boot camp, training, and feeling strong. This is good. A few things I’ve learned … 4:50 a.m. is REALLY early! The hula hoop is way harder at 49 than it is at 7, and I want to know who the heck invented tricep dips. I will hunt them down. Sheesh. Next May I turn 50. I am SO grateful to be alive to celebrate it. I vow to enter that third quarter of my life more confident, more fit, and more healthy than I’ve ever been. Here’s to a journey worth traveling.
Postscript … One take-away from all of this, ladies … do not neglect the bikini wax. You never know when some handsome young medic is going to cut off your clothes.