Waking up at 4am in Lake Tahoe the next morning, I realize the full-effect of the swim on my body. The original plan was to drive back to San Francisco, take a quick shower and get dressed and ready for work. I could be at work by 9:30am. Latest. Well, so I thought…
Struggling to operate my body, and in a lot of pain, I inch out of bed. Everything hurts. I shuffle into the bathroom and see myself in the mirror for the very first time post-swim. I’m shocked. It looks like someone took a blowtorch to my face. I’m burned to a crisp.
Weak and depleted, I stand helpless and gasping for air as Joe patiently helps me dress. I feel as though I’ve just come out of major surgery, waking from general anesthesia and struggling to come to terms with my situation. My head is in a fog and my entire body hurts.
I can’t even move my arms above my head. Even pulling on my stretchy running pants is an enormous task. I wonder how on earth I will go to the bathroom unassisted at work. It’s a struggle. Everything is a struggle.
I sleep most of the drive to San Francisco. Waking occasionally, I reflect for a few moments and simply say, “I did it. I did it.” And, smiling each time, Joe’s reply was simply this: “Yes. You. Did. You did it and I am so proud of you.”
Arriving home I know there is absolutely no way I can return to the office today. I email my boss and ask for a rare sick day off work. I sleep the entire day, interrupted only by Joe attentively caring for me with food and water.
The next day, my head still in a fog, though my body slightly more mobile, I return to work. Looking back on that day I realize that I have absolutely no recollection. None whatsoever.
Physically, I make a remarkable recovery; on the third day I wake up and feel as though I’ve been literally touched by the hands of God. I am completely pain free. It’s unbelievable.
Mentally, however, I was still recovering. In the fact the next 7 days are just strange. I call it “The Afterdrop.”
All the emotions that swirled through my body before, during and after the swim – those emotions that made me feel so alive - are gone. And the void in their absence is gigantic. With nothing remaining to fill this vacuous space, I’m left with the darkness, in the form of questions, before me. As I contemplate these questions in my mind, over and over again I realize that none of these swims are simply “swims” for me - they are personal journeys that enable to me to push my personal limit to the edge and beyond. Adventures that thrust my body and mind into new and unfamiliar territory; territory where only more questions lie waiting for me to answer about my “Self.”