I remember the first time I wore a prescription anti seasickness patch. It was early 2011. I was fortunate to be a part of some of the early attempts at completing the first ever relay swim to the Farallon Islands. This was months before successfully achieving the goal in May that year. Prior to joining Night Train Swimmers, I really had not spent much time on boats let alone swum in high seas, and was warned by my fellow swimmers that the water is notoriously rough as you head into the Pacific Ocean. Once seasick, there is no cure except to return to land. This is an impossible remedy when you are on a 15-16 hour adventure at sea, trying to set a world record.
“Here, put this on,” urged my teammate. The only woman on this team of six, and eager to show that I would not be a burden, I willingly accepted a handful of Scopolamine patches from my teammate. With adrenaline now pumping furiously through my veins and feeling incredibly nervous, I made my way to the tiny bathroom on the boat to take a private moment to compose myself and properly apply the patch. Alone, I took a closer look at the packaging and noted that the correct position for the patch was just behind the ear. Careful not to mess this up, it was – at the time – both obvious and logical that since I have two ears, I should place a patch behind each ear. Needless to say, once the medicine reached my system, the side effects were somewhat exaggerated and not entirely pleasant.
Having learned my lesson the hard way, the night before every swim as I carefully place one patch behind one ear, I cannot help but laugh at that rookie moment. While I have since spent much time on the high seas in and out of the water, I continue to err on the side of caution with regard to preventing seasickness. The patch goes on religiously just before I go to sleep one last time on land.
I set multiple alarms: 4:35am, 4:40am and 4:45am, just to be sure. The plan was to meet at Kate’s house and carpool with Ashley and Bruno over the Golden Gate Bridge to the San Francisco Yacht Club in Tiburon. After a restless night, spent rechecking and checking my alarm clock to make sure I had not overslept an excited nervousness swirled uncontrollably within my body. Suddenly it was time to get up. Thankfully everything was packed the night before, because for me one of the side effects of the Scopolamine patch is a somewhat dazed and very relaxed demeanor I know I have get things in order before the medicine enters my blood stream. I become incredibly distracted (more so than usual) and my eyes dilate. Basically, I look like I am using illegal drugs: not my best look.
After spending an indeterminate amount of time getting dressed and rummaging through my meticulously packed bags, somehow I focus enough to call an Uber. I soon make my way downstairs lugging a sleeping bag, two swim bags, and one bag of food for the boat. Checking my reflection one last time in the lobby mirror I cannot help but notice my eyes are as big as saucers. With the full potency of the patch now in effect, I am feeling very relaxed and confident as I saunter out onto the street to wait for the Uber.