Near Death Experience – Part 2

Continued from Near Death Experience – Part 1

When we left off I was realizing that I’d made a mistake, but that the consequences for that hadn’t hit yet, and then…

Almost immediately my left leg cramped.  Not just one muscle mind you, but TWO opposing ones.  This made my leg stick out at an angle like a tree branch, locked in place.  Then I kicked my right leg to try to stabilize myself and the same muscles cramped in that leg with my groin muscles following suit in both legs.  The combination of multiple muscles cramped/locked in each leg was excruciatingly painful.  On top of that, it meant that staying above water was nearly impossible.  I knew I had to swim.  I kept myself afloat, but just barely while I tried to figure out if there was a way to stop the cramping.  My groin muscles hurt the worst.  it was like having to rods shoved into each leg, extending up into my pelvis.

Unfortunately with all those muscle groups locked, having my cousin stretch out a leg really wasn’t going to do anything as muscles on both the top and the bottom of my leg above the knee were locked solid.  I told him it was pointless to try to fix my legs, I was just going to have to swim in with just my arms.  It was really slow going as I’m pretty effective swimming without my legs, but they were locked at an angle and to make matters worse, anytime they moved at all (from the twisting of my torso as I pulled myself through the water with my arms) the seized muscles would be forced to move and the pain would go very close to my pain threshold.  The pain was so intense that I would stop involuntarily for a moment and I’d start to sink instantly.

My mind wanted to panic but I kept willing myself to move my arms and keep swimming.  I alternated between freestyle (face down, breathing through snorkel) and backstroke (flipping over on my back and spitting the snorkel out).  Backstroke was actually easier as my legs were sticking down into the water slowing me with freestyle, but any of the extreme muscle pain spikes would make me sink and my face would be almost instantly underwater while on my back.  I knew that with my cousin’s limitations (neck issues) he wouldn’t be very likely to be able to lifeguard swim me in to shore, so there was no other option.  Swim through the worst pain and most dire situation in my life, or sink and drown.

I kept going.  It took every bit of will I had to keep my mind focused to keep swimming through it all.  Every second I stayed in the water meant I was more likely to drown as my body temperature was rapidly dropping.  Swimming around the pier with no wetsuit is fine if you just swim almost straight through, but any big delay like this and hypothermia will start to set in.  I’d never had such a difficult swim and have it go so slow in my life.  The pilings on the pier (my points of reference) just seemed to laze along and I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere, but I knew I was.  I knew I had to make it.  I didn’t want to be a news story.

I tried to slow my breathing and keep my heartbeat at a reasonable level, but I kept inhaling and swallowing little bits of salty ocean water, especially when swimming backstroke so I was coughing and gasping for breath throughout.  I finally made enough progress to get into the surf zone (where the waves start to form and break).  My cousin continued  to swim alongside me, ready to call out a warning if a wave was approaching.  The first wave came and it wasn’t quite breaking on me, so I stroked quickly and harder when it came to pass me so that I could be moving fast enough to have it give me a brief ride along it’s path.  This moved my legs violently and I gasped, almost sinking.

“HEY!  WAVE!” shouted my cousin as another wave came towards me, this time ramping up, ready to form a barrel right on top of me.  I took as big of a breath as I could get in before it was on me and ducked under the water (normally this is easy aided with fins and legs that work).  I barely got low enough in the water to not get picked up by the wave and thrown over the falls, but my legs got ripped around even harder than last time.  It was everything I could do to not scream out underwater (and lose all my precious air).  I clawed my way to the surface, took a couple huge breaths while aiming myself back at the shore, and tried to cover as much distance as possible before the next wave hit me.  It didn’t take long before I was again diving for the bottom, waiting for the wave to pass over me, then resurfacing while gasping for air.

After surviving a few more waves in the set, the lull finally came and I was able to cover more distance and my breath slowly returned to me.  I just barely felt the bottom and wanted desperately to stand, but my cement legs wouldn’t function.  To make matters worse, as I swam into the shallower water and started sort of crawling up into the water spreading itself back and forth on the sand, the cold wind started sapping the last remaining warmth I had as the ocean water evaporated off my head and torso.  I turned around backwards and scooted myself up the bank, sitting with my legs/fins splayed out towards the ocean as the waves rushed up onto shore, batting my fins/legs around and spraying sand all over me and into every nook and cranny in my shorts, booties, and face.

I finished scooting myself up the incline of the shore and my heavy breathing quickly turned into full body shivering.  My teeth started chattering uncontrollably.  I’d force my jaw closed, but the minute I tried to think about anything else, I’d find my teeth chattering violently again.  I knew I needed to get up.  My cousin removed my fins and booties, but I wasn’t able to stand with my legs still cramped.  Since my cousin isn’t completely 100% he couldn’t give me a hand to full stand up.  He tried to offer me his waist to try to drag myself up on, but knowing that was a waste of time, frustrated, I rolled face down in the sand, growling from the pain in between teeth chattering.  I dragged myself up and managed to get my legs underneath me.  I slowly stood fully straight and while super painful I could feel my muscles start to soften just enough to let me start to walk.  I HAD to get to a hot shower.

The walk across the really long stretch of sand seemed to take forever.  I had to walk like a penguin in tiny little steps in order to not insta-cramp and fall down.  The uneven sand made every step a balancing exercise.  The rough black pavement leading through the parking lot and up the steep incline to the street and my house was welcoming.  I was still determined, but shivering harder and harder, I knew I had to get across pacific coast highway, but the light wouldn’t last long enough for me to cross it at my slow pace.  I saw southbound traffic far enough off in the distance that I made a hobble for it.  By the time I’d made it to the middle of the highway the light had changed so I could cross the northbound lanes.   I was almost there.

It was the best shower I’ve ever had.  Not even when I was in it fucking this prissy hot girl with Double-Ds (who told me that if I was going to fuck her against the tile I could at least run hot water over it so she wouldn’t be cold) whose grandfather is filthy rich.  Standing in the shower after almost dying, with the hot water running down my muscles, melting away the cramps, I felt so alive.  I breathed in deep and sighed heavily on the exhale.  I had made it.  Nothing else mattered.  I wasn’t a news snippet, a casualty, a missed person.  I was here.

In that moment, life started to make a little more sense.  The little things are just that.  Little.

What doesn’t kill you…

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~ by aneroidocean on 04/27/2012.

5 Responses to “Near Death Experience – Part 2”

  1. Damn that’s crazy!! Glad you’re ok! I always wondered though, what happens when we finally kick it….. our blogs are anonymous (most of ours I guess), one day we’ll just stop posting & stop commenting to people… everyone will wonder what ever happened to us, but no one will ever know. Weird.

  2. […] that big of a deal.  Not wanting to take any steps backwards due to my Near Death Experience (and Part 2), I played 4+ hours of volleyball to practice for my coed tournament tomorrow.  It’s always […]

  3. The instinct to survive is a wonderful thing.

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