Wednesday, 4 January 2012

My slightly near death experience

Having not eaten well in almost two weeks, and having had a chest cold for a week, it probably wasn't the best idea to go swimming this evening. But you know what? I went anyway, keen to get back into something that I thought I could make progress in, since I felt like I had little control over everything else in my life and wanted to get back into my exercise routine.

It was weird being back in the pool after so many months off. I felt the familiar pang of fear that I always get when facing the deeper end, but was determined to overcome it and not let last year's efforts and progress be wasted. But the thing is, this wasn't a normal pool - it's one that was built for Olympic training, and what threw me with this pool was the 2m sign being placed what, a third of the way down the length of the pool?

Not gonna lie, that totally freaked me out.

Took me a while to work up the courage to go past that sign. I know it's all in my head, that it's the fear of not being able to touch the bottom and keep my head up if I get tired or stuck that really sets my heart pounding. I had to force myself to count each stroke, to count each breath, to make sure that I did not panic.

This was something that I thought I'd overcome last year, but I guess I should've kept going instead of taking some time off from swimming as it seemed as though I'd regressed quite a bit with my confidence.

Nevertheless, after doing a few lengths, I hoped that my confidence was increasing and that the fear was fading. And I totally would've kicked that demon's ass, had I not been a) eating like an anorexic and therefore b) tired as hell and c) on my proverbial sickbed. Cause lo and behold, my Evil Cough decided to remind me that it was still hanging around, and as I was unfortunate enough to be at the deep end when said Evil Cough reared it's ugly head, I choked, lost control and panicked.

I went under, touched the bottom but the water was too deep to keep my head up so I tried to come back up but was too weak to make it to the surface. I touched the bottom and tried again, failed several times, panicked, panicked, panicked, swallowed loads of water and thrashed around for what felt like forever before one of the pool attendants finally noticed that I was in the primary stages of drowning.

At that point, I still hadn't accepted the fact that I was drowning. I couldn't think straight, couldn't think at all in fact. There was nothing but fear and survival instinct going through my brain. I don't think I've ever had that feeling before, and I swear to hell that I don't ever want to have it again.

This was raw terror, one of my worst fears come to life.

I was so helpless, couldn't even call out for help since, you know, I was choking on chlorinated water.

The pool attendant grabbed my arm - get this, I was like a metre away from the edge, and she was like, sitting right there but took ages to notice this - and pulled me up, got me my water bottle, and asked me if I was alright. All the while, I clung to the edge like a limpet, shivering and coughing and just nodding or shaking my head dully when the attendant asked me stuff.

Are you OK?

Shaky nod.

Did you swallow any water?


How much?


Do you want some water?


Hmm. I have to fill out a safety form to cover our backs so can you let me know when you're about to leave?


Just stay in the shallow end for now until you get your confidence back.


Man, that sucked. In one quick stroke, I'd totally lost everything that I'd built up, and kinda just stood there in shock for ages before snapping out of it, determined to at least move around for a bit. Hid in the sauna but was eventually found by a middle aged man.

Whilst the attendant got me to fill out my details so that I would not be able to sue them in case I don't know, I grew a third arm from some mutagen present in the water (which would be weird but also kinda cool - who doesn't want an extra arm!?), she informed me that I should probably go to hospital and get an X-ray to see if there was any water in my lungs. I asked her why, and she told me that if there was some water still there, then I could die of secondary drowning. I was like "wtf" and "how will I know if I'm drowning...for the second time?" She said that I'd feel sick or dizzy within 72 hours and I'd find it harder and harder to breathe as the water slowly destroys the capability of my lungs to diffuse oxygen into my bloodstream. I would gradually lose consciousness, and then die.

How charming.

Now since I've been suffering from dizziness, blackouts, fainting spells, Evil Coughs, and difficulty with breathing on a regular basis I figured that if the secondary symptoms did present, then I would not know until it was too late. Ever the hypochondriac, I had myself checked into A&E, but upon being told that there would be a three hour wait, I balked and went home with the dizziness and sickness and coughness trailing behind me like I was a disease magnet.

Two hours later i.e. midnight, I went back, waited another hour and then was finally seen. The doctor there told me that since I hadn't lost consciousness, I should be fine - massive sigh of relief. She then noted how I was coughing like I had the plague, and ended up prescribing me some meds.

Didn't get home until 2am.

If anyone is reading this who knows me personally, sorry for not telling you. I didn't want to cause a fuss, so please don't be upset since I'm still pretty much alive! And if anyone knows how to overcome the fear of drowning/deep water, do let me know, since it kinda sucks to have it all thrown back in my face after one careless accident... :/

All my love,

Yishi xxx


  1. I guess I need to read more of your blog to know where this fear comes from - are you only learning to swim now? I learned to swim when I was really little and have never understood that fear - but that obviously just comes from the fact that I've never had to worry about it, and have felt confident in the water for as long as I can remember. If anything I push myself beyond my limits by seeing how many laps I can do underwater before I start to see black spots!

  2. I'm not really sure why I have a fear of deep water! Hmm, had an epic long post about it in an older blog, but to paraphrase:

    In essence, my primary school held compulsory swimming lessons back in the day, but for some reason or another, I just sucked and never made it past the baby pool which was both embarrassing and scarring. I also really hated the taste of the water, and the stinging sensation I got when the water went up my nose. Afterwards, I was left with horrible memories of the smell of chlorine that stays with you for days, scare stories about pool hygiene, and the general feeling of being rubbish at something. I didn't really try to learn again for over ten years until last April with the help of a few friends.

    With their help, I managed to improve my technique for breast stroke, learned how to tread water, got confident enough to go into the deep end, swim lengths, and was in the process of learning front crawl when I stopped for the summer to focus on my internship.

    Once uni started, I just became too busy again until last week when I thought I'd give it another go!

    I guess since swimming is such a common skill, most people don't think about it too much, but from a weak/non-swimmer, you are very very lucky to not have the fear! :)


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