With all this hot weather, it wasn’t going to take much to get me in the ocean. I made it to the coast -Lyme Regis with Dylan, my sister and all my nieces. It was a blistering day, so Dyl and I headed straight for the water. It was the kind of cold that hurts on contact, but that is more the temperature difference rather than the actual water.
OK, so maybe a bit of both. But acclimatising to the water took only a couple of minutes of splashing about waist high before charging in and going under. It was the first experience of the cold that ellicits hyperventilation. Luckily, I was prepared and it took forcing the outbreath to be full to get past it. Once there, I felt the urge to swim hard. It will be fascinating to see how I do in 2 weeks with Neil. Granted I will be wearing a wetsuit, but the earache and brain freeze will still be kicking in.
I think it takes a certain personality to cope with extremes like a cold ocean. Maybe ‘no sense, no feeling’ runs in the family, as Dylan was running into the water up to his chest and out for 2 hours. I prefer to think it a character trait that can look past discomfort. I know I definitely developed the ability to dissociate from pain and tiredness to a huge degree through having ME – to the point of body dysmorphia. Maybe that was there before, an underlying issue that left the gap for ME to fill, and once out of control, the consciousness has a hard time associating with the body at all. It means you develop an incredible tolerance to pain, which can be utilised when managed.
My time spent in the monastery in Thailand also has a huge part to play – learning to let go of the priority we give to our immediate physical comfort is a wonderfully useful tool. Whilst you can remain aware of discomfort, you don’t necessarily need to remove yourself from it and therefore it becomes less important. The brain copes beautifully once the melodramatic personality gets put into place. The body is then able to sort out life threatening signals from merely aggravating ones, leaving you free to carry on and define the line between safe and serious danger. I wonder if I’ll be so philosophical after an hour? I think part of this escapade is putting myself on the line, and testing all the things I’ve learned. In a way I can’t wait. Another part of me is curious as to how much warmer the sea will be at the end of July……Probably not much!