Cold and wet, my new happy place

If you were to ask me one of my greatest fears – apart from the obvious of anything threatening the wellness or safety of those I love . . . and heights – I’d tell you it’s being boring.

I have a pathetic attention span. I know it. MrWI64 knows it. I’ve lost you, he’ll say moments after he launches into an explanation of a process, or formula, or how Churchill won the war. You’re bored.

And he’s a guy worth listening to. Truly.

So I don’t want to be that person who bores, but I fear I was becoming that after I saw Evelyn (don’t know her, will probably never meet her) on an evening newscast a couple years ago.

Evelyn had arthritis. The pain of it was pulling her down to a degree that she was opting out of the social parts of her life and hunkering down at home.

Then she learned of some people who were going for daily dips in the ocean and experienced, among the benefits, a lessening of discomfort. So she gave it a try. Each day she and her dog would go to a local beach and take to the waters and, by golly, she felt restored.

That spoke to me.

In the genetic arthritis lottery, I’ve raised a poor hand. It’s in bits of me I barely knew existed until they began to shout. I’ve had injections, medications, and the offer of a surgery date … none of which I want.

I started thinking about Evelyn, cold water immersion, and swimming then began talking about how I would do it if only I could find someone to join me. It seemed to me having a friend in the water would be motivating and simply more enjoyable.

You go ahead, my friends said. Every one of them. We’ll watch.

I had no takers and was boring even myself with my desire and patter.

But then last June I saw my new neighbour, Donna, walking up from the beach two blocks away and clearly she’d been swimming.

I’m trying to go in for a few minutes each day, she said. Come with me.

Boom! A compatriot.

An October dip with Donna.

Starting is hard. Even in summer, the Pacific is bracing until you’re in and comfortable in that top layer that’s been warmed by the sun.

When Donna went on vacation, I sought out others and found Margaret, who lives right next to the beach and is the most sporting of people. A bit older than me (you know the name of this blog is well in the rear view, right?) she takes to the waters because it’s restorative, invigorating and, with a friend, even fun.

Margaret and I pre-plunge.

Most days I check in with Ab, a friend on BC’s Sunshine Coast who has also taken to cold water swimming. As the water cools, texts of ‘I’m going in, are you?’ are encouraging

All in all, some lovely kinships have developed from this most unlikely activity. We stay in the water no more than a minute per degree and the time passes more comfortably when there’s conversation.

By September, while the air was warm, the water temperature was dropping.

When the water dropped to 10 degrees in October, I invested in neoprene gloves and shoes to help keep my extremities warm. Still, the cold activated Raynaud’s – a syndrome in which cold starves circulation in my hands.

Before this October 31, I’d never in my life been ocean swimming on Hallowe’en. There was something satisfying about doing that.

I’m reading about the benefits of cold water and listening to podcasts. It’s becoming not quite obsession, but an interest that is on my mind most days. My understanding is it’s brilliant for circulation and for the immune system. According to MrWI64 my skin has improved. I’ll take that.

One scientist recommends using the time in the water to switch focus from the cold by doing difficult mental exercises. I’m not a math person, so I lie on my back and compose silly, forgettable haikus to steer my mind from the cold.

Three geese fly above

On my back in frigid water

I hear them laugh

It’s November now.

There’s a smattering of snow on the ground, the water’s getting colder, and going in doesn’t get easier.

The air temperature was -1 when I woke today, with the promise of warming to 6 degrees.

Each immersion comes with a sense of accomplishment. It’s flipping cold and I just spent six minutes in the ocean.

Heading in. November.

I think it’s helping my arthritis.

I know I’ve yet to regret it.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. marilynatlegacytelusnet says:

    Love it! Love you! I could not do it and would not want to! You are amazing and bracing! So happy you have a partner in crime! Love, Mim

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      I’m collecting partners in crime, Mim. Ambushing anyone who likes the idea. Love you.

      Like

  2. ridykun says:

    You are an inspiration, Gery! And never boring!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Phew! Thanks, Rick.

      Like

  3. LINDA HUGHES says:

    Like you I have an aversion to being bored and a fear that i may be boring! I am truly envious of your passion for this as i continue to search for something that gives my post WI64 years meaning and delight! Love the photos of the little bathing cap heads in chilly waters.Sent from my Galaxy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      You know what I’d rather be doing…..

      Like

  4. ricky says:

    Hey Gery! Wonderful as always!
    When I’m 75 (soon-ish) I’ll buy us lunch.

    Like

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Ricky, my Ricky… when you’re 75 I’ll make you dinner.

      Like

  5. Kathy says:

    What an incredible feat. Keep immersing and in joying the benefits. What fun to find partners in crime as well. Wish you many chilly swims

    Like

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thank you, Kathy. I treat it like AA (no, I’m not a member 🙂) … a day at a time.

      Like

  6. Daughter no 1 says:

    I love that you are building this routine! You’re a superhero. I wonder how we would go about it here….I think the Australian oceans would have fewer restorative qualities, and is definitely more sharky.

    Like

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      The sharkyness would be a bit of a nonstarter.
      I adore you, #1.

      Like

  7. Sheila says:

    WOWZERS! Now that’s impressive!

    Like

    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thank you, Sheila. It’s become a bit of a compulsion. I’m afraid if I stop, it’ll be hard to get back in.

      Like

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