Tiernan and I watched one of my mom’s favorite movies the other night. The John Sayles’ film Limbo. About halfway through, Tiernan asked when the dance was going to start. When I asked what he meant, he said, “isn’t limbo the dance where they go under the pole?” I tried to keep a straight face and define limbo without spoiling the conclusion of the movie.
Lim-bo noun “an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition (“limbo,” Oxford English Dictionary online).”
Limbo the film is set in Alaska. I couldn’t stop dreaming about the glassy, inviting water that seemed to beg to be swum. Sadly, I am not supposed to be swimming for the time being. I am practicing patience in my own limbo, while I wait for approval from medical specialists.
One-day after returning to Oregon, I got up early and went to a Barre3 class. I woke up the next morning with extreme chest pain that only eased in a seated position. I couldn’t blow my nose, inhale fully, and laughing was excruciating. Maryl ran me to the doctor’s where I was prescribed an inhaler and referred for: a chest x-ray, lung function testing, pulmonology (it took a few weeks to get into every one of these specialists). After two days of using the inhaler and resting (this was a great time to secure a pilot boat and plan my next swim, which has a starting window the weekend of September 21st and 22nd. I’m keeping my fingers crossed although this is looking more and more doubtful.) I started to breathe easier.
Subsequent pulmonary functioning tests revealed lung obstruction. Chest x-ray showed no fluid in my lungs (normal findings post Swim Induced Pulmonary Edema (SIPE) as the fluid characteristically subsides within 48 hours) and normal heart size. The pulmonologist speculates that racing, or pushing myself to get through a strong current triggered SIPE. My heart was compared to a racehorse that experiences heart failure. It is extremely fit and muscular from training, and during my North Channel Attempt, it was likely beating so strongly that it pumped blood out too rapidly causing the left lung to fill with blood.
Now I’m waiting for a cardiology department review and echocardiogram to look for elevated pressures on both sides of my heart. Pending those results, I can resume swimming. Also, since little is known about SIPE, and I hope to continue long distance swimming, I’m considering participating in a SIPE study being conducted at Duke University.
Soon, I will be out of limbo and swimming into my next project! If not, I guess I will have to write a romantic adventure comedy for Hallmark about summer vacation in Bangor! In the meantime I’m using the inhaler as needed, staying balanced with Barre3, keeping cool and turning my skin prune-like by “marinading” (floating under supervision without elevating my heart rate ) in the coldest water I can find. Tomorrow another new adventure begins… the school year starts and I have a new assignment. Bring it on!
- Marinading in Smugglers Cove. Water temp per surf report 58 degrees (felt colder)
- A sweet congrats surprise from Chanel and Colette celebrating my 113th Barre3 in studio class!