The Trip That Changed My Life

So Sam and I went camping near Hocking Hills and can I just say with a name like Happy Hills you wouldn’t expect any trouble. Until of course we decide to swim across the lake. While it didn’t help that we had just taken a pretty hefty hike, we decided to go for it anyways. About half way across I noticed that my leg was feeling numb, then with a sharp pain, I knew that I was getting a cramp in my lower leg. I stopped to tread to see if the feeling would subside but it didn’t, in fact, it got worse. My leg went from cramped to just dead, and when I say dead, I could feel the weight on that puppy. It was so bad, I couldn’t tread the water. I called out to Sam who was ahead of me, when we registered the severity of the situation, I realized that I need to get back to shore, post hasty.

Doubling back, I realized that this leg wasn’t allowing me to swim properly, and I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. Exhausted and in pain I stopped again. I tread the surface for just moment, overcome with fear from seeing land so far away nearly 20 yards, called out to Sam and sank beneath the water.

Underneath, everything seemed more clear. The further I sank, the more I able to process the situation. Death was inevitable but not certain, time was of the essence, but not of promise, my leg was in pain, but still mobile and drowning was not an option.

I always said, that if I wanted to go out (meaning die) in any way, I would choose drowning over burning to death any day. As I continued to sink I thought about what would happen next, how I would drown, how I would hold my breath for as long as I could and then fall into unconsciousness, how I would go into cardiac arrest and that be the end of it.

I guess in the end, you start thinking about the beginning- apparently. I thought about lots of stuff but the one thing that stuck was love- it was still out there and I still desperately wanted to find it- or make it known that it was found. So with that I told my body that I chosen life, I told my body that under no circumstance, was it allowed to drown. I told my brain, that it better do something and I mean post hasty. And it did.

The body produces a stress hormone called Nor-epinephrine. Nor-epinephrine is the underlying hormone in the body’s fight or flight responses. Since I’d chose fight in this situation, my brain made the executive decision  to release nor-epinephrine into the cardiovascular system of my body. This caused me to push myself back to the surface, with my body now pumping into over overdrive I began to swim- hard and fast, with some of Sam’s help I pushed through the pain and anguish and kicked and stroked as hard as I could. I could feel the burning in my arms and legs but I knew, for the sake of life, that I had to keep moving- and so I did.

I swam until I got to the bank and at that point, although I wasn’t quite to safety, the adrenaline rush was gone, I was no longer able to keep afloat. It was an impressive 19-yard dash, but this was all I had, and right there at the reeds of the bank, I sank. And just as my body fell below the surface of the water, Sam’s arm reached in and pulled up. I dug my free hand into the muddy banks and pulled, with the last ounce of energy remaining in my body, myself ashore.

I laid there for several minutes, my heart pounding, breathing like I never have before. I had no energy whatsoever, and so I laid there. After some time, I finally pulled myself out of the water and just laid there. I worked every muscle that was in my body. I depleted the water in my body but I was still alive and I guess that’s all that really mattered.

I am alive. We finished our camping trip with canoeing no less. I thanked Sam for saving my life, but he says that he saved my life as much as I saved my own. This was real life, sometimes I forget that. What I take from this trip is the value of life…

  and friends…

and brothers…

…and for that I am proud.

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