Saturday, February 16, 2013

"Planning, Planning and then Contingency Planning..what happened when I got out.. Part 2

‎"If you deliberately plan to be less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you'll be deeply unhappy for the rest of your life" Abraham Maslow

I could really feel the wind howling, the theatre effect of the lake allows the wind to wrap around and lift in a   dramatic fashion. I kept my eyes slammed shut, as you do when you need focus. The snow was on it's way.Frances was working away at my upper body with Ciara, the toggles of my hat fell forward so I had my hat on. I couldn't believe looking down that I had forgotten, with all the drama, to shave my legs. I closed my eyes. Dignity is well gone at this point. 

It is very difficult to describe the feeling to those who haven't been there,or haven't seen what we look like but an Ice Swim is only completed when we recover so for now I was incredibly busy, like life in stress, you tuck in your head and you keep doing that body check. Despite wanting people move slower I knew my team had to work fast, that was an adjustment for me. I'm like a 45 record being played on a 33 setting. The words come slower, my tongue is frozen same as after a trip to the dentist. The mind works at it's own pace, it really only focuses on the necessary. When you're in a negative space and things are happening, you need movement to stop.The weather had changed fast and what had started to be a bright day was now turning wild. They were reasons to get out of here. 

Allowing my body to be adjusted into clothes, my mind started to regain control. We deal with challenges in stages, until I came out of the lake my focus was the swim, now I wanted down from the lake as much for myself as for the team. Behind me, Frances was trying to get my arms into my fleece but I was already walking down in my mind.

"Help me Nuala" she said sternly as my arm was pulled backwards into my fleece. Was I not helping?

I jumped back into the conversation. I came up to the lake on the rocks every morning this week and walked this route, so when this moment of stress had come I had memory, I would depend on my memory.

I wanted up and walking. 

"Can you put on my socks? " I asked Maryann, looking down over my legs I was aware that the huge thermal survival suit was on. My gear is fantastic, thermals and top of the range survival suit with thermal insides, so I was doubled up on the core. 
Our Survival Suits are intense and

"Your shoes and socks are already on" She replied.  

"Ok" I said and eyes slammed shut again, my mind went into a spiral. 

A voice inside whispered slowly and calmly "you're actually in trouble, Nuala"

How do I get up and out of here without alerting the team? Can I fake it? Can I smile and just get going? 

Gary and Paul landed behind and 4 strong arms lifted me up, lifting a weight is not easy so plan... 

My immediate attempt to put the two feet under myself was a little shaky so I actually took a second to steady myself. "Focus" I repeated. My first fright. Like a drunk person being asked to walk a straight line-It would use all my energy to walk that line. 

Maryann had foil blankets tucked into my suit to surround my core, to keep my belly and back warm. The numbness of my two feet was going to be a challenge to balance. We started our walk. Frances was on my left and I looked at Ciara and Maryann gather the bags. LJ was buzzing around. Gary was on my right supporting. We started off slowly. Suddenly I realised I was in soft bog. There was no soft bog where I walk in my visual so like a stubborn dog, I stopped. 
"We're going the wrong way" I said and stopped. I had my plan. I could gone with their plan but I had my plan, maybe it was something to do with not wanting to give away control. 
Gary said "this way"
" No" I wasn't happy.
The walk down-I had done this everyday
for the week

I knew the next section of descent was difficult. If I slipped I would bring one of them with me. 

A slight jittery fear was creeping in, more a realisation of my fears. When I visualised this during the week, I didn't need as much assistance at this moment as I do now. 

Like a deck of cards it started to waiver "I am compromising my team" I repeated to myself.  

If I slip now, I could bring Frances with me. I'm taller and heavier than her. Gary is big and bold enough to grab me but that's not the point. We laughed at the thought earlier of Gary and Paul fireman lifting me down. Now was no laughing matter. 

The main focus of any swimmer once our face is in the water is and should be "The Team"... Swimmers should never compromise or endanger the team and right now.. I felt that I might be on the cusp.. as we are I'm dressed and out of the lake, we're ok.. we're 100 feet from the road. 

The basic training of any First Aid when you're helping a casualty is: one casualty is enough. If I keep moving it would reckless of me. I was empty, not in a hypothermic way but in a trying to stay awake to watch the tv kind of way. I was just empty. I could force myself but I needed every ounce of what I had to recover, so the walking had to stop. 

I looked at Maryann and I decided I would sit down. 
"I can't, I can't " I said and pulled my ass backwards, not really interested where it would land. It's their call now. They're in charge. This is the moment you plan for. 

Whether I meant I can't go on personally or I can't create any more hassle for my team.. I don't know. 

"I can't" is all  I could think of.. I have my swim so now it's their call. 
Feet were too unsteady... 

Maryann pulled out my phone, and tried to use it. I remember smiling as I guessed she couldn't turn it on, it's a new Samsung Galaxy, It's a swipe opening, took me days to answer a phone call myself. 

"I'm calling Frank".... Not Frank, I slammed my eyes shut.        

Frank will kill me, that's all I could think of. Frank is the head of the Dingle Coast Guard and a friend.
This phone call would enact the Dingle Coast and Cliff Rescue Service- I watched as Maryann spoke to her husband. I closed my eyes, we are just up the road so they will be here in 10-15 mins. I am now a casualty. 

"Ok, Ok Get your crap together, Nuala, buck yourself up" I spoke very sternly to myself. I didn't feel out of control I just didn't have the energy to do 2 things at one time. I have to recover-The transfer from a swimmer to a casualty is a very strange one-what a battle inside. 

To my team I was their swimmer, I could offer input but to the rescue unit I will be a casualty. I had never been a casualty before so all my landscape needs to change. 
Drunk person is now being met by the police and the judge. I took a few deep breathes and waited for the moment, once they arrive it will be a hospital transfer-that's the system and has to be. Dig deep girl. I'm a deep thinker.. so inward I go. 

I sat up and asked Ciara to sit at my back to keep my lower back warm, and to protect my lungs. After my ice baths in December back at the O Cathain Iasc Teo the one area that bothered me in my recovery was a chill in my lower back. It stayed with me for a few hours. My lungs are sorted. My feet and hands are irrelevant and I could feel my belly warming. 
I started for a brief moment to feel crap about the situation but there was no time or point.. 

My brain went into rescue mode, "you're good at this,what information is important right now"

I drew and marked my veins this morning, I might have forgotten chocolate but I did the marker my veins. check. I am not on any medication and my normal pulse and BP I could remember. 

I tilted my head downwards, I needed to close my eyes again, I was stressed about what I had asked my team to do and then in what seemed like a second Carol Leahy was beside me- I'm in the system.......... 

The next phase was something to be very proud of and a huge learning experience-both in the transfer required to be a casualty, the need and to be thankful for a super team and the genuine gratitude to have community services that are there and work brilliantly. We don't set out to compromise anyone but sometimes things happen.. 
so you plan, and plan and then have your contingency plan... 

To be continued.. 


  1. Nice write-up, Nuala. Looking forward to Part 2 and trying out Pedlar's Lake for myself during the summer! Keep up the work. Owen

  2. The thought process you went through during the ice mile almost mirror the thought I had in December when I did my ice mile.

    Thanks for sharing a great account that not only shows how tough these swims are but also how important it is to have the right people with the right skills on your support team.

    I'm looking forward to part 2.



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