When I reached the entrance to the beach, I didn’t waste any time. As I stumbled towards the dock, I pulled my shoes off one at a time and tossed them aside onto the beach. I tore my socks off and threw them over my shoulder. My eyes were on the prize: the lake!
Maggie and Danielle had arrived a minute before me and they had sat down at the picnic table and were carefully taking off their shoes and socks. I hobbled past them as they looked on.
“Good run Anne!” Danielle called to me and I gave her a weak wave. That was kind of her to say, but I knew better. That run was miserable. I still had the taste of vomit in my mouth as a reminder. The worst was over though, and now…now I would be rewarded.
Onward I staggered, past the Bronze Medallion swimming class that was practicing CPR on the beach. How appropriate, I thought. I might need a few chest compressions shortly if my heart rate did not come down below 200 bpm.
I stepped onto the dock. I pulled my sweaty t-shirt off over my head and dropped it. I was beyond caring if my ‘fish belly white’ skin scarred innocent children as I continued along the dock now in just my running shorts and my sports top, heading straight for the deep end. Without so much as even a pause in my step I dove into the water.
OH! MY! GAWD! The feeling of relief was indescribable. Instantly I had gone from hot, sweaty, and exhausted to cold, clean, and exhausted. I bobbed in the water several times, submerging my head to cool off. Then, very slowly, I did the breast stroke out to the raft. I pulled myself up the ladder onto the raft, crawled across it, rolled onto my back and then lay prostrate gulping in deep breaths of air. Sweet, sweet relief. I closed my eyes and slowed my breathing. My stomach still felt slightly nauseated from all the effort.
I heard Danielle and Maggie dive into the water and swim out to the raft to join me. The raft jostled as they climbed up the ladder. Danielle walked over to me and stood above me, blocking out the sun.
“Are you OK?” she said as water dripped from her hair and on to me. I didn’t mind. It was refreshing! I squinted up at her and grabbed her hand tightly.
“The difference, Danielle, between try and triumph is an umph! And I am so sorry if I managed to umph on your shoes!” Danielle, Maggie and I all laughed. “I am completely spent but I feel accomplished.” I smiled.
“Well, you should. We just ran a 5 K.” Danielle sat down beside me on the raft.
The three of us lay quietly on the raft for a good ten minutes. The raft bobbed on the waves and we were gently rocked in the warm sun. It was a golden feeling. By that time my heart rate had returned to normal, my breathing was effortless, and my calves were no longer burning…they just felt like jelly. Mmmmmm jelly. That reminded me of lunch. The nausea had passed, and now I was hungry. Hungry and really thirsty. I was craving some ‘juice of indeterminate flavor’…that is how thirsty I was. Lunch would be served pretty soon.
“Well, I had better get going ladies. I have to get the lunch medicines ready.” I said as I slowly sat up. I didn’t move yet though. I watched as the kids on the beach were acting out rescue scenarios on the beach.
“How are you enjoying camp nursing?” Maggie asked as she sat up and watched the kids too.
“I am enjoying it. It’s pretty much a 180 from the level one trauma intensive care unit where I work. We look after a lot of motor vehicle accident victims, fall victims, gun shot wounds and so forth. This is completely different.” I said shaking my head. “Not that it is easier, cuz, it isn’t. It’s just different. Different environment of course. And I am not gonna lie. It’s kinda cool that I can go for a run through the woods on my break! The health center has only the most basic equipment and supplies. It’s hard too, not having anyone to consult with. An extra set of eyes would be great. And it’s a challenge working with kids who are ‘walkie talkies’ as opposed to a comatose adult on a ventilator! But,” I said as I stood up, “I am always up for a challenge. Like our run today! When are we going again?”
“Tomorrow. Same time. Same place.” Danielle said from her recumbent position on the raft.
“Sweet. See you then ladies. My goal for tomorrow is to not ‘umph’ on my shoes.”
“It’s good to have goals, Anne.” Maggie nodded.
And with that I dove into the crystal clear waters. I needed to get back to my room and brush my teeth.