2011: Looking Back

28 Dec

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a favorite time of mine. After the rush and excitement of Christmas things slow down and there’s a lull until the New Year comes in.

That lull is a time of reflection and review for me. For starters, I pull out my resolutions (actual goals) for 2011 I made nearly a year ago and look to see how I did. I refer back to them a few times during the year, sometimes to see what I thought was important enough to make a goal and sometimes to motivate me.

For instance I always have biking mileage goals, but I also have specific goals within that. I have a “commute” goal, for any trip where I use my bike as transportation rather than for recreation or fitness. Beside biking, I have goals related to education/learning, social, volunteering and other activities.

Beside checking the status of my resolutions, I reflect back on the year. Looking back at the highs and the lows – reliving the highs, reflecting on the lows, and trying to better understand or learn from them.

And there are some years that have life changing moments or events that continue to impact long after they’ve passed. This year was one of those.

Right after 2011 began I had a life changing event. It might not be an exaggeration to say it was nearly a life-ending event.

As we often do in the winter, my husband and I decided to get in the hot tub after midnight last January 28th. I was tired, but love to take a hot tub especially after exercising.  Earlier in the evening I had done a 35 mile session on the spinner. We had just bought the spinner the month before and I was using it almost daily. I had also had a glass of wine. I felt fine when I first got in, but after being in for several minutes I got an odd feeling in my chest (similar to how your stomach feels on a rollercoaster). I got out of the hot tub so I could sit on the side to wait for it to pass.

That’s the last thing I remember until I came to a few minutes later. My husband, bless his soul, stayed calm – I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have if the situation had been reversed. When I fainted I slid back into the water; fortunately he was paying attention, saw me and got my head above water, shouting my name repeatedly trying to get me to come to or at least some kind of reaction. After a few times and no response whatsoever he added slaps to the face – slapping harder the longer I was unresponsive. He wasn’t sure I was breathing. About the time he was thinking of how he could get me out of the water so he could call 911 I came to.

Fortunately, that was not one of the times I got into the hot tub by myself. Suffice to say, I don’t get in by myself any longer.

I had numerous medical tests run – which took months to complete and get the results of – the first week in April actually. I lived in fear at times and at other times in awe that it turned out like it did. Until late March/early April I didn’t know if I would ever be able to push myself physically again. For months everything was in limbo – but it was okay because I was alive. May sound overly dramatic, but at the time the drama was completely real. Terrifyingly real.

I woke up every day thankful to be –  It’s a good way to live actually and I should still wake up every day thinking and feeling that.

My near drowning was the main reason signing up for and completing the 1.2 mile swim in the Redman triathlon was so difficult and such a powerful accomplishment for me – and why I felt such immense relief when I came out of the water at Hefner and at Tallchief too – I had survived.

The year when my health was most in question was the year I pushed myself the hardest.

I’m not completely sure why, but a small part, was to face my fear and push past it.  And here I am almost a year later, thanks to my husband, looking back at a year that I was fortunate to have. I learned something last January that writing this post has helped me to reconnect with: A feeling of gratitude just to still be here.

3 Responses to “2011: Looking Back”

  1. Kim December 29, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Susan,
    When I saw that video clip today I thought of you and how I was going to send it to you. That was before I even read your amazing recap of the year. I think you will really appreciate the clip after going through your year. I guess the blog is For the Love of Bikes and FOR THE LOVE OF LIFE. Here is hoping for all good things for you in 2012.
    Kim

  2. Susan December 29, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Kim,

    I LOVE the video, not just the biking but the message it conveys about life – very powerful and beautiful! Thanks for thinking of me and for your thoughtfulness in posting it and your comment too.

    It wasn’t something I planned to blog about, I’m actually pretty private as illogical as that might seem considering I have a blog. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit though as I looked back on the year and as I started writing about 2011, there it was. I’m glad I did.

    I appreciate you following my blog and your comments along the way. I may just have to add the “For the Love of Life” to the name somehow, I like that. Happy New Year Kim – wishing you good health and good times riding your bike in 2012!

    Susan

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