Altitude Sickness
March 8, 2017

Comedy, Ambien and the English Channel

So the SnowPlow comedy contest at the Outback was fun. I broke all my rules, went in with new material (I usually rehearse myself silly), and engaged in filthy blue comedy (I am usually a clean comic, but contests are always basically a parade of people discussing the personal details of masturbation. If I had wanted to win, I would have come in with a rehearsed set, but I just wanted to have fun and screw around, and the trophy went to a really funny fellow from Woodstock (Collen Doyle), and I was very happy with that. He is nearly always the funniest guy in the room.

I went to the doctor this week, just a regular old checkup. All systems go, aside from my horribly deformed spine, a little trouble sleeping, and a need for a tetanus booster.  I consented to the TDaP booster, forgetting just how awful the pain is from that shot, and I accepted a prescription for Ambien.

As a lifetime minor insomniac, it is rare when I sleep more than six hours, and not uncommon for me to sleep between four and five hours a night.  It has been this way since I was a child. I was always up at the crack of dawn, and can remember, at the age of 3 years old, yelling out the window at the birds who, at 5 a.m., would not quiet down. My parents were, of course, thrilled.

I was excited that night, ready for bed, ready to get lots of sleep, and took the Ambient at about 10 p.m., so that I would be asleep by 10:30 or 10:45 p.m.  The results were not at all what I expected.

I woke up completely refreshed at 3 a.m. and noticed that there were a bunch of texts on my phone that I don’t remember sending. I proceeded to nap in three-hour intervals twice a day for the next three days, schlumpfing around my apartment like a zombie the rest of the time, never picking anything up, no energy, no self-control, and I would often snap to in odd places in my apartment with no memory of what I had done before, or how the chocolate cake got all over my face. There is no chocolate cake in my apartment, ever.

I couldn’t get to the pool because my left arm was completely disabled, all the glands on my left side were the size of golf balls, and I had a fever and body aches from the booster (I got nearly the entire list of adverse reactions).  I couldn’t do anything.  After three days I started to have normal consciousness and could move my arm, and after four days I was good in the pool again.

I will never take another Ambien pill, however. Ambien was depressing, disabling, and has, to this day, completely screwed what little sleep schedule I had. And I still feel exhausted half the time.

Once I put this story out on to Facebook, I started to hear the horror stories; people waking up the next day hungover, with an empty fridge, a wrecked house, and their high school girlfriend having blocked them on Facebook because they did wildly inappropriate things without any memory of it whatsoever. My acute Ambien hangover lasted four days. I’m still slogging through the residual hangover.

While getting back in the groove in the pool was tough, it was worth it, because yesterday I blew away all of my personal bests. I swam 2,000 yards of crawl, and then without stopping swam 1,550 yards of breast stroke. For those of you keeping score, that is two miles and 30 yards, without touching the bottom of the pool.

For those of you keeping score, that is the length of an Iron Man swim. I did not burn up the pool, but I wasn’t going super slow either. I was really proud of that. Hopefully in another couple of weeks I can pull off a 5,000 or 6,000 yard continuous swim. If cramping was not becoming an issue, I could easily have kept going, though given my level of fatigue later, I am glad I didn’t this time.

But it’s funny how things work. If I am running, I start to get visions of running the Barkley …  and if I am swimming, I start to get visions of swimming the English Channel (I did 10 percent of it yesterday, and am none the worse for wear).

Of course, as one would expect of me, I just stopped writing and spent a half an hour researching the channel swim, and I can tell you that it is something that I will definitely do someday.  It is 21 miles at its shortest, and the water temperature during swimming season ranges from 58-65 degrees. Not bad at all. For it to be an official swim you must have bare legs and arms, and your suit must not provide thermal protection or buoyancy.  Swim times have ranged from seven to 27 hours. With flights, lodging, food, and a pilot boat, you are looking at a price tag of somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000.  I have decided that I will do this. Especially be doing this if I can no longer trail run. Hopefully, I will be seeing a spine/neurosurgeon soon, and if I am declined for surgery, I am essentially hosed in terms of being able to do any exercise at all with my lower extremities bearing weight.

But we will see.  I have hope!

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