It’s been a rough week. Waffle fell down the stairs on Tuesday night and she couldn’t walk afterward. It felt like a living nightmare – like we were thrown back into the terror of her emergency splenectomy and past spinal paralysis. As she collapsed over and over and my best friend Emily, an ER vet, coached us through our heartbreak over Facetime, Dave and I disappeared into emotional free fall.
Miraculously, within 24 hours, Waffle was walking again. Her vets attributed the temporary paralysis to spinal shock, a trauma response that resolves with time and rest. Hearing this news felt nothing short of surreal and we couldn’t be more grateful for it. But for the moment, the knowledge that she is okay – the intellectual recognition that she is alright – is not enough to soothe Dave and my rattled nervous systems. We are living the exhausting duality of trauma recovery – where our intellectual understanding of a safe present-day circumstance is not the same as emotionally feeling it in our minds and bodies.
I think of this exhausting divide a lot – the distance between understanding something and feeling it as truth. Sometimes, this distance feels as far away as the sun — a distance so far that no human could travel it in one lifetime — and this was one of those weeks. Plagued by hypervigilance, it didn’t matter how many times the vets repeated that she would be okay. I still spent the week endlessly checking Waffle’s breath and analyzing her every move. And all the while – all the while, I tried to catch my breath. I tried to get enough oxygen into my lungs to simply breathe.
This week, I continually fell short in my pursuit to do so. I literally struggled to breathe all week long except for when I got into my cold plunge tub. It quickly became my refuge and each afternoon, immersed in ice-shard-filled waters on my back porch, I sat there until my breath returned. I sat there in my vintage, three-legged cast iron tub from the early 1900s and I found a moment of peace.
If you have been with me over the years, you know that I have cold plunged for the last 11 months with a varying degree of consistency. It was quyirte the adventure beginning but since I started, cold plunging has given me many things — a lower A1C, increased mind-body connection, friendship, and most notably, decreased night terrors and fugue states. So this week, I decided to go all in on it with a new episode of The Patient is In devoted to it. This episode is short — only 13 minutes — and in it, I discuss how I started cold plunging and a breakdown of how tremendously it has helped me. Later this week, I will also release an accompanying guide that will speak more in-depth about the science-backed benefits and how to begin if you are interested in trying it.
As with all things I share, it is a solidarity offering. I am not here to pressure you to do anything. I am only here to show up, exactly as I am, sharing what helps with hopes that it helps someone else too.
And with that, I’m again off to plunge after I check on Waffle once more.
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