You can call me Tweety Bird. Right when I thought turning 40 was all about feeling young and looking great, genetics has decided to spoil the day for me. First the herniated discs in my neck, now my hair! Take a closer look… Really! Click on the opposite picture and look closer! Can you see it? The silly, wispy hair tuft on top my head? The last remainders of a proud mane. The last standing soldiers of a valiant battalion that’s been defending my precious scalp against the whims of the weather gods for 40 years.
F-O-R-T-Y years, and all that’s left is a few pathetic hairs sticking up against the wind, so sparse and thin that my camera could barely capture it… What the f*ck?!?! 😮
I know – after all, there are worse things in life, like Donald Trump moving into the White House or your clock radio playing Céline Dion when you wake up in the morning. But hair grafts are not an option for me (I still have nightmares about the hair-transplanted face of this sleazy dancer who once hit on me), so I must settle for my new nickname and rejoice at the prospect of saving money on lice shampoos.
The most annoying thing about my hair – or whatever you call what’s left of it – is not so much the depressing view in the mirror, but more the realization of losing insulation for my coming swims. One less layer of natural protection to hold on to. But then again, I’m lucky enough to be able to grow a beard, as opposed to my female fellow swimmer Martina Pavlicova, for instance.
Martina swam the 29.5 miles/46 km around Manhattan back in September. I’ve been dreaming of this swim for years now, so I HAD to catch up with her when I was in New York last week. I was eager to hear all the details about her Manhattan swim. The days up to the swim had been chaotic, but when she set off on September 15th, the conditions were perfect and she swam strong all the way around the island. Awesome! I could tell in Martina’s voice she was proud of her achievement and she cracked me up with her spontaneous comment right after the swim – “It was awesome. Amazing. Time of my life. Don’t do it!“. 😀 I said the exact same thing when I was pulled out of the Fehmarn waters back in August, but still, here I am today, planning my next crossings. I guess it’s a bit like giving birth. After some time, you repress the pain and you’re ready to do it again – although I’m pretty sure I’d rather swim naked around the world than give birth to a child. I surely don’t want to pass on my poor capillary genes to any son or daughter!
Anyway, I was very happy to see Martina again. Martina and I met at a swimming camp in Lanzarote in January 2016. Since that camp, we’ve kept in touch through Facebook and I’ve been following her blog where she wrote a very inspiring piece about happy memories in September (click here). A powerful strategy I’ve added to my mental toolbox. Whether you are a marathon swimmer or not, you should definitely try it at home!
Happy memories are exactly what’s helped me through my recovery so far. I’ve started to exercise again and last Friday I was in the water for the first time in six weeks. It was an amazing feeling! The swim itself was a disaster as I haven’t recovered all the power in my right arm yet. My technique was rubbish and I’m sure you’ve seen zebras and wildebeests attacked by crocodiles, drowning with more grace and dignity than me and my wispy toupee at the pool last Friday. But being in the water for 20 minutes was like heaven to me! I was home again!
Now, I have until Christmas to fully recover and see what my body will be capable of during the next season. I’ve still got plans to cross the Fehmarn Belt in August 2017. All I need now is the green light from my spinal surgeon and the help of a few generous sponsors – as well as a second swimming cap to insulate the top of my head.
My plans may be hanging by a hair right now, but as thin as it is, I’m holding on to it. Creeping baldness is the new black. I don’t need a whole wig to follow my dreams. I am Tweety Bird and I fear no puddy tat!
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