My eyes shot open. ‘Man it was bright!’ Everything around me was glowing. I only saw white and yellows all around me.
“He’s awake!” Jeremy yelled as he choked on food at the same time.
My eyesight was still unclear, but now a head appeared over me. This shadow blocked a good portion of glow.
“George,” it was the same voice from before, “respond please. Can you hear me?”
I tried to speak but only a squeak left my mouth. Instead I nodded.
“Thank God. You scared me for a moment there,” the head moved away and once again my eyes were flouded with the glowing light.
“George!?” Coach was now beside me, “Respond to me, son?”
“Co…a…ch,” was all I could muster. ‘Why is my voice gone?’
“Excuse me,” the paramedics had showed up. “Let us check him,” they moved Coach aside and took up the place next to my body. “How long has he been awake?”
“Just seconds before you arrived. He doesn’t seem able to register people yet. His voice is hoarse, but he did respond to me when he first awoke,” it was the voice again. It must be the head lifguard from earlier.
“How did this happen?” The paramedic closest to George asked as he checked his pulse.
“We were having an intense workout, and on the last stretch of the race, something seemed to be wrong,” Coach was the one to speak up, “then after he touched the wall his body seemed to collapse. He was submerged underwater for about ten seconds before his teammate realized and held his body up before the lifeguard reacted. Jeremy, saved his life,” Coach looked at Jeremy; he had just questioned him just the day before. Now realizing that Jeremy is actually someone to keep around.
“Du…de,” I tried to thank Jeremy, but my words would not form.
“Don’t speak. Your lungs took in some water when they desperately wanted oxygen. Your lungs might be filled with water; but since you are able to somewhat talk the amount must be very slim. I will do a quick procedure.”
The paramedic worked quickly; and just like that I was somewhat back to normal. My chest was no longer heavy and the faces around me became clearer. Jeremy was sitting and slowly eating another bar. Coach was standing, but was wringing his hands. The head lifeguard was standing off to the side talking to one of the paramedics. Micheal was coming back with Gatorade and more bars in his arms. The one paramedic was still beside me.
“I’m…hungry…” I said. Finally forming a complete sentence.
“No soild foods for you. I’m worried about your airway. Micheal,” the paramedic gestured for a gatorade.
‘Gatorade. That’s at least something.’ I tried to sit up but the weight on my chest returned and seemed to be holding me down. Arms seemed to help lift me up; putting me into a sitting position. The gatorade was delicious.
“He needs to rest for maybe one more hour. If any issues arise I would suggest coming to the ER. Anything. Shortness of breath, tightness of chest, wheezing, etc. Understood?” The paramedic said as he gathered his equiptment.
“Of course. I’ll keep watch over him. Thank you,” Coach shook the paramedic’s hand and walked him out.
“Dude. You scared the crap out of me,” Jeremy said as it was now just the two of us and Michael. “I thought….you…” Jeremy stopped talking and instead shoved the rest of his protein bar in his mouth.
‘I knew what he was going to say.’ “Thanks bro…for saving… my life,” I couldn’t move to truly show my appreciation to him, but I nodded at him.
“No problem. You would have done the same for me,” Jeremy returned the nod. “But I did realize something at the end of that set…I still had energy to save you. I thought I had given it my all, but I guess I still had something left. I know I shouldn’t say thank you for almost drowning, but thank you,” Jeremy chuckled awkwardly because he knew there was no other way to say what he just said.
‘It was a weird thing to say, but I totally understood. Every athlete needs to experience that moment at some point in their career.’ “I’m happy you got smething from it, because I will not be doing it again. But if something similar happens, act the same and save me.” I laughed but then shivered at the thought of experiencing it again.
Passing out in a pool is always a fear for athletes. Now understanding the importance of supervision.
“George. Are you alright?” Coach had come back onto the pool deck; just as Micheal went back into the office.
“Yeah Coach. I’m all good. Once again you pushed me past my breaking point; but I think this time it was beyond my breaking point.
Coach ran his fingers through his hair, and wiped his hand down his face. “Don’t ever push yourself that far again. You should have taken another breath. I knew something was wrong when your arm and leg stopped moving. It is better to take another breath, than lose functions of your limbs. Just think if that had been an actual race,” Coach had squatted down to be at my level. “Losing limbs would be slower than taking a two tenths of second breath.”
“I understand Coach,” I understood Coach’s concern but it was hard to believe he was telling me to breath in the no breathing zone. “Do we have to run home?”
“Please no. I don’t think my legs can hold me up. Especially now since my walking stick is broken,” Jeremy forcibly laid back down on his back.
“No. I would be reprimanded by the lifeguards and your parents if I did that. Also I don’t want to watch this one collapse again,” Coach thumb in my direction.
“Nice. I’ve become, this one and a walking stick in a short period of time,” as I attempted to roll my body up into a standing position.
“Easy George. You are going to lose your balance,” Coach stood up to help me stand on my feet.
I was grateful for Coach’s support because I don’t think I would be standing without him. “You need help too, Jeremy?”
“Nope. I’m good. Just a little lite headed because of lack of food. Can we get lunch on the drive back to the house?” Jeremy stood, but seemed a bit wobbly.
“Sure. The paramedics said once you can stand by yourself you should be able to eat solid food. Can you,” Coach instinctively let go of my body.
I had a momentarily panic that I was going to tumble over, but instead my legs held my body up firm. ‘Sweet. That means I can enjoy some food.’ “Let’s go eat!”
We three walked, slightly waddled, to the truck. Our limbs were so weak that Coach had to actually help us climb up into the seats. We were buckled up and we’re ready to go, but Coach was not moving.
“Coach?” I asked and Coach seemed to jump out of his skin.
“Sorry boys. but I need to say this before driving. Coach unbuckled and turned to face Jeremy in the back seat. “I apologize for being harsh last night. I now can see why George befriended you. One day when my daughter forgives you, you will be fully welcomed into our home,” Coach turned back around, fastned his seatbelt, and put the truck in drive mode.
I was amazed, but also proud of Jeremy. I looked into the rearview mirror to see a confused, but pleased smile on Jeremy’s face. I relaxed back into my seat and looked out the windshield to see what food would be our desitination.