Yesterday, I faced the water for the first time in a month.

I hadn't planned on being gone this long, but sometimes life conspires with the gods, and we short, somewhat red-headed mortals have no choice but to acquiesce.

There was the preparation for dragon*con, then there was the [food poisoning | stomach flu], then the "con crud" that Jeff and I passed back and forth to each other, then the drives to/from Atlanta that bookended my trip to Colorado, and suddenly it was … October?

It stopped me short when I realized it - October, already? When did that happen?

I had been out of the gym for a month, and it was time to get back in there. I'm not done, not by a long shot, even though the photos tell me I look better now than I have in years. Still, I kept putting off renewing my swim membership, thinking that I'd just wait 'one more day' and then I'd get around to it, really…

Enough. The second full day that I was home from Colorado, I marched my happy self to an ATM, withdrew the necessary cash, and presented my penitent self at the front desk of Dublin Park, where I swim, only to be greeted with this:

"Amy! Where have you BEEN?"

It turns out that gym employees know who is serious about working out. I talked for a while, renewed my membership, and told them I'd probably be in Saturday morning to resume swimming.

On Saturday I walked in, and there was David, sitting at the front desk just like he always was, he he looked up at me and said, "Amy! Where have you BEEN?"

Like I said, apparently the gym employees know who is serious. Or, as David put it: "Hon, the lap swimmers are in here religiously. Every day. For three months, that was you, coming in all cheery and saying hi and wanting to know how my day had been, and then suddenly you completely dropped off the radar. I was afraid something had happened to you."

"Well, now that you mentioned it…"

When I walked into the pool room, I tried to pretend that I wasn't afraid to find out what the month off had done to me. I had earned every moment of the swim stamina I had built up before 'con, and I knew…I knew lots of things, mostly that I hadn't been eating well (or regularly) lately, and that a month of stress, inadequate eating, and lack of workouts was not likely to do much for my swim stamina.

Twenty minutes later, I crawled out of the pool and wasn't sure if I'd snatched defeat or victory out of the lapping water, but I knew I'd snatched something, and it wasn't just sore arms.

"Forty-five minutes," I whispered to myself. "A month ago I could do a half-mile, and swim for forty-five minutes at a time." Truth be told, I made growling noises - yes, I make growling noises at myself - and muttered, "This. Will. Change."

I am embarrassed to be dragging myself in like this, knowing that I was much better a month ago, and that I have lost some of the ground I worked so hard to gain. I loathe weakness in myself, and am nothing but frustrated when I realize that my body is not currently capable of doing what my mind says that it should.

But this exercise, this learning to take care of myself: this is part of my life now, for better, for embarrassment, for worse, and staying out of the pool was doing me no good.

Today, the second day back, was better. I lasted over half an hour, and managed a quarter of a mile. I can't remember the last time I was so proud of swimming a quarter-mile.

I know this now: I am hypoglycemic. I haven't the foggiest damn clue how I am going to learn to live with this condition, but live with it I must. Barring unforeseen magic solutions, it is going to affect me during every workout I do for the rest of my life, and I must learn how to work with it to the best of my ability.

I have come this far - farther since January than I thought possible - far, far, too far to quit now. I am nearing the halfway point on weight loss, and am near reaching some weight numbers that leave me flabbergasted every time I allow myself to think about them.

I know this now: I have to take care of myself. No one else will.