I got up early Thanksgiving morning to make sure I took care of some errands before leaving for my parents house. At about 8 am, I jumped in the shower to do my cold therapy and breathing exercises. This week’s regimen involves stepping into an ice cold shower, taking 30 deep inhalations followed by 30 deep exhalations, and then holding my breath for 30 seconds. I finish my shower by repeating the routine. Round one went as usual. I proceeded with a warm shower and everything was going fine.
Then I began the final round of cold therapy and breathwork. I made it through the inhalations and exhalations and was holding my breath as the freezing water pelted my chest. I got to about 10 mississippi when I began to feel really light, like I was floating. My legs got a little wobbly. I distinctly remembered Wim Hof’s warning that the cold is a very, very powerful force that should not be taken lightly. I further remembered Wim recommending having something to hold onto in the shower. I had felt lightheaded and a little wobbly before while coupling the cold therapy with breathwork. I just figured it was no big deal and taking additional precautions was for sissies.
As the natural high began to wash over me, I should have taken a breath or a step back out of the cold water. But no; I had to push it and attempt to go deeper. Just like with hot sauce, I did not want a little. I wanted a lot. So I remained in the cold water stream and continued to hold my breath.
I woke up on the floor of my shower. I wondered, “What a strange place for me to take a nap? Why am I on the floor of my shower and why is the water so cold.” As my senses slowly returned, I realized I was in trouble and began to panic. I thought to myself, “You could have killed yourself, you idiot!” I struggled to get up to turn the water off and crawl out of the shower to sit on my toilet. I felt incredibly weak and tired. Despite just exiting a freezing cold shower, I was sweating. As I sat on the toilet, I began to feel so exhausted and drained that I grew concerned that I may faint again. I decided I needed to get to my bed and lie down. I began to frantically, but slowly, crawl across my hallway towards my bedroom.
I never made it to my bed. 3/4s of the way there, I fainted again. This time, I did a face plant in my carpet, which left rug burns on my face.
As I regained consciousness again, I remember lying there thinking, “This is the first time in over 20 years that I did not have a drop of alcohol to drink the night before Thanksgiving. I am going to be late, or not show up at all, for my family Thanksgiving gathering. Everyone will think I was out drinking. God Damnit! John, you have to get up!”I continued to lie on my floor for another 10 minutes before regaining the strength to get up and get dressed. Fortunately, I wasn’t even late.
Let this serve as a warning to you. This stuff is very serious. My body did exactly what it was supposed to do. My brain was starved for oxygen both from the cold shower and breath hold. My brain shut down non essential tasks, like standing and thinking, so that it could conserve energy and focus on the essentials like breathing and keeping my heart beating. Instead of brute force, some things require finesse. Cold therapy and breathwork are two such things. Lesson learned. All of this effort to reverse my age and lengthen my telomeres will be for naught if I kill myself in the process. I got off lucky with a rug burned, sore face, a lump on the back of my head, and some sore teeth. It could have been much, much worse.