Backwards evolution

Backwards evolution

From Land to the Sea

According to Darwin’s theory of evolution, life first began in the sea and eventually made its way to land. This means that at some point during the evolutionary process, man’s gills gradually disappeared and fins slowly developed into legs. In my case, I think I’m going the opposite way.

As a kid in Cape Town, I loved to run. It came naturally to me. Seemingly with very little effort I could run fast. As a youngster, I wore red socks that I believed would magically transform my running ability into that of a champion sprinter. To further inspire myself, I thumb-tacked posters of Olympic 100 meter sprinters in full stride on my bedroom walls.

Diagnosed in New York

Throughout high school, then later as a Rotary exchange student in Iowa, and continuing as a college student in Pennsylvania, I participated in track and field competitions and won many races. Then during one of my training runs in New York City, while living there as a graduate student I felt what I can only describe as rocks in my running shoes. After going to several doctors I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Soon running became painful, several toes and fingers ached, then a couple become inflamed and progressed to become deformed and twisted.

Back in the 80’s there had been no new therapies in decades to help someone like myself. The few regimens really didn’t worked to halt the progression of the disease. Soon I researched cities that offered a warm climate year round. I discovered and soon moved to San Diego, where the seasons are subtle, the sun shines and there is little rain. A climate similar to Cape Town with generally low humidity. Slowly, my condition stabilized sufficiently to give me the opportunity to resume running again.

Managing Symptoms

With the help of new biotechnology advances I was prescribed a new drug called Enbrel that was miraculous at the time. It stop the pain, as well as the progression of the disease and cleared my skin. The pain that occupied a portion of my brain was no longer there. Truly amazing! It was then that I resumed running at the Masters level. I was grateful to resume running, but soon the aging process began to catch up to me. The predictable cycle of injuries and rehabilitation soon made running no longer fun.

From Land to Sea

Looking for a way to stay In shape, I waded into the ocean and began swimming. This is when I started to transform from a land based mammal to something of a waterman. The boredom of swimming laps in the pool gave way to a type of mild euphoria and meditative experience I was taken. I found myself swimming in the ocean.

My evolution continued when I learned about and began swimming with like-minded individuals who meet three times a week in North County San Diego to swim in the beautiful open water of the Pacific Ocean. My long dormant gills are beginning to sprout.

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