Rediscovered

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Returning to the water, after a long time away.

Submitted: September 08, 2018

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Submitted: September 08, 2018

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The first thing I think I remember is floating in water, wearing what seems like a huge pair of Water Wings, bright sun shining down. The feeling that comes with this memory is one of happiness and complete contentment. I have no idea if the memory is even real, but really it doesn’t matter.

 

Summer has always been my favourite time of year, particularly the summer holiday. We would go to the beach and it would always feel like the best time of my life. Dragging a kid in a wheelchair around on the sand isn’t fun, but dad and my sister would do it time and again.

Once I got to the ocean, it would feel like anything is worth it just to be able to do this one more time.  I’m sure to others on the beach I must have looked like a beached whale, always struggling. But to me being in that ocean even a little bit made life worth living.

Some days I would only paddle around in the shallows, constantly being pushed around by the waves, but the perfect day was the one where I could get out just past the waves, deep enough to stand. Once there I wouldn’t want to leave, it really felt like heaven.

We would spend hours in the water, every day that we could. For the first few days, I would push my body as hard as I could and pain would be my constant companion, but it didn’t matter and it never would as long as I was in those waves. Then for a while, it would still be hard, but not as bad. Toward the end of a two week holiday, no matter how much my mind wanted something sometimes my body would just quit. But given a choice, I would always push for that extra hour, or even ten minutes, because no matter how I had to struggle, I felt free.

But as happens, kids grow up and situations change. One summer came, there was a trip to the beach but no swimming in the ocean for me. For a while I clung to the idea of maybe next year … But even without the ocean, a trip to the beach made me feel better, there would just be an occasional twinge of sadness.

While the ocean was my passion, I also loved swimming in a pool and would do so as often as I could. Often again pushing myself as hard as I could. But the way I was getting in or out of a pool often damaged my feet in ways that would take weeks to heal. So once I was living alone I found excuses as to why swimming was just too hard.

Actually living alone there was a lot that was just too hard, so I was in bad physical shape. It took a couple of friends not so gently saying that I need to sort things out before I acknowledged this and decided to do something about it.

So I started seeing a personal trainer, and of course one of the things she wanted to do was swimming. So I started swimming again, and the swimming itself was great. But afterwards, there would be periods with quite a lot of fear. What if my legs wouldn’t behave causing me to fall? If I fell given how I was physically struggling would I be able to sort myself out?  But really what choice did I have?

So I pushed on, and there were falls. Some I recovered from quickly, others took hours or even days to recover from.

After one of these bigger falls, I went for another session at the pool. The session went well, and I always made sure that my trainer saw that afterwards I got into my car successfully. I drove home and wasn’t worried about a fall. But I managed to screw up transferring from the car to my chair completely and so fell in my driveway.

I tried sorting myself as I normally would, but nothing worked. My legs were ignoring me and I had been stuck on the ground for quite a long while.  I was exhausted and it was starting to get dark. I started to panic, so I called out to a random stranger who was passing.

Even with this person's help, my first couple of attempts to get up failed miserably. On the third attempt, I had some success I was part way up and thought that I could get the rest of the way, but I knew my feet were in a bad way and that completing the transfer was going to hurt. I did it anyway, making out to the person helping that I was now fine, and sending them on their way.

I had actually opened a fairly serious gash on one of my feet, that would mean a visit to a medical centre every day for about the next few months to have a bandage changed. Of course, this meant no more swimming for me for a long time.

Eventually, my foot healed, and I had kept up with my trainer, but even after the foot healed swimming wasn’t brought up as an option again.

In my mind it was now another thing that wouldn’t occur again. Something inside died. Any time swimming was discussed I either made excuses or otherwise ignored it.

Six years plus later, I am seeing a Physio about some back pain that’s getting worse and worse. She suggests swimming and my first reaction is extreme terror. So I start making excuses. It turns out she has heard most of them before and offers to show me how Janelle and I together could manage the Hydrotherapy pool at Water World ourselves, without the issues I had in the past.

Trapped I have no choice but to say yes I will give it a go, but I am oh so afraid. We aim for just a twenty minute session to start with. Getting in and out of the pool is completely different. The Hydrotherapy Pool has a couple of plastic wheelchairs you can use to wheel down into the pool, and then float off into the water. It isn’t something I can do alone, but its a lot easier than lifting myself to/from my chair and into or out of the pool as I used to do. And the chance of injuring myself during entry or exit is nil. The plastic chairs themselves are a bit of an experience, they are quite high and they creak and groan. And definitely don’t pull on the armrests too hard otherwise you may find they are no longer attached. But they definitely work.

A twenty minute session in the pool and I am definitely shattered, but I survive. More importantly, I also survive the next couple of days with no negative incidents.


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