Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bringing my Legs Back to Life

It is 1 AM and I'm still awake.  In the past week I have started swimming again.  Is a strange experience, and I feel excited by the possibilities.  I think the last time I went swimming was within the last eight years, and I really only spent a few minutes hanging out in a  hot spring, just long enough for a photo op.  I can't remember any time within the last fifteen years, or if ever, that swimming has been an active part of my exercise life.

I suppose I like good sale jobs.  As a person who once worked as a salesman, I seem to work well with being sold.  Friends, physical therapists, and occupational therapists have done little to sell me on the concept of swimming as a therapy.  As with all the exercises my therapists have offered me, my interests only lasted as far as the vision they could create with their recommendation.  But therapists are not salespeople.  They never tried to sell me on the idea of my improvement.  Am I depressive?  What kind of failure has kept me from trying to sell myself on my own recovery?

Somehow, swimming has always stayed on my mind.  It was always the last thing on my mind, but it was  there.  One year ago I inquired about a membership at the YMCA.  Six months ago I acquired that membership, and last week I put on my swim trunks for the first time.  Every exercise of therapist is try to offer me has had a purpose.  I understand that now, and I even knew that somewhat back then.  I wonder if I don't have to keep selling myself on my recovery.  It seems like I have to get myself excited all over again every time I want to make a new progress.

Last week my friend and I went to the gym I took off my shoes, socks, and T-shirt.  With my chair positioned side-by-side with the swimming pool lift, my friend directed this three people transferred me to the chair lift, and then they lowered me into the pool.  Feeling the water was amazing, and with slight trepidation I pulled away from lift chair.  Using my arms with little forethought I floated out to the middle of the swimming lane.

Even today, after two years of limited use, my legs are still more bone and muscle  than they are fat.  It never occurred to me how little inclination they have to float on command.  The moment I stopped actively wading, my head started to dunk under the water.  I did not gulp water, and I didn't start coughing, but I did start to have a clear realization that my body really does not work as well as I thought it would under these circumstances.  Grabbing the wall, I made my way over to where the three men wearing lifeguard T-shirts were talking, and I called out to my friend telling her that this was not working out quite the way I planned.  Almost immediately, one of the YMCA employees came over and told her that maybe I should be wearing flotation belt.

After 10 min. I was exhausted.  I got out of the pool and was not sure what I would ever accomplish there.  But my friend Cheri, seemed determined to bring me back, once again without a plan.  Yet this time, I had the flotation belt, I got on the chair faster; the moment I entered the water I started to move with the deliberateness that was exciting.  I started to see how I could use my body to move in an organized way, and within seconds, I was doing laps across the entire link to the pool.  This is the experience people wanted me to have.  This is the experience I needed to know about.  my entire body felt tired and peaceful that night, and yet I stayed  alert the entire evening.  The experience was incredible!

I can now see how using this swimming pool can advance my therapy, improve my circulation, heal my heart, and prepare my body for surprises in the months and years to come.  Well, will go back tomorrow, and we'll see what happens.

Thank you for reading.