Today I went swimming for the first time in 5 months.
The last time I went swimming was the 21st August. I was already having bizarre neurological symptoms at that point but had been told 2 days previously, by a locum GP that I simply had “sciatica” and to do more exercise. Thus, the swimming. Although truth be told, I knew deep down it wasn’t sciatica at all.
I managed 17 lengths in 30 minutes that day, when usually I’d do 20 lengths in about 20 minutes. I kept having the sensation that my limbs were simply not obeying my commands and that I might drown at any minute. Of course with hindsight I now know that’s true. Afterwards I struggled to get dressed and in the end had to walk home bra-less as I couldn’t manage to fasten it without help at that point.
Two days later I was admitted to hospital for the first time and the following week I was diagnosed with GBS, which we all know later turned out to be CIDP, the chronic version.
There aren’t many things I love, that I know I am crap at, but swimming is one of them. Swimming and singing, and maybe other things beginning with “S” too…like err….sailing perhaps?! I wouldn’t know as I’ve never tried.
I usually need to at least hold a half-hearted belief that I’m moderately good at something, to get any enjoyment out of it. Which may explain why I detest cooking and cleaning so much. For reasons unknown that is not the case with swimming though. I can only really do breaststroke, and even then, my technique is abysmal and I’m very slow but I love it. I like that it’s just me, and the water, and that it’s a life skill that makes sense, in case you ever fall into a vast expanse of water and wish to stay alive. I have a hard time understanding sports that make no sense from an evolutionary point of view. Like golf for example.
Swimming raises my heart rate and works my muscles and all the while I feel calm and happy, although I confess other feelings surfaced when someone’s icky disembodied blue plaster floated toward my face this afternoon.
I managed 30 lengths, although admittedly it took me 45 minutes. I still don’t think that’s bad for someone who was staggering around on crutches a couple of weeks ago though. Just being able to go there and get in the pool and not drown is a massive achievement as far as I’m concerned.
Somewhere around lap 22 I started thinking about Dory from finding Nemo and it occured to me that her little song may be the simplest yet most inspirational mantra I could adopt to see me through these tricky times…
JUST KEEP SWIMMING
I’m half tempted to get it tattooed somewhere really prominent so that when the prednisolone makes me feel like shit, or fails to make any difference to my symptoms, or when I am next in hospital attached to a drip and missing my boys, it will serve as a reminder not to give up.