“I hate swimming”

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. The rehab for this hip surgery for a hip labral tear has been time consuming. If you wanted to keep more up to date, you can check me out on @jessirv04 on Instagram. I try to post not just good but the bad – to be an open book.

Overall my progress is going well. It comes with bad days as well as good. I’m progressing better than originally expected. I am still off work but this week my physiotherapist said we can start returning me gradually after Remembrance Day long weekend. I am a Core French teacher who teaches room to room off a travel cart so we want to build me back up to full time. I’m excited to be getting into more of a routine.

This week marked 17 weeks (4 months) since my surgery. Sometimes it feels so long ago but also sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday. Last week, physio started to give me exercises to build me back up into running. I am also trying to make an effort to swim more. I’ve been told this is such a positive thing to do. I still remember even when I was told I could swim and my first thought was “hell no. I hate swimming.” But wanting to make rehab the best possible and to be able to progress to the fullest possible outcome, I knew I had to ignore my mind. So I’ve been going though not as routinely as maybe I should.

It was easier when I was only allowed to walk in the water but once it was upgraded to swimming laps, I hit a wall. I had forgotten how to swim! I can’t afford lessons on disability and I could breast stroke and back crawl. But for some reason something was missing in my front crawl. I couldn’t do it. I would start and end up sputtering about 5-6 strokes in. I had lost the rhythm as I had allowed swimming to become non-existent in my life. I haven’t swam laps since I was 11-12.

So instead of sharing this, I stopped going. I would make a plan to go, pack a bag, and when it came time to go – I wouldn’t. I was embarrassed. Last week, I told myself that would change. I would keep going and figure out the problem. So I went and same issue. Frustrated, I finally vented to my boyfriend and he was able to help. The problem? I was trying to take a breath every stroke! I forgot it was t every stroke. He told me he remembers he picked every 3 strokes. I may have to pick one better for me but that information gave me the tools and motivation to try again.

So I went yesterday. I went to the 8am lane swim at a nearby leisure centre. There is only about 5 elderly people that go and since they prefer to do their walking and swimming with the width of the pool instead of length, the lifeguards don’t set up lanes. They offered to set one up for me but I said – heck, I can do width too. It’s still swimming! I got in and began. Being the only one under the age of 70, none of the other pool users had really talked to me.

I smile at them and nod but never initiate. One, I’ve been embarrassed as they have watched my struggle the past 5-6 weeks, without saying anything. Yesterday, I did the same. Smile. Nod. Goggles on. Start Garmin. And I started swimming front crawl with my boyfriend’s new information. And what do you know? I can swim. I still didn’t feel the most graceful and it wasn’t easy. I even became very grateful the daily lane swim users at this pool have made it possible to do the width of the pool instead of the length. But even though it wasn’t the best graceful swim, I was swimming! If I don’t quit, I can improve on that.

Towards the end of my planned 30 minute swim, one of the elderly woman was leaving and needed to cross my path. So I stopped and said go ahead as I could tell stopping and waiting would be harder for her. She crossed and got to standing level, she turned with a smile on her face and said “I’ve been watching you and you’ve never given up. And you’re actually a really good swimmer.” Well, I think she was exaggerated a little but that comment made all the struggle worth it. It made me realize how easily I could have quit and never heard that comment. I even learned that this woman had also been through hip surgery recently – hip replacement which is different and actually easier than hip arthroscopic surgery but still common ground. She said swimming doesn’t come easy to her but that I had been motivating her to keep coming back even if it felt uncomfortable. So I’ll be back. And even after I “graduate” from physiotherapy, I’m going to keep going back. Maybe not as often but swimming is going to become at least a once a week exercise for me.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I am starting to even find swimming fun.