Monday, May 21, 2007

Huge moment yesterday – I went swimming. OK that may not sound like a huge moment, but I haven’t been swimming for well over two years, possibly closer to three. Even in the run up to me using oxygen 24/7 the sheer effort involved in the whole procedure, walking there, stairs (of which there are often many) getting changed, actually swimming, getting showered and dry (huge issue when constantly breathless) and getting changed again seemed far to huge an obstacle to overcome. Since my transplant I have been building up strength and waiting for the time that the risk (and there is always a risk as I am immunosuppressed) of picking up bugs is at its smallest.

So yesterday, after a significant amount of nagging from my mother who was not moved by me pointing to my diaphragm and reminding her it was paralysed, we drove to our local gym and pool to sign me up – a years membership being a birthday gift from my lovely grandparents. As we pulled up to the centre, I had butterflies in my tummy. It really shouldn’t have been a big deal at all but to me it was another landmark, another sign of returning to a life that somewhat resembles normal. We walked up the stairs, leaving Abby to study in the café but be able to wave at me through the window, and my mother and I disappeared into the changing rooms.

As I child, I used to accompany my mother on her ticket, and so spent many happy hours there splashing around and racing my parents or my sisters up and down the pool. I have always been a bit of a water baby, and used to swim regularly once a week for as long as I can remember; something which I attribute the strength of my old lungs to, and one of the key reasons they managed to keep on working right to the end. Apparently on one holiday very early on, we arrived at the poolside and with a squeal of delight I hurtled myself into it, completely oblivious of the fact that a) I required armbands to stay afloat and b) this was the deep end of a rather large pool therefore had to be promptly rescued.

Anyway back to yesterday. We walked down the corridor and onto the poolside. It was fairly quiet, with only one or two members dotted around, casually making their way up and down the length of the pool or sitting relaxing in the Jacuzzi. I suggested to my mother that I sit and watch her first, which did not go down as well as I would have hoped. So instead I was swiftly cajoled into walking down the steps into the pool, where my mother took off and swam rapidly to the other side. I stood there, with water up to my knees, and looked down at the pool. I am not scared of water, never have been (as my childhood kamikaze attempt demonstrates) but somehow I couldn’t quite bring myself to launch in with carefree abandonment. I slowly edged myself in, bit by bit, the feeling of being immersed in water was strange and took me back to being on holiday in Greece where I would spend hours just floating or swimming in the sea.

I finally decided that feeling though I was as if I was about to launch myself out of an airplane, this was a tad melodramatic and grabbing hold of the edge, I pulled myself into the pool so I was completely immersed. Swimming is like riding a bike, once learned never forgotten, and I quickly found my water wings again. Being in the water was just such a liberating feeling, and in a completely over exited way I challenged my mother to a race (which I won incidentally) suitably knackering myself out by the time I got to the far side. We swam about a bit more until I got a stitch and decided to call it a day, sitting myself on the side of the pool dangling my legs in the water.

The whole experience was just so strange, it was something that took me back to my childhood, to a time where I had little concept of what being really ill was, and then represented something I thought I might never be able to do again. Needless to say, I arrived home exhausted but beaming, and I am looking forward to going again, and this time braving it to the gym (where I really need to start my training schedule to try and work up to this 5k in September!) Freedom. Freedom to walk, to climb, to swim, to talk…to breathe.


Anonymous said...

Emily, have been away for a few days so am answering both of your blogs together. Heartiest congratulations to A on his good fortune and best wishes to both of you for a long, happy, healthy, wealthy life together. You both certainly deserve it.

And how wonderful about the swimming. What a pleasure to be able to swim again; at least, as a water-shy chicken I imagine it's great if you dare. And it will build up your stamina. So go for it and keep on enjoying yourself, it's absolutely mind-bogglingly great to know you can.

Hugs, Janet

Anonymous said...

Nice cossie
Lindy x

Jac said...

Great post! I am amused by the sentence "Freedom to walk, to climb, to swim, to talk…to breathe" - surely "talk" should come first on the list, although I am pleased to note you still ranked it higher than the ability to breathe ;)

Love and higs, and happy swimming!
Jac xx

Anonymous said...

Hoorah! What a fantastic and wonderful experience. Here's to many many more...

Anonymous said...

Well done Em there'll be no stopping you now!
Swimming can be relaxing but is also great for exercising ALL muscles so great training!
Maybe your challenge for next year could be swimming the Channel!!
Much love

Anonymous said...

Wow, glad to hear you're back doing yet another thing you haven't been able to do for such a long time, you really do deserve it! And I love the colour of your swimming cos!

Hmm, training for the Hydro...I really should do some of that, especially if I want to complete the course in less that a week! xxx

Emmie said...

Oh that made my day! :o) What lovely photos too, talk about smiley!!!

"my mother who was not moved by me pointing to my diaphragm and reminding her it was paralysed"

You two are both as bad as each other LOL ;o)

MWAH xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

suzie said...

Brilliant Em,

This post made me smile a lot, carry on swimmin chuck I'll be joining you very soon as I've promised to run the Hydro this year....yikes!

Love 'n' hugs
Sue x

Anonymous said...

Yay Em!!!!

Glad you've found something that you enjoy so much, and is going to strengthen you and help you on your way to full health.

There's not stopping you missy and it's inspiring.

Hope the training keeps going forward and well, so that 5k seems like a walk around the park (yes, I know that's actually what it is:P) and not a marathon.

The smiley pictures do make me cheerful. I'm glad things are working for you, and that life has found it's way to reward you for being such a nice person.

Love and hugs coming your way huni.


Fi said...

Yay for taking another big step. Personally I can take or leave swimming, but the immersion feeling is always a good one, unless in the north sea and then it's just cold....!

Keep at it Em, you set a great standard for us to follow ;)

Anonymous said...

Emily, thanks for the blog and pictures. Keep getting better.

Love, Randall

Anonymous said...

This post made me cry! How does it feel to have freedom?!?!! Best of everything to you poppit!! I want to feature you on with your vry own page! Let me know!! I am so happy! Can't stop the happy tears!


Anonymous said...

glad to hear bout ur brilliant swimming u look so happy in those pictures (and u really deserve to be) carry on swimming

jennie higgins

Anonymous said...


Jayne said...

Lovely pics. It must have been great to get in the water. I only learnt to swim when I was 24 and I don't go enough. Maybe I should!

Good practice for the Hydro Active!!


Anonymous said...

Go girl!!!!! yeyyyyyyyyy :D
Emily such an inspiration to us all.

hugz Elaine & Rach xx

ps lovely pics yeyyy xx