Olympic gold

A major triumph today. No really. May not seem much, but I have walked down a steep flight of fifteen stairs and back up again, negotiated various wet surfaces and been swimming!

My right leg has been pretty crook since uni several decades ago when I smashed my kneecap playing hockey. That hit the old pain barrier. Several ops followed with a year in bed at uni, pretty dreadful pain and then a heroic French surgeon helped me to walk again and taught me several lessons in excruciating physio. Fainting from pain just meant a light slap to bring you round before continuing the exercises. It worked and meant I could walk. Knee is unstable though, I’ve broken my ankle badly twice because of it. And the moderate to severe pain that has been with me most days has not stopped me living.

Serious illness threw another ingredient into the mix; long periods immobile in bed meant that I have lost a lot of muscles in my right leg and my balance is wonky, hence the stick. And I’ve not been allowed to go swimming because of my weakened immune system until recently.

I love swimming, always have done. Clearing Mum’s house, we found endless pictures of me in swimming pools across the world. If there was a body of water, I’d swim in it. But lately things have been different. I’m allowed to swim, but I’ve been too tired and too scared. Some days I can barely make it to the kettle, never mind the pool. Doesn’t mean I don’t long to go though.

Cue well-meaning fix it advice from a variety of quarters. From the moderate bullying of ‘ been swimming yet?’ to various unhelpful other suggestions. I’ve had nightmares of someone stealing my stick while I’m in the water, or falling and breaking my leg again in the slippery changing room. Yes I know the lifeguard can help. Yes I know it would be good for me. Yes I would simply love to go. But I’m terrified. The kindest suggestion was a friend who offered to hold my stick for me while I was in the pool. Though we didn’t work out how she would get it back to me.

So all this to say that getting myself to the hotel pool, in for a fifteen minute swim and safely into the shower, albeit walking at a pace that a snail would sniff at, was my equivalent of an Olympic gold. I swam and didn’t fall.

I can already hear the chorus of well-meaning fix its asking when I’m going again. STOP with the bullying, however well-intentioned. Don’t you think I long to throw away my stick and be fighting fit again?

But probably tomorrow.


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