Thursday, 5 February 2009
Excuses, excuses! The big splash.
Finally I have activated one of the New Year's resolutions, and have been for a swim. It is months since the last swim. When it got too cold to plunge into the water, I stopped going. As last year was so difficult, my motivation slumped, I ate too much, and the weight piled on. All my health professionals urged me to exercise, assuring me that it would make me feel better. I fobbed them all off.
Coping with my friend Viv's illness and death, with the misery, isolation and loneliness which afflicted me last year, and with the stress of the unresolved PP, was as much as I could manage, other than to resolve that next year - ie this year, I would get back to exercise. Because I have had people to help me, I did feel that when I was ready, I would plunge once more into the pool - actual and metaphorical. It was necessary to concentrate on one thing at a time, and to work through that, before moving on to the next thing. The death, the funeral, seeking help, the PP, working on being assertive and trying to do so in a pleasant and positive manner. One thing at a time, until I could keep a couple of balls in the air. Exercise seemed a low priority.
Swimming used to be my exercise. I was quite good at it and enjoyed it immensely. The mind floats free while you swim, and does all sorts of interesting things. Maybe meditation is like that? Every time I swam I would realise anew how pleasurable it was. There was a pool at my workplace, and our medium density community housing development also had a pool, so I had many opportunities.
I have never been a keen walker, although at one time I used to get up early and walk for an hour before going to work. We lived on the outskirts of our suburb, and good walks were close by in the low hills near the Murrumbidgee River. When I moved to Sydney, it all became less feasible. The heat and humidity deterred me from both walking and swimming. Because I developed lymphoedema, following breast cancer treatment and long term drug treatment, I overheated very easily, and my arm would start swelling. Walking was out, and swimming too, as the water temperature in the pools was so warm that I could not stay cool while I swam. I tried going to a gym for 'healthy aging' but then Dr P had emergency spinal surgery and was in hospital for many weeks. That disrupted my fitness momentum. And I could never remember the settings on those damn gym machines.
Such impressive excuses that I have!
But now! I am no longer taking the drug. My body has acclimatised to the Sydney climate. The lymphoedema has settled down. I know full well that the time is right to get back into the water.
Last year, when I started swimming again, naturally I found I was very unfit. It was a struggle to get to the other end of the pool. Rests between laps were needed. I managed to build up to about 700 or 800 metres, at a slow and awkward pace. Then it got too cold for comfort.
Today it was a relief to find that my fitness was better than expected. I swam 700 metres - fairly slowly, but without getting too puffed out. Rests at each end were shorter. This is very encouraging. When I finished the swim, it felt very good. So why not do this more often?
Now I need to find the best time of day to go. Today the pool was full of people. The under-fives were having swimming lessons in the indoor pool. Outside older adults were doing aqua aerobics, two lanes were reserved for squad practice (not sure what that means), and there was a fast lane. I am not fast any more, so I went into the remaining lap lane. It was rather crowded. One man had a kick board, a couple of people wore snorkels, another few kept changing their strokes, and others swam quite fast. Then there was me, ploughing slowly up and down in my only competent stroke - freestyle. As I left, after 11 am the pool suddenly was less crowded. Maybe that's the time to go.
Swimming is so enjoyable. All the little kids were so happy. The dressing room revealed us to be all sizes and shapes - not at all like models or actresses. Bodily variety and imperfections abounded. But who cares?
I did the shopping, then came home, opened the draft letter to the PP, made a couple of minor amendments, and then sent it off. I have at last stated my point of view.
I wonder when and what will be the result?