Yesterday marked another first of another phase of my life.
I started walking in the pool. No, I didn’t swim, I just walked. Up and down the pool, making circles and straight paths at random. It was after a long time that I was in the water, so much that I couldn’t find my swim suit quickly enough and when I did, it was a super ill-fit, and as annoying as that was, this was the good kind of ill-fit, so all’s well.
So why am I in the pool?
Coz I was asked to get in by my very nice orthopedic. The same one from 2008. We’ve now built a rapport. He and I. His staff and I. His physiotherapist and I. His office and my insurance company. It’s all one happy cozy family, where everyone knows everyone by their first name and there’s a warm camaraderie when we see each other. Only thing missing is the dinners, but we make do.
So why did my orthopedic ask me to walk in the pool again?
Coz the sciatic pain is back.
Yeah. How ridiculous is that? I went through hell and earth from the beginning of the year, lots of pain, physiotherapy, cortisone shots in my spine, waiting endlessly at doc’s offices throiugh hobbling, feeling like an invalid, being dependent on pretty much everything that included lifting and standing up, a long arduous flight to India and back, the auto rides and then final relief with the surgery and the post op period, and now, Bam! I get hit again.
Yeah. 2016 isn’t looking good and Ive reached a stage where I am now conserving my energy and not bothering to dispel it on anger or sadness or frustration, but just in dealing with it as and how it hits me.
I know. I can’t believe am being so grown up about this. Ultimately, life catches us up with where we are supposed to be I guess!
Jokes aside, so I got my act together and hobbled over to the dark side of the pool. Okay, by dark side I mean the side that’s empty, coz it’s a leisure pool and with kids still in school and the toddlers who are under 3 feet are still blowing bubbles at the wading pool, the deep end was left wide open to be shared by the few who are jobless and free at 10.30 am.
As with any gym that Ive now begun to notice, mid-mornings are flush with just two kinds of folks:
- The retired senior citizens, of all races.
- Retired grandparents or the lone babysitter with a toddler in tow.
I am the lone outlier in their midst and if they’ve ever noticed me, they’ve been gentle and subtle about showing their surprise.
I stepped down into the pool and a familiar feeling of both terror and calm spread into me with the cool waters. Terror coz I hate it and coz am perpetually imagining me to drown to my death and calm because despite the fear, I love the water. I understand it’s a complicated juxtaposition of my emotions, it’s okay.
I walked slowly, keenly aware of the pain that was shooting through my left side. Gently stiffening my back and moving my upper body a wee bit forward, I continued to tread towards the far end where the lazy river begins. There was a lone head bobbling in the distance and I realized quickly that this person was going upstream and backwards too. As I marveled at how much more older and determined she was and the impassive look on her face and how her eyes looked through me as she went further away with each step.
I remembered a snippet of a conversation I had with my PT as he suggested ways I could get a challenging workout in the safety of the waters “Just walk backwards. Or walk against the current, am sure there’s a lazy river at the Rec pool?”
Determined, I moved myself forward with a purpose, following the lady. As soon as I entered the narrow curve, the current hit me with a force that surprised me and I winced, holding onto the side. I lifted my left foot, placing it ahead and felt the pain shoot through me. I stop and breathe deep. Okay, this is not going to be easy is it? Ignoring the pain, and focusing on the swirling current, I bend forward and let my right foot step forward. Yes, the resistance is strong. I tell myself that this is good for me. I must do this. I can do this. Am young, and Ive undergone worse pain and especially during therapy.
Therapy is supposed to heal you through pain. Go through enough of it, and you come through pain with a purpose and healing that when you do look back, the pain is vivid, but not around you, all consuming. There is a pride in going through physical therapy, ask anyone who’s had to go through the rigors of it.
One step at a time, I moved forward. I was super slow. I took deep breaths and I waded through the chest deep water. Ignoring the life guard, ignoring the nice Asian lady who passed me twice and really couldn’t care less if my face was purple or I was an opossum in disguise. That just made me smile and wonder at our inner compasses and strengths that show us the route – like a beacon when everything around is dense fog.
I felt like a salmon.
I chuckled at that thought and realized how true that really was. Ive had to swim my way upstream many a time. I was a salmon in many ways.
I had come to the end of the river and I had to begin another round of upstream pacing. I stopped to take a breath and look around me. On a hunch, I turned around, and started walking downstream, with the current. The pain still hit the heel and shot up, but it was easier. It was still a stretch and the water was a bit more relenting on my legs, and it swallowed me in, paving the way, inviting me in. My pace quickened, and before I realized, I had made 3 rounds of the river, with each step and length coming to me faster.
As I hauled myself out and sat at the edge to pause on the last 30 minutes, I realized that my hydro therapy will sum me some incredibly powerful insights.
- We go with the stream faster. If we allow ourselves, we can move faster and quicker. What we will however lose out on is the strength and the quality of our work. We may get stronger, and we may move ahead but in reality we are only slowing the process. Winning the battle but not always the war.
- It’s a heck of a lot of slow pace going upstream, and the way is harder and tougher. We take a longer time reaching our goal, but maybe we will reach it in a stronger, satisfactory way and take pride in the person that we become at the end.
- Sometimes, we have to go downstream to gather the strength we need to make our way upstream. There’s a time to lay low and a time to charge ahead and the wisdom in knowing when we do what is tricky to always realize and accept.
Recognizing the parallel and expectations on my body and mind was the first step. Internalizing it enough to be patient is the next step. One that I’ll be taking with every step in the chest deep waters as I pace them for the next few weeks.