Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Peg Leg & the Pool

Last week, I was dealt a setback to my foot's healing process that pretty well broke my spirit for a couple of days.  It's been hard for me to write about my emotional reaction and struggle with my injury because all I can keep thinking about is how much worse other people have it and how sort of inappropriate and gross it would feel to put that out into the world with so much else going on.  Because of that, I think I've been repressing my frustration and disappointment and heartbreak and anger in an effort to be as positive as possible.  As a result, when I had the setback (back to crutches instead of finally being able to walk again), I took it insanely hard.  Tears, pity party - the whole 9 yards.  (Shouldn't it be the whole 10 yards...?)

Luckily, I have the world's best physical therapist who gave me the best advice: get back in a pool.

Because I was in such a negative headspace last week, I kept focusing on the obstacles.  Figuring out how to join, how I should get there, when I should go, the pool schedule, what a pain in the ass it is to get around a wet locker room on a crutch and to change with the use of one leg, getting in and out, dealing with a wet towel and suit and goggles and swim cap when I have to go to work right after and have a hard time carrying a lot around...little things.  Petty annoyances that I let myself get caught up in and complain about.

And then - just like this summer, when getting to the pool was such an ordeal on the crutches - as soon as I got in the water, it all melted away.  The freedom that I've always felt anytime I get in the water is that much more healing and necessary and soothing with this injury.  When I swim, I can use my entire body, I can use my left AND right side at the same time in the same way!  I have freedom and symmetry in the water in a way that I just don't on dry land right now, and won't for a while, even once I get walking again.

My main homework in the water is to do some practice walking, in water up to my chin so I'm as weightless as I can manage to be.  As you can imagine, it's very slow work.  No other distractions - no headphones, no phone, no nothing except paying attention to how my body moves, how it feels, and the space around me.  It's the most meditative thing I've experienced in quite a long time, and it's so important that my brain be given that space where it's not engaged in anything else except what I'm doing at that moment.  No news.  No podcasts.  No Facebook. No reading.  No work.  Just my own brain and my own body.  It's the most yoga I've practiced since even before my injury, I think.

I honestly don't know if it was the feeling of walking, the freedom of swimming, or the forced mental freedom that's been the most impactful.  I've been mourning the loss of running lately for a variety of reasons - the primary one being what a huge outlet for stress relief it is.  The pool is helping me to fill that void in a totally new and totally needed way.

I've got another appointment with the doctor tomorrow.  I think the days of getting off my foot and back into the crutches coupled with the weightless practice-walking have paid off.  This process is still painfully, frustratingly, infuriatingly slow, but - I have my perspective back.  We'll just see what the next slow step is.

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