July 2007 I fell and broke my left arm, first bone I’d ever broken. The orthopedist said I would take longer to heal because I was fat (Do I hear an echo?). I’ve always been a fast healer but he didn’t ask. I tripped on a piece of broken sidewalk and fell onto the only car parked in a driveway for blocks. A Cadillac.
I like math and to make sense of non-sense in my life I sometimes resort to mathematical equations. I figured the event was probably 200 + pounds falling at the rate of maybe 5 miles an hour multiplied by heavy gravity divided by the Cadillac equaled one massively shattered humerus. Nope, not that funny. The sound was horrible: the stuff of nightmares. The pain was not so great either. I react so poorly to pharmaceuticals, but first thing into the emergency room they filled me up with morphine so they could deal with me. Oh, the constipative horrors of morphine. There is much to be said for regularity.
The bone was in thousands of little pieces and I could not move for a month; the arm was in a sling tied to my waist. My walking habit was totally interrupted. I wasn’t allowed to walk around the block even, to give the bones a chance to mend. Bones are miracles. When left alone they mend themselves. Not always the way they should mend, so that’s why I was ordered not to move much. I was allowed to go to the bathroom and have showers and I got to take my arm out of the sling three times a day. I didn’t go to work or grocery shopping or Scout meetings. I didn’t cook or keep house or tend the yard. I lost thirty pounds while I sat taking pain pills and reading murder mysteries from the library all hours of the day and night. My “primary” was thrilled by the weight loss. Only later , when I realized I’d lost my squat, did I realize it was muscle mass I’d lost, not fat. I used to have a great squat; I was proud of my ability to squat and get back up. No more.
The following January my right arm went numb. I had an interesting “open” MRI with “less” noise. I’m so sensitive to noise I’d hate to hear the more noise one. Bone spurs were pressing on nerves and easy to fix too! They just cut you open, shave the spurs down, sew you back up, and never shall ye be the same. Before I could have the surgery, OF COURSE, they wanted me to lose weight. I asked my primary to support me in an exercise program. She said I could try whatever I wanted, she’d even prescribe physical therapy, and I could come back to her when I needed the surgery. Pffft.
She wrote me a prescription for physical therapy. I really didn’t want to use physical therapy. I thought it would make the doctor feel like she was doing something to make me better by writing the prescription.
I have a swimming pool membership. I had gotten used to the pool when teaching my son to swim. The way swim lessons are set up at this pool, 6 kids have a 30 minute lesson. Everybody pays the same price. My kid – and every other kid – was getting five minutes of lesson at the full price. For me that was bad math and not financially sound.
I bought a swimsuit at less than the price of a seven week swim lesson session. One that covered all the curvy spots and mostly held the architecture together. It was even sort of attractive. It didn’t crunk up my butt. My boobs didn’t spill over the top. Sweet.
Twice a week I took Jr to the pool and got in the water and played with him. He’d had enough official lessons to know what to do. With me right there he had the confidence to get his strength and stamina up and began experimenting in the water. He easily passed the swim test he had to take for scout summer camp every year. And I got over my qualms about getting into the pool.
Qualm # 1. I wear eyeglasses. I can’t see when I don’t wear my glasses. I don’t like not being able to see in the pool. Solution: I wear my glasses in the pool. It’s just chlorinated water and it doesn’t change or deteriorate your prescription lens.
Qualm # 2. Everybody’s looking at me. Solution: No, they’re not. They’re looking at their kids or worrying that everybody is looking at them. At the pool a body is a body is a body. We all have one. Nobody is looking at you. And so what if they are? Take a picture. As one of the nicest cranky ladies you’ll ever meet, I’m WORTH sending home to Mama.
Qualm # 3. I don’t really swim. Remember those non-user-friendly ankles I get to have? You’d think it wouldn’t mean anything in the pool, but coordinating the arms with the legs with the breathing has always been more than I can manage, also. I float real good. Solution: I do a weird aerobic routine. Basically I get in the water and move every part of me for an hour. It works for me.
Qualm # 4. I’d have to shave my legs. Solution: see number two above. Nobody’s looking at your legs and you’re not sleeping with the people in the pool. Shave your legs only when you want to and get over showing a little hair at the pool. Real hair equals real woman, anyway.
Qualm # 5. I don’t like getting my hair wet. Solution: I have very long hair and since I don’t really swim, I clip the whole mess on top of my head and usually only the nape gets a little wet.
So the thing is, the pool FEELS SO EFFING GOOD. I mean Die and Go to Heaven for Good. For people who carry extra body fat the water action lifts the weight of the fat off your bones. It’s very nearly like being in a weightless environment. For me this only works, however, if the water is the right temperature. I have to have water 90 to 92 degrees or my muscles cramp.
I know, right? Don’t I just sound like the queen of the pool and picky picky picky? Darned this old particular body. I’d love to be able to SWIM in just any old WATER. Swimming competitions are among my favorite Olympics armchair athlete spectator viewing.
I also like to swim at particular times during the pool schedule when the pool is QUIET. I go into a zen zone when I can and kids screaming and playing do not make zen. I have a couple pals to chat with and that works for my total comfort zone.
SO, instead of paying for physical therapy (despite insurance there’s always an out-of-pocket balance) I “swam” twice a week and within a month the numbness and tingling in my fingers was gone. No surgery for this girl. The physical therapy clinic called me and wanted to schedule my appointment; they were not pleased when I declined, for me just more evidence of the scam we call health “care”.
I am spoiled. My pool is warm and quiet, and I engage in a rich fantasy life when I am the only one in the pool, where of course, it is my private pool, add pool boy, maids, cooks, fabulous home, etc. When my pals are there, [little do they know] they are my private guests, and the chef is grilling supper for us on the patio kitchen grill just over there. Sigh. It’s warm. It feels so good. I swim every week and would love to swim more if all the right elements of schedule came together better.
I say Qualms Begone. Get over yourself or whatever excuse you use to not get into the water. Sign up for a water aerobics class. Find a warm pool or therapeutic pool designed for arthritis classes.
And Everybody into the Pool! It feels good. You’re worth it.