Sunday, 20 September 2015

No longer natural

I am struggling to understand how something can be wonderful and awful at the same time. Wednesday, for physiotherapy, I finally got to go in the pool. It's a therapy pool, so small and quite warm, but it is a pool none the less. I have been scheming since I got here to be able to go in, and was told that I had to wait until my brace came off. So last week, once the brace was "weaned" Kristin and Barry agreed that it was time and they booked my one hour session to be in the pool.

The PT pool is well equipped with a lift for getting in and out of the pool, both with a chair and a stretcher. Prior to going in the pool I told many people that I would not need a lift, that all they would need to do was put me on the edge of the pool and I would just roll in. Well, I was wrong. That would be an incredibly unsafe thing for me to do. Not being able to feel what my legs and back are touching could lead to danger - skin abrasions, bruises, cuts - and I would not even know that they had happened until much later. So rolling in is not an option.

I don't know how to explain what being in the pool felt like. When I first got in, Kristin wanted to put noodles and belts under me to keep me afloat, but it all felt wrong. I felt like a toddler whose parent was trying to put on an outfit that they did not want to wear. It just did not feel right. So I made her stop and just let me see how it was to be in the water on my own. I discovered that I had no centre of gravity, not like I used to. I was a swimmer - some say the fastest woman in the pool - as a kid I learned synchronized swimming, was on the swim team, and most recently was an olympic distance triathlete. So, throw me in the water and I always came out on top, it was my second nature.

Now I need to give myself some time, time to adjust to this feeling, that seems so unnatural and not right. I was able to log-roll from front back to my front in both directions. My syncro-arms came back to me. With sculling hands I could travel down the pool on my back and then they let go of me long enough to try my back crawl - which was slow, but worked. But my legs, my legs just sort of drag out behind me, of no help at all. My wish, that being in the water would just wake up those nerves responsible for making them kick, did not come true. Not last week anyway. So I will keep trying to wake up my legs and strengthen my core to keep me stable in the pool (and everywhere else). Then I will work on figuring out how to make being in the water natural again.


  1. Glad your sculling and back crawl worked; sorry legs didn't "kick in". Will keep praying.
    When working with blind people in Congo, was amazed how keen their sense of hearing became, helping compensate for other lack of ability. Your "synchro arms" have their work cut out for them - no doubt will end up much stronger as a result of all this.
    And, today's Purple Heart for Bravery goes to - Julie Sawchuk!

  2. Yes! I'm so glad to hear you made it in to the pool. :)

  3. Fastest woman in the wonder I could never catch up to you when we raced together!!! Our training is different now but as I read your blogs, I can see you are still beating the competition. What a winner. Cheering you on Julie!

  4. The road to recovery can be hard and long, but you have to stay focused and positive. I know from my own experience in physiotherapy that the mental component of the exercises is almost as important as the physical one. While it’s hard, do your best to focus on the fact that things are going to get better.

    Emmett Fletcher @ CK Physiotherapy