Magic water

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Therapy pool at the Home of the Innocents

If you’d told me a month ago I’d be grateful to get to walk in a pool for a workout I would have looked at you like you had two heads. A month ago I was whining that I wasn’t back up to my 200lb squat yet after not squatting for a few weeks.

When Dr. McKee gave me The Talk about how I’m to spend these two weeks of rest and rehab he meant business, and made it clear if I didn’t toe the line and REST I would further injure myself.  This man knows my passion, and it’s his job to get athletes well enough to return to their sports. He would not tell me to just be still for a minute if weren’t warranted. But he relented enough to say I could walk in a pool. I talked about it with Bradley, my new physical therapist, and he said to walk every day for half an hour. You don’t have to tell me twice so I rummaged up my swimsuit.

Several friends told me about the Home of the Innocents therapy pool, a heated, saltwater pool open to the public if you have doctor’s orders. So I took a walk today in the warm, soothing waters. And I just let myself relax. I could keep spending energy being furious or embarrassed or sad but my body just needs me to accept that this is the way things are now. And honestly, I am glad to just be moving. Bradley, who has only spent two sessions with me, can already tell a bit about me, and said today it’s going to be important to my recovery mentally to get moving again as soon as it’s feasible.  He even gave me more weight than he said he would most people on one of my PT exercises — a sure way to brighten my mood.

So for the next couple of weeks my workout is to walk back and forth in the buoyant, calming waters of the pool, a peaceful place where my body can do a little work, but also my mind can seek to calm itself. Bradley said at my first PT that the first job is to “calm down” the area of my back with the ruptured disc, the inflammation and the rigidly tight muscles. But my mind needs to calm down too, to stop asking why this happened, stop wondering what I did to deserve being hurt and losing what I loved so much. Its job now is to let my body heal itself and not get in the way. A very good friend who’s much wiser than me sent me a wonderful message to tell me about a time she lost the ability to do what she loved. I hope she doesn’t mind that I share it here:

 I cried, mourned, got angry about it. I thought, why would God take away the only thing that I was good at, that ever made me feel good about myself? I asked that question over and over and over…until I realized that I needed to learn how to feel good about myself because of MYSELF.

I took that to heart. And it won’t happen overnight, but I will learn to stop judging myself based on how impressive of feats I can pull off. Yes, I loved proving to myself that I could accomplish harder and harder tasks, but I was punishing my body in the process. It’s time to let it heal, to learn how to enjoy just being physically active without the need to prove anything and that won’t come easy. But maybe, just maybe, there will be just enough magic in the waters to help me do that.

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