Just keep swimming
I’ve had trouble writing lately. Not with the writing, but with the focus. I’ve been scattered, disorganized, distracted, flitting from one thing to another, suddenly forced to stomp out the flames of something I’ve forgotten or ignored until it became an issue.
I’m very lucky – and aware enough of that luck to be grateful – that BFOS has not been life-changing for me. It has changed my life in that I was unable do something that I enjoy, that defines me, directs me, focuses me. But it has not changed the way I can live day-to-day, to clean my house, go to the grocery, be with friends.
It is, however, a constant presence. I live in awareness of my body, not focused outside of my body. I expect neither of you walk around Kroger thinking, “I have an arm. I have an arm. I have an arm.” Since last fall there is always a knowledge, an awareness of my leg, and I do not like it. I get into the car and shift in the seat until I can get comfortable. I literally feel my right leg every time I take a step. It’s narcissistic except I don’t love it.
And – I had not realized that until today.
In a continuing effort to solve this stupid puzzle, to get the numbers in sequence, I saw a neuro last week. I’d put it off for weeks because I’m tired of this merry-go-round, but I finally made an appointment. Considered to be one of the best in the mid-south, Dr. Neuro walked in and sat down, took off his glasses, rubbed his eyes. “I cannot see anything wrong with your back,” he stated. “I’m sorry, but there is nothing I can offer to help you, that disc is perfectly healthy.” He punched around my hamstring, trying to find some trigger point that does not exist (I’d have already gotten the Finder’s Fee for that if it existed, as many times as I’ve uselessly prodded, rubbed, rolled, tennis-balled that damn leg). He was wonderfully nice, thoughtful and painstaking, but what can you do when a healthy person doesn’t need you?
Next on my list was chiropractor and then some deep tissue massage, because as much as I want to just quit trying, I’m too damn stubborn. Meanwhile one of my BRFF’s, “Becky” started having some back issues and had gone to a new chiro. She called, singing, “You have got to go see this guy!”
Friday I got in to see Dr. Chiro who also poked all around in my hamstring to find the Phantom Source. Nothing. He started manipulating my leg and hit the hot spot. The doc explained that we have a small muscle, the semimembranosus, which runs along the hamstring on the outside of the leg from the hip. This muscle is innervated by the tibial nerve, which is a branch of the sciatic nerve. He believes I have a mixture of irritation of that branch of the sciatic, along with Meralgia paresthetica, which is the ten dollar name for numbness or pain in the outer thigh not caused by injury to the thigh, but by injury to a nerve that extends from the thigh to the spinal column, along with piriformis syndrome, in which the piriformis muscle irritates the sciatic nerve, causing pain in the buttocks and referring pain along the course of the sciatic nerve.
In other words, as we’ve always known, I have a lot of damn nerve. Also, apparently, I’m impressed with multi-syllabic words.
He did some pressure point therapy on the outside of my thigh and hip which had me grateful for having learned proper breathing techniques during Lamaze classes and sent me home with a set of stretches.
This morning I realized that I actually don’t “feel” my right leg any more than my left, which is when I realized I had been for the past few months. It does actually feel better and so I hold out hope.
Having bailed on two classes I resumed swimming hell last Tuesday. First, we warm up. Then, we do some drills. Things like swimming with one arm extended permanently in front and stroking with only one arm, or an exercise called the “Dolphin Kick”. WTH. If I wanted to swim with dolphins it would not be at a YMCA in the mid-south. Look around: No dolphins in the Mississippi River.
I have lost a lot of conditioning, as evidenced by the skyrocketing heart rate in 10 seconds flat, and I have firmly proven that you can inhale enough water to lower the level of a swimming pool. This does not, unfortunately, have any beneficial effect on your sinuses or asthma, although you will be well hydrated. It occurred to me that perhaps I could walk down the lane, extending my arm and pretending to swim, but apparently you can also see through water. I call bullshit. Don’t those little kids pee in the pool enough to make it opaque??
Oh, and guess what? There’s a deep end. What kind of special idiot put a deep end in a swimming pool? You cannot walk on the deep end. Well, you could. If you had one of those diving suits like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Only then the ginormous octopus legs would surround you and drown you. Which I’m watching for, carefully. You never know.
Next she giddily announces we are going to do 5 – 100’s, then 5 – 75’s, then 5 – 50’s with a 10 second recovery between each set. This is like me going to Italy and thinking the first day I’m going to know what the waiter just said to me. Point to the picture on the menu and hope that’s what you get. I looked at Becky. “swim to the end, 25 yards, back, 50, back to the end, 75, back here, 100”.
NOW the kid finally pees. Cue maniacal laughter. Dammit, I’m gonna do this. I swim 25, hold the side of the pool, gasp for 30 seconds, swim back. Slow going but I’m gonna kill this sucker. I’m gonna kill it, and I’m gonna get stronger. I’m Wonder Woman. I’m Swimming With the Fishies Woman. I get to the shallow end, gasping.
I see her blurry face hovering above me. I lift my foggy goggles. “How many 100’s have you done?” she asks.
“HUNDREDS? I’m doing TWENTY-FIVES!”