When I moved to a new apartment a few months back, a lot of friends were excited for me that I now had a pool. They were a lot more excited than I was.
I lived in a building in a pool once before. It was about 15 years ago. I was living in sunny Los Angeles, where pools are more common, and I was in much better health. I swam regularly during the months when I had less work (and more time.) It was lovely!
But this is not that. This is different. My new friends in the building often invite me for a quick swim. They have no idea what that really means for me.
- Driving to the pool seems silly, but it’s 1/3 mile away, which is sometimes too far to walk, especially in the summer air.
- If it’s too cool, no one wants to swim.
- If it’s too hot, I can’t be outside, even in the pool.
- If it’s too humid, I can’t be outside, even in the pool.
- I must bring a lot of water and snacks, even for a “quick” swim, to stay hydrated and keep my strength up.
- I will be in a lot of pain afterwards.
- I will be in a lot of pain the next day.
- I will be exhausted the next day.
- I might have to cancel all of my plans for the next day so that I can rest and recover.
- I won’t be able to cook that night, so I need to have leftovers available for dinner.
- Obviously I can’t swim if I have plans later in the day, because I’ll need to rest.
- I need to take extra meds if I’m going to swim, which means I have to know about swimming far enough in advance to take the meds.
There’s more, of course, but this gives folks a good idea of why swimming for me isn’t the relaxing, care-free, spontaneous, fun activity that it is for my neighbors. There are many things in our lives that get ridiculously more complicated, painful, and exhausting once chronic illness enters the picture, like grocery shopping. The big difference is that swimming is completely optional. Sure, skipping the pool hurts my social life a bit. But it helps my LIFE life a lot!
I’m not saying I won’t go swimming at all this summer. Only that the logistics have to be just right. I need to know the right people will be there so I’ll have, I need to be feeling good that day and not have other plans in the next day and a half, the weather has to be just right.
It’s not easy. But then, few things are when chronic illness is involved. So yes, I will be the “spoil sport” who skips the pool. I can live with that. Because I’ll live better for it.