Easing Back Into Swimming After Having Surgery for Ulcerative Colitis


Friday.

I decided it was time to try swimming again. It had been a while. So long that there was a winter hat in my swim bag. I was well equipped with brand new goggles and a much cooler swim cap. How refreshing to walk to the gym in flip flops and not have to peel off several layers of clothes and jam them into the locker with a winter coat and wet snow boots. I did my usual stop in the bathroom to empty the bag and double-check that it looked well-sealed and ready. All clear!

 

I stood at the edge of the pool for a while, pretending to fidget with my goggles and make sure my headphones were secure in my ears. In reality I was anxious and nervous to jump in. It had been a long time. Please god don’t leak. Don’t leak.

I jumped in and, like riding a bike, I got right into my usual routine. A couple laps of freestyle and I was out of breath and feeling like I was about to end an hour-long workout. Had it been 30 minutes? Nope…only five. Crap. My stubborn mind said to keep going. I took some big swigs from my water bottle and forged on. 20 minutes later the water bottle was empty and I took it as a sign to get out and go home.

Friday Night.

I wake up in excruciating pain. Between my scapulas, through my shoulders and radiating down to my fingertips. Not a wink of sleep for the rest of the night. Too much pain to even get up and get some painkillers. How am I going to treat my patient tomorrow?! Thankfully the effects of a hot shower, Tylenol and Advil kick in before I reach school.

Wednesday Morning.

I want to try swimming again. I must try this again. I have a PT session scheduled for the afternoon so I figure she will snap me in shape if I do any harm. I arrive at the edge of the pool and scope it out. YMCA summer camp is in full swing and there are about 30 kids on one side of the pool. They better be old enough to realize they shouldn’t be peeing in the pool. I knock that thought out of my head. To the right of me is a grandpa doing doggy paddle laps. To the left might as well be Michael Phelps. He gets started at the same time as me. With every flip turn he spans practically half of the pool before coming up for a breath to start swimming.

Several laps in and I’m surprised I am doing better than the first try on Friday. I feel stronger. Phelps and I hit the wall at the same time and I decide it would be a good chance to pretend compete with him. He beats me by a landslide. Like, I didn’t see that coming. I remind myself this is my second time swimming in about seven months and during that time I’ve had major surgery and have been hospitalized twice. I’m doing pretty good considering.

15 minutes into our swim I notice Phelps is gone. Really, dude?! 15 minutes?

Grandpa is still doing well with his doggy paddle.

I keep at it for another 10 minutes. My body tells me I’m done and I attempt to pull myself up out of the pool. Nope. Not happening. I use the ladder at the edge of the pool and then do some final stretches. Before I head out I scan the pool. Grandpa is the only one left. Slow and steady wins the race.

This post originally appeared on My Intestinal Fortitude.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Jacob Ammentorp Lund.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Ulcerative Colitis

woman in red leotard sitting in a porthole of a cruise ship

What I've Learned About Self-Care From Weight Changes Due to IBD

I used to work out in the weight room during gym class in high school – and working out five days a week was great! My diet still was less-than-healthy and puberty was working on giving me the figure of the beautiful women before me, but I was working my body. I wish I could [...]
Women taking a selfie together

When I Was Judged Because I 'Look Well'

I have severe ulcerative colitis. For those who do not know what that is, it is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), like Crohn’s disease. It can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, blood in stools, dehydration, weight loss, and exhaustion. I have had this since I was 9. When I was 14, I had the [...]
drawing of a woman with long waving blonde hair

10 Great Things About Having Ulcerative Colitis

Let me start by saying this: I know how much this disease can suck. I’ve felt so much of it myself, and I have dozens of friends who deal with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) on a daily basis – often symptoms that are way worse than my own. And I know it does take time for [...]
woman handing a stack of hundred dollar bills to receptionist

Healthcare Costs: The Chronic Illness 'Symptom' Doctors Don't Warn You About

I was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at 18. It was explained to me that my new chronic illness would present both primary and secondary symptoms. Primary symptoms are the disease itself – chronic ulcers in my colon, yikes. Secondary symptoms result from primary: fatigue, malnutrition, arthritis, even depression and anxiety. What no one mentioned [...]