The countdown is
down the wire of a week now.
I will be in hot
and sizzling Houston, Texas for the Transplant Games of America. I will finally return to my ‘home’ where I
really belong. My familiar transplant
buddies and honored organ donor families and living donors will warm my heart
and spirit once again. I will meet with
new faces, hear their stories, and embrace and love them already just because
of our unbreakable common bond in transplantation.
And, yes, I am
going for the gold.
This 2014 year, I
signed up as a swim competitor in 100 free, 50 free, and team relay
medley. As soon as I registered, I made
a beeline for the “Club Fit” gym I am a member of to locate a personal trainer/coach
to assess my swimming and strength skills.
Mind you, back in
2012 for the first Transplant Games of America that I competed in, I had an
outstanding swim coach who patiently tried to work with my temperamental and
pre-hip replaced body. I ended up
bed-ridden for two days. Needless to
say, I was leery and edgy that my body would flip out on me yet again.
But, my curiosity
to test out my new hipper and normal body surpassed any qualms. My brand new hipper had given me a brand new
lease and appreciation on the quality of living and life relatively
pain-free. It was time I put some faith
in my body and myself again.
and statuesque swim coach and I reunited again.
I flashbacked to two years ago when I was bed-bound after no more than
five swim sessions with her. I
remembered the flippers and the comment that I “swam like a guy” with powerful
upper body strength, but weak lower body strength because all my chronic pain
issues were from the lower back and below.
I was scared that my body would betray me again.
My swim coach
behaved like two years ago never existed.
There were no flippers and kickboards.
There was only my body in a colorful swimsuit, my purple flip flops, prescription
goggles, and a tight swim cap that squashed my head.
She laid it out
for me from day one of our training two months ago just like this, “We are
going to work on strengthening your legs, core, and shoulders. We are going to do gym training and swim
training. When it comes to your swim
training, remember elbows up and constant kicking. When it comes to entire training and in
personal life, belly button needs to be in to strengthen your core.”
These past two
months, I’ve done planks, push-ups, weight-lifting, and balancing in the gym
area and then constant kicking and arm drills in the water. I waited
in nervous anticipation for my finicky body to knock me out and leave me bed-bound
again, but it didn’t. Rather, my body
responded that I was stronger than I could have ever imagined. I was stunned at what my body was capable of
now that I had a new hip replaced. Sure, there were days that my body was in aching pain, but it was much more tolerable that it was yeras ago. I
began to watch what I ate and ate little meals throughout the day.
In the process of
all this training, I lost 10 pounds and gained confidence and trust in my body
that I never believed I could or would ever have.
I could do
anything and everything. The impossible
was possible. I felt like gold. I feel like gold.
And, then, came
the “dolphin swim” technique that my coach apparently felt like my body was
As I was freezing
and shaking in the swimming pool and struggling to listen to her, my coach
explained to me, “Swimming techniques have evolved over the years, and it was
found that when swimmers swim like dolphins of doing a half roll to their body that
they swim faster and endure longer. It
is almost like your body is doing a side stroke from side to side. Try it.”
For the past
twenty years, I had been swimming a certain way to compensate for my vulnerable
lower “below the equator” body.
Suddenly, my coach was saying that I had to go against these twenty
years and learn what I was not sure that my new body was capable of.
For the first ten
minutes or more, my mind was a metronome of ongoing thoughts if I was getting
my arms at the right angle, if I was doing a side stroke, and more. I struggled and spit up water. My arms flailed and my lower back began to
I cringed under the water and
thought, “Here we go again. My body is
going to flip out on me. Please don’t. Please don’t.”
My coach was
yelling at me while I was underwater. I
popped my head up for air and she said to me: “You are thinking too much about
the strokes. You are going too
fast. You need to slow down and stop
I gulped. That was always my problem. I thought too much. I worried on overload. I needed an off-switch to my body.
I shut my eyes and
tried to truly feel the salt and chlorine-infused water that wrapped around
me. And, I slowly reached my left arm
and did somewhat of a roll with my right side.
Then, I did the same with the right side. Something suddenly clicked in my body. And, off I went.
When I came up for
air again, my coach was practically beaming and grinning ear to ear. She simply said, “You got it.”
I glowed with
golden and unexplainable joy. I had
never felt more liberated and strong in my life. I had never had so much faith and trust in my
body than I did right then and there.
A couple weeks
have passed since my mental, physical and spiritual triumph with getting the
basics of “Dolphin Swim” technique. I’m
still working on my elbows and shoulders to come up along with my constant
motor kicking. I’m now falling in love
with strength-training. I’m learning and doing things I never thought I could
do. My body has not flipped out like it
did before, but there are recent days that the pain is bad that I am reminded
of all I had to endure for years and that I am still in my ‘gold’ period of
trying to balance myself out in every respect.
All of this is frightening and invigorating at the same time.
I often reflect on
the constant changes that are occurring now in my personal and professional
lives and how my new body and I are truly one in trying to adjust. There is still particles of fear in me that
my body will react with fury, and I remember what my faithful osteopath said to
me soon after my hip replacement surgery,
“There will come a time when you won’t
be scared anymore, Mary. You will be
moved around or jostled around at work and in your personal life, and something
will just click in you and your body that you don’t have to be afraid
anymore. You won’t have to depend or try
to control the uncontrollable with minute details. You won’t worry about your body. You will adjust and trust your body in every
and any situation. ”
I’m realizing that
that golden time is happening now. And,
nothing is more ‘gold’ than the learning curve and simply now.
of America, here I come!