Progress. One stroke at a time.

photo credit orah - sxc
photo credit orah – sxc

Sometimes you set out to do something with a specific goal in mind. And sometimes, the actual results are surprising.

Several years ago, I was in the best shape of my life. I was strong. Thin, but not too thin. I went to the gym at least 5 times a week. And I felt great.

And then, I started having some weakness and pain in my left arm and shoulder. But I was busy and in denial and I did nothing. Well, nothing except exactly what I’d been doing. And then, one day it was worse. I’m sure it was getting worse all along, but it seemed that all of a sudden, it was a real problem. A real problem – as in I couldn’t fold sheets anymore. I couldn’t pass a dish at the table. I couldn’t do a lot of things.

And so, I finally went to my primary care doc. And she was alarmed by the muscle atrophy in my shoulder. My doc never is alarmed. And I found this alarming. After a myriad of tests and specialists, it was clear that I had some major cervical disc damage. So I started going to physical therapy and I worked and wished. And yes, I wished that it would get better, but I also wished I could go back and deal with this earlier. But too late for that.

And then, in 2011, I had the surgery.

Basically, it sucked. It was harder than I expected. I was depressed. And I was never going to be the same. But, life got back to normal. Kind of.

I got back to the gym as soon as I was allowed. Twice a week.

And I did my stretches (still do). But my life was markedly less active. I was just less comfortable than I wanted to be and couldn’t find my way to just push it. I wouldn’t say I became a potato, but I would say that I became a homebody. I guess that’s a nice way of saying I became a potato.

Time goes so fast. It’s not as if I realized I’d been doing so little for so long. I thought about all the active things I wanted to do. But I just didn’t do them. (And meantime, I wondered why my neck still was stiff and I was still uncomfortable. Hmmmmm.)

I looked at all the class schedules for the village and for the community college. I thought about yoga and thought about biking (I even got my bike tuned up) and thought about all sorts of things. And then, one day I saw there was a summer swimming class for stroke improvement and endurance at the community college.

I’m sure I wouldn’t have really signed up, except I said it out loud. In front of my teens. And at that point, I was sort of committed. Know what I mean? And so, I actually did sign up.

I was petrified. I hadn’t done any real swimming since my mid-twenties. And that is a heck of a long time ago. Like half my life ago. But I sucked it up. And I went.

I’m on week 3. Class is twice a week. And a couple of things have happened so far. First of all, my swimming has improved a ton. I’ve gone nearly 3 miles since I started (combined, not each class) and my stroke is so much better. Every class, I’ve gone farther than the time before. And I’ve gone to swim on my own outside of class, too. I know, crazy. But the other thing that has happened is that I’ve met these amazing women. It’s not a big class. There are maybe 8 of us. And we all came in at different skill levels and with different motivations, I’m sure. But I look forward to seeing everyone. And I quietly cheer on the classmates who have really pushed it and are doing great (you know who you are!) and I’m excited for the young woman who’d doing her first tri in 2 weeks and I’m worried about the woman who’s dad is in hospice and you know what? It is so much easier to drag my butt there because I feel like we’re all in this together.

I expected to be on this journey alone. But I’m not alone.

And you know what else is unexpected? I feel good. I feel energized. I want to do more. I’m walking more and getting out more and walking away from my computer more and I finally feel like I’m getting better – as in back to me.

And I’m really proud of myself.

Who know’s what’s next? If you could see my search data (and we all know that someone does!) you’d know that I did a search for beginner triathlons today. Is that my goal? Probably not, unless I plan to walk the run. But, I feel like my options are opening up.

And it’s incredible.

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4 thoughts on “Progress. One stroke at a time.

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