Have I not published this??? Wha…?
This was 2012, the night before I was diagnosed with heart failure. Before all of my surgeries. Before gastric bypass. I was over 513 lbs. at the time. ❤
I’m at the pool. Again. I haven’t started swimming yet, but I’m here. I hate walking to the pool from the locker room. I can feel everyone’s eyes on my body. Fat shifting, legs jiggling, bright white flesh, unforgiving florescent lights, bathing suit from the 1920s. Ah, the ‘20s, when horizontal stripes were all the rage. When a woman could feel confident about her swimsuit choices. When covering her thighs was an option. You were encouraged to wear a dress into the ocean. I would need a burka to feel confident about bathing suit season. I could rock a burka. Whoosh. I’m in.
I look at the children splashing in my lane. They’re the excuse I give to postpone what I came for. Where are the parents? These kids are related. Same curly hair. Same features. Their careless parents rely on the apathetic lifeguard who is more concerned about how his towel is folded under his Speedo than rescuing either of these sputtering, flailing novices who are in over their heads. Boys. Rough-housing. Slapping the water, slapping each other. The bigger boy is holding the smaller boy under the water. I’m hoping one of them will seriously injure the other. The lifeguard blows his whistle. The big boy lets go. They settle. They look at the guard and then at me. Either the sharp tweet or my intense stare has sent them splashing in another direction. Wait. Don’t go.
10 minutes. I’ve been swimming for 10 minutes. I can stop now. At least I did something. There are other swimmers who want the lane. I look ridiculous. I’m not even doing this right. I’m not burning any calories. I’m so slow. My breathing is terrible. I can’t breathe. I’m tired. I could take a break. I don’t want to do this anymore.
No. You are fighting for your life here. Focus on your heart. Your strained, stressed-out heart. I haven’t been able to breathe very well for almost two months. I start thinking about how every stroke, every paddle, is strengthening my poor old heart.
And then, when I change my thinking, when I choose to fight, I start to swim. This is a race. And I’m going to win. Now I love my body. I love everything that I’m doing. I focus on the water moving over my arms and my pale, slick legs. Slowly, I am washing away the food, and the fat, and the failure. I am washing away all the hurt I’ve done to myself for all these years. I begin to move with determination and calm, embracing my power and submitting to the task. This is spiritual. I submit. And I swim for 30 minutes, not just 10.
The next morning, I am admitted to the hospital for heart failure. Crash.