Chronically Fatigued

Hippolyte Bayard, Portrait of Self as a Drowned Man, 1840

As I lowered myself slowly into the pool I hoped no-one would notice my muscles shaking and my face wince from the pain in my shoulders. I went to the edge and looked down a 25m barrel. I stood there feeling a little relief as my body was supported by the water. How am I going to do this? Well you taught yourself before Denise so you can teach yourself again. Ok, deep breath, you got this.

Usually I go to the pool when it’s fast swim times but not today. I watched two women swimming in slow motion and thought how I’d usually roll my eyes, these people would usually be in my way back when I could swim a mile 5 times a week without blinking. I love swimming, but it’s been at least 6 months and longer since I could exercise (I realise how much I’ve lost track of time, this started in 2016). I can only do the breaststroke but even then I was faster than a lot of people doing the front crawl.

I didn’t look at the clock but kept my eye on the goal. I’d prescribed myself 20 lengths and a jacuzzi for the pain, which radiating from a multitude of indeterminate spots, makes itself most at home in my shoulders. So I put my goggles on and set off…s l o w l y, even then these women were in my way and I got frustrated, glad to see I haven’t lost my competitive spirit.

After 8 slow lengths with good form I realised I had to stop. I look like I’ve hardly done anything but my body was doing a lot and it told me so. Now what? Just walk. I can’t do that it’s ridiculous. Do you want to do these 20 lengths or not? Yes…then walk. Tears of frustration gathered in my goggles, I’d usually power through the water like a knife through hot butter. I cleared my goggles. Ok deep breath, you got this. I walked for 5 lengths. Kid, I said, you’re over half way…but my body felt like lead. I stopped and turned my back on the pool and grabbed my left arm because my shoulder was still trembling. Should I get out? I feel stupid. No I said that would be a stupid reason to get out. I gave myself a few minutes and then swam 5 more lengths

s l o w l y.

18 lengths, ok good enough just walk the last two, so I did. I stood at the poolside exhilarated and trembling. Normally I’d be the kind of person who says well if you can do 20, you can do 30 and if you can do 30, you can do 40…but not today.

I went to the steps to get out, it felt like I was trying to drag a beached whale out of the water. Is it just me or is everything going in slow motion…1…2….3…..out.

I walked

s l o w l y

to the jacuzzi feeling like I was still dragging that beached whale behind me. Of course no-one could see that but it was there. I gave myself 15 minutes of bubbles as my reward.

Today and the next day I can’t even put the washing away…maybe next time I go I should just float or give myself bubbles. No you won’t next time you go you’ll do the same until you can swim 20 lengths and then you’ll add one length at a time until you get there. Maybe it was too soon, will there be a next time?.

Of course there will, but in the meantime you will have to occupy that twilight space between the living and the dead…

Ok, deep breath, you got this.

© Denise Startin 2017

Image reproduced from accessed 31/07/17