Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Swimming with the Oldies

It's always good to get out of your 'comfort zone'. I've been giving myself a pep talk to do this for about a week and a half now. My Dr gave me the okay to swim if it didn't result in any form of pain in my back. I asked around and did a little research and found the closest pool to me is the YMCA in Bethany.

Except, I don't know how to swim.

I know how to stay afloat in water, yes. But swim? Competitively? Or for exercise? No idea. I now understand how people feel when they start to run; they're worried about their form, or their clothes or looking funny. Getting in someones way or going to slow. I can relate!

I had pictured in my mind an Olympic size pool with 4-5 serious swimmer athletes jumping off blocks, into the water and moving their arms just right so they glide across the water. I pictured them knowing when to breathe, when to keep their head in the water, how not to look goofy in goggles and how to do that flip-turn thingy at the end. I pictured it that way and when I tried to put myself in the picture I was in the way, slow, awkward and secretly being laughed at.

Yesterday I was gonna just go do it. I told Chad my fears and he said "Who cares? You're married to me and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks." I had looked up the aquatics schedule and saw there was an "Open Lap Swim" time. Then the above picture came into mind and all of a sudden my stomach started cramping and I felt nauseous (yes-really.) So I chickened out. I looked at the schedule a little closer: 8:00am Water Walking, tomorrow morning. That's my style.

So I woke up at 7:00 am (which I haven't done in 5 weeks). I feel a little more confident that I can handle "Water Walking" but now I'm nervous about the ladies at the front desk, I hope they're nice and can't really tell how terrified I am... Of joining a YMCA?! I'm 26 years old-what is wrong with me?! I can do this!

So I walk in and met Marsha who was extremely nice and helpful. She gave me a tour, putting my mind at ease and then showed me to the locker room which led to the pool. Marsha warned me that there might be a bunch of old, naked ladies in the locker room so if I preferred I could change in the ladies' family locker room because there was no one in there. I laughed in my head and thanked her and then headed for the locker room. I got changed and went to the pool.

I didn't pay too close of attention to my surroundings. I was focused on getting underwater where me and my limited padding, tight-in-all-the-wrong-places one-piece were semi-hidden. Marsha had mentioned that the current class (Water Walking) was mostly senior citizens and I probably wouldn't be interested in that.... but the deep end was open.

So I'm swimming in the deep end. The lifeguard on duty is probably a few years younger than me. I'm sure he was wondering what the heck I was doing since I had the youngest person in the pool beat by at least 40 years. He casually mentioned that this time of day is for senior citizens and that I should come in the evening where people "..are still older, but at least they're like 30 instead of like 80". Oh, ok.

More people kept coming in. I was people watching. There was a little old man that came into the pool near me. He smiled at me with his shorts pulled up to his chest and his bright yellow flotation belt. I thought in my head "He is the cutest thing ever!" I love old people. And I'm probably just as comfortable in a pool filled with 70-80 year olds as I am with people my own age. Then I remembered how they can be incontinent at times without even knowing it and I decided it was time to go home.

But I realized... This is where I'm supposed to be. No, not necessarily at the YMCA pool during the Water Walking class (except I think now it was the Arthritis class), but working with old people, geriatrics. In my heart of hearts I'd love to be a Labor & Delivery nurse, I've always wanted to do that. And I truly hope one day I get the opportunity. But right now, for the time being, God has called me to be surrounded by wisdom-filled, grey hairs. I know some think "What is the point? Most of the time their diseases are terminal and they won't really ever get better". To me, it's more than that. It's learning from them and having a respect for what they've gone through and accomplished in life. It's giving them the best years possible for what few years they have left. It's loving, caring, listening. Being respectful and honoring. I know that most don't understand it. And I don't claim to understand it myself, but God has given me a love for this population and I'm thankful that I am where I'm supposed to be. It's a great feeling.

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