If you’ve been following my writing or know me at all, you will know that I generally try to stay a positive and optimistic person. Meaning that in any situation that I find myself in, I try to look for the silver lining; something for me to say, “It was worth it,” instead of getting angry or frustrated about a lost or failed experience. I will admit that sometimes it does get hard to constantly keep that attitude because everyone needs to blow off steam at some point.
Anyway, I’ve had this lifelong problem that hasn’t affected me all that much. Rather, I haven’t let it affect me all that much, but recently another dimension was added to my existing problem. After I was born, the doctors discovered that I couldn’t hear a thing because I had so much built-up fluid behind my ears. I underwent multiple surgeries in order to remove that fluid. After several attempts, the fluid was gone, but in its place was left a tiny pinhole in my left eardrum that was never repaired which left me with hearing loss.
Although that sounds like it sucks (which it does at times), to me, that’s not the worst part about it. As a child, I had to use an earplug that molded into my ear whenever I went swimming, whether that be at the beach or in the pool. As a kid, it didn’t bother me that much, but as I grew into those cruel teenage years where kids were ruthless, I became self-conscious about it.
I hated everything about that earplug. I hated that it made me look different, stand out. I was frightened that kids would make fun of me, of it. So I made the decision to stop wearing it, and I haven’t since. However, one summer, years ago, after I abandoned the earplug, I got swimmers ear in my left ear (my bad one, as I call it). I went to the doctor to get eye drops for it (what a kicker it is to be allergic to ear drops with an ear problem) but was told that if I were to get swimmers ear again, there is a possibility that I could go permanently deaf in that ear. Of course, the warning frightened me, but I swore I would never go back to those self-esteem-destroying earplugs.
My second issue arose as a child, too, and still haunts me to this day. I am a terrible, terrible swimmer. I never had swimming classes, and I guess I was taught by my parent and myself. With that being said, I can barely keep myself afloat, all I know how to do is the doggy paddle, I get winded super quickly while swimming, and I never learned how to dive.
My third and final issue that started affecting me recently is my knee. A little over a month ago, I underwent knee surgery that landed me in physical therapy. It’s been getting better, and I’m able to tolerate much more every day, but two things my physical therapist did tell me that’s going to take months to come back is kneeling and running. I’m not going to be able to kneel on it for a couple of months, and running is going to take some time, too.
I’m sure all of this doesn’t really sound all that bad, but in my life, it’s a huge deal because I am a beach bum and a water bug. As soon as I could drive myself to the beach, I was there almost every day during the summer, and I’m not talking North Shore beaches on Long Island; I’m talking South Shore beaches with the ocean and the waves and the tides and the currents that suck you in. To an active water bug, all these obstacles were and still are hard to jump though, but I always tolerated them and risked it because I couldn’t imagine my life without the beach or the water in it.
I’m bringing all this up now when I have been dealing with it my entire life because of the recent knee surgery. The other thing one should know about me is that I love to skimboard, which requires a short but fast sprint that I’m still not able to do, and the other thing that happens to me when I skimboard is that I wipe out—hard. Waves tackle me and throw me to the sand. Sometimes, I flat out just fall to the sand before I even make it to the water.
Thinking about all this makes me nervous that I’m not going to be ready for this upcoming summer season. How is my body, my knee, going to handle the activity, the spills, I’ve come so used to? If I’m not going to be able to kneel on it, willingly, for a couple of months, how would it feel if I were to fall on it?
These are the thoughts that scare me on a daily basis. My brain is telling me to take a step back, be smart, be safe, and let your body recover, but my body and my heart are fighting back. It’s just not plausible for an active person to switch it off. So instead of moping around in self-pity, I did something about it, about all of it. Having knee surgery was the last push. I can’t feel uncomfortable in the water any longer. So I bought myself a membership to a local pool, and I swim three days a week.
Not only is it a great full body workout, but it’s a great workout for my knee as well because it’s low impact, so I didn’t have to stop my daily exercises, like going to the gym, I just had to modify them. Also, while I’m there, I finally get to learn and work on my swimming. It’s finally time that I become a stronger swimmer and a comfortable swimmer.
Through all of this, I’ve found my silver lining of getting knee surgery. Yes, it sucks, and yes, it kind of puts my life on hold a bit, and yes, I would have rather not gotten it, but it is forcing me into doing something that I should have learned a long time ago. Because I have to swim to get my knee better faster, it’s forcing me to learn how to swim in the process.