Swimming in figures…

My “big swim challenge won’t be taking place till April, next year, but even so it’s not too early to get the pencil and paper out, or in my case, the calculator  and work a few figures out.

A marathon is just over 26 miles or 42.195km, given the majority of the pools I will swim in will be 20 or 25m, I’ve rounded it up to 42.2km or 42200m. That’s 1688 lengths of a 25m pool, which equates to a lot of swimming.

I’m swimming this challenge in “silly hats” so I will change hat throughout my challenge, to mark my progress. Again, out come the calculator after trying different numbers I feel 8 works, 5275 metre’s,  per hat a change of hat after ever 211 lengths. However on the last week, I’m doing 10km, I think the hat will need changed more often, so I will, on the last week change the hat every 2500 metres. It was at this point, that my head began to hurt and I got really confused…so I’ve just decided to stick with 10 different swimming hats and change it, when ever I feel like it, before my brain implodes on itself and makes a right mess out the lounge wall! 

Splashdown…

Tonight, I was back in the pool for the first time in two weeks. 

I was a bit concerned, at first,  my peak flow suggested that there is still some airway obstruction. However, I did as I always do and took a few puffs of salbutamol and then, away I went. 

The first length was tough, I learnt tumble turns some months ago, for those who are familiar with tumble turns (or flip turns as they are sometimes known) they are far from easy to learn. For those who see them on the telly and think, they look easy take it from me, they’re not! You have to get your distance, positioning and breathing right, in a split second! Get it wrong and you either, kick out at water and look silly, breathe in under water, come up gasping with snot running down your face or worse, injure yourself. 

Tumble turns, take hours and hours of practice, the first few weeks proved tough, in fact I hated them, but now they are second nature and getting easier. Tonight, however I saw the wall and panicked. I was so annoyed with myself, my flip turn had flipped back, two months.
So tonight, I concerned myself with swimming widths, doing a tumble turn, swimming another width and so on. Pushing myself and working hard to regain confidence. 

I also took the oppurtunity to do some balance and strenghthening work, to help my creaking joints. Arthritis is crap, it hurts and you feel as stiff as an old carthorse, this has been my life for 15 years, but determined not to focus on the negative and spend my days bemoaning my lot,  fixated on the pain I’m in, though I hold my hands up, of being guilty of this, somedays, I try to translate this into something with a more positiv.

Finally, as still have a nagging fear of deep water, I decided to pencil jump, into to pool, the pool is 10 ft deep. What actually happened was that, force of the water, shot my goggles over my face and I got my eyes full stinging, chlorinated water. The result was that I came spluttering back to the surface looking very uncool indead! 

Swimming in silly hats…

OK, so I’m still awake, so I may as well write my next post…

Arthritis Care Gateshead is a charity that is  close to my heart, though I rarely attend meetings, owing to other commitments. It’s a place that’s given me so much: acceptance, cconfidence, friendship and the ability to manage my arthritis better. In short, they help pick me up, at my lowest point, when I was told I needed a walking stick, at 38. 

Now it’s time to give something back…

It’s a massive challenge that I’ve set myself: a marathon in a month, with a marathon in a month. 

Sound confusing…well let me explain!

A marathon, in running terms, is 26.2 miles, while a swimming marathon is 10km, so the plan is to swim 26.2 miles in a month, with 10km being swam in one week, which will take place during Arthritis Care Week in May 2017. It’s going to be a massive challenge!

The plan was to source a swimming hat, on which could be printed “Arthritis Care Gateshead” with my name printed on it, but it would seem that this only possible if ordering 500! So the idea is, to swim it in “silly swimming hats” the sillier the better. 

I’ve already sourced 3 and I’m on the hunt for more, I’m hoping I can get the branch involved in this and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.

Things can only get better…

It’s time for a very long, over due update…

I haven’t blogged for months, there’s lots to update, on!

In August, I picked up a repetitive strain injury in my right elbow, which meant I was out of the pool for three weeks. It was an incredibly frustrating three weeks. Thanks to support and advice from other swimmers, Google is an amazing resource,  I have changed my arm pull, but I’m get to to really see if this will make a difference.

By this point, it was early September and after over 300 days of counting, I was eagerly awaiting my holiday to Lanzarote, a week of relaxation and swimming in outdoor pools. 

Then on Friday, six days before I was due to fly, I awoke with a sore throat and my peak flow, had taken a decidedly downward progession, bugger. I used my nebuliser and rang my nurse, her advice was no nonsense and to the point “if we’re to have any chance of getting you to Lanzarote, we need to get you on prednisolone, today”. Bugger! 

I then sat and disolved in to tears of frustration…you b@@@@@ds, how is it possible to hate something, so essential to life, so much? My lungs, actually, it’s not my lungs, it’s my asthma, my severe, difficult asthma that I hate!

(I need to add at this point, that I rarely get infections, so early, it’s usually late October/early November the infections hit).

I started prednisolone, slowly my lungs responded, my asthma improved and on Tuesday I was given my clearance to fly. I took my last dose, 36,000ft in the air, on a Thomas Cook Airbus A321! I also used my nebuliser, as advised and completely freaked out the woman next to me, who told me that she was a care worker and seemed to be convinced I’d drop dead on the spot, despite my protestations, that I was fine and just carrying out my usual treatments!

I arrived in Lanzarote and had a truly memorable and wonderful week, I laughed, danced, walked and of course, swam…I’m so grateful to the fact that swimming ha’s really improved my physical fitness, as to allow me to do these things, despite my health problems.

On the Monday, there was an option of a discovery walk, to a local “viewing spot” I was up for that, despite the temperature being in the high 20’s.  It was incredibly hard work and of course I had my rucksack, with my nebuliser etc with me. 

The viewing area was on top of a hill, a steep gravely hill, with no real identified path, I looked up and thought “there’s no way I’m getting up that” then I saw someone, at least 25 years older practically run up it! Not to be outdone, I decided to give it a go, despite being nearly on my hands and knees and puffing on my inhaler, I made it, I was so proud of myself and it was so worth it, for the breathtaking view.

Then there was the small matter of getting down, visions of having to be carried down, swam into my head, luckily, slowly, step by step, with the help of other participants, I got back down. By now I was sore, aching and really struggling, the walk out there was close to two miles and climbing the hill, had really taken it out of me. 

The tour leader stuck with me, other participants offered to carry my bag, slow but sure, I made it back to my hotel, using self-management techniques. Never did I think, the hotel is two miles away, it was always I need to get to that rock, then that plant, then the bridge and eventually, my hotel. I was so relieved to stumble back, to my room, but so exhilarated that I’d achieved it.
I had managed because, swimming has taught me, the importance relaxing my muscle’s.  It’s the same when I decide to have a bit of a dance, if I allow myself to relax and being in tune with what my joints and lungs are telling me, I can achieve so much more and I’m much less likely to take a tumble. Yes I will still ache and be sore, but self-management has taught me how to manage that, too. I’m in control. 

I also swam, a lot,  not big distances, but I practiced tumble-turns, over and over again. Getting my timing right, getting my breathing right, not kicking some poor, unsuspecting bloke, in the love spuds, wedding tackle, knackers, balls, goolies or whatever else you want to call them-believe me, I’ve so nearly done it!!

More than anything I chilled out, ate well and enjoyed the sunshine and yes, I also sank a fair few cocktails, being all inclusive and all that!!

Then, like every holiday, it came to an end and I flew back home to Britain! 

The first week back and the second, was great, I felt really well and I discovered, after a comment made about me having lost weight, that I’ve lost nearly a stone, since I started swimming.

Then, less than two weeks after my return, onmynous clouds began to gather, I woke up on the Wednesday with a sore throat and my asthma didn’t feel great. I questioned, as to whether I was developing what I refer to as a “back to back”. A second infection, in less than month. It’s only happened four times before, March this year, March 2014, September 2010 and way back in 1994 or 5. In September 2010, I was hospitalised for 4 days and started on what I commonly refer to my miracle drug, Tiotropium.

I went to bed on Wednesday and was rudely awoken, by an incredibly sore throat in the early hours of Thursday-after a lot of silent and inward swearing, I swallowed two paracetamol and went back to bed, only to awoken, again, in the early hours this time I shovelled codeine and some ibuprofen down.

By Saturday I was loaded with cold and my asthma, was in a word, crap, getting up the stairs in one go was out of the question. Everything pointed to me needing another course of prednisolone, but I was determined not to. My asthma nurse will have a fit, if she finds out!

I knew what I was doing was irresponsible and potentially dangerous, but I couldn’t face it! I battled on through Sat and Sunday, despite having very little sleep, and then on to Monday. By Tuesday, people where making noises that I should be on prednisolone, but my PF was on the way up and I was feeling better. I had managed it, I got away with not needing the “evil smarties” and I felt smug.

Until the next morning that is..

The next morning, I awoke and my first thought was “you evil b@@@@@ds” my lungs, clearly determined  to have have their own way, had thrown a massive spanner in my plan, in the form of a chest infection. I felt dreadful, shivery and more frustratingly my PF was 310, I was out of options, leave it any longer and I was going to be in serious trouble. I’d gone to bed, on the crest of a wave, and woke up in deep water, water I was not going to be able to swim out of alone. I needed a life belt, I needed both prednisolone and anti-biotic’s. 

So this is where I’m up to right now, swimming cancelled for at least another week, asthma is improving, but it’s going  to be a long winter-I’m currently where I usually am, in January,  I’ve already  had two courses of pred, meaning that my immunity is pretty much wiped out for when the really nasty bugs come sailing in.

I need to swim and I need to train, as I have a massive swimming challenge coming up, in six months time, but more of that on my next post, I promise you, it will be a lot more positive!