Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stump Splash

Got in the water today. Hot out, beautiful blue sky, & time to swim. My pond is still a little algae-fied lately. I treat it weekly with the non-toxic, all-natural, supersonic Microbes but I didn't get a good start this spring and with all the warm weather it's a little...furry, so far. 

So I drove to my friend's pond late this afternoon. It's up a sylvan lane, past what used to be a pasture & riding ring where she & her daughters rode a dozen or so years ago after I fanned the flames of their horse interest.

The pond is beautiful. It's not huge but a nice size, full of bass, surrounded by hilltop trees and grass. It even has a pea-stone gravel "beach" where an AK amputee doesn't have to slide through mud into the water as she ditches her crutches.

It was perfect. The water temperature was just right, not cold until I dove down. Since I started swimming the lake four years ago, I wear goggles & earplugs to handle some of the water-logged feeling. I hate water in my ears. I'd only planned on a meet & greet with the water, but I was prepared to swim if I felt so inclined.

I did.

Understand, I have one leg. On land I walk, happily but stiffly, with my non-computerized Otto Bock EBS 3R60 prosthetic knee. I still fall sometimes. My organic right knee has deteriorated to the point of being replacement-worthy from years of overuse. On land I ice it, wrap it with Ace bandages or wear my unloading brace. I'm fifty, but I'm grinding to a halt. I can't work or move the way I did even when I had a fused leg and I miss the whole-body exhilaration of pushing myself. It was an important side of my relationship with horses that is limited now. Speed. Athleticism. Physical challenge. I haven't run on my own legs since 1975. 

Today I tossed my crutches on the beach and dove into the shallows. It set me free. All the motion I needed was there--swimming hard, kicking with my leg, feeling my knee work without pain. I kicked with my absent left leg, the one I still feel; I believe my phantom limb helps propel me through the water. It was pure joy. Every stroke, every gasp for air as I turned my head. When a little striped head poked up to watch me across the water before disappearing, I just shrugged. It was probably just a painted turtle. We both had swimming to do.

Whenever I tired, I floated on my back. Goggles made the non-aquatic world a silver blur of light, sky and trees. Goggles made me an unblinking fish head down in the water. The sounds of bubbles, my breathing, and the splash of my arms were the only sounds in my underwater environment. It always makes me feel like an astronaut. An aquanaut.

Think I'll be swimming a lot this year. Like a loon: I'll make a nest at the edge of the water. Roll in without needing to walk. Loons have solid bones that let them dive 200 feet into a lake but this makes it difficult for them to move on land. So they don't. They swim. They dive.

And they fly.


  1. Replies
    1. :-) Swam there today again. Beautiful, in the rain too.

  2. Sounds amazing. I am also a leg amputee 54 year old woman from Cape Town. I feel so free when I swim. I just love it

    1. Nice to meet you, Carol. Swimming rocks, doesn't it? Do you swim in the ocean or lake or a pool? (out of curiosity.) I swim in the ocean on occasion but it's hard to stop playing in the waves...:)