I grew up all around the world, but home base since I was born has always been the Bahamas. I was a fish in water and you would be hard-pressed to find me out of the water. After my accident, I was pretty devastated not being able to get back into the water due to a myriad of medical complications and a massive pressure sore that was given to me in the hospital. This pressure sore took nearly a year to heal up.
The moment I was able I found an incredible swimming instructor who helped me get back in the water about a year and a half after my accident. I broke my neck shallow water diving so I had some hesitations with getting back in the water, and how I was going to swim again as a C6 quadriplegic paralyzed from the chest down with limited arm function.
2012… Swimming for the very first time after my accident
The first time I was rolled into the water using a PVC pool chair I was very nervous … My body was floating and I just couldn’t get my feet down due to the loss of muscle mass and being paralyzed.
I had seen many videos of other quadriplegics swimming on their backs and just floating doing the backstroke with assistive devices. I really wanted to be able to swim on my own whether that be on my front, back, side, etc. without any assistive devices.
I even created a video on YouTube back in 2012 of my swimming
It took many weeks and patience on my end and my swimming instructors to teach me the body mechanics of how my body worked in water.
After some time things just clicked. I was able to swim forward, kind of like a butterfly stroke, push my arms deep in the water and pop my head up like a turtle. I look absolutely ridiculous swimming, but that feeling of floating without a wheelchair is one that I cannot describe in words. I must admit swimming back in 2012 was significantly easier than swimming again in 2017 because I had about 40 pounds on me that I had gained after the accident, which made floating so much better 🙂
I swam for about a year and a half in Miami, where I was living in the time, and then I moved to China for several years for spinal surgery. Upon my return back to the United States in 2015 I had a series of medical disasters including pressure sore flap surgery on my tailbone. This prevented any activity.
Now, 6 Â½ years after my accident in 2010 with my skin all healed up I decided to take the plunge and start swimming again a few weeks ago. I was understandably nervous as I had not been swimming in nearly 4 years and I did not have a swimming instructor. I did have my sister, who is absolutely fabulous, but I had to replay how I would swim in my mind over and over again for the last few months.
Finally, I bit the bullet and went swimming three weeks ago and have been every week since. I’ve posted some pictures and videos for you to see how I swim, but it is 100% possible as a complete C6 quadriplegic to be able to get in the water and swim independently (even with a bum shoulder as I have). There are so many tips and tricks that I can offer those interested.
Essentially, I cover the site with a lot of Vaseline to prevent water from getting inside the suprapubic site and I do a bladder flush right after swimming. So far this is working, but I’m going to see my urologist so she can teach me a specialized taping technique so that no water gets in!
I’m so excited and confident about my swimming abilities again that I signed up for a handicap surf event called “Life Rules On” on Carolina Beach in North Carolina the first week of August. This will be the first time since I’ve been back in the ocean in seven years since my accident.
Swimming is just one of the many adventures I am beginning to enjoy again in my life after six years of medical hell. I take all kinds of crazy mini adventures on the weekends with friends and my boyfriend, even if it is only a couple hours. I go on unusual, crazy, weird, and wacky adventures for the story & memories!
I am excellent at coming up with doable, inexpensive, and manageable adventures. So, just reach out to me if you are interested in wanting to get out more. For a long time I thought life’s little fun adventures were over, but I realized I just had to adapt my definition of what an adventure is in my situation.
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