A Day at the Pool

Exercise has changed for me since my stroke four years ago. I thought it would be interesting to write about a normal occurrence now. It will give insight into the day-to-day workings of my life.

It’s important to me to go to the YMCA. Water aerobics does a lot for my sense of well-being. And it makes me stronger. I can accomplish things in the water that I could never do on land and some of those accomplishments transpose to my daily life.

There’s one drawback: I can’t say I love getting dressed and undressed since my stroke. It’s not insurmountable in most cases but it certainly can be a challenge away from home. I am fortunate that our YMCA has a well-equipped accessible bathroom/shower. Since I have the most severe disabilities of anyone in the classes I take, I almost always get the use of the accessible room. (Otherwise I probably wouldn’t go.)

It doesn’t seem like a lot but putting my towel where I need it, getting my soap from it’s bag, making sure my shampoo is reachable, rinsing my suit and hanging it to drip dry, washing my hair and then drying enough to begin to put clothes on – all without slipping – it’s a big deal! Ever tried getting pants over a damp leg that doesn’t maneuver well? My effort in the locker room may equal the aerobic workout I get in the pool.

On this particular morning I added an extra step to my process at the Y. I was planning a couple of stops after class and decided that I should wear a bra. Most days I wear a camisole and T-shirt or a blouse.

I have this crazy-wonderful apparatus I called my Barbie bra helper (because it is pink and white and has hearts on it). Someone was quite clever to think of this simple apparatus. I don’t know how a person with my limitations could put a bra on without it. (In fact, my friend had to help me the first time.) But I digress…

Anyway, I had not factored in the difficulties of being a little bit moist after my shower. I put my brassiere on backward as usual, and tried to twist it around. It stuck to my damp body. I tried drying myself off with a automatic wall dryer in the hopes that eventually it would release. By the time I got it down around my waist and turned, I was lucky to be laughing, not crying.

When I reached for my T-shirt from the hook and my cell phone rang. Reaching for it I heard a crash and realized that my sunglasses had fallen in the wastebasket. Luckily, the trash had just been emptied and they were clean and retrievable with a bit of extra effort.

I had well-exceeded that time limit of 10 minutes for accessible shower room occupancy. (Unreasonable on a good day.) Oh well…

By the time I got my whole act together several people had tried the door, hoping to get in. Am I sure I need this? 🥴


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