Letting go

I think I posted here a while ago that I had joined the dive team, because I had decided that while I was in a good place, joint wise, I should take advantage, and do the things that I had missed while my autoimmune arthritis was over active. One of the things that I had missed so much was exercise, all and any kind, but having done gymnastics for years, and diving for a little while, the dive team just seemed to call out to me. Beckoning me to come closer, to go for it, and take the leap (yes, pun intended).

But lately I’ve been struggling. I’ve had a hard time with my immune system due to all the immunosuppressive medications that I am on. I would say I’ve had between 8-10 viruses within the last couple of months. Which at first was alright, well, except the fact that I was sick all the time, but it felt like more of a nuisance than a big problem. But lately the viruses have been getting worse, sticking around longer, and worst of all triggering my autoimmune issues. I’ve been exhausted, my joints have been flaring on and off, and then on top of that I’ve still had to deal with having a virus. This has led to lots of missed classes, work that seems to endlessly need to be put off to tomorrow because I can’t manage to get it done, and missed dive practices. Every time I’ve felt better and up to trying to get back into the water again, the next virus seems to come along and knock me back off my feet. I’ve been trying really hard not to let this stop me from diving, from doing what I want to do, what I feel I should be able to do. I’ve been showing up to practices, and stretching and working out on the bikes when I can’t dive, and pushing myself to get back into the water as soon as I can, which perhaps has not been the best answer. But I wanted to keep diving so badly. Diving has made me feel really happy and fulfilled, it’s given me a reason to get up every morning and the team is so loving and supportive.

But at some point somethings got to give, at some point you have to let go. Let go… oh boy is it hard to let go. There have been many, many tears shed. Lots of anger, sadness, denial, and even feelings of failure in this decision. But at the end of the day it needed to be made, diving right now just isn’t the right thing for me, and no matter how many ways I look at it, I can’t change it. I just can’t, not with all the wishing in the world. So my coach and I have decided that it would be a good idea to take the rest of the year off diving, and return to it in my second year, if I think I feel up to it. In the mean time I’m going to work on getting this beast of an autoimmune disease back into control, and slowly building up my fitness and stamina, with the goal of returning to the team next year. I’m coming to accept this decision, and starting, piece by tiny piece, to let go.

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Taking the leap

So much in chronic illness often becomes centred around the things we cannot do anymore. We have to plan our day around it, give it a constant stream of acknowledgement, or all hell might break loose. It’s that awkward third wheel that no-one likes to talk about, but we all know is there. So for once I am going to talk about what I can do, about the leaps and bounds (literally and figuratively) that I have been lucky enough to take forward. I have joined the dive team, and have completed three weeks of training. £ weeks of proper intense training. If you had told me I would be doing this 2 months ago, hell 1 month ago, I would have laughed. But here I am , three weeks into this new adventure, and I am loving it, it makes me smile when I wake up for practice, I want to go, I’m enthusiastic, I am intrigued what new thing I might learn each time. I am keeping up, pretty well I think, and my joints on the whole seem to be happy enough to hop on for the ride. I mean there as been quite a lot of grumbling from them, but nothing I can’t manage, nothing to horrible. I actually just want to hug them and throw them a party and say look what you can do! Look how far you’ve come! I have had some bad dives, hit the water on more than one occasion, which hurts every time, don’t believe anyone who says otherwise, and I’ve still been able to get up and try again. I might have a few, well maybe a lot of bruises, but I’m willing to take them for the fun I’m having. The other thing that I love about diving is that the swim and dive team spirit and friendliness is just amazing. I like every single person on that team, and everyone looks out for each other, cheers each other on, and were all so close. It’s such a nice environment to be in, and I feel very lucky to be in it. The one thing that feels a bit odd though is how few people on the team know about my medical stuff. My coach knows and a couple of the girls on diving, but I don’t think many other people know. I am kind of torn between whether I want them to know or not. IT’s nice to have a group of people who just sees me, without the baggage, but then isn’t the baggage part of me? Also I have no idea how one brings this up, especially when you are participating in all the trainings and mostly able to do it, it seems weird to then say but oh ya I have JIA, and this is really actually something I never though I would get back to. I feel like this just turns the conversation really awkward or into a pity party. Neither of which I want. So I guess in this regard I am on the fence. Should I tell everyone, should I not? How do I tell them? ……

So far I have learnt 10 maybe 11 dives, which makes me super proud. I just want everyone to know that even though it might not seem like it now, hopefully there will be a time when you will have better control of your body. For now, know your limits, but don’t limit yourself. If there is something that you really want to do, that is important to you, go for it, it might be hard, it might not work, but it also might. Just go for it. Diving was something I thought I would never in a million years get back to doing, but I have, and the going is slow and tough, and sometimes I want to cry and quite. But then I remember how much joy it brings me, how I actually feel like I have a reason to get up early in the morning. I tell myself that I can manage tough, as long as it’s important to me, it being tough will not stop me. My joints can throw little temper tantrums all they want I’m going to do this, because who knows if I will be able to later, I don’t. So here’s to taking that leap of faith, and going for that thing that we want, no matter how hard it seems….