Trial and Error 

How do you give yourself credit for a failed experiment? If it wasn’t a positive experience,  can you give yourself an A for effort and leave it at that? I don’t want to create a pattern of  avoidance. Can I really just take what I want from an experience?

Since I started aqua therapy last week, I decided to try to go on my own and try some of the exercises at the YMCA where I’m a member. I figured just the effort to get my swimsuit on and find my combo lock and get out the door was good for me.

I had to park on a farther spot because I let my disability placard expire, so it was a long walk into the gym and then the pool (for me). Once I got in the pool I actually didn’t mind that it was much cooler than the aqua therapy pool. The thing that did annoy me was the water in the water walking lane only came up to my waist. So basically walking in it is harder than walking on land because there’s more resistance and no weightlessness because the water is so low. After all the effort to get in the pool there’s no relief.

I did one lap back and forth the length of the pool, then did some stationary core and glute movements. I felt like I was in the pool for so little time but I decided I was done. My knee hurt in an old familiar way where I’d try certain exercise and be so frustrated that it resulted in this pain.

I made it back to my car just starting to limp a little. It seems like this experiment was a failure. But I want to put a different lens on it to reward myself for even trying, and not build a bad association with the pool.

I talked to my mom and she said there is a Woman’s Day article that was inspiring because a few women made tiny changes in their lives that they could build on and had a big impact over time. One woman walked one minute in the morning and evening to start.

So my positive spin is that 1) I give myself kudos for the effort. I made it out of the house, into my swimsuit, into the gym and into the pool. Phew. That is a big behavior change. And actually a lot of walking for me. 2) I have to keep trying things to find what’s right for me. This was good information gathering. I was thinking next time I’d ask if I could walk in the lane that’s a foot deeper but usually only allows lap swim. Or I have to find another pool. I can get my problem solving going rather than throwing up my hands. 3) Being in the pool felt good and reminded me of all the swimming I used to do. Maybe next time I go I could try swimming a lap and build some coordination back. Just getting in the water feels like it opens up new opportunities for me.

The other thing I’m thinking about is graded exposure, which is a way to improve my tolerance to something with my chronic pain. Since what I did resulted in raising my pain, how could I have done it differently? I could have done a little less, or paced better by resting between each stage. I.e. Get ready, rest, get into the gym and the pool, then just float for awhile, walk one length, stretch, etc. It seems silly to do this but I think it would work. 

Ok, now I go rest my knee from this failed, but illuminating experiment.


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