O.I. Love Swimming

I used to think, actually I still do, that if I could change anything about the world to make my life with O.I. better it would be to live under water. Nope, I wouldn't want to get rid of the O.I. since it's the only life I know. I would want to make the world more adaptable to me. Yes, all of it. What can I say? I dream big.

There is a freedom about swimming and being in the water that is more than just independence. It's more than the fact that I can walk, run, and jump in the water without fear of fracturing. More than just the fact that I can reach things from the bottom of the pool without needing to ask someone. I can do flips, float, and kick as hard as I want. In the water people look at me when I'm talking to them, not at my wheelchair. I am able to swim and keep up with friends and family, never needing to look for an accessible route or a low enough curb cut. In the water, as long as it's not too crowded with flailing and splashing limbs, I hardly have to worry about having brittle bones. When I am walking or jumping in the water I am always amazed by the weightlessness of everything. For someone who relies on her wheelchair most of the time, being able to be mobile on my own two legs (without leg braces) is invigorating. I have tried to explain this to my friends who don't have O.I. but they usually look at me like I am extremely late to the party. I don't know how else to explain it without sounding too cliche, but maybe if humans had wings and could go anywhere they wanted then everyone would understand how I feel about being in water - it's freeing.

Now that summer is in full swing I hope that everyone has had or will have a chance to go for a dip in the pool or at the beach!

On being a mermaid(man):

  • I would encourage kids with O.I. to get started early (if possible) on swimming. There are tons of medical literature out there that highlight the muscle and bone strengthening that comes with swimming for O.I.'ers
  • When I was younger I used to take swimming lessons at the YMCA; they were always very inclusive and accommodating. My swim teachers would help me in and out of the pool as needed, or adapt water games in class to my needs. I've learned that many swimming classes for babies/younger children allow parents to join in as well!
  • In high school my P.E. classes were adaptive and most of the time I spent them at the pool. If you child attends adaptive P.E. classes ask about incorporating swimming lessons
  • Water proof casts now exist!! This is such a relief but can be used only for certain fractures (usually if it's not due to a surgery w/open wounds or stitches); you should ask your doctor about getting one if you have a fracture and if swimming is something you do frequently
  • Although the weightlessness of the water decreases the risk of fractures, if you're using a public pool be aware of other limbs that might be kicking and splashing about
  • Be careful when using swimmies or floating devices. Make sure that the swimmies are not too tight on arms or waists, and if you are using a kick board or other similar thing know that if you push them under water they will pop up at you with quite a blow! (I have had many awkward instances of this happening that have resulted in bruises on my face..)
  • The Dreaded Thing: If you break a bone while in the water it is an extremely weird feeling. I have done it a few times and always note how much more it hurts during the transition out of the pool. If this happens, quickly ask for assistance to get yourself into an isolated area and follow the usual routine you have for managing fractures

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