a woman submerged underwater for a swim

Exercising Again After My Diagnosis

Last updated: October 2021

Our first summer coming back to Tennessee from Colorado in 2007, we rented a house with a pool - we thoroughly enjoyed the pool and grilling area. It was a perfect place for great pool parties.

We had a smoker/grill built out of block and it was amazing! That summer was one of my best memories because we enjoyed all of that with family and friends.

Multiple respiratory problems

Having the pool allowed me an opportunity for low-impact exercise. I was able to swim laps, holding my breath all the way across. I did it with ease. However, the third summer we lived there, I had been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis and asthma just before Christmas of 2008.

In early 2009, I was diagnosed with yet another life-changing event. I had to deal with yet another serious diagnosis - I had multiple pulmonary emboli! Talk about not being able to breathe with myasthenia gravis ... couple that with asthma and now multiple emboli.

I was lucky to be alive. How did I survive this new issue? How will I exercise adequately with 3 respiratory problems? Well, here’s how I did it.

A fear of swimming

The first time I went swimming after we opened the pool for the season, I was very nervous. I’d had several bouts with difficulty breathing, the clots, and I wasn’t sure how I would do. I was afraid to do my usual laps at the deep end.

What if I couldn’t make it across the pool? What if I couldn’t stay afloat? If I had to come up for air, would I be able to without a panic attack? I was so fearful I wouldn’t have the ability to swim anymore, I had my husband stay near me in case I needed help.

Before that, I had no idea this disease would affect me in such a way that I would be fearful of a sport I’ve loved for as long as I can remember!

Easing back into exercise

About a month or so into the warm season, I mustered up the courage to take advantage of our pool again. I totally surprised myself when I made that first lap and didn’t have to stop midway to breathe! After that, there was no holding me back.

I had a great summer. Rarely did I have to come up for air before making it across the pool. Finally, I was back to doing something I enjoyed. I got a little normalcy back and it felt wonderful.

Once I mastered swimming, I started with weights. Beginning with 2-pound weights up to 5 pounds, I started using them again to try and rebuild my strength. I did have to stop sooner than I used to, but the exercises were going well. Exercising in the pool was the best thing that had happened to me in quite some time.

Regaining my confidence

I think that summer of exercise helped me more than anything else could have. It not only provided me with some much-needed exercise; it gave me back the confidence I needed to continue my own exercise program.

With that confidence, came other challenges. But I was more able to deal with them now than before.

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