By Deb Flaherty-Kizer
3 Apr

Fear, Concern, The Pool, and Coronavirus

Friday, April 03, 2020

Living with congenital heart disease, I have a predisposition to fear. I’m fearful about what the next doctor’s visit will reveal, fearful about what the next test will show, fearful about dying young.

I am working on channeling this into something more positive. The more I think about it, the more fear seems to imply passivity and giving up control. Fear often keeps you frozen in inaction and afraid.

A few months ago, I had a bout with vertigo. I went to get out of bed and felt like I was spinning. It continued for several days and I felt so dizzy I had to use a walker. Needless to say, it was quite unnerving. Once diagnosed, I did attend two vestibular therapy sessions, which seemed to help.

I thought I was 100% better, so I went back to my normal exercise routine at the YMCA. Once in the pool, I started doing the backstroke. When I reached the deep end and turned around, I kicked off from the wall and the next thing I knew I was under water. I was terrified. Luckily, the lifeguards were right there and although I was able to right myself, they helped me out of the pool.

I was afraid to lap swim in the pool for a long time, although I did take several aqua aerobics classes. I resigned myself to missing my favorite Y event, the indoor triathlon, since I was terrified to swim laps.

However, my friend Cindy, a swimming instructor at the Y, offered to work with me. I put it off for a while, then finally decided I wanted to conquer this fear since I really do enjoy swimming laps. And, I still had time to register for the tri.

I arrived at the pool at 8 a.m. sharp Monday morning. Cindy got in the lane with me and asked if I was afraid. I blurted out that I wasn’t afraid but concerned. She smiled and said she would be worried if I wasn’t.

An aha moment! That’s when I realized the big difference between fear and concern. Had I been fearful, I never would have gotten back in the lap lane. But by being concerned, I recognized I needed to take precautions {such as stopping if I felt dizzy and not pushing off from the pool too quickly). Concern put me in charge; I was not ruled by fear. And yes, I did complete the indoor triathlon. I was thrilled to find out I came in 10th place in the swimming out of 25 participants.

Onto current events. Yes, this coronavirus is serious stuff. As someone over 60 with a preexisting condition, I am in the high-risk category. But no, I am not fearful; I’m concerned. 

Taking control of what I can has helped me deal with all the uncertainty. I can’t control the stock market, I can’t control the behavior of others, but I can control what measures I put in place to avoid contamination. I’m pretty much staying at home, and only going out to walk—weather permitting. I’ve made sure I have enough medications on hand. 

What is helping me get through this difficult time is hope. As Maya Angelou said, “Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Invite one to stay.” 

I am inviting hope.

Take care of yourself and your family. Stay healthy and realize that this too will pass. We may be physically isolated, but we don’t have to be socially isolated. With hope, we will get through this.

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