CREDOS : Healing waters — I

Do you swim?” The neurologist’s question caught me off guard. Unexplained back pain plus a strange tingling sensation in my right foot, brought me to our family doctor, then alarmingly, to this specialist. “Well, no. I mean, I can swim, but it has been years.” “It really is

the best thing for your back.”Stalling, I opted for on-land physical therapy sessions, which of course did little to alleviate the numbness in my toes. Who knew that a herniated back disc could affect the feet? “You really should try swimming,” the therapist reiterates.

Flip-flops squeaking against the wet tile floor, towel in one arm, goggles perched upon my head, I scan the pool deck for a free lap lane. Looking down at my faded Lands’ End suit, the one with the little white elastic pieces sticking out of the inseam, I feel everyone’s eyes upon me. A thirty-something mom, my exercise regime involves breathless morning sprints to the bus stop.

Sure, I know how to swim, but splashing around with my kids on a sultry summer afternoon is just not the same as this — a 9am plunge into freezing water on a sub-zero February morning. So here I stand poolside, a deer in the headlights, wanting to flee, yet paralysed by the imagined stares of the other “real” swimmers.The clichéd Nike slogan pops into my foggy brain, pushed there perhaps by some gentle prodding from a fellow swimmer, stopping mid-workout to smile my way. —