Skip to main content


"The water is your friend. You don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move." ~ Aleksandr Popov

I have not been in a regulation sized pool or swam a lap since freshman year of high school. Sure, I have been in backyard pools and in the ocean but not a REAL pool. I learned to swim later than most kids; I was about thirteen or so. As an awkward, geeky, and somewhat overweight freshman in high school, the swimming portion of our physical education classes was a nightmare for me. I will spare you the details but at that age, you can just imagine.

Anyways, I recently changed gyms and one of the major factors in that decision was because this gym has a pool and I thought it would be a good way for me to get the exercise I need when my Sjogren's symptoms are flaring up; which can make even going for a walk difficult at times. However I had fallen five weeks ago and sustained a nasty wound to my knee which needed to fully heal before I could go in the water. This week it finally healed.

I had a lot of doubt about my ability to swim laps without making a spectacle of myself (completely unfounded worry) and I figured I would start my new found aquatic life with a water aerobics class. Of course this means going out in public in a bathing suit; which I had some anxiety over. It actually makes no sense because I go to the beach and walk around there in a bathing suit, but there was something about doing so in a pool area, at a gym with fit people, that seemed more intimidating to me. I hate the fact that even at the age of forty, I still concern myself with issues like this.

But of course I sucked it up and was constantly telling myself that people are there to work out and not notice how fat I may look in my bathing suit. Be brave I told myself. This is not high school. And I was fine.

The second I got my body in that pool, I felt like I was in pure heaven. I have struggled so much with my autoimmune illness and physical challenges over the past several months. I have also struggled with body image issues, as obviously noted above, related to not only the physical pain and fatigue I experience, but also related to the side effects of my steroids. These have included swelling, weight gain, and my hair falling out in clumps on a daily basis. In the pool though, my body feels less broken. It is lighter. I feel my muscles relax. I feel capable and strong. I even swam two laps doing what I think is a breast stroke. And I didn't have a heart attack.

There are multiple issues to consider when someone with Sjogren's syndrome spends time in a pool. Chlorine can be irritating to my already very dry eyes as well as possibly to my lungs. I did not put my face in the water today at the class, but I love to swim underwater. I think investing in a pair of swim goggles might be in order. I also need to remember to put in eye drops immediately before and after being in the pool. I am hoping that the chlorine will not be a problem for my allergies or lungs but if it does become an issue, that's what I have a pulmonologist for. Those of us with Sjogren's also struggle with severe dry skin issues which can be exacerbated my chlorine. Luckily, I live five minutes from the gym. My intent is to plan my morning so that I immediately go home and showe and apply body cream after being in the pool.

The class itself went well. I was not sure that I was getting much of a work out because my heart wasn't pumping as hard as it does with other forms of exercise. And of course there was no sweating involved. We did something called water walking which involved a flotation device thing. We did stretching and aerobic exercises in both the shallow and deep ends. We also used light weights with some of the exercises. It didn't even really feel like I was exercising at times although towards the end of the hour, I did notice I was appropriately short of breath. Time will tell because if I am sore tomorrow morning, then I had a good work out. Also I had an excellent night's sleep last night and I have been exhausted since leaving the gym. It doesn't feel like autoimmune related fatigue or coming off prednisone fatigue. It feels like your ordinary exhaustion from exercising.

Unfortunately, I also had to bring Molly for a walk this morning after the class as she has not been getting out enough and is acting like a total nut at times because of that. So now I am completely exhausted but besides a headache, I can say that I don't have any pain. It is still a challenge for me to plan my days so that I can appropriately pace myself physically in terms of getting in my physical therapy, strength training, and cardiovascular work outs. As well as walking Molly, housework, medical appointments, shopping, cooking meals, etc. Before Sjogren's, I could just plow through my day, but now my body requires frequent rest periods. It will all come together eventually I suppose. I have no choice but to make it work.

And the best part?

Ten minutes in the hot tub afterwards.



  1. Congratulations on finding a good pool to work out in! I'm glad your first experience back in the water went so...swimmingly. You continue to "awe."


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse

After careful consideration and a lot of research, I made a decision after the holidays to embark on a cleanse/detox. I will start by saying that I have never done anything like this before, mostly because I don't believe in fad diets, or any diet for that matter, and also because I'm not sure, with all my health issues, how good it would be for my body.

However, I had been having some new digestive issues and some of my other autoimmune symptoms were acting up sporadically here and there. I also really overdid it and made some consistently bad food choices over the holidays and I was trying to get my food cravings under control. The digestive issues were not anything severe that impaired my daily living, but I am slightly paranoid about my family history of ovarian cancer and I am at the age my mom was when she was diagnosed. The most overlooked and under recognized symptoms of ovarian cancer are the digestive issues I was having such as bloating, gas, and constipation. Sinc…

Low Dose Naltrexone

In my last blog entry I discussed my current experiences with an integrative medicine doctor. (Going Down the Road of Integrative Medicine). In that entry, I mentioned a new medication I was prescribed by this doctor called low dose naltrexone (LDN) and I think that it is worthy of its very own blog entry so here we go. Be forewarned, it's a bit complicated...

Since we have the modern day miracle of Google, I am not going to spend a lot of time describing LDN and exactly how it works, but I think there are some basics that are important. Naltrexone is a medication that was created in the late 1970's as a treatment for heroin overdose and subsequently used in larger doses (50-300 mg) to treat heroin addicts. It blocks the opiate receptors in our body, which are also found on immune system cells. The next discovery, in the 1980's, was that naltrexone at lower doses (hence why it is called low dose naltrexone), blocks these opioid receptors and increases the endorphin level…

Sjogren's and Disability

I have been reading a lot of posts of the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation Facebook page lately about disability for this disorder. People seem to have a lot of questions and comments not only about the process itself of obtaining disability, but also about the journey which is at best, extremely stressful. Having gone through the arduous process myself, I thought it might be helpful to blog about my experience in the hope that someone may find the information useful or at the very least, know that they are not alone in their struggles and frustration with getting through this system.

My journey with disability began in 2008 when I was put on short term disability through my former employer. After a period of time (I believe it was ninety days), it converted to long term disability which was a benefit I had elected through my employer, thank god. What that meant was that a private disability company, contracted through my employer, paid me sixty percent of my previous year's gro…