Just a few days shy of two months ago I wrote the Broken Things post. At that point it had been two weeks since the lift chair I use to get in and out of the pool broke with me on it. The chair was finally fixed on Friday and I'll be back in the pool on Monday. Why did it take so long? I don't really know. I don't think it can be said that it wasn't fixed because I'm fat but it can absolutely be said that my weight was being blamed and was going to be used to keep me out of the pool. There's a lot of back story to this and some of what I know came to me through back channels. All I knew was that week after week went by with no swimming. Eventually I contacted a disability rights org and a lawyer sent a letter asking them to make sure the chair would be fixed and that I can return to the pool. I don't know if it was that letter or other things that caused the fix to happen. I know it took twenty minutes or so to fix it. My rage about that fact is fairly overwhelming.
The chair is old and covered with rust. There are parts missing, a head rest, foot rest, movable arm and seat belt. The foot rest means that the chair is out of code and should be replaced. The lawyer raised that point and was told by management that it wasn't possible to replace it. I think the implication was that it was too costly. This from a club that recently bragged on Facebook about the money they've spent to improve their two clubs. My friend saw the broken bolts and said they were covered with rust.
In the response letter the management mentioned that I had been dancing when the chair broke and in the letter sent to tell him that I could come back I was admonished to sit still when on the chair. I usually do. The dancing I was doing was not vigorous. I was sort of kicking my feet and moving my shoulders. When I joined the club I asked if the chair could support my weight. I was told it could. Later I saw a sign about the weight minimum on the chair and it was in fact more than enough for my body. I've been using it for around five years. Even if I was dancing that chair broke because of rusted out bolts and age. Not my weight. Not my dancing.
But what if it was?
There was never any concern expressed about me being on the chair when it broke. There is no apology for the time I spent away from the pool. It wasn't fixed by professionals. I can only hope that it is a good enough fix. And that is just wrong. I should have a chair that I can use with confidence. The fact that I don't reflects a willful disregard for my well being and access to the pool. I think at least some of that is because I'm fat. Even if I didn't exit the club had no access for people with disabilities who needed the chair to use the pool. There is at least one other member, a ninety-three year old woman, who uses it. She had been out of the pool but went back recently and (I was told) had to be carried into the pool.
I don't need the chair because I'm fat. I need the chair because my knees don't bend easily. But again. If I needed it because I was fat ... shouldn't that be reason enough to fix it?
I've written so many times about my love of swimming. I've written that as long as I can swim and read I'll be happy. I have not been happy. I've been extremely unhappy. Unhappy because I couldn't swim and because of the ... willful disregard.
While all this was happening a friend on Facebook was talking about an event in which she felt something that happened was about her being fat. We never really want to think that. Our not fat friends aren't always sure. They don't want to believe it.
But there's more.
My eye doctor has seen signs of macular degeneration in my eyes. I wasn't surprised. My dad had it. A few months ago I noticed distortions in my vision. Lines would wobble. I had a blind spot at night. At my last visit I was tested and was told I would need treatment. The treatment is a shot. In my eye. Two actually. One to numb the eye and then the shot to reduce the inflammation. It's not as bad as it sounds but it's not fun. I've already had two shots and will need to get them for the rest of my life. And I may eventually need them in the left eye as well. My eye responded well to the treatment. No more distortions. I still have the blind spot at night. The doctor said it's about night vision. I'm mostly asleep at night so ... but when I get up to use the bathroom and see that hole in my vision it fills me with fear. I could go blind. I probably won't as long as I'm getting the shots but the possibility is terrifying.
As long as I can swim ... and read.
There have been a few other things happening. I can't explain why but all of it has sucked the life out of me. I've lost confidence and I haven't made a move to publish the book. Right now I'm not sure I ever will. I need to rebuild something that I can't quite name.
Swimming will feel good. Being at the club won't feel good. There's something about two months to do something that took twenty minutes. I am angry. I am hurt. And I'm not even sure the chair won't break again as soon as I sit on it. I should be sure.
All of this personal stuff happens in the context of the larger political nightmare, which is ... not happy.
I don't even care much about happy. I care about fair. I care about truth.
I'm trying to ... reenter? I've been in my little nest for the better part of the last two months. I do my yoga. My bicycle wheels. My weights. I did all of those thing when I was swimming. I don't even get dressed. I take a shower and put my pajamas back on. Why get dressed? Pajama days are fun. Pajama months are dreary. I've been trolling social media. Clicking a like here and there. I'm going to try to be back in it.
I feel old.