Swimming with ITP, an autoimmune disorder

Living with ITP, an autoimmune blood disorder characterized by low platelet counts, brings its own set of challenges. From episodes of bruising to persistent fatigue, exercise can seem daunting. Yet, for me, swimming became a beacon of hope amidst these concerns. Here’s my story, filled with triumphs and newfound confidence, to inspire you on your own fitness journey.

My Swimming Journey

Swimming emerged as a sanctuary for me, offering a low-impact workout that alleviated the strain on my joints. Despite the constant fluctuations in my platelet counts and the looming risk of injury, swimming provided a safe haven to pursue fitness goals. With the guidance of my orthopaedics, I took a leap of faith into the pool, and nearly 10 months later, I stand as a testament to its transformative power.

As I reflect on my journey, I am filled with gratitude for the strides I’ve made. From tentative strokes to confident laps, each moment in the water has been a triumph over adversity. Through perseverance and dedication, I’ve not only improved my physical health but also cultivated a newfound sense of self-assurance. Today, I proudly embrace the title of a swimmer, eager to share my experiences and inspire others to embark on their own path to wellness.

Why Choose Swimming?

When comparing land-based workouts like gym sessions, running, or cycling to exercising in water, such as swimming, the difference in joint impact is striking. The buoyancy of water significantly reduces stress on joints, offering a soothing and comfortable workout experience. Moreover, swimming engages the entire body, promoting excellent blood circulation, building strength, and enhancing cardiovascular fitness. Its therapeutic nature also fosters joint flexibility, minimizing the risk of injuries. Overcoming any initial hesitations toward water, swimming becomes not just a workout but an enjoyable and invigorating activity.

Click here for 10 Self-Care Tips to Manage Immune Thrombocytopenia

Swimming with ITP

Living with ITP, an autoimmune condition that keeps my platelet counts between 60,000 to 75,000 (the normal range being 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood), I initially worried about the impact of swimming on my body, particularly my platelet counts. However, after nearly ten months of swimming, I’ve seen my platelet counts stabilize at around 90,000, with bruises becoming a rarity, except during mild sickness.

Here’s what I’ve learned during my swimming journey:

Listen to Your Body

Pay close attention to your body’s signals, beyond just surface appearances. I learned this lesson early on when I incurred bruises while learning the beginner’s dive due to incorrect technique. Taking the time to understand proper technique and resting when necessary proved invaluable.

Communicate Your Condition

It’s essential to communicate openly with your coaches about your health condition and limitations. Carrying your latest medical report or an emergency card detailing your condition can also be beneficial in case of emergencies.

Follow Your Coach’s Guidance

Trust your coach’s expertise and follow their instructions diligently. They can assess your abilities and tailor exercises to your needs. Building a strong foundation is key to long-term success in swimming. Remember, it’s always sustainability over speed for the win.

Prioritize Stretching

Warm-up exercises, including stretching, are crucial for preventing injuries and improving flexibility. Skipping stretches can lead to discomfort and even injuries, as I learned first-hand.

Stay Hydrated

Even though you may not feel as sweaty in the water, staying hydrated is essential. Keep a water bottle with you and sip regularly to prevent dehydration and muscle fatigue.

Don’t Swim Alone

I strongly emphasize always having a buddy or coach nearby when swimming, especially after experiencing severe cramps recently. Having someone to assist in times of need is invaluable for safety.

Avoid Comparisons

Comparing oneself to others can be counterproductive, especially when dealing with health conditions. Focus on your progress and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small.

Have Fun

Most importantly, enjoy your time in the water. Experiment with different techniques and embrace the joy of swimming. It’s a privilege not everyone gets to experience.

Embarking on a swimming journey may seem daunting, but with determination and support, it’s entirely achievable. My journey wouldn’t have been possible without the guidance and encouragement of my amazing coaches. Stay tuned for more insights in the next post. Let’s dive in together!

This post is a part of #CauseAChatter.