The reality of this challenge set in a week ago. The initial high of having won a place, doing something for me, literally re-shaping myself by losing inches, and discovering that I REALLY do love swimming had been replaced with a routine that I was sadly learning to dread. I was sick of skipping dinner so I could go to the pool at 8:30pm just when everyone else was winding down for the day. I was – and still am – sick of fighting for a spot somewhere between the lane swimmers and those who really just seem to be there because Costa Coffee is closed at that time. I loathe the wet changing room floors as no matter how hard I try, the bottom 3 inches of my jeans always get soaked. I hate the lukewarm showers and the lack of water pressure that means you never really feel clean. I was disappointed to learn that I am still too fat for a ladies wetsuit.
But, most of alI, I hate the itching and scratching.
Dr Google informs me that I can’t be allergic to chlorine. Ok, so what are all these red angry lumps all over me then? I shower at the pool and I have a proper shower again as soon as I get home because I actually quite like hot water. The first 30 seconds of this proper shower are bliss ….. And then the itching begins. I scratch while eating dinner, I scratch all during the next few days while driving, though meetings, while cooking, while shopping…. I go to bed with socks on my hands to try and stop myself scratching away during the night. Even the dogs avoid me as they think they’ll catch my fleas.
I thought exercise would make me look radiant. Instead I’ve effectively got bad gravel rash with a side serve of acne. I’m not ageing gracefully.
My head is the worst for the itching. I have tried so many types of shampoo and conditioner. The bottles line the bottom of the shower tray, with a small gap between each brand just in case they fight. But nothing has helped. My hair is like straw. It is not the colour I dyed it 3 weeks ago. It also has its own 80’s bad perm style going on. (To think I used to pay for this look many years ago!).
My scalp itches so much that it reminds me of the nit patrols we had at primary school. Even though you knew your hair was fine, there was something about standing in the queue, waiting for for the nurse to peer at your hair that just made you want to have a good, long satisfying head scratch.
When I was growing up my mum drilled it in to me that I should never sit next to the girls with long hair unless they kept it tied back as they’d all have nits. I know she was wrong on this but she said it so many times that I occasionally still find myself hesitating now to take the only spare seat if it is next to the girl with a beautiful mane of hair. The power of parenting; beware what you say! Ironically now it is me with my constant scratching that people are avoiding.
My mum also said that short hair makes my head look like a pimple on a haystack. Given the way my skin is reacting to chlorine, she was most definitely right about that.
I’m still itching, but I’ve snapped out of my ‘it’s all too hard’ doldrums now thanks to the wonderful support of the lovely 2018 This Girl Can team. I can’t thank them enough. They have reminded me of the buzz of a great swim and the power of achieving a big goal. This puts everything into perspective. My inner well being is more important than a few discomforts. This team has faith in me and I have faith in them. Girls, we’re going to get there and we’re going to smash this.
And then I’m going to treat myself to a facial and grow my hair long. Because I’m worth it.