the day she fell asleep in the pool #hawmc day 25

April 25, 2012

Summer 1980. She was seven years old, and having a great vacation so far. Swim and golf lessons, days spent at the pool with her besties, long long hot days, tons of fun and giggles and good times.

Except she could never get enough to drink. Seemed like she was always standing in front of the refrigerator, taking long drags on the big bottle of cold water her mom kept in there. She couldn’t take the time to pour it in a glass, either. (Sorry, Mom!) Just needed to take in as much as she could at one time. Sometimes she felt like she had a bottomless thirst that would never be quenched.

And then she’d have to run to the bathroom, almost immediately after drinking. Those trips were a bummer, and they were required so often! She wondered why the cold water couldn’t just do its job and get over itself.

Then she took another loooooooong drink.

And went to pee. Again.

Swim lessons were several days a week, early in the morning. She started taking lessons when she was a toddler, so she knew her way around a pool and loved it. They were learning kick-turns, dives, and practicing cool emergency survival things like turning jeans and shirts into flotation devices and wearing them while treading water for several minutes at a time. There would be a test at the end of the summer.

She was starting to get annoyed when she had to get out of the pool several times each lesson to pee. Again. What was going on?

Golf lessons were even earlier, just once a week at 7am. She’d go with a couple of her best friends, and they’d always play an entire 9 holes after the lesson was over. She quickly learned exactly where the restrooms were throughout the course, and started worrying that somewhere on the back 9 she’d get stranded and wet her pants.

She planned how she could ask someone in one of the houses lining the course if she could use their bathroom. And made excuses with her pals about why she didn’t want to play an entire 18. (It was 1980. People didn’t carry water bottles around with them all the time back then. She would either die of thirst, or pee all over herself, or both, whatever.)

When she was at home, she began sitting down on a big comfy chair in the living room. It was on her path halfway in between the refrigerator and the bathroom. She could rest for a minute. Sometimes she’d lean back and close her eyes. Ahh. Rest was good.

Sometimes, she’d open her eyes and realize she’d been asleep for several minutes. Or a half-hour. Or longer…an hour? What?

Confusion. Annoyance. This didn’t make any sense.

On Friday, June 13, her mom and her 3-year-old brother took her to swim lessons per usual. There were lots of contests and races that day, with kickboards and without, practicing various swim strokes back and forth across the full length of the pool. Good times.

She gripped a kickboard and kicked along, enjoying the water on her face. No good drinking THAT water, she thought to herself.

The water was really comfortable, in fact. Like lying in a cloud. She wouldn’t even have to kick that much. Maybe she could slow down a little. How many more lengths did she have left? So…comfortable…so…tired…maybe she could just stop for a little bit…and float…

With her face down in the water? It didn’t matter. She just needed to rest.

She pulled herself up without breathing in any water and trudged slowly up the steps in the 4-foot end. Weakly dropped the kickboard on the pool deck and fell into her mom’s arms. She was pretty incoherent by this time. Her mom wrapped her in a beach towel, took little brother by the hand, and put them in the car. Mom drove directly to the ER.

She had some trouble holding her head up in the car on the way there. She tried to keep it together, but her eyes kept rolling back in her head. She saw and heard people-nurses and doctors-coming in and out of her curtained area in the ER. The lights were super bright, she could just close her eyes. Her brother was with her mom at the end of the bed, and they seemed like a looooong way away. She was still so tired. She didn’t feel the IV go in her hand. It was just easier to close her eyes and rest. Blissful.



About 4 days later, she opened her eyes and focused. Her parents, and brother, and grandparents were there with her. She wasn’t so crazy thirsty anymore. She could hold her head up. Must have finally gotten enough rest.

That’s good, because a whole new life was waiting for her and her loved ones. Insulin. Shots. Exchange diet. Urine tests. A whole new language.

With that, smartDpants was born. She just wouldn’t realize it for another 31 years.



wego Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge prompt for Day 25:  Third person post. Write about a memory you have but describe it using the third person. Use as many sensory images (sights, sounds, textures, etc) as you can. Don’t use “I” or “me” unless you include dialogue.

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