Beth's right elbow swelled and hurt for the first time. Initially, her doctor and the team’s athletic trainers recommended compression wraps and anti-inflammatory meds.
She never stopped swimming, feeling healthy and stronger than ever, except for the elbow.
The college competition season approached. One of Beth’s friends on the U.S. Paralympics National Team also swam on the Yale team and successfully fought to compete at all meets, home and away. In contrast, Beth appreciated the time she gained by not traveling with the team.
“The trips sounded exciting but staying back gave me more time for school work and volunteer activities,” Beth said. She sent swim workouts to the U.S. Paralympic National Team manager and reported her whereabouts to the United States Anti-Doping Agency for random drug-testing.
Little to no social activities. Yet.
Often the last to leave the varsity locker room after a practice, with her hair wet, she wheeled up the hill at the entrance to the sidewalk on North Harvard Street. She wheeled toward the Square to her classes. On frigid days, the hair below her hat freeze-dried. The curb cuts on the bridge over the Charles River had steep inclines, impossible in any kind of wheelchair. Unwilling to ask for help from one of the endless pedestrians, Beth wheeled in the street alongside the curb instead, sharing a lane with nonstop cars while drivers turned aggressively in front or behind her.
Across the river, Beth often stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for a soy latte and a whole grain bagel with blueberry cream cheese. Peet’s Coffee also was a favorite a little farther down the street.
One morning at the Kennedy School of Government, she rode the elevator with Madeleine Albright, the first woman Secretary of State.
Beth’s largest class, Justice, attracted hundreds of students to Sanders, my favorite theatre. Dr. Michael Sandel led lively discussions on all aspects of justice that kept students engaged—and the public as well. Harvard aired Justice online, for free.
Next: Sisters in Cambridge!
Oh yes, icicle hair. Know it well. I was surprised to hear that Beth wasn't traveling with the team. Had she done so previously but then changed her mind? Whatever, it's a wise choice to know what limits you wish to impose so that life, as a whole, is manageable.
11/17/2018 10:22:11 am
Beth continued to travel around the world on the US Paralympic National Team. On her college swim team, she competed at the home meets and didn't ask to compete at the away meets. I completely agree about life management, Amy! Though I wonder if some of us (less-brave souls like me) tend to limit ourselves more than necessary?
11/17/2018 06:04:05 pm
I know all about walking the shoulders of roads. Before the turn of the century, Midland wasn't known for curb cuts when there were sidewalks, and you still can't trust sidewalks to continue from block to block.
11/17/2018 08:49:59 pm
It’s crazy how curb cuts are so unreliable in most places. How one corner has perfectly inclined curb cuts and another doesn’t. It’s not an accessible world for way too many people!
Leave a Reply.
Sign up for my Just Keep Swimming Newsletter by typing your email address in the box. Thanks!