Swimming with Dry Eye

It has been two years since I was diagnosed with dry eye. I was diagnosed in the summer of 2020, smack dab in the middle of fun swimming season. Of course, during that time I was not swimming let alone stepping foot outside during the intense heat we faced over here in the Pacific Northwest.

Something I loved to do

Swimming was something that I loved to do with my children. We would spend hours at the pool, having the best time. When I started having issues with my eyes, that was cut short. I always wondered if I would ever be able to swim again, at least comfortably with my eyes.

As the years have went on, I honestly have been terrified to even think about stepping into the pool. Since my diagnosis you will find me sitting on the sidelines, watching everyone else have fun, thinking to myself how lucky they are to not know this dry eye hell. Not long ago, though, I decided I wanted to be done with fear and try swimming again. It didn't go so well.

Trying to swim again

We were invited to an indoor swimming pool with some friends. Instantly, I felt a wave of intense anxiety in my body because I did not know how my eyes would react, if I'd have to leave early, or if they would cause my eyes to flare up. Of course, all those things happened. It may have been that the enclosed pool and the strong smell of the chlorine right at my nose.

About 10 minutes after getting into the water, my eyes started really burning. I don't know about you, but for me the burning sensation is the absolute worst for my pain and for my mental health. I tried to stick it out for my kids, but at about 15 minutes into it I knew I couldn't stay in that pool.

Feeling defeated

I hopped out feeling incredibly defeated. It was like my eyes were needing a breath of fresh air, so I immediately ran outside the building in hopes that it would extinguish the burning. It didn't help that at that point my tears from crying were also burning my eyes. I sobbed for a good five minutes and then collected myself to go back in, tell my family I couldn't participate, and that I needed to be out of the building. I felt like a failure.

I was quiet on the way home, and my husband said something to me that really shifted my perspective. He told me that even though the indoor swimming was not good on my eyes, that I have been able to ride my bike again, be outside when it's windy, and attend my son's soccer games.

It really helped me get back into reality that I have come a long ways. I may not be able to swim yet, but someday I might be able to and I will appreciate it even more. I am thankful for that perspective, even though this was a really tough thing for me to have to face. Friends, I encourage you to keep trying things and not give up.

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