“Excuse me? Ma’am? Oh… Ma’am?”
I’m putting on my shoes, tired after a difficult swim. (I’d had to swim in the walking lane and then share a lane and then the water had been just a tad chilly and my mask had leaked and my shoulders and neck hurt slightly and I was tired and….)
Yet, now swim over, I’m warm and dressed, my back to the locker room where the Ma’am hailing voice is coming from. The voice is vaguely familiar, yet doesn’t know my name. Yet, of course, there are many women here at the Hilltop YMCA that I ‘know’ but not by name. And the 'Ma'am' address? I've given up caring about this anymore. It used to make me feel, 'old'. But now, since I am old, I don't care. Maybe age does have some advantages!
In any case, today I turn and behold AIDS Breast Milk Swimmer. I’d dubbed her this years ago when she told me in all seriousness that breast milk given to AIDS patients cures the disease.
She’s distressed. Wet and limping from the pool. Her pretty purple tie die Speedo wet and sticking to her dumpy belly. Her short grey curls dripping with tiny drops of chlorinated water. Her eyes wide and round, frantic around the edges.
“No, no…” She shuffles over to me. “Excuse me for bothering you I just want to ask you do you know why I get a cramp in both my legs….”She eyes me earnestly.
I shake my head, “Did you not drink much water today?” Hell, how should I know if water deprivation and leg cramps are related? I have no clue. The only time I’ve gotten cramps swimming is when I wear wrong shoes all day and then when I get in the water, sometimes my feet cramp up. It’s strange and painful with the toes actually curling inward toward the bottom of my foot till I stop at the side of the pool and massage it out.
“I drink only one bottle.” She holds up a large purple plastic container to show me. I admire her identical match with her suit but don’t comment upon this. Instead I tell her that that seems like quite a bit of water, but is it less than she usually drinks.
Again I deny any knowledge cramps causation. If I had my phone, I could google it like the rest of the world but today, I’d left the phone at home. Who needs it in the pool anyway?
She nods, sadness oozing out of her wet pores. I can tell that not only is she in pain but cutting her swim short has caused her much consternation. I get that one! If I don’t get my whole swim in, for whatever reason, I’m super cranky! It’s usually because of some Y related situation: pool closure because of fecal matter or a birthday party of 50 screaming 9 year olds suddenly jumping into the water with gleeful splashing pandemonium.
But I’ve never gotten out of the pool because of cramps and so this really sucks and I feel sorry for AIDS Breast Milk Woman.
“Maybe if you go into the sauna it’ll help?” I suggest. “And then when you feel better, you can finish your swim?”
She brightens a little. “Yes, that’s a good idea. I did do 35 minutes though.”
Yet, I didn’t and I still don’t. Of course, now that I’m at the computer, I could easily google it. But why bother now? It’s not like I can help her and even if I had known the cause earlier what good would that have done?
I suppose her idea that she hadn’t drunk enough water was part of why she asked me. If I’d said, Oh, my! You need to drink more water and then the cramps will disappear, she coulda done so and voila finished her swim.
But alas, I didn’t think of this. And she may be right. Water is the answer. It is for most things if you think about it.
“I will try the sauna,” she nods, turning to head toward its warm embrace. “Thank you.”
“Sure, I hope you feel better. Those cramps are painful!”
“Yes….yes, they are….”
I watch her purple self lumber down the aisle and open the sauna door. “Como estas?
And the sauna chat ala Español begins. Maybe she’ll find the answer to her cramp question in another language?