I went for my swim, and changed in my cupboard like a good little cripple.
My diagrams were wrong, by the way – It’s fifteen metres further down the external corridor, meaning that it’s a thirty metre detour.
I got stuck in the doors on the way in, since I had my boots, jacket, bag, towel, morphine, waterbottle and locker token in one hand, and my crutch in the other, and the door was pull-only and weighed a tonne. After ripping my arm out of the socket trying to open it and dropping everything I was carrying, Lifeguard L (The really nice one who always chats) came over, rang someone else to mind the poolside, and helped me carry my stuff to a locker and get down to the poolside.
She confided that she also thought it was a bloody ridiculous sign, and that it made no sense. She asked what my ideal outcome would be, and I said “To get people to tell their bairns that it’s rude to stare”, and she ruefully agreed that the world was a difficult place. I said I’d think for a bit longer about what I’d accept as a reasonable adaption, and that’s what I’m working on now.
In the pool I was knackered – My arm was off at an angle and trailing in the water, though at least I got 600m down, and was swimming with a bloke who was faster than me – Probably faster than I’ve ever been – Who was both an incredibly polite and considerate lanemate and frankly a pleasure to watch.
I got out, limped to my locker, picked up all of my stuff with great difficulty, shoved out of the changing room using my hip as a battering ram, dragged myself down the corridor, where I started notably shaking, not only from the cold but also the fatigue, and got back into the changing cupboard.
This is when I noticed that the floor was completely flat and there were no coat hooks or benches, at either wheelchair or standing height. So I dropped my gear on the floor, and went to try to wash in the shower anyway, sacrificing my stuff to being wet for the sake of getting the dirty poolwater off my skin and the mud from the corridor off my feet. The water was cold. I suddenly remembered that, a year ago, when going to the disabled swim, I’d used the disabled changing room and found that the water was cold. I realised that, even though I’d told the centre staff at the time, nobody had repaired it.
Given the choice between washing in water so cold that it set off muscle spasms, or staying covered in chlorine, with my hair matting into a bleachy lump and my skin crackling and flaking off, I chose the latter.
I got dressed, with no stable bench to sit on, nowhere to put my clothes to stop them getting soaked on the floor, and no chance of calling for help if I fell. The red emergency cord was cut off at about hip-height, useless for anyone that’d fallen.
I found myself running BS8300 through my head, and finding it lacking.
I came out, knackered from having changed more so than from the swim. And despaired.