Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago,
Turned around backwards so the windshield shows
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse
Still, it's so much clearer

Nightswimming, remembering that night
September's coming soon
I'm pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?

Growing up on Pritchard Street in the 70's came with a few perks.  We had plenty of kids to play with, flat neighborhood streets perfectly designed for long bike rides, open front yards for adventure, and just enough peculiar old people to fuel stories of mystery and intrigue late into the summer.  But, above all was the swimming pool. I'm sure there were pools all across the area, but for a little guy who's world revolved around a two block radius, we were the only ones and fortunate.

At age seven nothing quite matched the freedom of your own pool.  In was the ideal place to spend summer days with friends and family, evenings playing Marco Polo with all the neighborhood kids or an afternoon alone fishing off the diving board imagining each catch is a marlin in the deep blue sea.  While all those days were grand, swimming at night could not be matched.  

Nightswimming was a rare event enjoyed only when my older brothers decided to take a swim and promised Mom not to let me drown.  At that age being out at night without your parents was special, but nightswimming was an adventure. The air was cool, the water was dark with only one light shining through, and the sky above was full of wonder and magic.  Each night usually ended up in a series of crazy dives, scary stories, and exhausted kids dreaming until another day. 

Emma and Maddie started their own version of nightswimming a couple weeks ago. At doctor's advice, they began pool based physical therapy two hours a week.  During each session they complete exercises uniquely designed for them by the physical therapists at CHOP and our local specialist.  For Emma the focus is on the upper body, specifically her back muscles which are not getting enough movement and where the glycogen build-up is more pronounced.   For Maddie it's all legs because that's where Pompe has focused its efforts.  

The facility uses the Endless Pools technology which offers customized currents the girls can swim against just as if they were in a much larger pool.  The pool is big enough for several people, but luckily they have it all to themselves.  Just like their days at CHOP, they are side by side fighting, this time splashing instead of sitting with IVs. 

So far things are going well.  It's too soon to see any results yet, but the two hours in the pool are moving muscles that are usually forgotten and have added to their exercise schedule at home and school. With time we expect their strength to improve a bit and the glycogen buildup to lessen.  In the meantime, we will enjoy the heated room instead of the winter evenings and the time alone as a family far away from TVs and cell phones. 

It's clear that nightswimming is a bit different for me these days.  However, as I close my eyes, listen to the water, and the sound of kids laughing, I can't help but smile and remember that nightswimming can still bring wonder and hopefully just a bit of magic.

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night, deserves a quiet night


Credit: REM, "Nightswimming"

Old days fishing away in the pool.

New days in between exercises.