Discrimination? Trying to keep perspective…


Has anyone ever told you that you’re “not in the right class, place,” (whatever) and made you want to flee the room?

While I have had Johanna, the tiny little German instructor before, for my night classes, she was really (perturbed?  put out?  concerned?) – whatever – that I was in yesterday morning’s aerobics class for arthritis.


Since every muscle in my legs were still hurting, I finally got to the pool in time for the 10am aerobics class, and as a newbie, I was the target of attention from start to finish (ugh).  Johanna remembered me from night class, and was all over me like white on rice about the fact that I was in the “wrong” class, that this one was for people with arthritis, and I was moving too quickly.

I don’t think I would have gotten my feelings bent out of joint were I not already in pain, and if she didn’t keep focusing on me.  Maybe.

But, she did the introductions (it’s a lot like an AA meeting, in that everyone needs to introduce themselves at each new class), and then kept riding me on my form – even though it was my FIRST class of this nature.  I think I did ok holding my own for being uncoordinated, especially when I assured her that I *did* have arthritis.

When it got to the third time, though, it was getting awkward, so I simply said (as if to remind her that it was NONE OF HER BUSINESS) that I would talk to her after class about what was going on.

Apparently, because I’m fat, I looked “too healthy” to be in her class.  And “too young”.


So, we finished the class (after she made me take off my floatation belt – no one has ever done that before.  Normally, they want you wearing it).  I put the belt back on and then moved to the deep end where the water could be soothing as I worked my way though more shoulder-specific arm movements to continue to try and improve the feeling in my right side.


Normally, I don’t mind answering questions and will even offer information to stem the tide of incredulity.  This woman, however, was clueless that she was being wickedly intrusive.  We talked about the fact, again, that I’d had her for my night classes as a substitute once or twice, and then I told her that I was out on disability and trying to keep active by coming to more day classes, too.

She didn’t know what COPD was, she didn’t believe that I had arthritis and stamina issues, “but, you look so good!” was her favorite retort.  Now, maybe I have a chip on my shoulder because of the German accent and my recent adventures being acquired by a Germany-based employer, but it was all I could do to keep my smile and continue to answer her nosiness.

When I explained that I was out on disability due to lack of air / exhaustion and stamina issues, and that I was there to keep moving as much as I could,  you’d think I was the biggest goldbricker she’d ever seen.  She was very sweet about it all, but the ignorance of many people is aggravating.  When I explained that 2/3rds of my lungs were garbage, and that I was choosing to refuse a lung transplant, she immediately went into “Dr Johanna” mode for letting me know my health improvement options.

While I appreciate her concern, and looked up many of her recommendations, there are mixed reviews on whether or not there’s such a thing as an “oxygen pill”, as there are a variety of substances banned for use in racing, and there are other dietary supplements that consist mostly of salt.

Additionally, I couldn’t find any papers by her “Dr Knob” (a conversational reference) on the power of swimming to improve oxygen use in the body.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for everyone sharing information.  But, don’t have the ‘appearance of authority’ when making recommendations anout my health – something you’d not heard of before you met me – and try and tell me what to do.

I’m just here for the exercise – I didn’t sign up for any well-meaning advice, or long-winded questions about what’s going on with my health.  If you need to know, then you better be my doctor, or paying my medical bills !

So, today I head for the other pool in Palo Alto with its whirlpool, and try their shallow pool exercise class.  I will hope they will be more receptive to my participating.

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