Wednesday, January 08, 2014

And you thought the ocean was dangerous… read on Lizzy, read on...

Sunday evening my daughter and I went swimming at the Canada Games Pool in New Westminster.

It’s a great pool - it has two moving bulkheads so the lane lengths can change according to the needs of swimmers/events.


Last September the pool got a much needed paint job… and this is where the story takes a dive.

Those of you following me for a while may recall that I have a mermaid for a daughter

Part of the fun of swimming with a mermaid is donning my flippers and pretending to be one too. I will swim for as long as I can on one breath with my body inches from the floor of the pool.

As a runner I have lately been working on lung expansion exercises and was eager to see if I could swim the length of the pool without coming up for air. (can you see where I’m going with this)

Okay, so, my lovely mermaid daughter was out in front and since Courtney was using her mono fin there were bubbles in my vision - what I didn’t see was the bulkhead which I was approaching at a fast speed with my hands by my side (using only leg power for this kind of swim) and just like that I went face first into the bulkhead.


My daughter, who witnessed this, as she tried to reach out and grab me before impact, was mortified. 

You would think I was blind, right, but here’s the thing, the bulkhead and the pool are both white - I am swimming low to the ground all I see in front of me is water, bubbles and white - there is a large gap under the bulkhead as I am swimming toward the deep end - I don’t see the bulkhead because it is blending in with everything around it. Water is moving freely under it -  and… I’m wearing goggles to boot so it’s not like I’m swimming with my eyes closed.



Anyway… the paramedics arrived followed by the ambulance and about five hours in Royal Columbian Hospital.

Having had a pretty good concussion last year I was given a CAT scan to make sure my brain was okay - hmmm, that in itself was interesting - but verify I still have a brain isn’t a bad thing, eh!

I was sent home where I went to my daughter’s place to be resurrected by some wickedly good chicken soup that her man, Eric, had made hours earlier.

The kids looked after me real well and with the help of the hospital administered Gravol and Tylenol I made a go of getting some sleep.

Here’s the thing - after two horrific car accidents it's this accident which is causing me no end of nightmares. Every time I close my eyes I am swimming, full speed, into a brick wall with my bare face - yikes, once was enough thank you very much.

Seems I did okay the first night because the Gravol made me drowsy. Since I’m not a person that struggles with falling asleep I’ve not had to rely on “help” in that department. Trying to get some shut eye proved more difficult last night as I don't stock Gravol at home - note to self… pick some up!!

And typing this - I’ve done it in fits and starts - but thought it might be of interest to read what happens when common sense is not prevailed upon when painting these bulkheads.


A simple bright red line, about six inches high, running the width of the bulkhead’s base would have prevented this accident from happening. 


It is negligent on the part of the pool administration that this type of accident should even have the potential to happen.

All bulkheads which are regularly repositioned where they DO NOT come in contact with the floor of the pool SHOULD be painted with a bright colour to be visible to all swimmers.

You see, I’ve swam at this pool many a time - and I get it - I know you might think, well, shouldn’t she be aware of her surroundings - yes, I should - and I was.

I was swimming the length low to the ground and here’s where the problem lies - the bulkhead does not touch the ground as the floor at this point is sloping toward the deep end and there is a gap about a foot high so from my position all that was visible was water. 

Had a bright red line been painted at the base of the bulkhead it would have caught my eye - I was careening at full speed toward that exact area - only visually my senses couldn’t separate the wall from the rest of the pool because there was no wall that low to the floor -  get it! 

Well I sure did!! Smack in the face - my nose looks like I’ve been in the boxing arena for more than a few rounds. Yup - real pretty!!!! NOT!

So… where does this leave me…

ON A MISSION… besides healing my noggin, resting and recovering I will be doggedly pursuing a positive outcome from my encounter with this bulkhead!

I went looking to see who manufactures bulkheads and ended up on a website (where all these photos came from) and had the weirdest conversation with one of the owners. Actually, it begs some blogging time - and I will get to that later. 

I also googled FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) the International Swimming Federation and read their Facilities Rules and determined that there are no restrictions on having a bright red line painted around the bottom of a bulkhead. I will be emailing them about it nonetheless. 

Also, I’m in dialogue with the pool staff - just waiting to hear back from management. I was called today re “how I was doing” and indicated that while I will survive I am handling this like a dog with a juicy bone - not letting go until it’s done - to my satisfaction.

Well… I dare say you’d like to see my face now, eh…

Okay… I know, you’re going to say, “What’s all the fuss, it’s just a scrape”, right - well, it’s what you can’t see or feel - the pain of my eye sockets, front teeth and mostly my nose - I feel like someone's come at me with a bat. The skin around my eyes is starting to turn a greenish colour and while the swelling has come down my nose is too tender to touch. I'll be going to my family doctor for a follow up x-ray and check-up.

The worst part is I have a moderate concussion - more than the visual stuff it's what the brain goes through when it has had this kind of impact that makes this very scary.

The saving grace was getting ice on my face right away at the pool and then keeping it on while I was in the hospital; icing an injury really does make or break the impact bruising has on it.

Still - I guess it could have been worse… 

So… have you ever swam head first into anything - pool wall, dock, side of a boat… come on… fess up. (I won't tell anyone if you have)


To end on a lighter note - I'd like to give a shout out to my friend, Botanist, and thank him for partaking in my January 1st questionnaire - which he answered over on his blog, Views From the Bald Patch. Drop by and give him a read - I find it interesting how he sees his year unfolding. 

Have you answered the questions? I answered them HERE.

Here they are just in case you missed them - feel free to copy and paste if you want to use them over at your place. If you do a post with them let me know and I'll link to it here on Pearson Report.

Did you accomplish what you had set out to do in 2013? 

Are you happy with your journey so far?

Will 2014 be “the year”? What does that even mean to you?

Did you make any resolutions? Have you made the same ones before?

Why is the first of January different than the first of any other month? Or is it?

And… last but not least…

If you could change one thing about “you” what would it be?

Cheers, Jenny


  1. Yeah, the picture doesn't do your pain justice! I just cringe when I think of hitting that wall face first. You are lucky your neck didn't sustain injury, too. I wish you a speedy recovery, and a satisfactory resolution to the red line problem...I think the whole wall should be red though. I've come close to hitting the edge of a pool when underwater. It just isn't clear enough, and you can't wear your glasses underwater!

    1. Donna, you've hit it right on the nose… (pardon my sick sense of humour) when you say you "just cringe when (you) think of hitting that wall face first". That's my problem right now I can't close my eyes without the wall being their and me hitting it full on - I have involuntary shakes - very disconcerting considering this is a new kind of reaction - never experienced anything like this in the aftermath of my back to back car accidents.

      Maybe it's because it's my face and my hands weren't there to cover it - not sure why I'm going through these aftershocks but I'm hoping they will subside. It's not like I don't need "beauty" sleep in the worst way! hahahaha - well at least my sense of humour is still intact.

      As to seeing edges under water I've never had this problem swimming toward the bulkhead that separates the shallow end as it touches the ground and I can see the edge meet the floor. Besides the water then has no where to go so it's not flowing in the same manner. (Not sure if that makes sense)

      I always swim with really good googles - pro swimmer ones - and my vision is good underwater so I can't even use any of that as an excuse. Clearly the repainting of the pool and bulkhead in white was a big mistake.

      Thanks, Donna, for stopping by - I'll be updating my progress with the red line so stay tuned.

      Cheers, Jenny

    2. Typo alert… blame the bruised noggin…

      "without the wall being their" should be "without the wall being there"

      Yup… so it begins, eh!!

  2. Ouch! That could have been far worse. You could have lost consciousness or suffered a spinal injury. It hurts already, but even a minor accident in water is not something to be taken lightly!

    I agree about the warning line. I was thinking that the pool ends and sides are usually the same color as the bottom too, so why don't swimmers regularly bump into them? But of course the lane markings give you a warning that you are nearing the end. That is what I was always aware of and looked out for when I used to swim more regularly.

    1. So true, Botanist, this could really have been a whole different kettle of fish had I not been in such good shape physically. I don't say that with any smugness or vanity, but over the last half year I've really worked on my physical wellbeing and credit it for saving me from what “could have been” had my neck and shoulders not been as strong as they are.

      Mind you, as the days drift on, I have noticed a stiffening of the muscles that hold up my head - so, yes, this really could have been far worse.

      Sad part is this is now my second serious concussion and after reading up on the effects of compound concussions I'm not very happy - at all. Not to mention this hit is virtually on the same spot as the last.

      While doing a little googling, as I wanted to see if this was a one off of sorts, I found an interesting article about a woman over in Saanich - worth a quick perusal.

      Seems I’m not alone out here and I’m happy to read that you support the red line idea.

      One other aspect of this bulkhead that is in need of attention is the size of the gap - another article I came across did not have a happy ending. A young sixteen year old lost his life trying to swim under a bulkhead in Oakland. Tragic.

      Thanks for stopping by, Botanist - and for answering my Jan.1st questions. I wish you great success in meeting your goals for 2014 - I know you will.

      Cheers, Jenny

  3. Even only reading this was painful: Blessings to you and get well soon : )

    1. Sorry to cause you pain upon reading this, Martin. I thank you for the well wishes and want you to know how much they are appreciated.

      I'm on the mend - slowly. Now if only I could "break through" the wall that keeps popping up every time I close my eyes I'd be a happy girl. Very weird how the mind works - well I'm lucky to still have a mind… even if it's malfunctioning at the moment. :)

      Thank you for stopping by, Martin, it's always a treat to see you here.

      Cheers, Jenny

  4. eooooouch
    Jenny, I did a similar thing years ago, but at much slower speed. No damage done so there are clearly advantages to not being a mermaid! The worst concussion I've had was a tent pole falling on my head during a storm. It wasn't funny and I was groggy for a few days afterwards.
    Keep on the mission to have a clear line showing the divider wall. Not only is it dangerous due to the lack of definition, but could someone get caught underneath the gap?
    Sending warm thoughts from sunny Melbourne.

    1. Hi Sue - a slower speed would have been helpful! :) Ah… the joys of being a speed demon; in the water and on land I like going fast.

      Your tent pole incident sounds post worthy - did you ever write about it? If so, leave me the link I'd love to read all about it. And, I agree, none of these things are funny, even when looked at later, with a sigh of relief, they are still very serious.

      A concussion is no laughing matter as I am slowly coming to realize - I'm going to be very careful (if possible) not to have anymore close encounters like this. But, how is one really to know when they are about to happen for not in a million years would I have foreseen such an accident. Freaky and fluky!

      I will be on this "red line" thing as there needs to be some way of "seeing" a wall suspended in mid pool without cracking one's nose open. The gap is also a concern I read about a sixteen year old boy that died getting caught trying to swim under a bulkhead. So sad.

      Thank you for the warm thoughts out of a sunny Melbourne - it warms me up just thinking about the sun beating down on my weary body.

      Cheers, Jenny

  5. The lane marker paint job must also have added to the underwater illusion of an actual swimmable space. Unbelievable! Happy healing (and fighting the paint people)

    1. Hi Andrea - the lane marker paint is helpful when swimming higher up but pretty much useless when one is grazing the floor. But you make a good point as I was keeping an eye out for those lines to my right - problem is they end at different lengths given where the bulkhead is positioned.

      I'm really appreciative of the support from everyone for me to "fight the paint people", as you put it, and see that the bottom of these bulkheads is shouting out "I'm here - watch out" by having some sort of marking on the bottom portion.

      Thanks for stopping by, Andrea, your smiling avatar is always a treat to see.

      Cheers, Jenny

  6. Boy Jenny when you do something, you do it up big. Holy crap are you lucky it wasn't worse. I got hit in the side of the head with a baseball bat full swing as a kid and I remember how much that hurt. This must be agonizing for you. I can't believe your nose didn't break. You might need to seek out an attorney on this one. I hope they do something to prevent this from happening to someone else. Take care of yourself! Hugs xc

    1. Haha - yup, Barb, it's all "go big or go home" with me, isn't it!! :) :)

      Indeed this really could have been a disaster for my face had I not hit were I did - I could have knocked my front teeth out and smashed my cheekbones had I been a little lower on impact.

      As I said to Botanist, up in the comments, I think being in my best physical shape has help me handle the impact a little better than I might have.

      Though as the days progress I am feeling the tightness in my neck and shoulders increase - I've been in bed trying to keep still (almost impossible for me) but what is upsetting me is the after-shock this accident is having on my sleep.

      I can hardly close my eyes without the wall popping up and me smashing back into it again. I’m working on some mental exercises to help me “break through” the wall and not let it crush me over and over - but it’s slow going.

      Thanks for your kind words and support, Barb, I will be looking into my options but more than anything I want the “red line” to be a reality - this really was a preventable accident.

      Cheers, Jenny xo

  7. Damn that must've hurt. I do not like hitting my head! I do not like being dead!

    I have had a similar experience.
    Growing up we had an indoor pool. It was pretty long. Went from 3 feet to 9 feet deep. Complete with diving board and curly slide it was a main part of our adolescent years. It is amazing how many friends you have when it gets hot outside.
    I was on the diving board and wanted to see how far out I could dive.
    With a running start and a big spring off the end I gracefully flew through the air and entered the water in perfect fashion. The only problem was I had went so far that I was right on top of the slope that led to the deep end. The water was only about 5 feet deep.
    I smashed my head right into the bottom of the pool from a distance of roughly 5 feet above the water so let's call it a ten foot drop. Luckily the water slowed my descent but yes I too suffered a concussion. A major one with the vomiting and blurred vision.

    While we're on this particular pool, some years prior to this incident I was pulling myself out of the water by grabbing the concrete coping that surrounded the pool. Halfway out of the water and my hands slipped. I smashed my teeth on the coping as I slid back into the pool. I now have a big chip out of both front teeth and one of them is completely dead. I am very careful in pools now!
    I wish you a speedy recovery and I will see if I can google you an underwater swimming helmet!

    1. Whoa - talk about living on the pool's edge! I'm amazed you didn't break your neck with that dive - I've heard of horrific pool accidents due to diving in shallow ends - you got lucky!

      As to teeth - I was super lucky not to knock all of mine out - inches higher and I would have done just that - man, just thinking about it makes me shake. This was an epic moment - it's taking a wee moment for me to wrap myself around it and get past the after-shocks I've been having every time I close my eyes.

      I can't wait to see what you come up with in the underwater swimming helmet department - make sure it's pink and has a face screen! hahahahaha The visual alone is cracking me up! Like I need anymore cracking up at the moments! hahaha

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your pool stories - wow is really all I can say to what you went through. For all the fun pools may be they sure are a danger zone too.

      Cheers, Jenny

  8. Geez-a-lou, you coulda knocked yourself out. The closest I came to doing that was during water survival training. We had to jump off a twenty foot tower into a pool and swim underwater like mad for (I don't remember how long). The whole point was to simulate jumping off a sinking ship into a sea of burning oil. Anyway, as I said, I swam like a mad man because I didn't want to run out of breath. Only problem was the pool sloped up and-you got it-I slammed right into it. Youch. But, nothing like your experience.

    1. Yowser - that sounded freaky - having to simulate jumping off a sinking ship into a sea of burning oil - man, what you guys have to do for your country! Well, here we are only required to bust a nose open for our country! :P

      Seems this little post has brought to surface a few rather interesting pool related experiences - mine pales in comparison to yours and Bushman's - wow you guys really knew how to party in the olden days, eh!

      Me… still trying to capture the attention of the guy in the speedo (in the next lane) went a little overboard - or in this case not quite under the bulkhead! No… I went straight into the bulkhead and… you know what, guy-in-speedo stopped his swim and inquired as to my wellbeing - too sweet. (gag me!!)

      Thanks for sharing your wartime tales… or your training for wartime tales!
      Cheers, Jenny

    2. So I probably shouldn't mention the time I went skinny-dipping in the mobile home park pool after the All-You-Can-Drink champagne breakfast at Best Western? In the afternoon?
      Whoops. Just did.

  9. That looks bad! I am glad you are OK.

    1. Hi Ruth - yup it looks bad - and I'm OK - sore and stiff, but OK.

      Good news is I'm not turning green… yet, just a wee bit of bruising but otherwise I'm healing nicely. Now if the after-shocks would settle down I'd be just fine - keep seeing the wall when I close my eyes - not fun.

      Thanks for dropping in - loving your ebook. Just looked at all the recipes - now to make a few! I love dips!

      Cheers, Jenny

  10. That's got to be one of the dumbest things I've ever read. Who thought white was a good idea? Are you sure government intelligence wasn't involved?

    1. Dumb indeed, Alex - white on white and surrounded by water… I guess even the sharpest knives can be dull as shown here when a pool is drained and repainted and no thought is given to safety, both at the bottom of the pool as well as at the surface.

      And yes… I'm sure government intelligence was involved… a municipal government approved the expenditure for such an epic undertaking as painting a public pool. Dull knives, remember!

  11. Wow. Brutal. As for their colour choice: "idiots gonna idiot."

    1. Hey, dbs - still looking young as ever! Love the avatar!

      Yup, great colour choice! And "brutal" it was, still woozy from the concussion.

      Loved your post on "the truth"… left you a comment! :)

  12. Anonymous6:29 am

    My heart goes out to you, Jenny! I can't believe the bulkhead is the same color. Insane! I hope you are healing well. If anyone can get a warning line on that dang thing, it's you! Take it easy and please don't hurry to get back to things. You need your rest. xo

    1. Dear Elsie - you brightened my day by dropping in and leaving this lovely comment.

      I am healing well - thank you for asking. :)
      I am working on the "warning line" it definitely is a mission for me. This was a totally preventable accident - and I'm lucky I wasn't hurt worse, very lucky indeed.

      I am taking it easy (doctor's orders as well) and will pace myself in the coming weeks.

      I hope you are happy, Elsie, and that life is kind to you - it's my wish for you.
      With smiles and hugs, Jenny.

  13. Hi Jenny - blogger ate my comment - boo hoo.

    All Soul's time .. I fell and on the bounce smashed my face .. thankfully it was a the 2nd bounce .. I've no idea why and I've no idea why I had no bruising, except on my face .. my bridge got kinked and now forever I guess is a flexible one! I had a gash on my nostril and just above my lip, minor bits elsewhere ... but it healed in 2 weeks - I couldn't believe it.

    The swelling and black eyes just changed each day and faded off into oblivion .. I was lucky no concussion ...

    ... the pharmacist 48 hours on ... asked why I got free prescriptions .. I was somewhat dumbfounded looking like I did .. but said "I was old" ... and she looked at my in blank amazement, so I added and add 5 years .. she was stunned and said I looked amazing for my years! So even in times of distress ... we laugh .. and I continue to do so about that question!

    I am glad you're investigating about the warning line - that's terrible ... and I presume your accident is recorded in their incident book at the pool - must be if the ambulance came.

    Your concussion is just a 'bummer' as it's your second and obviously you need to be ultra careful .. look after yourself - at least the kids are there for you ... but preventable accidents should be preventable ..

    Take care and with thoughts for an easier 2014 .. Hilary

  14. I am sorry Jenny, who paints the bulkhead the same color?! Glad you are OK.

  15. Hope you heal well, Jenny. Any kind of head injury is very painful, hubs had a few in his younger days. (his brother accidentally clomped him with a bat at Little League practice)

    My kids learned swimming at that Canada Games Pool, and they took kiddie ballet there as well. I used to do fitness above the pool. Haven't seen it in a few years. Take care - give yourself plenty of time to heal.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.