Swimming saved my life…somewhat

Clare Jones

“Waking up at the crack of dawn, driving to Mercy by 5:45 A.M. to jump into a swimming pool that feels like the equivalent of arctic temperature for most is very unappealing. However, I am very thankful for being a swimmer on Mercy’s team. 

At the end of my freshman year, I got my blood drawn and my iron levels came back at eight when they should’ve been at 50, the average number for teenage girls. I began taking iron supplements to increase my levels. After taking them for a year and a half, I got my blood drawn again at the beginning of this school year and my iron levels were found undetectable. Soon after I became really sick, and started experiencing symptoms such as vertigo, extreme fatigue, headaches, numbness, increased anxiety, stomach pain, and brain fog. 

After swimming thirty minutes of practice, my lips, hands, and feet would be completely numb, and I would have extreme vertigo. My grades fell due to increased test anxiety and almost complete brain fog. After more blood work, I was diagnosed with celiacs disease and learned that eating gluten had been making me sick mentally and physically for the last five years. 

However, I would have never found out how sick I was if this year’s swim season had been cancelled. Due to COVID-19, the governor was considering not allowing high school fall sports to play as a result of the increased risk of individuals getting the virus. Untreated celiacs can lead to autoimmune disease and cancer. Since I was untreated for so long, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision to allow fall sports to continue saved my life. If it wasn’t for the intense workouts and heavy work loads the Mercy education and athletics provides, I could be fighting a much more serious disease. I am on the road to recovery, as my body is already responding to not eating gluten. I am already seeing improvements at practices and in my schoolwork.”