Reopening diaries: Melburnians share their experiences as the city reopens

Five Victorians share their experiences of the city opening up. Today, the first day of the series, Yolanda Dorosz writes about her first time back in a pool.

Back in January 2020, dipping her legs into a pool in Bali, Yolanda Dorosz felt a numbness that led to her discovering she had multiple sclerosis (MS). Now, swimming helps with her condition. When Melbourne started to reopen last week, she booked the first session at the pool possible.

“I arrived at Brunswick Baths just after 5am for the first session out of lockdown. In the darkness, the queue and excitement made it feel like a nightclub.

Yolanda Dorosz at the pool for a swim session on Sunday, her third swim since she was allowed back in.Credit:Wayne Taylor

I wouldn’t be celebrating the end of lockdown here were it not for a hotel pool in Bali in January 2020. It was a curious sensation; one leg sensing crisp and cool water, the other lukewarm.

Yolanda Dorosz at the infusion clinic receiving treatment.

My doctor sent me for an MRI when the creeping numbness started. My diagnosis was unusually swift and precise: relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. The treatment clear; immune suppressant medicines, regular exercise, daily vitamin D.

“Get puffed out, several times a week” recommended the MS clinic. But the numbness made jogging impossible and being inside at the gym seemed risky because of the new pandemic.

When my nurse, Dom, suggested outdoor swimming might allow me to get in my exercise, vitamin D and be safe in COVID-19 times, I started going to the pool every day.

At first, it was mind-numbingly boring. Back and forth, back and forth. Then I found a little gadget that turns an old Apple Watch into an underwater radio and that changed things for me. Now I listen to podcasts, audiobooks, music, meditations, everything while I’m swimming.

I also started to swim with flippers after the big lockdown lifted last year. They double your speed, and it’s not cheating if it’s not a race.

I love to swim in the fast lane because it makes me feel so capable in my body. I once thought my future was grim, but the pool is my proof that it’s bright.

“I once thought my future was grim, but the pool is my proof that it’s bright.”

I can’t wait to travel again, but being immunocompromised, I am erring on the side of caution. After I get my third dose of the vaccine in November, I’ll go out properly. Until then, the pool is my sanctuary.

Back in January 2020, in this pool in Bali, Yolanda Dorosz first felt a numbness in her leg.

When you’re swimming the lane lines and listening to music, you can float anywhere in the world.”

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