I started Pool Therapy (a.k.a. Aquatic or Hydro Therapy) in earnest this week. As far as I’m concerned it’s enough mobility practice to get changed, rinsed off and into the pool, but there’s lots of exercises to be done when you’re actually in the water, too. Not being able to get in the pool on your own legs is not a problem – they have a handy chair/crane that can do the work for you.
The first time I got into a pool was this summer at my sister’s house. Her hubby was slaving away at the office and Ai Ai was doing some heavy lifting herself (not literally). I came down the stairs in my pool get-up and said, “Boo Boo, I think this might be the funniest thing we’ve ever done.”
One of the first questions people ask when they learn I’ve started pool therapy is “What do you wear?” They ask about this since I have not been seen publicly in a swimsuit since my age was a single digit number. In fact, I don’t think anyone saw my legs for the majority of the 90’s. It’s a good thing capris came back into style because I was willing to wear those. They did, however, leave me with a rather severe farmer’s tan on my legs during the summer. To answer the question, though, I wear a boy’s rash guard and a pair of men’s swim-shorts. I am always interested in being covered up, especially now – so when I got a sunburn at Ai Ai’s house (poor sunscreen application – I blame the motor skill deficit) I took the opportunity to purchase a t-shirt like covering like the ones I’ve seen my babies wear.
There are several steps going down to Ai Ai & Tim’s house, and navigating them was pretty tough. Since I still have trouble getting my (left) foot to land where I want it to I usually feel the step I’m climbing down from with my left heel so I know it’s going to get a firm position on the way down. When the steps are brick, though, it’s kind of painful if you’re not wearing socks. I was not wearing socks or my brace – I had already changed into my hysterically funny pool shoes that I can’t do without. The idea of going barefoot at this point is beyond me.
Eventually I got into the water but Ai Ai made me hang onto the wall or else maintain a firm grasp on a fun noodle at all times. During the first couple of minutes the poor girl was breathing deeply and saying, “I need a Pepto.” She got more comfortable, though, and so did I – I guess I’m used to feeling the way I do on land, so moving around in water felt the way I thought it would. There was none of the shock and fear that accompanied the discovery of my physical limitations after I woke up. It also really helped that Hannah and Joshie were there to make me laugh.
I did some simple exercises at Ai Ai’s house that turned out to be “real” exercises in Pool Therapy. Basically, I had just been making things up – but this sort of intuitive movement gains traction as “therapy” since the water’s resistance makes you work harder, and also eliminates your fear of falling. Yay for no falling! Notably, my Pool Therapist, PT38, has no trouble noticing and correcting deficiencies in my form. It doesn’t matter if she’s several feet away from me, or seeing things through the water’s distorted angles – she can tell if I’m not doing things quite the way I ought.
I did some marching in place this week, and it was harder than it looked! I thought it might be easier to keep my balance in the water but it’s not – I just don’t have to worry about sprawling on the floor. I had to sing that song in my head, I may never march in the infantry… It was fresh in my mind since E&R’s kids have been singing it since learning it at church a few weeks ago. Ezra, especially, will break out in song randomly and it cracks me up when we’re sitting at the kitchen counter.
I did some other stuff, too, but it’s not very interesting reading. The really challenging part is always getting out of the pool. When I leave the water, gravity and my impaired sense of balance hit me like a ton of bricks. Happily, PT40 is there to give me a hand and make sure I don’t wipe the floor with my rash-guard as I get out of the pool or make my way back to the changing room. After some wardrobing gymnastics I go back out to the waiting area to meet PT37.
That’s right – when I have Pool Therapy I usually have Physical Therapy right after. Talk about a double-header – I can’t think of a more daunting combination. I am so thankful they did not have a Pool at the 3rd Hospital, because I would have openly rebelled if anyone suggested I get in. I kind of openly rebelled (a little, but it depends on who you talk to) even in the absence of a pool. It is major progress, though, that I like Pool Therapy now, and I also like seeing PT37 right after. I might have lost ground over the past year, but in some ways I’m getting better.