A couple of weeks after the surgery I was told that I’d be starting hydrotherapy as part of the recovery process and my heart sank. I’d had group sessions a couple of years before at my local pool and I hated it, although it was there that I finally did learn how to swim aged about 11.
At first I’d disliked it because I couldn’t swim without armbands and all the other kids seemed to be better than me which made me very, very sad. The physios there would make me work hard and then I’d have to go to school smelling of chlorine and answer questions from my classmates about where I’d been. They’d ask me how far I could swim, and I’d have to tell them that I could only manage five metres. I felt lame. I used to go to bed on Thursday nights and hoped that I would be too ill to turn up the next day.
Over the years though my Friday mornings in the pool paid off and I learned to swim not only on my back, but on my front AND under the water; the latter being my favourite way of doing it. Eventually I started to look forward to going, although I still didn’t particularly enjoy it. I liked it because it gave me a chance to meet other kids from other schools and everybody would try and help each other reach our targets when we could. I could see myself improving, but it got to the point where I couldn’t really take time away from school lessons to go anymore when the work became all about passing exams.
When I found out I’d be trying it again I felt really nervous because I was worried that I would have deteriorated, but at least these sessions would be one-on-one in a proper hydro pool rather than my local swimming baths.
Getting in the first time was hard work. I still wasn’t allowed to stand after the operations, so I had to slide from my wheelchair (with the help of my Dad) onto a bed/lift thing that lowered me into the water, and my feet could barely touch the bottom once I was in. I was pleased when I realised that these appointments weren’t really going to be about swimming, but just about doing exercises mostly. The water was so lovely and warm, and it felt so nice just to be floating again while it look my weight, that I really, really looked forward to going. Luckily when I started my A-levels at school after summer was over; there was a gap in my timetable on the days that I was supposed to go so it was still okay. Schooldays felt long and tough at first so it was something nice to look forward to that helped me through my Tuesday morning.
A couple of weeks into the appointments I was allowed to try and take a few steps while I was in the water because it would support me and it wouldn’t be the same as trying to stand on my own or something. It was hard but It felt wonderful. Never again will I dread hydrotherapy.