Today I began my course of Hydrotherapy at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, it was with much nerves and apprehension that I had my two weetabix for breakfast as I read through the leaflet. The realisation that I was going to be in the pool with 3 other patients, a physio and other nurses floating around started making my chest tight and panic setting in.
The appointment was for 9.30 and we left 45 minutes early for what is a 15 minute journey tells you lots. We arrived only to find no disabled parking spaces so of we went to find alternative parking. I remembered one of the top tips from my mate Jezza at the Norfolk Against Chronic Pain support group, and took my blue badge in with me (if you take it to reception on your way out they validate your ticket as you get free parking at the hospital like frequent flyer points). The lady we showed it to checked the photo and me to make sure it was the right person using it and then kindly said we should think about renewing it as it runs out in November and they currently take about 8 weeks to come through. What lovely customer service.
We made our way to the waiting area and as we checked in and the man on the desk said my wife’s name as next of kin and looked at her I nervously laughed that it would have been awkward if it wasn’t my wife – not sure he got my humour but we did. As we sat there another man and 2 ladies joined for the session. My size made me panic more being by far the biggest and I was the only one in a wheelchair. Silly how things like this were like an alarm bell ringing in my head, we all clearly had some type of injury yet I was full on panic mode.
I checked all the questions on the checklist and fortunately my wife and LG were able to come through with me and help me undress. I was asked if I could walk down the steps into the pool and somewhat sheepishly and embarrassed I said no and apologised that I needed the pool hoist. What a barrier! We got called through, the others in my session went in and I transferred on to the hoist chair. I was wheeled through to the pool, a nurse showered me, then I was attached to the hoist and lowered electronically in to the pool. Now I cannot emphasise how big a step this was for me in itself – using the hoist. I feel that I want my own dignity and to be able to get in on my own, it is why I am beginning to start campaigning for a pool pod for my local swimming pool but that’s another story.
I got in the water and spoke to the lovely physio, whose name I’d forgotten within 3 seconds. I was asked if I was confident in water to which I said yes and then asked if I was better standing or sitting. I sat on the ledge and started small cycle exercises. The physio got everyone else going and then came back to me and asked a few more questions. She also casually dropped into the conversation that my notes say I tend to over exert and push myself too hard trying to keep up with others. I laughed and said I have no idea where that comes from. Before telling the truth, and explaining about my past being very active. The session went really quickly, I did a couple of other exercises trying to get some stretching through my thoracic spine, upper spine and shoulders. I was good, rested regularly and then we tried a standing pelvic roll. 3 of them later and I thought I was going to pass out, my leg was numb, my back pain intense and in another huge step for me I stopped sat down, told the physio it was too hard and rested up. Then the session was over. Everyone left the pool, the next session came in and then I was hoisted out and showered again. My wife was then called back through to help me dry and dress and it was all over. We booked my next two sessions and I was knackered and ready to get home.
It was a great start, I had overcome 2 huge hurdles using the hoist and not pushing myself too hard. I have struggled and slept plenty since, but it certainly was a good first step, and to be doing some exercise again was lovely.