I had my first outing with my carer today, for a session in a local heated pool; something that I requested, since I felt that my joints and muscles would benefit from being in the water. She picked me up about one o’clock and we drove into town. The pool is right on the coast and the weather was glorious, not a cloud in the sky, so I decided to try and walk from the car to the building rather than use a wheelchair. It was slow going, but worth it to feel the sun on my skin and the sea breeze on my face after spending so long indoors.
The pool is situated at a hotel for people with disabilities or who are recovering from illness / injury and so it is very accessible. I had been worried about silly little things like how I would get into the water using crutches, but of course this wasn’t a problem! I was expecting a sunken pool with steps down into it, but instead it was raised with a raised edge about a foot or so from the floor. This turned out to be much easier than I’d thought, I was able to use my crutches to get to the raised edge and sit on it, then my carer helped to swing my legs round into the pool near the steps down into it. From there I was able to stand in the pool, using the handrail to support myself and bouyed by the water, until I was fully in.
The water was lovely and warm, so soothing. Really, it is the first time I have been fully submerged in warm water for over six months – even though I love my bath lift, you can’t get right under and have a proper soak. I didn’t swim as we decided starting off slowly would be best, plus I doubt I could have even if I’d tried. Instead, we found a float for me to use and I just bobbed about, flexing my joints in ways I haven’t been able to out of the water. Being in water is the perfect exercise for people with arthritis or any joint/muscle problems because the water supports you, takes the pressure off limbs and joints, and makes it much easier to take them through a wider range of motion than you would usually.
We spent about half an hour in the pool altogether, which was just enough to start with I think; any longer and I might have set things back. It was slightly harder getting out of the pool but still not a problem; we were soon sat having a warm drink outside and I was home by four. I’m due back with the carer on Friday but now that I’m a member, I can use the pool whenever I like and take whoever I want as my support, which is great. It means that, once I’ve built myself up a bit and no longer need the carers, I’ll still be able to keep up with the swimming exercises and carry on with my strength building plan.
I’ve been shattered since I came home but that’s only to be expected; plus it’s a ‘normal’ kind of tiredness from actually doing something for a change, which feels good. I always feel really cold and shivery after I swim, so I’ve spent the rest of the evening snuggled under a blanket to keep myself warm and cosy.
I’ll be in bed before eight methinks,
Some useful articles on Swimming and Arthritis:
Water Walking (Arthritis Today)
Swimming Exercises For Arthritis (LiveStrong)
Swimming For Arthritis (RAGuy Blog)