Sunday, June 17, 2012

Aquatic Sessions at the Hospital

Misericordia Hospital c 1910, Winnipeg Manitoba
Yesterday was my last water therapy session for the season.

I started going to water therapy about a year after I got sick. I kept being told by my physiotherapist how good the water would be for me but it took a long time before I was physically stable enough to cope in the water. The hospital I go to for outpatient therapy has a very old pool in its lowest level. It is a touch claustrophobic but oh so lovely and warm! The hospital is very old, completed in 1900, and the pool was originally set up as a recreation and fitness space for the nuns and the nurses that were trained there and lived in the attached residency.

The first time I got in the water I could not believe how dizzy and sick I felt from the movement of the water.  The visual aspects of the moving water and the feeling of the water moving against my skin along with the shear resistance when moving through the water make the pool very difficult, but the fact is that you are supported by the water and if you do loose your balance you are not going to fall down and break something. My first sessions were short and I needed a family member with me because after the pool session I was unable to get myself to the change room, never mind able to get changed once I got there. The car rides home were horrible and I needed to spend the rest of the day in bed.  Weekly I got in that pool with my Physiotherapist Vicky, the pools aquatic teacher Di, her volunteer assistant Vickie and about 5 other people who had serious movement issues. In retrospect I made really good progress and I am convinced that the challenges of moving in the water, while feeling safe and supported made all the difference in my recovery.

The next year my physiotherapist Vicky got a new job and I found myself with a new physiotherapist who did not do aquatic rehab programs so I was switched to trying new challenges on dry land. I am not sure if the water program was suspended for that whole year, but I know that for at least part of the year the pool and change area was closed down for some much needed upgrading. 

Once I was discharged from Physiotherapy, I got a hold of Di and asked her what my options were for water programs around the city. Di teaches several fitness programs around the city and has several group classes where she does the programming out of the Misericordia Hospital. I started attending one of her adapted aquatic fitness groups and it has been fun and beneficial. There is no missing the continuing improvement in my mobility and I give the water therapy and fitness programs a lot of the credit.

I have been going on Thursday mornings with a group of people with assorted health issues, such as arthritis, stroke, and muscle problems that make participating in normal aquatic fitness programs impossible. Di manages to inspire, bribe and motivate us and, yes- Di is not beyond bullying us for our own good. She is a great coach who is very knowledgeable and can customize the exercises and is acutely aware of the needs of each of her participants. Vickie, the long time pool volunteer, helps keep things organized and flowing smoothly. She adds to the safety of the pool experience and her smiling face and gentle style is very much appreciated by Di as well as all the participants. People who participate in the Misericordia aquatic programs find improvement in their pain levels as well as improved movement and do all that while having fun and making friends in a supportive atmosphere.

Next September I will be back in that hospital pool doing my exercises, but for this summer I think I better find a different pool and start work on my endurance and swimming skills.

The picture above is archival but I found it at West End Dumplings
I would have loved to have shared a picture of this neat vintage style pool space, but the paper work to get permission to photograph it was just not worth the effort.


Humpty Dumpty said...

Swimming is good for everyone, whether they have mobility problems, joint problems, muscle problems, or none of the above. I wish I could convince my arthritic hubby to take advantage of the many pool facilities in our fair city. It actually might be an activity we could both participate in! (sigh!)

Linda said...

I know what we need Humpty.. we need underwater golf courses and not just the normal water and sand traps! I regularly use an underwater stepper at the pool, underwater bike.. why not golf? I can see it all now! lol

erin said...

Thanks for sharing that Linda. I am interested in getting involved in a program like that for s
troke survivors. I got myself back on my feet doing and teaching aqua classes. Iwould be very interested in getting involved with the volunteering or teaching of some classes. Could you send me some information about how to contact someone about this. Hope to talk soon. Thanks erin

Glynis Jolly said...

I tried water therapy but it didn't work for me. I know everyone want to believe that it's good for everyone but they haven't seen me in a pool. I used to swim all the time before I had the stroke. I was in synchronized swimming doing all that stuff upside down in the water. After the stroke however, I lost my ability to float. I'm not afraid to go into the water, but it's too tiring for me.

Linda said...

Erin ... Send me an email to forward to my "Swim Lady" and I will forward it on for you. I am sure she can advise you best about what to do next.
I am so glad to hear you are doing so well, and that you want to volunteer/ teach and help others!

Linda said...

Gynis ... I know water activities are not for everyone. I think sometimes the things you were best at are hardest to take on in a different format. I was not willing to work on piano again because I was pretty good at it, and it was just hard to have fallen so far backward.
I sure am not going to argue about pool being very tiring!

The aquatic therapy I do does not involving swimming- more resistance and stretching (and my group has a little cardio on an underwater bike or stepper) We use flotation devices if we are going deeper or not able to be weight bearing.

Blue Shoe Farm said...

That building is dramatic... does it still look like that? Andrea

Linda said...

Andrea... it is several renovations and expansions past that and sadly one of the very old wings located behind.. was leveled in the past couple of months to allow for modernization of the facility. They recently demolished the original chapel too.

Maybe I will take some current pictures and put them up.

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