In August 2011, I was involved in a road traffic accident in which I fractured my back. The accident came at the worst possible time, as I was only a week away from starting my sixth-form education. For the last year and half, all of my energy has gone on getting better. I’ve had to leave school, and leave my social life behind. In all honesty, I never thought I would break apart as much as I did, and getting better, and becoming strong again has been a never ending uphill battle. All the doctors told me was to “take things slow” and “exercise.” However, for those who know me, exercise added to me is never a good combination. Physical exercise at school was a battle of wills, hockey was violent and athletics? 100 metre fall would be more accurate than a sprint.
About six months into my recovery, a rheumatologist diagnosed me both with Fibromyalgia and Hypermobility Syndrome. Fibromyalgia is a condition where the body expects pain. We are covered in nerve endings, and when we experience severe trauma or shock, the pain system can go into overdrive. For me, every touch hurts. Clothes against my skin are uncomfortable and receiving a hug from a family member is a delicate process.
Then I met my current physiotherapist and one of her specialties is dealing with trauma related conditions, including FM and one of the first things she asked is; “Do you do any exercise?” As I answered no, she passed me a small, square card, and written on the front with an image of the pool was; “St George’s Hydrotherapy Pool.” For those who live in the Peterborough area, they know that in the old City Hospital there was a pool of this nature, but when it was closed and the new facility opened, there was nothing for those who relied on Hydrotherapy for regular exercise. After discussing the possibility of going hydrotherapy with my parents, we decided, what harm can it do, and if it helps, then we’ve found something that might ease my discomfort.
The first thing that surprised me is how reasonable the prices are. This is a commercial pool, run for the public, and I expected something considerably pricier. However, on entering, I was greeted warmly by the senior lifeguard and filled in a selection of forms detailing my medical conditions and then after a little health and safety talk, I was allowed through. The warm air is instantly relaxing, and stepping into the pool for the first time was nothing but bliss.
I am currently on my fifth session, and despite my short time of attending, I can already feel my body strengthening. The beauty of hydrotherapy is that the warm water relaxes your muscles, but because you are free of your body weight, you work more and gain more positive exercise benefits than you would in simply running. The life guards are friendly, the fellow swimmers are equally welcoming and kind, the water is blissfully warm and there are always a set of interesting questions written on the whiteboard to keep us pondering whilst we swim.
The staff are always around to answer questions or to put a smile on your face, the management team are highly organised and I must decree, it is a very well run establishment. Thanks to Hydrotherapy, I can see my chances of recovering in time for college in September (to hopefully realise my dreams of Medicine) getting closer and becoming an easier hill to climb every week, and if it wasn’t for my physiotherapist, St George’s Hydrotherapy Pool would still be a great mystery.