September is here and Autumn is truly on its way with its gradually shortening days and fresh morning air, so I wanted to reminice a little and tell you about Heni and her pool antics this summer.
Usually, with the advent of summer, longing for blue skies, sunshine and the onset and prospect of longer days ....we usually get our hopes up and get the paddling pool out from its wintery hibernation in the shed. It's an act of faith that we WILL get some kind of summer..... no matter how short.
I don't know about you but I love water....water can be a very healing and restorative element.... being near the sea, by a lake, river or stream or in a pool is very therapeutic...and lets face it, it's also a lot of fun and it feels great. So, when the weather gets hot enough over here in England we like to put the paddling pool up and have some in our own back garden!
Heni also loves water... she used to do Hydrotherapy (both at school and a local hospice) but since she started doing shorter days and moved to college she no longer gets the opportunity to be in water like she used to... with that in mind (at the beginning of the first sign of heat over here) we decided it was too long since she last had a dunk in a pool and decided to make amends.
Here is what we did.
Once the pool was up (and full of water) we placed a folding table next to the edge so that she could first of all sit with just her feet dangling in the water. We tend to get rather paranoid about the warmth of the water as she can find it difficult to regulate her body temperature. This method gave her a chance to acclimatize slowly and gave us a sense of whether she wanted to go IN or not.
By the look she gave us to begin with, we were not sure if this would be as far as she went!
....but then she got really excited by the prospect of a dunk... (either that or the water was far too cold for her liking!)
Whenever we have taken Heni swimming in the past we have usually floated the oxygen tank and dragged it around after us.... or the other method we have used is putting the tank on a float-able mat. Either way works.... here we just dumped it in the water....
(look out for an oxygen blog coming up soon!)
Next move was to get Heni in to the water GRADUALLY as the water was colder that we had hoped. We tied a children's garden chair to the side of the pool so that the legs were suspended and the seat was high out of the water... and then gradually lowered the chair with the ropes.
We tried to do this slowly.... to the point where eventually she was still sitting on the chair but the legs of the chair were now resting on the bottom of the pool.
Not sure she liked the temperature after all!
...But then she decided she loved sitting in the pool with dad and big brother after all.... making lot of splashes...giggling away...
Heni doesn't have the nicest of toe nails due to her lack of circulation in her extremities and to save the pool water from becoming contaminated we bought the smallest swim booties we could find on line (usually used for children with veruccas and athletes foot infections). She has such skinny legs though, that the bit around the ankle was still rather loose and would let water in and out... so we had to tape the booties to her legs to prevent this.
Heni loved the pool but because the water temperature wasn't warm enough it was only wise to have a short dunk... even though she wanted to go back in again!
The table came in handy to lift her out of the pool and was used as a drying station ....
She was then ready to be transferred to her wheelchair and taken back inside the house to be made nice and warm again.
Our paddling pools usually only last a season or two at the most before they end up getting punctured and broken and letting all the water out. Unfortunately for us (or rather I should say fortunately) this was the season for the pool to die on us!
We have been contemplating a Jacuzzi for sometime and so we decided that this summer we would invest in a hot tub. We originally contemplated a wooden barrel heated by a wood fire but then thought that it perhaps wasn't a practical solution. In the end we opted for a Tough Spa (which we came across on our weekend away in Suffolk...see "Mum and Dad's respite weekend away)". It is somewhat cheaper than a Jacuzzi but a real heavy duty piece of equipment) This had to be wired in by an electrician and now we have the benefit of being able to control the temperature and also have the jets that give added therapeutic value.
The boys sunk it in to the deck at the side of the house during the hols and we are hoping to possibly put a wood surround on it to hide the faux brick fascia to make it look more like a wooden barrel.
We set the temperature to a level we knew Heni would be able to handle.... too cold in the paddling pool is not good and too hot in the Tuff Spa is equally not good due to her heart condition and subsequent temperature dys-regulation that she experiences.
She had her first dunk in it during the holidays and loved it.... no tentative faces... just lots of lovely smiles, splashes and squeals.
We hope that Heni will now be able to make up for all the hydro sessions that she missed out on and that the warm water in the Tuff spa will help her to relax. In addition, I'm also hopeful that we will be able to somewhat reduce the tight muscles/spasms in her lower right leg to help prevent any further inversion of her ankle which has been progressively getting worse over the last year. I hope that it will be a way of increasing her range of movement in various other joints and help relieve any discomfort or pain that she gets from her progressing scoliosis.
However, now that Autumn is here she may only get a few more outdoor session in before we have to wait till the better weather returns again : ( ....Lets just hope the days heat up and are nice till October!
BUT.... I guess the rest of the family will be able to make up for it and get lots of Tuff Spa time in together. I don't dread the cold days so much now and look forward to a nice warming dunk when the cold gets right through to the old bones. I'm sure that it will promote everyone's sense of well-being AND help everyone get through the winter a little better... not to mention the added benefit of getting some therapy/recovery session after regiment fitness and some better nights sleep!
If you would like to learn a little bit more about Hydrotherapy you can click
here (Lectures in Naturopathic Hydrotherapy Boyle and Saine)
and here (Medicinal benefits of)