By Judy Reiss
There are so many things that I wanted to share with you now that I’m home again, that I have found it hard to choose. But here goes…
Maybe you remember that before I went to the Cape for the summer, the therapists I had been seeing here, told me that I had to go into a pool during the summer because if I didn’t I would have to be in a wheelchair in the winter. Well the thought of a wheelchair really spurred me on to find a heated pool that I could join. Now my Sarah is a Doctor of Physical Therapy at Cape Cod Hospital so who better to help me find a pool? And boy, did she find one. It turns out that her group rents a pool at the Cape Cod YMCA and she has an associate who has a wellness class twice a week. I was a little hesitant to go because I am not crazy about wearing a bathing suit and especially with people I don’t know.
Needless to say, I kept my embarrassment in check and went. I was shocked at what I found! First, the ladies at the front desk were nice, very helpful and always smiling. And the facility was much, much bigger than I had anticipated. And clean as a whistle. I was shown to the women’s locker room which was neat as a pin. There were a lot of lockers to use, toilets and showers all handicapped accessible! Now I began to have a good feeling
I asked where the pool was located and explained that I was there for the pool therapy. In order to get to the pool I wanted, I had to walk (with my walker) past the biggest pool I have ever seen. And there were lessons etc. going on in that pool and most importantly, there were lots of teachers and lifeguards and everyone seemed to be having a good time. And with just a little help, I found the door to the therapy pool.
And here is what I found. A huge pool just for therapy. The entire pool was from 3 to about 4 feet so it can be used by almost anyone. It also had a ramp, with a railing, to get into HEAVEN. I did ask what the temperature was and I was told it varies from 92-93ish. In my first 5 minutes all I could think was that my back and my knee were about to relax for the first time in years!
And then, Danny came. This young man didn’t just sit on the side of the pool and give instructions. Nope, he took his flip-flops off and joined me in the lovely, warm water. Now this is the most amazing part, he did all the exercises right along by my side and when I say exercises don’t think I mean just dragging your body through the water. He worked me (and the other 2 people in the class) for one solid hour of moving and stretching that were incredible! After the first day I was nervous that I hadn’t worked that hard in many years and I didn’t know if I could get out of the pool and take my bathing suit off! But, of course, I did. I must admit that I was a little stiff the next day but there was no way that I wouldn’t go to the next class. Every Tuesday and Thursday I joined Danny in the pool and I looked forward to it more than anything I have ever done.
Can I walk up straight or without my walker? No. But I felt a lot better and I certainly didn’t get worse. And that was my goal anyway! I have been going to the Cape for 76 years and am always sad when the summer is over. But this year I miss Danny and the YMCA pool more than you can imagine.
Why am I sharing this personal scenario with you? The main reason, in fact the only reason, is I want to know why we can’t have such a facility for seniors here in Vermont. Oh and I didn’t tell you the cost. For this extraordinary experience I was told the cost would be $7.50 a session, which included showers etc. For $15.00 a week my life was actually changed. Now I just have to find some way to keep it either staying the same or if possible, improving.
We have lots of senior citizens who would benefit from such a program. Not only was the pool just wonderful and warm, Danny was amazing and actually made me feel that he really cared about me and encouraged my participation every single time. And even I can afford $15 a week. And I found it most interesting that there was actually a feeling of partnership with the Y. While I luxuriated and worked out with Danny, I did see many other seniors who were swimming n the regular pool and there were classes in Yoga, a lovely nursery to leave your child and many other rooms that had all sorts of activities going on. I firmly believe that we should honor our senior citizens by helping them to lead a more active and interesting life. Oh and one that they can actually afford.