Twice a week I take part in a class that has given me the best therapy I have found, an aquatic exercise class. I’ve even been lucky enough to find one that is tailored for people with Multiple Sclerosis and is only 10 miles from my home. For some of you that may seem to be quite a distance. But there are many participants that travel even further for this wonderful activity.
If you looked through the windows while our class was in session you may assume that we were a normal healthy group while we move around with our water dumbbells and pool noodles. If you watched more closely or looked around the outside of the pool you might begin to get an idea of how different we really are.
Parked against the walls along the outside of the pool you may notice our many forms of mobility. We’ve made our way from the locker rooms with our wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, walking sticks and canes. We have dedicated volunteer helpers who make sure we get into the pool carefully and safely whether it’s by guiding us down the stairs or lowering us with the lift. Then they park our vehicles out of the way and even provide a covering of towels for later.
The people that participate in the class cover a large range of disability. Some don’t even need a walking device while others need an assistant in the water with them to help them with any range of motion. We also have participants that have had a stroke, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s, and other brain based problems.
Yet once we get in the water we are all smiling. Some may have a harder time with some of the exercises we do. Like only being able to lift one arm or leg for jumping jacks. But everyone can move much more than we could ever do on dry land.
Our instructors have been great. Their workouts include not only aerobic exercise but a lot of work on balance and left brain/right brain work. There is always something to challenge every one of us. I can do most of the calisthenics pretty well. But watching me trying to raise my right arm while I’m kicking out my left leg often times must look quite comical. In fact there are very few exercises where we all will be coordinated.
But that’s all fine. Each of us is encouraged to push ourselves as much as we can. But not to overdo anything. Even if someone can’t do an exercise they are still asked to think through it as though they can perform it. Research that shows the brain tries to move muscles even if they don’t respond is mentioned quite often.
For me personally, this class has enabled me to build endurance that I had lost. I can now stand or walk for short while when before this class I was quickly needing a place to sit.
But the best part of this class for me is that I have found somewhere I can still dance. Dancing was an activity I have always loved. But not only is it hard to do while using a walker, my legs get tangled among themselves much too easily for any dance steps on the floor.
However in the water I can waltz, or twist, or do almost any kind of dance. If my feet get tangled and I lose my balance I simply splash a little and float. But I know I will still have the biggest smile on my face!
Filed under: My Medical Journey