On Friday I drove over to the swimming pool I've been using for the past few weeks only to find it closed. A minor inconvenience, yes. But it made me realize just how much I've been relying lately on access to a pool.
I have an aquatic therapy session once a week at a local YMCA and lately I've been going to another pool in Berkeley which has time set aside just for seniors and people with disabilities. This pool is fantastic-- a great community of regulars who've gotten to know each other over time, a friendly staff, a $2 admission charge, and 92 degree water. Okay-- the facilities are quite run down, underfunded and in peril of closure but it's what we've got.
I spend most of my time in the water doing what some refer to as "vertical exercise," that is, I stretch and walk in the shallow water and do something like treading water in the deep end. Not a lot of swimming for me, yet. The walking is an amazing experience. Wearing a flotation device, I'm just buoyant enough in the water to go through the whole "heel to toe" walking sequence which is still impossible for me to do on dry land. My feet just aren't strong enough yet.
But the water treading exercise is really a miracle. The physical therapists refer to this as "pedaling" but I think of it more as running in slow motion. It really does feel like running and hopefully will help me "wake up" some of the nerve pathways associated with that activity. The truly remarkable thing it does for me, though, is it melts away the muscular spasticity which seizes up lower back down through my legs and feet. Ten or fifteen minutes "running" through the water and I can start to feel normal again.
It has a lasting effect, apparently. I've noticed that skipping a few days at the pool has meant more discomfort and more time spent flat on my back.
Maybe now you can see why a "closed" sign on the door to the pool makes me more than a little nervous.