A Splashing Time

When Joshua had come downstairs yesterday, sounding hoarse, I understood why he might have been in an unusually bad mood the day before, he may well have been battling a sore throat. That fitted with his lack of appetite too. So I hesitated that my Sunday morning plan included a swim for our young overnight guest, but Joshua seemed to be content enough after his breakfast.

I had not been to this particular swimming pool for years, not since Joshua was small and it has recently undergone a modernisation, so I was keen to see how it had changed. Firstly it had only cost £6 for all three of us to swim, which seemed to be a bargain – I was free as Joshua’s carer. Joshua and I had plenty of room to get changed in a private family changing room and the lockers were large enough for us to fit all three of our clothes and bags into, as well as Joshua’s large boots and splints.

The foot spray on the way into the pool area was unusually warm and the pool area was light and bright, rather like a small Center Parcs dome. The water was lovely and warm so there was no trouble persuading Joshua to enter the pool, as we often get in our local council pool, which always feels cold at first. Joshua bounced off in the warm water, always within his depth, as the deep end was only 5’3″ ,so he could always touch his feet on the floor of the pool. Joshua was beaming, clearly really happy; he kept on giving me the thumbs up and patting his chest to tell me that he loved it. He waved at the other families and groups of young people who were swimming and was just very happy and relaxed in the water, which was wonderful to see.

Our young companion went on the slide  several times and we watched from the shallow end. While we were there one time, the wave machine came on and Joshua loved having the waves crash over him and being wafted about by the rough water. He laughed as the water splashed him in the face, no fear of getting his face wet or of being knocked backwards by the artificial waves.  We enjoyed  50 minutes of play in the pool and Joshua never made any attempt to leave the pool early, which is good for him. He even tolerated the warm shower afterwards too, which is not his favourite activity, but as he was relaxed and happy, he was content to stand under the spray of water for a while.

I am so glad that we went swimming, I will definitely be using this pool again and Sunday morning seemed like a good time and day to go, as there were people there to wave at, but it was not so busy as he was bumping into anyone and we got access to family changing, both times that we needed it. Joshua used to have swimming lessons at our local pool and so he is confident in  the water, considering that he cannot swim, but the cold local pool always made it a battle, so now I am pleased to have found a convenient alternative. He is timetabled to swim in the hydrotherapy pool 2-3 times a week at school but lately his swimming stuff has been returned to me dry, so I queried it and as he is 2:1 staffing, they have been too short staffed to take him recently. Judging by yesterday’s experience, he has missed it and I am pleased to find a fun activity that he enjoys ,that we can do together. It is Riding for the Disabled again tonight after school; he has not been since before Mum died, so I am hoping that he has missed, and enjoys, that too.

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Sink or Swim

At the end of May this year I was told that I was pre-diabetic and that I needed to exercise more and be more discerning over what I eat. That weekend I went for a swim and enjoyed doing lengths of the pool and so since then, I have swum for 30-40 minutes at 7am at least twice a week, every week. Sadly I have not lost any weight doing this but I certainly feel fitter, as it has got easier to do, and I enjoy starting the day in this way. There are not many of us in the pool when the leisure centre opens and I arrive in my swimming costume under my clothes , so that I can get into the pool as fast as possible. I have found that I have had lots of good ideas while swimming, as I plan my day, play over conversations that I need to have in my head, resolve problems that have been bothering me and just have some blinding ideas – like going away for the weekend with my mother and sister or Christmas present inspiration. So swimming has been good for both my physical and mental health and it feels like some precious ‘me time’.

Our leisure centre however is going to close at the end of the year for building work, for a full year, and so I will miss it. I am not sure that I am committted enough to drive the 25 minutes to our next nearest pool to swim at 6.30am, but we shall see. Our leisure centre was due to close in the autumn so we have already had some bonus months that I did not expect and I am still hoping that it will be delayed again.

Up until this year, I have rarely used our local pool. Joshua had swimming lessons there when he was younger and enjoyed it. He used to pretty much do his own thing but his teacher did get him afloat and moving, even though he had his own way of swimming, not a recognised stroke. I can remember my Mum coming to watch him once and he was in the deep end , bobbing about like a tadpole, and he almost sank when he stopped to wave at his Granny. We had a routine there: always using the same family changing cubicle and after his lesson, he was always rewarded with a bag of Quavers from the vending machine, which he ate very slowly in the cafe overlooking the pool. Now that he swims regularly at school in the hydrotherapy pool, I have hardly taken him to our leisure centre as he does not appreciate the colder water and as he does not move about very much, he soon feels the cold. I will take him back when the building re-opens in another year. In the meantime I need to find somewhere else to resume my swimming through the winter, as I am not mad enough to take to the sea through the winter, as someone helpfully suggested.

A Busman’s Holiday?

It was my day off work yesterday so I went for a swim  late morning, rather than my usual 7am slot. When I got into the pool it was pretty busy and as I looked closer, it was full of adults with learning difficulties, swimming with thier carers, so it must have been some Daycare outing. As I swam my lengths, I observed them really carefully to see how the carers handles their charges and to see how much fun was being had. It was a timely coincidence as in the afternoon, our adult social worker was coming to visit to discuss respite and daycare options for when Joshua is 18.

I was delighted to see that the young people were all happy and confdent in the water and that their carers appeared to be very caring : the young man nearest to me was shrieking with delight – a noise that Joshua used to make, but no longer does I realised. He was paired with a young man about the same age as him , which I loved as they looked at first glance like two friends who had gone swimming together. Professional carers tend to be, in my experience, older ladies , so this appeared as though they had been more carefully matched together. I watched, from a distance, two female carers meticulously assist a physically disabled young lady up the steps to get out of the pool, they were gentle and went at a slow pace, there was no hint from the body language that they might have been impatient with her. I watched a mother in the observation area rush around to the showers with her daughter’s towel and tenderly help her to dry herself.

As I was swimming up and down, I took a lot of the scene in and I just hope that I was not guilty of staring. Had I seen any hint of intolerance, impatience or boredom amongst the carers , I would have enquired which organisation they worked for , so that I would know to avoid it for Joshua’s future. But quite the opposite, I could readily visualise Joshua in that pool with a one to one carer in two years’ time and I might well be that mum in the observation area, waiting with a towel.

What are the chances of me coinciding with a group such as this, on my day off on one of my few respite activities? But rather than it being something that spoiled my swim, it actually enhanced it.  It was an absolute privilege to witness the fun that these young people were having, it gave me a positive vibe for what daycare might mean for Joshua in the future and, while being so nosey, I hardly noticed the 35 minutes of exercise that I completed!  Win, win, win!