Healing powers of water

Posted 5/23/24

Walk on water?

Now that sounded preposterous, but that’s what I was hearing. “Go to the pool and start walking and it is going to do wonders.”

My daughter, Diana, a …

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Healing powers of water


Walk on water?

Now that sounded preposterous, but that’s what I was hearing. “Go to the pool and start walking and it is going to do wonders.”

My daughter, Diana, a physical therapist has espoused water walks ever since my left leg started losing mobility in the wake of back surgery. But when would I have time to do that and who would get me there and help me in and out of the pool?

Of course, by this point I realized what I had taken as “walk on water” was really “walk in the water.” I certainly wouldn’t be walking on water. Walking in water reduces strain and is far less risky for the impaired than walking on land with the possibility of falling and breaking something. If you fall, you’re in for a dip and that’s the worst of it unless you can’t swim. And if that happens there are life guards and supervisors like Doug Stone to jump in and save you.

The shallow end of McDermott Pool is ideal for walking as I discovered last week thanks to the persistence of Leslie Derrig of Conimicut. The giant pool was virtually empty. It was mid-week and a half hour from closing to adult swim at 3 p.m. Carol who had been pushing me to get into the pool since Diana promoted it as a means to speed recovery, was delighted to have found an ally who knew the routine.

Following her husband’s stroke, Leslie concentrated on Bill’s recovery. He was virtually incapacitated, but after weeks of in-water therapy, plus an assortment of other therapies, Bill has regained a lot of his mobility including his speech, which apparently, he never really lost.

“He’s the mayor wherever we go,” she said of Bill’s proclivity to strike up a conversation with anyone.

Carol and Leslie were the first to get in. I edged to the steps leading into the clear waters. It was surprisingly comfortable – I had expected it to be much cooler.

“You should have gone in backwards,” Leslie advised. It was too late now. I hardened my grip on the rail and continued down until the water climbed above my waist. Leslie grabbed my out-stretched hands. I felt secure although, not by choice, my leg felt like it was floating, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I realized what I have lost and what I needed to focus on to regain control. Leslie took me for a walk.

“March,” she said raising her knees as she strutted backward. I followed her command and suddenly lost control. Wobbling, I was sure this was going to be my christening. But not this time. Leslie strengthened her hold, assuring me everything was OK. I could understand how she was a force in transforming Bill following his stroke. I also for a first time experienced the benefit of walking in water as a therapy. Maybe what I was doing would have incrementally small gains in recovering mobility by awakening the nerves and their ability to trigger muscle reactions that seem so effortless, indeed automatic, when functioning. I never thought of telling my legs to walk. My brain did it. I knew what direction and at what speed I wanted to go and it happened. But now I think of kicking or lifting my left leg, and nothing happens. It’s like it doesn’t belong to me although, fortunately, I haven’t lost sensitivity to touch and temperature.

That first session, albeit barely 20 minutes, left me tired and ready to stretch out. Carol spread a towel on the car seat. We headed for home. I looked down at my feet as Carol got out the walker to guide me to the back door. I focused on my left leg willing it to lift and step out the door. Nothing happened. Then I detected the slightest of movements, maybe a twitch. Was it possible?

I wasn’t about to throw cold water.

“I think we should go again,” I said.

Carol was excited to hear it.


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