If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve read the rest of my hydrotherapy series of posts. If not, this one won’t make as much sense, so catch up with the previous posts. I’ll wait here for you – pop back when you’re done!
I’ve finally finished my hydrotherapy sessions! I won’t go back over what the actual hydrotherapy entails, as you can find all that information in my earlier posts. I just wanted to tell you how I found the last two sessions, how my health was affected and what I’m planning to do going forward.
I was given a series of six sessions by the NHS. Sadly I was too unwell to go to two of them (as they are every week for six weeks, so I struggled to recover in time for the next ones at first). They were kind enough to give me one extra, but couldn’t fit me in for two additional ones – so I had five sessions in total. On the plus side, the two times I was too unwell to go, I had to ring and tell them on the day, but found they were very understanding and didn’t make me feel bad like some hospitals do.
“The two times I was too unwell to go, the hospital were very understanding”
I noticed quite a big difference in my recovery after the final two sessions of hydrotherapy. After the earlier ones, I tended to have several days of increased pain and fatigue, as I mentioned here. Despite actually doing more repetitions and exercises in the final two sessions, I had much less ‘payback’ afterwards. It was reduced to just a slightly bad day the very next day, but nothing terrible – the pain was manageable with my usual painkillers and the fatigue was manageable as long as I could spend the day resting in bed.
The physios always asked how I was finding the exercises and whether there was anything particularly hurting or causing me issues, so they could target the session accordingly. As the sessions went on, they gradually added more repetitions, although it was always very much on my terms. I had the freedom to say how much I felt like I could handle, and they were very flexible about it. Around the third session, my lower back had been hurting a lot, so they added two extra exercises to target that area. There was a stretch where I held onto the side bar, with my feet right up to the bottom pool side and then stuck my bum as far out as I could, creating a sort of V shape with my body. They also added in high-leg marches for the lower back – this was literally marching through the pool, bringing my knees up as high as I could.
“I had the freedom to say how much I felt I could handle, and they were very flexible about it”
Throughout the whole experience, I never once couldn’t manage the exercises and they never actually caused me pain at the time (perhaps a little soreness or stiffness, but only at the level ‘normal’ people would get from exercising). If the exercises are causing you intense pain, you should let them know and they will adapt them. Nothing is set in stone, and at my hospital at least, they were great at working with however I was feeling that day; which is so important for those with fluctuating conditions like ME/fibro, where you could be quite capable one day and much less so the next.
Sadly now I’ve had my sessions, I can’t go back to the hospital for more (or at least not for a long time), so I am planning to continue going privately. I’m lucky there are a couple of public hydrotherapy pools in Leeds, so I can access one quite easily. The only downside is that they are so expensive!! At the one I plan to go to, it is £10 per 30 minute session (20 minutes in the water), and that is about average sadly. It’s such a shame, as a lot of the people needing hydro may well be on sick leave or unable to work, like me. In that position, £10 is a lot of money for half an hour!!
“I’m lucky, there are a few public hydrotherapy pools in Leeds,
so I can access one quite easily”
I have decided I can budget for one proper hydrotherapy session a month, and will do a further one session at a public swimming pool (meaning two exercise sessions a month – a bit more manageable long-term than four). At quiet times, I will still be able to do the same exercises in the shallow end of a swimming pool – the only difference is there won’t be any aids available (floats, noodles etc) and the water will be much cooler. At hydro pools, they are around 30 celcius, as the warmth of the water eases muscles.
One very important thing to note if you’re in the same position as me is that public hydro pools will only accept your booking with a signed form saying you’re fit to exercise. The one I am going to had an 8 page form I had to complete! It must be signed off by either your GP, your consultant or your physiotherapist, otherwise they won’t let you use the pool. My GP said he’d sign mine but charge me £70 for the pleasure…!! So my physio very kindly did it for me free at my last session, so I could take it away with me. Make sure you investigate this in good time to get yours signed.
“Important: public hydrotherapy pools will only accept your booking if you have
a signed form saying you are fit to exercise”
I have two hospital appointments next week, so I am going to have a break that week to avoid getting over-tired. So my plan is to get a session booked in for the week after, and try to keep the momentum going. I can imagine that if I leave too long between sessions, my endurance will go back down and it’ll be like starting from scratch again. I feel like if I keep up the momentum, I hopefully won’t go back to the position of having several bad days afterwards.
So there we have it – my final hydrotherapy blog post! I hope you’ve find it helpful, and I’ve answered some of the questions you may have about it. If there’s anything I’ve missed or additional questions you want to ask me, just leave a comment and I’ll make sure to get back to you 🙂