In reality, I had already started excising. I was aqua jogging at the local pool. I was able to attend some free green prescription classes that my doctor had referred me too. Aqua jogging is great, you feel so different in the water. They had a hoist but fortunately I was able to use the stairs, they were very wide and had rails which made it so much easier.
I would spend an hour in the water just walking up and down with the aqua belt on, it didn’t even feel like exercise. And if there was someone you knew you could walk and talk. Mostly I was on my own though but it was all rather pleasant.
On my first day at rehab, I was a bit late. It didn’t help that I was parked in the wrong area. One of the nurses saw me and let me in the back way. I missed all the introductions but I did get my time table and a basic run down of the QE way.
We were expected to try everything at least once. If we had any real problems we could talk to Sammi who ran the programme, She had been there about forty years. There were also nurses and other staff to help. We were also given a day bed in the ward. That would be our place of refuge and rest when things got tough.
The first stop was the gym. We met Aaron who showed us the machines and was our gym programme designer. There were bikes, two rowing machines, two treadmills and some cross trainers, including one you sat on one. There were also Swiss balls, expanding bands and weights.
I had never been inside a gym before. Mind you I wasn’t alone in that. Betty from Tauranga was in her eighties and this was also very new to her. We were told to get on the bikes. I got out of my chair and found one that didn’t look too taxing. I was surprised I could do it. After 5 minutes, he suggested the treadmill. 3 mins he said, just try that, and go as slow as you like.
Then it was off to physio. She wanted to see how I walked I had to walk the length of the room. With no support. That was hard. Then she told me what muscles I needed to work on to improve my walking. She stretched and prodded me trying to work out the best way of helping me. .
Then it was off to the mud room. You took your clothes off and lay under a towel. The mud was put between to sheets of plastic, then sheets and then towels. They laid the packs on your body. It was divine. The warmth went right through you. After lunch, it was time for a massage. I had never had a full body massage before. The masseuse was very skilful.
There was aslo stress management and crafts as well as down time. I found a good book and started reading it in my down time. It was so relaxing. The last thing of the day was the Rachel Pool. Hot thermal water. I knew then that rehab was going to be tough but I just have make the best of it.
Every day at the gym, Aaron encouraged me to do more. I started getting on the bikes without back support, and was walking on the treadmill for over five minutes by the end on the first week. At the end of my second and last week, I was doing 10 mins.
I was stunned at what I could do. Instead of riding my chair, i started using a walking frame. I couldn’t believe how strong I was getting. And with no pain or muscle spasms.
I was sad to finish rehab but Aaron offered me a deal I couldn’t refuse. A six week membership to the gym with free access to the Rachel Pool for $50. I didn’t know what gym memberships cost but I knew this was a good deal.
I came to the gym three times a week. This time Christine helped create the programme. I worked up to 20 mins on the treadmill and 10 mins on the bike, plus all the other stuff. I could feel myself getting stronger and trimmer. I was still doing the aqua jogging as well.
At work, I started leaving my chair in the office while I did small things around the building. Then I was walking up the corridor and all around the building. Then I started leaving it in the car. People were amazed. So was I. I would never have believed this was possible.
When the gym membership expired, I got another one for six months. By then the gym had expanded into a larger room with much more equipment to try. I began setting goals for myself. My first was to be able to climb the steps onto a plane. It was such a hassle for the airport staff at Rotorua, First they would get me on the plane with their pope mobile, a glass box that was picked by the forklift. Then they was drop it off and use the forklift to lift my chair on. They didn’t mind of course but that is what I wanted to be able to do.
I practised on the stairs at QE for a while as well. Going up was hard but coming down was tougher. I was always worried that my legs would give way half way down. I felt really confident and went to the airport for a trip to Wellington.. I felt really good and told the staff I wanted to climb the stairs on my own. They were amazed but agreed to let me try.
It was one small step for me, But it was an important one. I just couldn’t wait to try other things.
© Barbara Hart 2014