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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum

Swimming pools and footstools

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Almost two years ago, we moved to a house that has an inground gunite pool. My wife and girls were thrilled and still are. I could care less. It's just another worry and chore.

The first summer here, I still had open wouinds from my last surgical bouts. So, I had an excuse not to participate in pool time fun. This past summer, I was totally healed and had no excuse other than how to get back into my wheelchair. I was told, "We can get you back into it." As a bilateral aka, I knew better.

At the ACA Conference two years ago, I had a conversation with Eddie103 about swimming. He told me that I would, "bob like a cork". At the past Conference, I signed up for the "first swim" class. I figured that they wouldn't let me drown at the conference hotel pool. The night before the class at our nightly outside party, I talked with another bilat aka about swimming. He told me that I might bob like a cork, but most likely would go face forward and down into the water. Now, I used to swim some, so I do know how. But he gave me some food for thought and it didn't taste too well.

The next morning, I was up early and had my new bathing suit ready for the 8:00 class. I drank my coffee, brushed my teeth, washed my face, and scanned the tv channels, waiting until time to go. I had too much time to think about it and rationalized myself right out of going.

Late in the summer, I finally relented one day and decided to get in the pool. I knew getting in would be no problem. We even had a railing put in over the steps, so I could use it hopefully to get out and into my chair, or so I thought. At my wife's insistence, I put on a life vest. I managed to plop down to the top step using the rail. Still using the rail, I eased into the water. As soon as I was in the water, the vest floated up around my neck and head. I felt like a turtle. Using a swim noodle, I floated around for a while. Feeling somewhat brave, I wanted to shed the vest and just use the noodle. I had been using the noodle behind me with it under each arm. Without the vest, I decided to put the noodle in front and hang on. I made a move to go out into the water and flipped face first down. Instinct told me to right myself using both arms and legs. I tried. I tried so hard that I pulled what's left of both hamstrings. My legs were cramping and I knew that I was going to drown in about three feet of water in the shallow end of the pool. Thank goodness, my wife righted me in the water.

We heard the thunder of an afternoon storm and worked our way to get out. With legs still cramping and snorting water, I managed to make it out and onto the side of the pool. Now the task of getting back into the chair. I tried pulling myself up but there is nothing to grab and hold that won't come loose and fly off. My wife pulled and jerked so hard that she pulled her shoulder out. We looked around for something to use to raise me up step by step. We have some adorondack chairs that have footstools. They are made on a slant, so I figured that I could scoot myself up the stool and then into the chair.

Well, I was able to do that, but in the process of scooting, my bathing suit came completely off. By the time I got to the chair, I was totally nekkid.

So much for pool time fun !!!!


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Congratulations Kerry. I know how nervous you were in Atlanta this past summer. I also know that you are a resourceful man. I can't help but laugh about the suit coming off. Try it again next year. It will get easier, I think.

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Oh Kerry....I'm glad you shared the story of your pool escapade, but I'm sorry that it ended so badly for you... :sad: I hope you didn't get any splinters from the chair!.. If you attend next years conference, hopefully, you won't talk yourself out of going to the swim class..I talked with a couple of others who had taken the class, and they thought it was awesome. By the way, one of them was a bilateral as well. Can't remember his last name, but his first name was Jim. He really enjoyed it. Working the door for the ACA, I got to talk with several people as they left. Those smiles were so big!!!!!!!!! It's so popular for people that they had added an additional swim class last year.

I hope you will try again....Thanks for sharing your story..............

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Hi Kep,

Congratulation on your great try. I too hope you will sign up for "First Swim" at the ACA next summer. I am just a RBK, but I had tried swimming before this and just swam in circles. After the clinic I could actually swim straight. That is not my real point, which is the instructors are very helpful and safety conscious. They would never let what happened to you happen again. For me, they knew some techniques I tried and they work. So, please come to ACA and try again--besides that it will be good to see you again.

Peace, Beth Marie

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Kerry, I'll add to the praise for the ACA swim clinic... I took it in 2007, and just the feeling of being in a pool-full of folks who were facing the same challenges I was -- and were having a great time! -- was reassuring. In addition, the instructors had some good tips to help me get OUT of the pool. (Getting IN was no trouble.)

I thought your idea of using the footstool was brilliant! (Even with the complications that ensued.) For a one-legger like me, an adirondack-style footstool would make getting up from the ground a piece of cake!

Congratulations on your "first swim!"

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Adversity exists so that we can overcome it.

I swim daily at the gym now, and my biggest problem, ironically, is getting into the water with one foot. I enter and exit at the far end where there is also a hot tub that I use, and the only steps are at the other end. The pool has a uniform 3.5 foot depth, and it's really too deep for me to ease myself into and too shallow for diving, which is strictly prohibited anyway.

I have therefore adapted an entry where I go down on my knees and sort of roll forward into the water. It kind of looks like a dive, but it's not. Still it's been cause for a couple of detailed discussions with the pool staff.

"No diving!"

"That wasn't a dive!"

"Yes it was!"

"How can it be? I wasn't standing! Watch--I'll get out and do it again."

"OK, I guess that's all right..."


Out is easy now, because I can just pull myself up onto the edge with upper body, and then use the hot tub rail to move into that. From the side of the hot tub, I can put my leg back on again and I'm good to go. Took a few days to work it all out, but it's real smooth now.

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