FOR months, Anne Dewar’s biggest fear was that she may never move her arms again.
She was unable to shower unaided, could not walk properly and lived in chronic pain for months on end. Ten years on, Dewar has nearly fully recovered – a feat she puts down to hydrotherapy.
Mrs Dewar is the latest to join the fight to retain the community-funded hydrotherapy pool at Wagga Base Hospital. She shares her story as part of a new assault campaign, United Voices 500+ (UV 500+).
Mrs Dewar sustained a severe spinal injury while lifting a box at work in 1998. Several weeks later, pain and nausea hit “like nothing before” and she was admitted to hospital with three ruptured vertebrae.
“I was in chronic pain for months and pain for a decade,” she said.
“Hydrotherapy was the turning point. Hydrotherapy unlocked me. I was just rigid with pain.”
She undertook sessions at the Wagga Base Hospital pool three times a week for three months.
“Once I was in the pool, I had that ever so slight increase in movement,” she said. “I fear without it, I would still (not have full use of my arms). I honestly believe hydrotherapy gave me back my movement.”
Mrs Dewar hosed down suggestions hydrotherapy sessions at the public Oasis pool would counter closing the facility under the hospital’s $282 million redevelopment plan.
“I would never have gone to a public pool,” she said.
“You are vulnerable. In a change room, you have someone helping you get dressed, undressed. You’re sharing the hydrotherapy pool with people of all age groups. There was no feeling of self consciousness because you’re all there for the same thing.”
Mrs Dewar experienced “absolute disbelief” when she discovered the pool’s future was slowly sinking.
“To me, it’s a huge community asset and the people making decisions have obviously never had to use the hydrotherapy pool or had close relative who have had to. They have no idea how it works.”
She is a growing number of voices fighting to keep the pool, under the UV 500+ campaign, headed by Karenne Connors. It aims to tell 500 personal stories of how vital the pool is to recovery, which will be collated and sent to politicians.
“All the stories have the theme that they wouldn’t manage without hydrotherapy and that’s what the decision makers need to hear,” Mrs Connors said. Email your story to email@example.com or post to UV 500+, PO Box 5582, Wagga, NSW, 2650.
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