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Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Saturday, December 08, 2012

I recently volunteered to help at my local county recreation center in an Adapted Aquatics class for people with Multiple Sclerosis. We work in the shallow end of the pool doing strength and range of motion exercises with a number of students. There is an instructor and one or two volunteers for each student. On Friday another volunteer and I worked with a lovely lady who arrived for class in a wheel chair. We moved her into a waterproof chair and down the ramp into the pool, where she floated out of the chair as we supported her. She had limited control over her right hand and arm, and little ability to move her legs. MS also affected her speech so that she had difficulty articulating words.

One of the first exercises we did assisted her to do the movements for the elementary backstroke. You probably remember this – up, out and together with the arms and legs. I moved her legs while she moved her arms as well as she could. For the arms we called it “tickle, T, and touch (your thighs).” Then she started calling it “tickle, T and wiggle.” Every time she extended her arms she would wiggle her hips in the water and laugh.

Our next exercise was “crunches”. We put a flotation “noodle” under her shoulders and another one under her knees. She grabbed the lower “noodle” and pulled her knees towards her chest, crunching her abdominal muscles. This required a lot of effort on her part, but she was doing well. Then she started to sing:

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream.

Her speech was labored, but she could sing quite clearly! The other volunteer and I sang along with her.

After awhile it hit me. She had a tough boat to row, fighting MS, but she was doing her best to be active, and she was laughing and singing as she rowed.

I don’t know what kind of boat you are rowing. Probably you don’t have MS, but you may be a diabetic, or have arthritis. You may be fighting depression or anxiety. You may have small children or 3 jobs. Life is hard sometimes. All we can do is keep rowing, and try to laugh and sing along the way.

If this lovely lady can get to the pool in a wheel chair to work out, what’s your excuse for not exercising?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    LOVE this blog -- im glad you found something you enjoy and helping those who has MS with various levels of fitness - helping the lady in whellchair to swim and enjoy herself too!
    i know a friend who has MS who not in a whellchair however she walk to keep her body happy and a postive role model for me in many ways. emoticon emoticon
    1952 days ago
  • HOLLYM48
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1959 days ago
    This sweet story really touched my heart .......... How lovely of you and the other wonderful people volunteering and helping this woman ....... I think this is what life is all about ............... sharing what we can with others ........... And who knows ........ this happy lady likely gave to others before she became ill ............ In life, there just are times we need help ............ and times we can help others ............ emoticon
    1959 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

    I loved reading every word of this story. Thank you for sharing it.

    It reenforces the notion of excuses when you see someone who really has one but moves forward in spite of it.

    I commend your volunteer work.

    A emoticon and emoticon from Joy!
    1974 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/28/2012 6:10:34 PM
    It's women like her that completely motivate me. My life is hard. But it can always be worse and people like her lend perspective. Thanks for sharing!
    1991 days ago
    Your support made the rowing and singing possible, I believe. You again made my own rowing easier with your kind and mysterious package which you left on my doorstep, I mean page. Thank you for that and for the inspiring true story.
    1992 days ago
    Having trouble with the internet this morning -- sorry for the double post!
    1992 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/10/2012 12:51:51 PM
    emoticon for being there to help these folks! You are emoticon !!!

    I do water aerobics three or four times a week -- the water helps so much when you are struggling with physical difficulties. I can get there & do the routines without help, but you are a Godsend for the folks that need assistance.

    1992 days ago
    A great message to share.
    How rewarding for the both of you.
    May you abundantly be blessed in your giving.
    emoticon for the motivational blog.
    Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones.
    emoticon Lynda

    1992 days ago
  • SHARON10002
    Great blog! My BIL has MS and is confined to wheelchair, too. His attitude is just like hers - very positive. i had a student in my aquatic therapeutic exercise class that had ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease and he came to class every day! Talk about a positive outlook and a great personality - everyone loved him!
    I'm sure you're getting more out of that class than you think! Great job!!!!
    1992 days ago
    How wonderful! Beneficial to the participants and to you as well.

    I recently attended a training for MS Aquatics. Our facility hopes to add this program in the future. The trainers stressed the benefits and the amazing attitudes of the participants. I spoke at length to one woman who was at one time confined to a wheelchair but, regained enough movement through sheer determination to use a walker again. She leads a full life and doesn't give up. Later in the pool portion we met quite a few others with that same spirit. It was absolutely inspiring.

    Water is a great equalizer for all of us but, especially for those with debilitating conditions.
    1992 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    emoticon I needed your blog today!
    1992 days ago
    What a lovely blog meditation. Thank you!
    1993 days ago
    That is awesome!
    My best friend has MS; she is not in a wheel chair at this time, but she finds working out in the pool very helpful too.
    1993 days ago
    No excuse for many of us emoticon
    1993 days ago
    This is a great story! Thank you for sharing it with us and for voluteering your time to help others.
    1993 days ago
    A great reminder that there can be joy in difficult circumstances.

    1993 days ago
    Congratulations to you on the valuable volunteer work that you do.

    Certainly this woman should be a role model for all of us when it comes to exercising.

    In addition, as you point out, she sends us such an important message:
    No matter what our problem or issue is, we should always find the time for laughing and singing along the way.

    Thank you for sharing this poignant story.


    1993 days ago
    What an inspiration she is! And you too!
    1993 days ago
    Sounds like it was a really fulfilling experience.
    1993 days ago
    I'm rowing: sometimes on the rowing machine at the gym!

    Really admire your volunteer work: it's so important to reach out.

    And this is a really great blog.
    1993 days ago
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