Here are my top safety tips for pool and hot tub use, but as always, check with your doctor.
- Pay attention to the water temperature. My body cannot thermoregulate. In other words, I'm like a cold blooded animal. If the water is cool, my body temperature will lower. In a hot tub, my temperature will rise. If you’re not experienced in recognizing when your body temperature is too low or too high, use a thermometer to help you out. This is a trick I use.
- Take extra care of your skin. I have found that wet, water-logged skin can be damaged more easily than dry skin. Wear something to protect your feet. If you’re sitting in a hot tub, place a towel under your rear and hands to prevent scrapes. And don’t skip out on putting your shoes on once you’re back in your chair. Been there. Done that. There was a trail of blood all the way back to my hotel room.
- Be prepared to pee. A lot. Since my ankles swell, the water pressure actually helps relieve the swelling. But that fluid has to go somewhere. Go to the bathroom right before getting in the water so you don’t have to get out prematurely.
- Talk to your doctor. Are you at an increased risk for urinary tract infections if you have a Foley catheter, suprapubic or intermittent cath? If you have an open wound, should you get in the water? Everyone is different, so talk with your doctor about these topics.
- Don’t let a bathing suit keep you out of the pool. I haven’t worn a bathing suit since my injury. I simply wear sport shorts and a bikini top with a tank top over it.
- Have extra help nearby. Although a floaty is nice to hang on to, having a human nearby is helpful, especially if you’re new to being in the water. Also, transfers when you’re wet and changing out of damp clothes is a lot of work. Be willing to ask for some help if you need it.
- Know the precautions if you have an implanted pump. I have an intrathecal pump for spasticity. Medtronic warns that hot tubs warmer than 102 degrees or scuba diving deeper than 10 meters can cause complications with the pump.1 Talk to your doctor first.
- Public pools, including hotels, in the U.S. are now required to have a lift. Unfortunately, I have found there are a lot of exceptions to this law including pools that “are associated with a private residential community and are limited to the exclusive use of residents and their guests.” New or renovated public pools (including hotels) are supposed to have lifts.
- Getting into the ocean is a lot easier than getting out. Can you tell there’s a story here? I learned this in Destin, Florida. Getting past the waves and back into my chair took quite a few people, lots of laughter and water-filled ears.
Now let’s go and have some summer water fun!Now let’s go and have some summer water fun!
1SynchroMed® II 8637 Infusion system patient manual, pages 28,41,30
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. BMD/BMDA/0717/0510