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Friday, 13 September 2013

A bad day for Cascades Swimming Pool.

What's the worst thing that has ever happened to you at a swimming pool?

A friend told me that the worst thing she ever saw was when a little boy told his mother that he needed to go to the loo, and the mother had said "Just do it in the pool," so the little boy stood on the side, pulled his trunks down, and peed into the pool. Well, that's not too bad is it?  Quite funny actually.  My sister told me that she, while pregnant, once threw up in the shallow end of her local swimming pool.  That is pretty bad actually.  But I think that what happened to me in Cascades pool in July 2013 was worse.

I have been taking Jamie swimming regularly for several years - I have a pretty good routine for getting changed that effectively minimizes the likelihood that he will damage something, or escape and cause himself or someone else to drown.

These are the steps to the routine:
  1. Get changed together in the group changing room
  2. Lock the group changing room with the key.
  3. Hold Jamie's hand while I put the key and all our clothes and valuables in the locker,
  4. Lead Jamie to the toilet.
  5. Go in the cubicle with him while he uses the loo.
  6. Quick shower for both of us.
  7. Go swimming.

On the ill-fated swimming trip in July, steps 1 and 2 went according to plan, but at step 3 there was an unexpected problem.  I put all our belongings in the locker, and put the pound coin in the slot, then turned the key to lock it, and nothing happened.  The locker had taken my money and refused to lock.  So there I was, wearing swimming trunks, trying to restrain an increasingly impatient twelve year old with one hand and trying to fix a broken lock with the other hand.  When I realised I could not fix it (due to a complete lack of any skills relevent to locker-fixing), I had a dilemma - if I went looking for a member of staff to help me I would have to leave my valuable unattended, but unpacking the locker and taking everything with me while holding on to Jamie with one hand seemed like asking for trouble.  As I stood there, paralyzed with indecision, Jamie pulled free of my grip and ran off towards the toilets; I saw him go inside a cubicle and lock the door.  Thinking that he would probably be fine for a few moments, but conscious of the fact that step 5 (above) states that Jamie should be supervised in the toilet cubicle, I ran off to find help and soon returned with capable-looking member of staff who had a screwdriver.  While he set about fixing the locker, I tried to coax Jamie out of the toilet cubicle.

I had thought that the worst-case scenario was that Jamie would either refuse to come out of the cubicle, or that perhaps while he was in there he would flush all the toilet paper down the loo; but no, he managed to surprise me with something much worse.  When he eventually came out of the cubicle, he was holding his hands in front of him, fingers spread out, and they appeared to be covered in melted chocolate.  I was confused.  Where could he have got chocolate from?  Then, the full horror dawned on me.  It was not chocolate.

Quickly, I grabbed Jamie by both arms, and let him towards the sink at the back of the room.   I turned to the helpful staff member, who was staring at us with his mouth open, and muttered "Sorry mate, I think you're going to have to clean the inside of the cubicle."  When I reached the sink and started washing Jamie, he did not resist, thank goodness; if he had decided to struggle against me...well, I cannot bear to think about it.

While all this was going on, another member of staff came in from the pool side, looking for me and Jamie.  My wife, who had by now got changed in the ladies' changing room and was in the pool, had been wondering where I was, so had sent a lifeguard in to the men's changing room to check her husband and son were okay.  I indicated to him that we were okay.  I imagined him going back to her and saying "Is your son small, with Downs Syndrome, ginger hair, and covered in poo?  If so, he is fine."

Eventually, after a thorough scrub, and another apology to another appalled-but-trying-not-to-show-it member of staff who had to clean up the sink area,  we progressed to step 6 (although I thought it prudent to have a longer shower than originally scheduled), and eventually step 7.  Swimming.  At last.

As I made my way out towards the pool I avoided making eye contact with the poor guys who were cleaning up Jamie's mess.  Half of me was feeling sorry for them, the other half was thinking "This is nothing, you guys only have to deal with this today, this is my life!"  The other half (well, you know what I mean) was thinking that if their lockers had been working properly, none of this shit whould have happened in the first place.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Adventures in Cranial Osteopathy

When Jamie was a baby, his head was a little misshapen. It seemed to be a little flat at the back.  We mentioned this to our doctor, and he told us that this was very common, and it was because Jamie was sleeping on his back, and his soft skull was moulding to fit the mattress.  This sounds worrying, but he assured us it was very common and Jamie would soon grow out of it. 

A friend however, told us that she had experienced something similar with her child, and that a cranial osteopath had helped, although it was quite expensive treatment.  I had never heard of cranial osteopathy, and had no opinion as to whether it was proper science or charlatan quackery, but by that point I was in the zone where I would pay anyhing for the slightest possibility that somebody could help Jamie with anything.  So we made an appointment.

The osteopath was a very nice young lady.  She seemed very professional, apart from the fact that she operated from a "clinic" in her parents' house.  It was a nice house however, and she had certificates on the wall, so that made up for it, I guess.

Over the course of several weeks, Jamie had his skull gently manipulated by this young lady.  Very gently in fact.  Sometimes she just appeared to be holding his head, and I wondered if she was doing anything at all. 

A couple of months and a dozen or so expensive sessions later, the osteopath told us that Jamie was a lot better now.  Looking at him, I was not so sure; his head still seemed rather flat at the back.  However, the osteopath had proof - she produced two photographs.  Putting down the first one on the table in front of us, she said "This is a picture I took of Jamie just before the first session."  We looked at the photo, and the misshaped head was clear to see.  Then she put down the second photo, and said "I took this photo last week, and you can see a clear improvement."  We both peered at the photo, looking for improvement, but not really seeing it.  There was an awkward silence.  All three of us stared at the pictures.  After a while, a furrow appeared on the osteopath's brow.  Then she blushed a little.  Eventually, she said "Hang on.  I've got those the wrong way round..."