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Christine Daly

Christine Daly contracted polio as a child in 1957. Part of her treatment involved regular physiotherapy treatment at the Pump Rooms.

I was diagnosed with polio in August 1957 when I was seven years of age. I then spent nine weeks in Warwick Hospital and towards the end of that time I was given recuperative treatment as it were, which involved sessions at the physiotherapy department in Warwick Hospital and also being brought by ambulance two or three afternoons a week to the hydrotherapy pool here at the Pump Rooms... after I was discharged from the hospital I continued to come to the Pump Rooms for quite a few months afterwards. I can’t remember how many months for, but certainly my parents would bring me then. So having come by ambulance from the hospital and taken back to the hospital in the afternoons, after that my parents brought me down.

I was picked up from the ward by the ambulance driver. I think it was possibly three afternoons a week. It was either three in physio and two here or the other way round. And I was brought here. The ambulance driver at the time was very kind to me and would take me on a little trip round the countryside to pick up the other patients because in those days hospital visiting was half an hour a day and that’s all you could see your parents for, an hour on a Sunday, and when I was brought for this treatment of course I didn’t have any visitors that day, and so that was quite upsetting, and the ambulance driver was very good and he would bring me, take me on a tour to pick up the other patients who were outpatients, then as soon as my treatment was over he would whisk me back into the ambulance and invite my parents to come down and sit there and talk to me while the other patients were prepared to go home, so I got my visits on those days... I can remember the cubicles quite vividly. Very small, I think they’d got metal doors, but again, that was my impression. Quite small areas that we got changed in. We had to have a bathing suit. I know there was a message sent home from the hospital sister one day to my mum, could you please bring a bathing suit tomorrow because we need to have this hydrotherapy treatment. And I don’t think I had a bathing suit because I’d certainly only ever visited the seaside once [laughing] in my life at that time and so this bathing suit was produced ready for the treatment. And then I remember the pool, I remember walking down a slope into the water and it being quite warm - and fond, a very, very fond relationship with the lady who looked after me, who was Mrs Bedford, absolutely adored Mrs Bedford. I suppose you form those kind of relationships don’t you, with people who care for you. And then after I was discharged from hospital we were always made to go and, told we had to go and sit in the annexe to the Pump Rooms and cool off as they put it. So my mum would be there waiting for me and we would sit and we would either have a cup of tea from the tearooms or sometimes we were encouraged to have some spa water, but that didn’t go down very well, and we used to sit and chat with the other patients and wait there for half an hour or an hour, whatever it was until we were - it was suggested that we did that before we went home again.

So when you went into the pool, what sort of exercises did you do?

Mainly strengthening ones for the, well all of them, for the muscles, around the muscles I didn’t have because at that time my left arm had withered. The muscle I lost through the polio is at the back of my shoulder...It was warm water, I remember being very, it was like being the bath really, it was beautiful to be in the water and it seemed to hold you as well, hold you up, support you. Again I don’t know what was in it, but certainly I couldn’t swim so you had to be held in the water, else otherwise you’d have sunk...I loved it and it was, I’m convinced that that was what did me the most good really.