Friday, 17 June 2011


Twice a week, I used to get in a hot tub with a load of strangers.

That’s not quite as dubious as it sounds. Strictly speaking, it was a hydrotherapy pool. The water temperature was so warm that, with a little patience, you could have poached an egg in there.

My floppy-limbed daughter needed her muscles strengthening. And the weightlessness afforded by floating in water meant exercises were less effort. So I took the plunge and swished about in the hospital pool with around half a dozen other mums and dads and their children.

It was a revelation. I’m not talking about the hydrotherapy itself. Nor the sight of me in a cozzy. What boggled my mind was the experience of being up close and personal with other disabled kids, with problems that made my daughter’s condition seem like a walk in the park.

There was one girl in particular. She could just about move her eyebrows, and that was it. The rest of her was paralysed. During that first session, I kept stealing glances at her. I thought her life and her parents’ life must be abject. No movement. No response. No feedback. 

And yet after a few weeks, I could tell whether she was tired, cross, or happy. And I started to realise that if a stranger in a pool could pick up these signs in just a couple of half-hour sessions a week, despite initial appearances, she and her mum must have incredible rapport.

And then came the real revelation. The Eastenders' doof doof moment: Her mum wasn’t her mum. She was a foster carer, and she was in the process of adopting her. Voluntarily taking on a child with such huge problems. 

I still think of them. On very bad days, and very good days. For me, they epitomise the worst that life can throw at you and the best it can throw back.

Eddi Reader - The Swimming Song

Video is I Am Kloot - The Same Deep Water As Me

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