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Lorna Aldrich

Lorna Aldrich suffered a back injury in 1980 and underwent treatment at te Pump Rooms between 1981 and 1983. Here she describes some of the events leading up to her treatment, her first impressions of the Pump Rooms themselves, and the nature of the treatment she received.

I collapsed on the twentieth of September 1980...And in the morning I woke up, I just could not move, I had to roll out of bed and everything was very, very difficult. And my husband dashed round to see this same doctor again and said, ‘She can’t really move, but’ he said, ‘my car does have a seat that goes back, so if I can get her to the car, if she can get slightly going, I can take her wherever’. And so he rang up and he said, ‘You go to see Mr Tansey [consultant orthopaedic surgeon] at Warwick Hospital’.

... my friends fell about laughing when I said I’ve got to go to the Pump Rooms – it was shades of Agatha Christie and all that [laughs] and absolutely amazing and I didn’t know what to expect at all. But you know, kindness oozed from that building, it really did. You know, the staff were wonderful.

Well I didn’t really know what to expect I suppose and you were interviewed I think, first of all and your details written on a card and they of course had got the letter from the consultant and then you were taken to a cubicle and they came with these – I expect you’ve heard from other patients – these bags of fuller’s earth, which were boiled in the boilers, well wrapped up in a towel or in several towels and they said, ‘Now you lie here’, and it was lovely and comfortable, it really was. And they put these under the places where it hurt and when the heat came through too bad, you shouted ‘More towels please’ and they came ever so quickly, they really did know where everybody was. And you were in a bathing costume of course and then you were taken after, I think it was, I don’t know whether it was twenty minutes you had there or half an hour, but very nice anyway, and they kept checking on you and then you were taken down to the pool and mostly in that condition that I was in, I was put on my back on a stretcher in the water. There were some standing exercises as well, but at that stage it was mostly – and waterproof pillows and everything, it was all very comfortable – and then they armed you out. You walked down a sort of walkway, you know, it was sloping, down into the pool... and it was some considerable time before I came across Anne Golland [superintendent physiotherapist] herself, because she was so busy, but eventually I did meet her and eventually she did treat me because you have these exercises to do anyway for the low back and my low back exercises started to upset my neck and I had neck problems and shoulder problems, I had a frozen shoulder as well. And that sort of continued for quite a long time and Mary Barnes, who was the specialist on shoulders, was particularly good, but even she I think wondered whether she was ever going to get me right. But we did, it went eventually but it was a very long do that I was there. I think there’s reference in here to that sort of thing, you know, if I was there in December 1981 for the low back, things continued and I went there up to, as a patient, up to about 1984 it seems. And then they had this business which people may have told you about of going for an evening, voluntary sessions... now they were very useful. Very useful indeed. [These sessions involved] standing against the bar – there was a bar one side and you did a lot of exercises, you didn’t go on the stretchers because they moved the stretchers out of the water for this session – and they got me swimming on my back, not on my front, on my back and I learnt to swim on my back and the water of course was just the right heat. Now an ordinary swimming pool, (a), these days you don’t get bars along the side, which stops you going to a swimming pool for doing some exercises. They’ve got this tile business that goes up – or they had, I mean I haven’t been to swimming pool for years – and of course the water, I just go into cramps if I have anything colder than the Pump Rooms temperature, so [laughs] you know, I haven’t swum for a long time, but it did do me a lot of good.

So were they effective, the treatments that you had?

Oh yes, oh yes. But you needed to keep on with them because you were living with pain and pain is very tiring. And you would feel very tired after a session too. I think people are surprised how wiped out they feel when they’ve had a session of physiotherapy because if you’re not well in any way, it is quite an effort. And they realised that, they realised that. And that was how they could tell that you were improving, you know, by your moving a little bit more than you had done the previous week. And that was what’s helped and helped psychologically...