Pool big part of recovery

Colin Reynolds finishes another session at the Otago Therapeutic Pool, which he credits with...
Colin Reynolds finishes another session at the Otago Therapeutic Pool, which he credits with adding a decade to his life. Photo by Gregor Richardson.

The first Colin Reynolds knew something was wrong was when he started gasping for air as he climbed the stairs to the smoko room at work.

He was 71 at the time, but it had never happened to him before and he knew right away something wasn't right.

It turned out he had a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot on the lungs), and after some treatment at Dunedin Hospital, he was up and about again.

But six months later, while out playing a round of golf with some mates, the shortness of breath returned.

Fearing the worst, his mates called an ambulance and this time, the prognosis was not so rosy.

This time it was his heart. It was 90% blocked and doctors told him if he didn't have a triple bypass, he would be dead within four to six weeks.

''There wasn't really a lot of choice, so I had it done.''

After the life-saving operation, Mr Reynolds joined the Otago Phoenix Club, a group of former heart patients who meet twice a week for gym, sport and swimming exercise at the Otago Therapeutic Pool in Dunedin.

The club was co-founded by Dr Ted Nye, a former heart physician at Dunedin Hospital who became interested in preventive cardiology in the late 1960s.

This entailed getting cardiology patients up and moving, rather than following the prescribed approach of the time, where people were simply told to rest after a heart attack.

The physio pool played an integral part in this approach.

Mr Reynolds, now 80, credits the pool as adding a decade of bonus time to his life. It was the key to his longevity, he said.

''You've got to do exercise. It's absolutely critical.

''I had friends who had their heart bypass surgery at the same time as me, and they went home and sat in their chairs.

''They didn't last much longer than a year.''

Mr Reynolds said he had had stents inserted recently, but the physio pool was continuing to keep him fit and healthy.

He believed he ''easily'' had another decade left in him yet.

''The pool's marvellous. It really does help. You can exercise without hurting yourself.

''I hope the pool is still around in another 10 years, because I'll still be using it.''


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