Leap into the water
Goethe was determined to learn how to swim. He believed he could live in harmony with nature in the water. Thomas Becks experiences weightlessness in the element and that spells pure relaxation for him.
The last issue of our Have you heard? dealt with the big topic of change. The essence was that we should adopt changes in a primarily positive manner and be able to recognise and make use of any opportunities these may present. Speaking of change - Thomas has also experienced a lot of changes during the last few years. He has had a laryngectomy and as a consequence has also changed his place in the swimming pool. From the past, working at the edge of the pool as a social worker in the children's and youth sector, to today, jumping in at the deep end. Whereby jumping in at the deep end is, of course, to be understood in a figurative sense here.
Thomas has now been laryngectomised for ten years. During his second rehab, he was introduced to the so-called hydrotherapy for laryngectomies for the first time. Being able to swim again despite a tracheostoma was an initially irritating but then interesting idea for him. So he gladly let himself be instructed in the use of hydrotherapy equipment and later, spurred on by his motivation, took up a training course to become a hydrotherapy officer so that he could also instruct other affected persons and enthuse them for this area of rehabilitation.
When the swimming pools are open, Thomas swims about 20 laps and does so regularly. Swimming offers him several advantages. For example, he focuses a lot on breathing and thus also improves his respiratory muscles. In general, he is a very sporty person, rides his bike a lot, goes to the gym or goes on Nordic walking tours in the countryside.
"Always swim near the edge, if anything happens I can hold on to something."
Of course, Thomas is also aware of the dangers that his hobby entails. Fortunately, a dangerous situation has never arisen in the water so far. But caution also applies at the pool's edge. For example, children playing at the edge of the pool. His advice is never to go swimming alone and always stay at the edge of the pool so you can grab a hold quickly in case something happens. It also makes sense to talk to the lifeguard or rescue service before going swimming and to point out the special circumstances and the dangers involved. He himself always goes swimming with a friend. However, he is aware of tricky situations from other affected individuals. Therefore, professional instruction in the special water therapy device (LARCHEL®) is indispensable to minimise risks.
Thomas has now been laryngectomised for a good ten years. Immediately after surgery, he learned voice rehabilitation with a shunt valve. To this day, he lives his everyday life, or rather his changed life, as normally as possible. One secret recipe is his passion for sport, which keeps him fit.
Thomas Becks has known the Fahl company for many years now and praises the customer-oriented service approach he experiences during every contact, e.g. at the meetings or events of the Laryngeal Association. Thank you very much for the pleasant conversation.
When Thomas isn't out swimming, he's tinkering around in his garage. Whereby "tinkering" is a bit of an understatement. He is passionate about restoring old Minis in his large garage with its lifting platform. In the past, visits to classic car events were also part of the agenda. But today he prefers to drive through the countryside with his wife and display his restoration skills on the road. Their travels take them as far as Scotland and England, quite regularly in fact. And two to three times a year it's holiday season. And if he's not destined to go north, he'll head south to Austria.
"Who can hold their breath the longest?"
Two anecdotes from his working life after the laryngectomy made his eyes twinkle during the conversation. As mentioned at the beginning, Thomas used to be a social worker in the field of children and youth work. When asked if he had ever had any negative experiences regarding his laryngectomy, he replied no. If anything, his protégés always tended to be rather curious. And so he enjoyed challenging them to a game of who could hold their breath the longest. And Thomas won every single time. Ok, maybe the cards weren't dealt fair and square either, because while everyone was holding their mouth and nose (including Thomas), no one noticed that he was breathing through the tracheostoma.
The other occasion underlines how a positive attitude can make life easier: Thomas just had both hands full and was pestered with questions from his supervised children. However, he could not answer because he could not close his HME himself. One of the children spontaneously asked if it should press, and Thomas was then immediately able to give a satisfactory answer. Now that is what one could call successful teamwork!