My name’s Peter Paternosta, I’m 75 years old or young, depending on how you feel, or I feel. I had back surgery in December 2013, followed by 18 weeks of physiotherapy under the direction of the Coxheath Physiotherapist Centre. A young lady there got me walking and she adapted the program to meet a special need for me, which was for me to able to climb the stairs. This was important because my study is upstairs, and living without my computer; it's like you’ve taken away my arms. At the end of the 18 weeks, they set a lifestyle maintenance regime in order to benefit me in the future, but they also brought up that there was an additional service, the falls prevention service.
They gave me a number to ring. I was very fortunate in September 2014 that I got accepted to go on it. However, I was a little apprehensive, basically because I didn’t know what I was getting into. My apprehension was somewhat unfounded once I got there. There were about 10 people there, all who had got similar sorts of problems.
Louise Fleet, the class instructor, started out by giving us very simple exercises but what she did say was they will be getting more vigorous as the weeks went on and if ever we felt it was a bit much, sit down, and don’t worry if you can’t keep up. On the other hand, the people who are more mobile, she encourages them to be more vigorous in their approach. She did this and gave us the opportunity to make any comments about what we were doing and if we had any particular problems, bring it to her notice. Louise has really got her hands full, with ten people, all with their different sort of needs. Her eyes are everywhere, all over the place, that’s fantastic.
So it is good for me to go there. I am very grateful that I'm a part of this program because they have assisted in maintaining, the important word is maintaining, my level of abilities. It would be unfair for me that it’s improved my ability but it hasn’t degraded, that is more important to me. Through this regime I’ve had to do my exercises during the week in order to maintain the level I’ve got because I realise that in the course of time it will get worse.
Without the opportunity to attend these classes, I’d be far worse off. I will become more of a sedentary animal because my interests are not in the physical side of things, I have never had any interest whatsoever in any form of sport. I admire the people that do it, but it’s not for me. Both my wife and I are tea drinkers, so I will do some of the exercises that are in the FPS booklet that are easy to perform in the kitchen whilst the kettle is boiling - I’m quite happy to do that!
It is important to me, when we finish, that I do need a short recovery time. And sitting down and having tea and a biscuit, a banana which is good for potassium, you get to know people and some of the people there have had fantastic lives.
On the second or third week of the first twelve weeks of exercise, the Falls Preventioner leader came along. What she did was see what you could do at that moment in time, and at the end of the twelve weeks we had a second validation to see if we had improved, remained steady or worsened. Now that was very important to me because that’s a measure of quality. As I said, I approached the whole thing with a certain sense of trepidation, because in the end it’s all about quality. Now you’re never going to make me a marathon runner but I am able to do the things I want to do.