VIDEO: Home float tank relieves chronic pain for Truro woman

Published on April 19, 2017

Ellen Swan had a float tank installed in her home a few days ago and it has already made a tremendous difference to her health. Swan is affected by Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

©Lynn Curwin/Truro Daily News

Nothing makes Ellen Swan feel better than lying in a dark tank full of salty water.

Swan is affected by Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), which causes her to experience pain when she touches most things. Relaxing in a float tank is the only thing that brings her relief. She had been travelling to a flotation centre in Halifax but this month she had a tank installed in her home.

Getting this brought hope back and made an amazing change. I feel the difference inside myself.

Ellen Swan

“The first time I got into the tank here it was just bliss,” she said. “For a while I had been putting money toward the tank instead of going to Halifax to float, so my CRPS was at a point where, if someone could put me in a coma until they found a cure, it would have sounded good. I was in pain and exhausted. After the first float I felt like the first couple of layers of pain scum had been soaked off.”

She has been living with CRPS since it was triggered by a fall seven years ago. ((See Coping with constant pain). CRPS is believed to be caused by damage to, or malfunction of, the nervous systems. It left her no longer able to draw, paint, sit in a regular chair, wear most materials or sleep through an entire night. She couldn’t travel far by car because the vibrations caused pain. One thing she found she could do was create jewelry, and she began making things to sell, saving the money to get a float tank.

When a woman who had a float tank died, her husband donated the tank to Swan. Her husband, Stephen, quickly went to work to prepare a space for it.

To support the weight of the tank, which has 800 pounds of Epsom salt in a large amount of water, posts had to be installed in the basement and the floor had to be reinforced. Part of the living room became a float room, which required moisture-resistant drywall and a shower stall – it’s necessary to shower before and after each float.

Inside the float tank.

©Lynn Curwin/Truro Daily News

Since April 7 she’s been floating one or more times every day, with an average session lasting about 90 minutes – although she has stayed in up to three and a half hours.

“It’s not just the time in the tank; magnesium deficiency adds to stress and pain and you absorb magnesium from the Epsom salt in the tank,” she explained. “I can sleep a couple of hours at a time now and can stay in bed most of the night.

“Getting this brought hope back and made an amazing change. I feel the difference inside myself. My son and my husband see the difference.

“I’m looking forward to wearing regular shoes, driving places, and scrubbing the kitchen floor without taking a day to recover.”

Swan will continue to create jewelry to help with installation of a ventilation system and ongoing expenses such as water testing strips, and higher electric and water costs.

Her jewelry can be seen on her Earrings by Ellen Facebook page ( ) and at Calling Corners.