Note: At the end of this post are links to previous posts about my lung disease. I’ll keep these links at the end of each subsequent post, or figure out how to add a Table Of Contents.
Those were the words that started the rehab specialists report on me today. A gold star moment indeed.
Actually, this was pretty exciting, since coping with the lung disease up until now has felt kind of like walking in the tilted room in the old pirates ship on Hunt’s Pier in Wildwood. Because of the knowledge that I cannot get better from this, the natural human tendency is to assume you will get worse. Defying that human expectation, you try to stay stable and maximize that stability for what now constitutes your everyday life.
Three sessions have gone by since I last wrote about the rehab. Each day has had its moments, and each day has had its discoveries.
I now do a set routine of warm-ups, followed by a treadmill, the phantom ice cream machine arm spinner, an exercycle, hand weights, and cool down exercise. Nothing more exotic than that and nothing expected to be more exotic.
The warm-ups are fairly straightforward, performed without weights, but many are variations on weighted exercise. These go fairly quickly and then we get a blood pressure and a pulseox. My BP has tended a little bit to the high side, but not dangerously so. The pulseox levels have been acceptable after each set of activites, generally in the 91-92 range (my standard at rest without oxygen is 95-97). Note that these exercises are done with an oxygen tank at my side.
I also have the previously mentioned pocket monitor. This still includs putting the sticky contacts on my hairy chest. I now know exactly where my clavicle is because the first couple of times that I put the upper contacts on, I placed them too low and had to rip hair out by the follicles to move them. Ouchies Wouchies.
The remote also seems to want to pick up my breathing more than it is supposed to. My readings tend to look like my Cialis is working for much longer than four hours. No, I do not take Cialis. Just a metaphor, like my non-existent sex life. We have to tape the wires just so, like the old rabbit ears on an old TV set.
Steppie the Treadmill (yeah, I named it. Sue me.) gets me up to speed. The first few days, I was only doing 3 minutes at 1.0 to 1.2 miles. I’ve not fallen yet. Monday, we increased to 4 minutes and 1.4 miles. Today, 5 minutes and 1.4 miles. These may seem to be minor fluctuations, but to me, they are signs of progress, signs that are few and far between for me.
The only problem that I have had is that I tend to grip the handles much too tight, making it impossible for the pulseox to get a good reading. My grip is tighter than a jar lid. In addition, this causes other readings to be a bit off. I finally found a different way to balance and grip and solved that.
Then, my rehab specialist noticed that I was watching and reacting to the numbers on the readout screen instead of simply reacting to my own stress level and breathing capacity. This was solved through a very complex thought process. She turned the readout away from me. Problem solved. Sometimes life really IS simple.
Next to the ice cream machine arm workout, which I am king of. Today, she set the tension higher and I went up to 7 minutes. I was cranking out the frozen custard like Mister Softee on a sugar high. The imaginary kids eating the ice cream were all happy. Now if I could just get their imaginary currency to spend like real money.
Then comes the stationary bike. No stories here, just a bike ride not quite to the level of the Manayunk Wall, but I put my results up against anyone in that race. Will NOT wear spandex bike shorts, however. Nope.
Finally, the weights. These are increased from 3 to 4 pounds. Such a little increase and in my past life would have been baby weights. In this new life, they might as well have been railroad ties strapped to my arms. However, I did all the exercises like the little cartoons told me too. This time, we increased from 5 to 8 minutes. Without telling me. Nothing. This forced me to forget about pacing and to simply do. The option not to finish was never there. I made it, and felt good about it.
I did the cool downs and got a final BP. I broke the machine. It shut down. Or I had no BP. In any case, I still was able to walk out of there, so it’s all good.
Today, for the education class, we had ½ a VHS tape of Pulmonary Nutrition with models who looked like a VH1 “I Love The ‘80’s” Casting Call. We watched half because the rehab specialist was not quite ready to start our main topic: SEX. Seems there is no VHS tape for that. Reminder to myself: Let the hospital know where they can find the sex VHS tapes. At least the session would be well-attended.
She passed out some instruction pages of how to have sex when you have breathing problems. She accompanied this with some remoarks. We all glanced and put them away for later. In my case, probably much later.
We talked about sleep disorders and sleep apnea, which exists in many more people than you might think. It would pay you to ask you doctor about a sleep study, especially if you are overly tired during the day or have recently gained or lost weight. We also talked about drug interactions, which is something I am very afraid of.
So, I made five rehab sessions, and at the end of this one came a beautiful set of words. “ADRIAN IS DOING WELL”. Though the bar may be set low, the elation is sky high when I hear them. It means that something is being accomplished. Something for myself. Finally.
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