I got a phone call!
OK, before all of the grammar police go nuts, I know that sentence is bad grammar. PFFFT!
My excitement trumps the time honored rules of writing a proper sentence. So, where was i? Oh, yeah…
I got a phone call!
Let me back track a little bit. As you know from my previous “PULMONARY” postings, I have been participating in the Pulmonary Rehab classes at Lankenau Hospital since early August. Three days a week, I’ve attempted to raise my tolerance and ability level for my breathing functions. Again, my ILD is not reversible, the damage is done, and all efforts from here on out are to slow the progression to a crawl while allowing me to live as full and active a life as I possibly can.
The problem has always been that , by the good graces of the fine health insurance system, these classes carry an expiration date. I was approved for 36 classes, three a week, which is actually on the high side. Of course, this is lifetime, which is very ridiculous and ripe for another blog post someday.
These have been wonderful classes, for my mental health as well as my physical. For 90 to 120 minutes a day, three days a week, I was not allowed to pull a “whoa is me”. I had to strive, I had to try, I had to accomplish, and I had to participate. Anne and Francine, the rehab techs, were there to make sure that I accomplished what I was capable of, not what I was too scared to attempt.
In addition, my workout mate, Felice, kept me laughing and trying even harder. That was the “mental” aspect. The social atmosphere, the cordial nature, the shared and building relationships over these 36 visits were almost like working again, something I so sorely miss. In other words, for 90 minutes, I lived how I wanted, not how a condition forced me to.
I’ll get back to the phone call in a few paragraphs.
The sessions were structured around four basic sets of exercises each day, with endurance and limits extended when possible. In the end, I went from 3 minutes at 1/MPH on the treadmill, to 30 minutes at 2.2/MPH with a 2% grade. I went from 3 minutes of 2 lbs hand weights to 10 minutes of 6 lb hand weights. I progressed from 3 minutes at 10 watts to 12 minutes at 50 watts on the stationary bike.
In all, every area had improved, but most of all, the opportunity to resume some semblance of my old normal life existed again, and that was what I’ve missed.
But all good things have to come to an end, according to the word of Aetna, and after 36 successful sessions, I graduated!
Of course, I had to say good bye to these sessions, and did so with a really sad heart. For the first time in over 2 years, I was truly happy again. While it cured nothing, for a few weeks, I moved forward instead of backwards. My next step is moving to a Pulmonary Maintenance Program at Bryn Mawr Hospital. Essentially, this is the self-guided version of what I just accomplished, but minus the constant monitoring of my vitals and body responses. In addition, while there are good people there, I am not their only focus, so they are there to answer questions when I have them, unlike at the Lankenau rehab when Ann and Francine were there to anticipate my questions and guide me as much as I needed it.
In essence, it is a gym setting, and I can check my blood oxygen and heart rate at the end of each set of exercises, but I no longer am wired up. Oxygen is provided by a concentrator instead of a tank or in-wall hook up. The advantage is that the cost is much less than the rehab, so my meager financials are able to handle it. Also, the sessions are 2 days a week and are not for a scheduled time, though I will continue to go early in the morning, since that gets my day started.
Sometimes, there are others there, but other times, I am alone. There is a TV that only seems to get silly judge shows or FoxNews, so I zone it out. Because of the lack of consistency of who is there when, the other thing it is missing is that feeling of a shared workplace, with co-exercisers to talk and share with week in and week out. That I miss the most.
I started this program on Tues 11/15, but before I went to my first session…
I got a phone call!
It was Anne, Francine, and Felice, my new friends from Lankenau, just calling to see how I was. It was wonderful! I don’t get as many calls anymore because my circle of friends has shrunk and is missing those who I used to see everyday at work or who I used to talk with throughout the year about the video industry.
But, I got that phone call, and it put a big exclamation point on all that I have written about the rehab program. This was something special that I just accomplished, and I did it with a shared community that was there to help, advise, laugh, and share. I may never be at that level again, but I did this and my new friends were there for me again.
I am now excited for the next phone call!