Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pulmonary Rehab

I have always been active through-out my life -- well, that is pre having been diagnosed with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension and that was over 11 years ago.

In school I was always active. I was in the high school band, I was sports and this one tickles my phunny bone; as short as I am, I was on the basketball team :o) I raised 4 children (along with my husband) and you all know how that can be, ACTIVE.

Having pulmonary hypertension is a life changing and mentally challenging ordeal. It affects the lungs and the heart -- especially the right side of the heart (although some are lefties). There can be causes for it or there can be no known cause. It is life threatening and although right now there are several therapies/medications available that give us hope, there is no cure.

Last year I had open-heart surgery and although I was to be in the hospital for 5 days to a week, I ended up having complications and was in the hospital for over 10 weeks. This is not a good thing. I did not move and my muscles atrophied. When they say you lose all your muscle tone if you don't move, they are not jesting. I had to learn to walk again, my typing was an unknown language when I attempted to use my computer (at about 4 weeks) and some of my phriends learned to read it, some couldn't; I had trouble feeding myself; and that I eventually worked on and I was able to feed myself. I had the aides open my milk carton and sometimes I thought my picture should be on that milk carton as this was not the me I remember. It was not a good time in my life. I had many phriends praying for me and I know those prayers worked. Thank you all.

About a week before I came home I was taught to walk. I had PT's, RT's and OT's come to my room and reteach me the basics. Like standing, then learning to take a few steps, then taking a few more. My first attempt to walk was 4 steps and that wore me out. By the time I was heading home I could walk about 300' with someone with me and a chair was rolled right along as part of what I called my parade.

I had six weeks of in house rehab when I finally did get home, enough that with a walker I could make it to my door. I was able to do the 3 steps I had to get out of my home -- with help and what I called giving Tom the death grip for those steps. I then had physical therapy for 8 weeks and finally could walk on my own. I told several of my phriends that it felt like I looked like a toddler with a "load" in their diaper when I walked. I may write another epistle later about that challenge but I want to get to the pulmonary rehab.

Although I missed spring while in the hospital and then it took all of summer to learn to walk, I finally did well up until the end of October and the first part of November. I then got pneumonia and I lost a good deal of what I had gained. My PH doctor said if I could get those muscles back and working in my legs I would be able to breathe easier. He wrote a script for pulmonary rehab.

I now go 3 times a week. I use the NuStep (I call it the push-me-pull-you), a Bike Ergometer, an Arm Ergometer, the Treadmill and I finish off with weights, I'm up to 2 lbs. Of course, I start off with a warm-up session and end with cool-down. I am wired up and my bp is taken several times during the session.

When I first started a few weeks back, I was huffing and puffing on the various machines and I used pursed lip breathing to get me through it all. Now they have increased the tension on the machines and extended the time. Some days I still have problems but most days I do well and I use pursed lip breathing less and less. I have noticed that my breathing on the whole is much better but those muscles just want to scream out and say 'JUST WHAT ARE YOU DOING'?

I do believe in exercise, it is so very important for all of us and especially for those with a disability; even if you can just walk an extra few feet at home, an extra trip to the kitchen will help. Once I am through with my rehab I will get back into doing my "home" exercise 3 times a week. I have an exercise "class" by cell phone with several phriends and I am hoping they are anxiously awaiting my return :o}

There is a sign in the rehab room that says: "Eat a potato, don't become one".

Always remember to smile -- it's contagious.

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