Friday, September 18, 2015
MY JOURNEY: IT'S TIME TO DO THE HIKE!
Since my Lung Transplant on November 3, 2014, I have been working very hard to rehabilitate my body, which had become totally de-conditioned due to the lung disease I had gotten. It's a slow process, starting as soon as I woke up from my Transplant. The hospital gets you out of bed the very next day and sitting in a chair. Something so many take for granted, but following a year of not being able to walk due to shortness of breath and being on oxygen 24/7, getting out of the hospital bed on my own and sitting in a chair, was a big deal! Hard, but a big deal and I did it!
First Time Sitting in a Chair!
Next comes your first walk after surgery. Of course, I was very weak and needed assistance, but every day, the nurses would come, get me out of bed and we would go for a walk and each day we would try to walk a little further than the day before. It's at this point, one thinks, I'm never going to be able to walk like I did before I got sick, but I kept fighting and following instructions and, while it was definitely baby steps, I was making progress.
After I was discharged, my rehab began at home, slowly guided by a great Physical Therapist. At first I had to lay on the bed to do the exercises he wanted me to do. Working my legs to get the muscles to re-awaken after going to sleep for so long. Then after several weeks, we got up and standing to do the exercises. I was clearly making progress, but it was not easy and I always needed a nap when we were done with our hour of exercise.
After about 8 weeks of at home physical therapy, I graduated to Out-Patient Pulmonary Rehab. I was required to go twice a week for 12 weeks with each session lasting an hour. The P.T.'s pushed me to work hard and do more each week. But I was the one that asked when I could start walking on the Treadmill. I was doing well on the machines they had me using, but I felt if I was to be able to really get back to walking, I needed to get on that treadmill. The therapists were pleased and helped me get started. I would use two machines on the days I went there and one was always the treadmill. The P.T.'s would have me increase the incline, speed and time I spent on it. I worked extremely hard and it was not easy. But I wanted this; to be able to return to walking, moving around on my own, was something I dreamed of when I was sick. So I worked as hard as I needed.
Walking on the Treadmill at Out Patient Rehab!
At the end of the 12 weeks of Out Patient Rehab, I was required to do a 6 minute walk. I had to do one at the beginning; they measure how far you can walk in 6 minutes. When I began my Out Patient Rehab after my Transplant, for my 6 Minute Walk, I was only able to walk 684 ft. That was a big improvement over what I could do before my Transplant. Following 12 weeks of Rehab, for my Graduation 6 Minute Walk, I was able to walk 1,337 ft.! A major improvement! I was discharged and told to keep working on my Rehab on my own, especially if I wanted to completely regain my strength and endurance.
I have been diligent in my working out since being discharged from Out Patient Rehab. I either walk outside on days where the weather is agreeable, or I use our community Fitness Center, using the Treadmill or Stationary Bike and doing hand weights every few days. I decided I wanted a goal to work toward and that's when I saw that the Respiratory Health Association was sponsoring their Annual Hike for Lung Health in Lincoln Park on September 20th. So back in July, I signed up to be a walker and my goal was to participate in their 3 Mile Walk. In addition I set up a Fundraising page and set about trying to raise as much money for the Respiratory Health Association, whose work to promote awareness and support programs to promote lung health is so important. So far I have raised over $2,600 and am currently the #2 Individual Fundraiser having been bumped from the #1 position just recently.
I have been working hard to get ready for the Hike for Lung Health! Walking both outside and in our Fitness Center. Continuing to push myself and how far I was going and how fast I was walking.
My First 2 Mile Walk Outside!
Finished My First 3 Mile Walk!
So today I am heading to the Treadmill to do my last training workout before the Hike for Lung Health on Sunday. I will rest my legs tomorrow and then head to Lincoln Park with my younger brother, who has agreed to be my "walking buddy", and some family to cheer me on as I cross the finish line! I am excited to participate in this important event to help raise awareness for Lung Health and the important work of the Respiratory Health Association. I am very excited that the Respiratory Health Association took an interest in my story and interviewed me and posted my story on their website Patient Stories page. Here's a link where you can read it.
Ready for the Hike for Lung Health!
It's been a long, challenging journey from Lung Transplant Surgery, through Rehab and Recovery. I am not 100% back to "normal". I don't know if I ever will be, but I continue to work hard and fight to get my strength back. I have made huge strides and am proud of what I have accomplished. So, this Sunday, September 20th at 10AM (Central Time) I will set off on the 3 Mile course of the Hike for Lung Health. Please cheer me on from wherever you are! I'll take all the encouragement I can get. My goal is to finish the walk in less than 60 minutes. If I do that, I will truly have achieved something at 10 1/2 months Post Transplant that I would not have thought possible a year ago! Here's to achieving that goal! I will post about how things went after the Walk!
Wish me luck!
My YouTube Video:
Lung Transplant: From Surgery to Rehab & Recovery