October 3, 2013

Duke Pulmonary Rehab

I'm not going to lie: day one kicked my ass.  I stuck it out, as I always do, and hopefully met their expectations for the day, but it was tiring, especially the 20 minutes I put in on the stationary bike.  It's going to be hard work getting in 22 more of these sessions.

Let me back up a bit.

It is the policy of the Duke lung transplant program that all of their patients go through pulmonary rehabilitation both before and after transplant.  One instantly grasps the necessity of rehab after a major surgery, but may not be so quick to realize why it is important before surgery.  You see, they would like each patient to be as healthy as possible prior to surgery - strong, flexible, able to endure.  The only thing that should be subpar is, of course, the lungs.  So: get your ass into the gym, you wheezy weakling!

And so, having cashed out my chips at the NY Presbyterian Casino and Hotel and gone down the road to Duke, I am being put through a program I could not even have imagined.  After a fairly thorough physical evaluation, including a six minute walk test, the therapists set my particular bar and off I went.

Each session of pulmonary rehab is FOUR HOURS.  In that stretch of time, each patient works with weights, does stretches, floor exercises, and two forms of cardio (stationary bike and walking), all topped off with a one hour patient education class.  This may vary from day to day; I'm not sure yet. (We did not have a class today, as the rehab center just moved to a new location and things are still a little crazy.)

So not only am I finding my way in a new city, finding a new facility (1821 Hillandale Road), but I'm a new patient to the staff and they're in a new building and not yet 100% up and running.  It must have been slam-bang crazy for them!  But onwards and upwards.  Time waits for no man.  Tempus fugit. Carpe diem.  Keeping the patients on their road to rehab is critical.

The staff is great.  Every single person seemed very en pointe and there are a LOT of staff members.  You are always being watched, always being coached, and always in the nicest way.  The new facility is also great.  It's not huge, but it does the job while at the same time having that clean, shiny, new-gym smell to it.

So today? My first session?  Let's just say I wish I'd dressed more appropriately.  Tomorrow it's gym shorts and a tech-t, water bottle in one hand, high-flow oxygen cannula in the other.  Because I'll be damned if I'm going to let 20 minutes on the bike make me feel like THAT ever again.

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