January 20, 2014

Letting the Animal Out of the Ark - or - 40 Days, Part II

 Post-transplant day 40.  Letting the animal out of the ark.

People forget that once it stopped raining and the Ark ran aground, Noah didn't just pop the hatch and release the hounds.  He waited 40 MORE days and nights to open the arc sending out doves each day to test the waters.  Only when he had a sign of terra firma did he open the Ark.

In a way, I am an Ark, too, that had to contain just one animal - the essential me, the athletic and powerful me.  Now, it took a long time to get to transplant.  71 days after moving, 33 days from being listed at Duke, 365 days from being listed in NY.  This ark had to weather quite a storm - and did!

But now recovery has proven to be a waiting game.  I am not allowed to lift above a certain weight until a certain amount of time has passed.  Not allowed to drive until certain time has passed.  Not allowed to jog or bicycle until certain time has passed.  But those timelines haven't been explicitly spelled out to me.  I did return to driving four weeks post, but only because I pushed.  Purportedly, I should be able to return to light jogging at six weeks, though that's in dispute by some of the respiratory therapists.  They seem to think 3 months.

Honestly, I couldn't wait that long.  So today, 40 days from being stitched up and sent to ICU, I went outside and interspersed stretches of walking with jogging for about a mile.

This was horrible.  My legs felt like wooden pegs with raw nerves shot throughout.  I haven't felt this awkward while jogging since...ever.  Even when I was a newcomer to the sport, it didn't feel like this.  But the first short section was the worst, the second better, the third not as good, the fourth segment better than the previous ones still, the fifth hurt a lot more... so a rollercoaster of experiences in one short mile.  But it felt good.  Even the pain in the legs felt GOOD.

But I was well-pleased with my lungs, which expanded and expanded to the limits of my chest cavity.  I didn't have coughing fits.  I didn't have to hunch over and catch my breath or blow off CO2.  I just breathed heavily and deeply.  (I will need to learn to breathe more quickly, I think, and that will come in time.)  It felt GOOD. 

It was generally 30 seconds jogging, a couple minutes walking.  And so on, for a 17:54 mile, my best pace in over a year.

So what should I say at rehab tomorrow?  Put me on the treadmill and let me at it, because I handled it on the sidewalks today?  Yes?

I didn't get around to putting my bicycle together this weekend, but could probably accomplish that mid-week.  I'm itching to put in a few sidewalk miles.

Today, I was reminded that though it will be an uphill physical battle, I still have the willpower to engage in that struggle.

No comments: