Saturday, April 23, 2011

I finally get to solo

I'm here at our local Starbucks waiting while Principessa, our bichon, gets a bath and trim. I usually hole up at a Starbucks near her grooming salon, but this morning everyone in that neighborhood decided to have coffee. I'm having a Chai, which really tastes great. It's non-fat, so I'm avoiding most of the fat and cholesterol. :-)

This week has been another good one as I progress down the road to recovery. Kath let me drive to my rehab on Friday, probably ten miles or so. She had me call her from the parking lot when I got there and then again before I left to come home. Felt like a teenager with a new driver's license who was driving to the high school for the first time. And it felt a lot like my first solo when I was in pilot training fifty some years ago. The instructor turns you loose for three takeoffs and landings, the last one to a full stop.

Then the instructor usually flies several more dual rides with you, making sure you aren't too cocky from the first solo. That first solo is a real adrenaline high. You are king of the skies. So Kath had me drive her to and back from her hair appointment in the afternoon. She's the instructor giving the student a couple of dual rides after the initial solo. The more things change, the more they stay the same. 

Rehab is going well. The therapists are increasing the intensity on the machines. And I'm doing upper body strengthening with stretch bands. I've got a series of about a dozen stretches that have been helping me get the strength back in my arms and shoulders. 

All is going well. I'm much less tired on the days I have rehab. The first few weeks, I needed a long nap after I got home and had breakfast. Yesterday I didn't need a nap until I was parked outside of Kath's hair salon, in the sun. Oh man, naps in the sun are God's gift to those who take advantage of them. 

I wrote a haiku this morning that combines my reaction to our cool, wet weather this weekend and Easter. 

     rain from low gray clouds 
     creates explosions of green 
     the color of hope  

Denver has needed moisture. We've had several wildfires in the past several days. Nothing like Texas, but several groups of homes were threatened. Reverse 911 systems are getting a workout these days. And schools are serving as shelters for those who have evacuated. Let's hope the weather will now be more spring-like and give us some rain. 

I'm glad that my blogging buddy and good friend from Casper, Cathy, is eating lots of yummy chocolate candy. I can only eat dark chocolate and just little bits of it. And she looks good in red, as the little sentence inside the Dove Chocolate wrapper said. Wonder if she's been to the gym yet? She said she was headed that way. But the buzz from chocolate can make you say crazy things. ;-)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Where does the time go?

It's been close to a month since my last post here. Between a foggy brain, cardiac rehab three times a week, and trying to walk a couple of miles a day, I've been negligent of this blog. I'll try to do better. I did not realize how the anesthetics and sedatives I was on for several weeks had fogged my brain. But Kath has said things to me recently about events in last month that have entirely escaped from my memory. Of course some of that comes with age, but a lot is due to drugs. I can't imagine why anyone would want to be on drugs when they take away so much of life.

I've been walking two miles a day, on my off-rehab days, and that feels good. One thing I've discovered is that I dehydrate quickly now and have to drink plenty of water when I'm exercising. I got a bit dehydrated one day at rehab, and my blood pressure dropped from its normal high of 90 something to 80, and the staff made me drink water, which brought it right back up. I took a stress test later than week, and the same thing happened right at the end of the test. I passed the test fine, but my blood pressure dropped right as I stopped the test, running out of steam. I drank some water, and the blood pressure came right back up. So now, I carry a bottle of water to rehab and on my walks, drinking plenty as I exercise.

I had a visit with my cardiologist and nurse practitioner on Friday, and they were very pleased with my recovery. Both were surprised and pleased that I was walking a couple of miles a day. All my reports from rehab and the stress test were better than expected, so we were all pleased. They drew blood and we got the numbers back later in the afternoon. My cholesterol, which we were most worried about, was at 120, really low, and my anemia is gone. We've been able to quit a couple of the meds I was on, so that's good.

The cardiologist said that my recovery, although going along better than he had expected will still be a year-long process. They'll monitor me every six to eight weeks and then, at the end of a year, do another echo cardiogram to see how the damage done to my heart tissue affects the heart's ability to pump blood. If it is not good enough, they'll install a defibrillator to prevent the heart from going whacky. If the heart is doing well, they'll continue using medication to control it. I'm hoping for the latter.

So that's the latest news from Lake Woebegone. I am really pleased with the doctor's comments and his excitement about my progress to date. I did bump my mileage up to 2 1/2 miles yesterday and will continue at that distance for a while. My plan is to get to 3 miles by the end of the month and then get out to PCC and start walking greater distances, but at slower speeds. I want to be back to the distances I was walking, if not at the same speeds or frequency. My strength and endurance are improving, but not nearly at the rate I'd like that to happen. Guess I just have to be patient. But I've been a patient for much too long.

I really miss the critters out at PCC. I thrive in nature, and walking the sidewalks of Denver just doesn't provide as much. I did, however, see a Cooper's hawk the other day, fighting with a crow. And as I was hooking up a hose to water the lawn, I saw a bushtit, a bird I've never seen around the house. And about a week ago I saw a cedar waxwing mixed in a flock of robins as I walked. That was cool. We've had some flocks of waxwings passing through in the fall, but this is the first in the spring.