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Sunday, February 07, 2016

On Rest and Boredom and Recovery

Jean Sexton muses:

After escaping from the hospital, the doctors all told me to rest and give my body time to recover. I wasn't really very strong; I could walk around the section of the hospital that I was in, but I needed help with oxygen and I needed something to steady me. I was the walking champion of the floor, but that was because walking helped ease my stress, so I walked a lot..

I didn't realize how hard it would be to do something as simple as walking in my apartment. I was hauling around 50 feet of tubing around the apartment and if it could get caught on something or kinked, it did. When I walked outside I had to haul around a tank of oxygen. If I needed to go to work either to do something only I could or because there were multiple appointments in one day, then the machine that condensed oxygen, my "portable" oxygen tank, the dog, and I would have to be hauled to work and back home. Everything was a huge effort.

So I mostly stayed home. I was tired, so I didn't want to do anything that required focusing. The book I had read some in the hospital was quite heavy, so if I dropped it when I dozed off, my toes woke me up when the book hit them. Cooking and baking could have dangerous consequences if I didn't focus, so I limited myself to microwaving meals or eating cold ones.

The lack of focus meant watching TV shows just to have noise in the house. I did do some simple work from the house, but I discovered the wasteland of daytime TV firsthand. I was bored. Bored, bored. So bored. I waited for the days when I felt strong enough to go to work.

I don't handle boredom well. It finally came time to go to the doctor who was focusing on my lungs. I told him how bored I was and how difficult it was for the folks at ADB to haul me and the equipment to and from work. He really listened to me and sent me forth to walk for six minutes with one of his nurses. Finally, just shy of four weeks out of the hospital, I was able to breathe well enough to keep my oxygen levels up. He decided that as long as I wasn't trying to sleep, that I could go without oxygen. Hallelujah! I was finally free to travel tether free.

The very next day I had more good news. My body decided to stop making fluid around my lungs and the drainage catheter came out a week early. It turns out this was really good since my body was trying to incorporate the tube and sutures into my body.

On Friday I got my CPAP machine and I while I still have to have oxygen at night, it should mean I get healthier. It turns out I was forgetting to breathe sometimes -- never a good situation -- and this should solve that.

Recovery is a long, hard road. It is made up of a lot of baby steps that you might not notice. Talk to friends who can remind you that two weeks ago it took 25 minutes to walk 0.2 miles and this week it it took about 15 and you weren't as tired. Recovery is helped by exercise and by eating sensibly. Both may be hard. I know that I eat when I am under stress and recovery is stressful. I am trying to eat healthy things when I do eat.

Am I recovered? Not yet. I still tire easily and I have to concentrate sometimes to get enough oxygen in my lungs. My poor body is still battered and sore. I am not allowed to drive for at least seven more weeks. And losing weight (and then maintaining a healthy weight) will be a life-long effort. Still, I am improving and ADB will see more of me during working hours. That should translate into better service for you!