So I’m now mid-way through my course of IV’s (provided I’m only on for 2 weeks, which is always a big “if”) and I was back up to Oxford today for a check on how things are going, some mid-point bloods and an exercise session.
As I mentioned in my post about my annual review here, the docs think that if I can get myself doing some exercise and building some of the muscle mass I’ve lost over the last few months, I’ll stand a much better chance of keeping my lungs ticking over for a while longer than they may first have predicted.
Apart from the exercise (which I’ll come to in a bit), the most amazing thing to come out of today were my oxygen saturation levels – the amount of O2 that gets transferred into the blood stream to be carried around the oxygen. I know I’ve been feeling brighter and fitter over the last few days, but nothing prepared me for the physio clipping the monitor to my finger this afternoon.
Normal sats levels run between 99-100% and back when I was off O2 and doing well a couple of years ago – and for a good while before then – I used to run fairly steadily about 96-97%. Recently, even with my constant flow of 2 litres of oxygen per minute being shoved up my nose, I’ve usually topped out at 89%. That’s pretty low. OK , very low.
Imagine my surprise, then (I seem to say that a lot on here, so I guess all you guys who stay with me and continue to read this must have a pretty good imagination by now) when I perched on the bed on the ward today and saw my sats hit 94% at rest for the first time in well over 4 months.
I was totally gobsmacked. I have to admit it was totally beyond my wildest dreams that I could or would recover the function that I’d lost, having convinced myself I’d waved it goodbye for this set of billows. Even my physio seemed a little startled by it, but she said she didn’t see why we couldn’t maintain or even improve them with the right exercise programme.
Obviously, it’s not exactly Olympic standard – I don’t even need any gym equipment, unless you count the beautiful, girly-pink dumbells they had me using for my bicep curls – but it’s something which gets my heart-rate going and will hopefully strengthen some of my core muscle groups and increase my general exercise tolerance.
The programme consists of a “cardio” set (in quotation marks as it’s not exactly pushing my maximum heart-rate) to build endurance and “weights” set (in quotation marks because all but one of the exercises actually uses body weight and nothing more) to strengthen my arms and legs, the areas which take the biggest hit during any period of inactivity.
The endurance set is a very simple 5-6 minutes of step-ups onto a low stair, broken up into 1 minute reps with 30 seconds recovery in between. The aim is to increase the time by 30 seconds every couple of days until I reach a comfortable but taxing plateau, repeating the set every day.
The strengthening set consists of several different extension exercises, including leg-lifts, quad stretches, hip movement and arm/shoulder lifts. The idea is to do 3 sets of 8-10 reps of each of the exercises three times a week – so Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I should think.
I’m actually really psyched about being presented with something that I can do to help myself. For so long now I’ve felt like a passenger on this ride. I know that doing nebs and physio everyday is a big part of fighting off the avalanche of attackers busying themselves in my chest, but this finally feels like I have a chance to do something to take the bull by the horns and drag myself back up the slope. (And on the way up I’ll find some more weird metaphors to mix, too).
It remains to be seen just how good I am at staying motivated when things get tough and I’m tired, aching and stressed out, but everything has to start somewhere, so it might as well be on a high. If I can just help to turn this into a habit, then maybe it’ll become as second nature to me as nebs and physio are at the moment.
Needless to say, I’ll be doing my best to use the blog as an exercise diary, so I can be applauded or chided as necessary to spur me on.
(PS – for the record, my lung function mid-IV’s is at 0.8/1.5 which is actually better than it was at the END of my previous set of IV’s)
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