Fourteen weeks post-surgery

Since the last post (whoops, meant to be a bit more consistent on this one), I have shaken the feeling of being trapped by my body, by time, and by circumstance.

The watershed came at about six weeks post-surgery, when I had the follow-up appointment with Mr Arwan.  Freedom came in the ability to drive my new car (delivered when I was unable to drive, how cruel!), as this brought about independence. I could do exciting things like drive to the supermarket (not that I could lift very much). I also started Physio, with the rather brilliant Oliver Hughes. He has been the one to give me more permission to try things, therefore feeding my confidence. He has also worked on the damage caused by the surgery to my poor old shoulder blades – and back… and shoulder… parts of my body that are compensating for the lack of stability in the shoulder. Don’t get me wrong, it has been excruciating (none more so than the manipulation of number one rib…). I have gradually been able to add the things I do. Nordic walking is back on, although I am not at the speeds that I was (that’s a lung capacity issue, as I can’t quite get the oxygen I need into my blood to drive the muscles, but that will come). Sailing, I can probably try in a week or so. Gig rowing. Ollie said that this was the worst possible in terms of the damage in my body – probably not until the autumn. You can’t have it all.

As to the pain. I read on some forums that people recovering from lung surgery are living with pain. I can’t say that’s true for me. My ribs are sore at times, not kicked by a horse sore, not even kicked by a large dog sore, but over-used sore. Ollie put that in context – you can’t rest your ribs or lungs like you can a damaged knee… if they’re resting, you’re dead. I don’t bother with pain killers, just ease up a little bit. Pick up my book instead of driving myself too hard. I still can’t lie on my left side at night, but I sleep well now. The rib pain is likely to last another 10-12 months. Mr Arwan apologised to that – apparently they had to bend and stretch a few things to get to the torn lung. Nice.

I like having exercises to do – and I’m disciplined in doing them. Pilates based to strengthen my core. I can’t do anything more than very basic movements, as the pain is intense sort of “under” my left rib-cage. Could be intercostal muscles, could be the transverse abs. I can’t plank any more (and I could in January, for well over a minute). I can’t support my legs raised off the ground (like a supine leg lift), so it’s all with one foot on the floor. I’m back working with Kate, my lovely PT, who is supporting (and challenging) me. I’ve even picked up a kettle bell again. It’s amazed her in the last couple of weeks the progress I’ve made. There is a hill behind the house that we use for cardio work. Two weeks ago, due to the limitations of the lung, I could only get my heart rate up to 140bpm. In-between sessions I pounded the hill a few times. Yesterday we attacked it again, and I could push my body harder. 158bpm. You can improve when you invest in yourself.

That’s the body. All on a very positive path to recovery. My mind? Well, that’s another story. A positive one. In the interests of good blogging etiquette (word count!), I won’t waffle on now, but save that for another day…

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