11/10/2011 1:24 PM
By Anthony Pugliese
It seems out of all the questions I get regarding my heart transplant the most frequent is, “So what was your recovery like?” Here’s what I usually say:
Each person’s recovery is different. I had been doing pulmonary rehabilitation prior to getting my heart on March 26, 2009, and I think that helped in my recovery process. I was in the hospital for 30 days. I returned to my house on May 5 and I began cardiac rehabilitation later that month, going three days a week. I returned to my part-time job as a teen parent advocate on June 1 and continued rehab.
In July I was in a minor car accident; however, being a transplant patient I spent time at the local emergency room for 12 hours before being transferred to the transplant center. I was cleared there the next day but stayed an extra day to have my monthly biopsy done. I returned to work and rehab.
In August I entered my first 5K walk in a small town called Mount Pleasant—and it was not a flat community. I finished in 61 minutes, which was about a 20 minute per mile pace. Not too bad, but let me set the scene—in a 5K walk or run, there is a police and ambulance escort following the last walker/runner. This event began and ended at a church, and most people finished rather quickly, so imagine the look on people's faces when they saw me followed by my “escorts” coming to the finish line.
To add to the situation, there was a funeral at the church with a bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace” as I crossed the finish line. Someone made a comment like,”It took you long enough,” but the person was quickly chastised by a friend who told him that five months ago I was literally dying, that I received a heart and this was my first 5K. Of course his attitude changed. I thought the song and the escort were great! Think about it—if it was not for the medical community and my faith in God and the amazing gift that I received, I would not have been there at that moment.
So what was my recovery like? Very different, and very unique!
Stay tuned—I will share more about my recovery next time.
Anthony L. Pugliese is a congenital heart disease survivor, who received a new heart after 44 years living with CHD (single ventricle, pulmonic stenosis and transposition of the great arteries). He will write about his adventures living with that heart. And keeping in that adventurous spirit, Anthony moved to Jerusalem, Israel, in August 2011.