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On Perseverance and Recovery

Monday, October 08, 2012

By Jon Ritchings, Jr.

It’s been ten weeks since my last open heart surgery and I've had ups and downs. I was released only to end up in the hospital for another two-and-a-half weeks. Then I had a couple of bouts of withdrawal when I stopped the steroids they put me on. Here’s what I've learned from all of this: Perseverance is the key to recovery.

When I wound up in the hospital I thought I would have to put my walking and recovery on hold—not the case. I took the time to rest when I was tired and walk when I wasn't. From nearly the first day I was back in, I started walking. I had been up and walking after the surgery at the behest of the doctors and nurses. Here, no one was asking me if I walked that day. I took it upon myself to gather up the chest tube and go for a walk down the hall.

In the step-down unit I would ask the nurse to unhook me and walk with me around the unit. I would do several laps a day. Once I was out on the normal floor and able to walk on my own, I would go the width of the hospital and back and that would be one “lap.” I would do five of these before each meal. I continued this after I was released again and built up to 3-4 miles a day by the time I reached two months post-op.

Then I stopped the steroids and quickly realized that they had been bolstering my energy levels. I took a few days off of walking because...well, I just felt so horrible. I realized, however, that if I did nothing, it was like I was going backwards on my rehab. I decided that what I needed to do was start using my treadmill so that I could measure my daily progress. At first walking even a half mile was difficult, but I pushed ahead. Now two weeks later I'm off the treadmill and back out walking 2-3 miles a day and getting better. My energy is coming back and I feel great.

If my rehab continues this way through the rest of the month I will be walking in a local Thanksgiving Day race. So I urge all of you to persevere and do a little bit each day. Because doing something is always better than doing nothing at all.


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