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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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The opinions expressed by ACHA bloggers and those providing comments on the ACHA Blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Adult Congenital Heart Association or any employee thereof. ACHA is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the ACHA bloggers.

The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

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