Posts Tagged ‘Stamina’

On the Trail

October 7, 2009

Steve be hurtin’.

I keep a chart of my walking, and right now it’s pretty embarrassing – I walked three days in September. That’s it. First we had a couple of days when the weather just was too nasty to get outside, then my grandmother fell. Hitting her head put her in the hospital for a week before she passed away, and then my hernia acted up.

And I know what did it, too. We stood in the receiving line before my grandmother’s funeral for three hours – and I think that is what triggered it. My niece was brave enough to go to the viewing but not the funeral, so when she was ready to go, my brother gave me a wave and made the “telephone” sign with his hand. I nodded and walked her outside to call home for someone to come and get her, and I swear that I couldn’t move my feet for a few steps, I had been standing that long!

And the hernia just didn’t get mad at me, it was in a full blown rage – it has hurt every day from September 10 until yesterday! Walk? I was glad to be able to hobble to the bathroom at times!

But yesterday it didn’t hurt – what’s wrong down there? – and today it has been well behaved also. So today, gingerly, I got outside and walked. My watch said that I walked 15 minutes and my pedometer records that I walked 1,637 steps. That’s about half a mile. Not much.

But I sure feel it. I’m “wore out”, as we say here in the South, because all of my stamina has trickled away during my month of inactivity.Today was my first day back, and it really took it out of me.

But if you want to stay healthy, you have to stay active. This is especially true when you have a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD), so I did a little bit of walking today. I had a feeling the rest of the day was going to be spent nursing little aches and pains, but I was out there anyway. Because for a while there my world was limited almost exclusively to either my bed or the couch, and that was not very appealing at all. And when I did go somewhere, it wasn’t very long before I was out of gas and just couldn’t go any further. I’m still not 100% certain what I’m supposed to do with my life, but holding down a couch probably isn’t it.

So I’ll be back out there again tomorrow, and I’ll probably be hurtin’ again tomorrow evening. But walking is a major part of my exercise routine, and I do what I do to defeat the evil that lives within me.

New Routine

May 3, 2009

I am still trying to get my stamina and strength back, and it is coming along. I’m satisfied, but I’m in bit of a rush because of a big event that is coming up. (You’ll read about it soon, a few final details still have to be ironed out) If I were to go to visit someone in the hospital like I did a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t feel worn out… but I need all the juice I have, and more.

*Sigh* I wish I was like my cell phone – just plug myself into the wall overnight and recharge! But it doesn’t work that way.

So I’m watching what I eat and getting good exercise. In fact, I recently tried something new: a FitDeck.

FitDeck Exercise Playing Cards are a group of exercises, each one printed on an individual card of playing card stock. There are 56 cards in the basic packs (there are several different basic packs, and also several 26 card “Booster Packs” with more specific exercises.) I purchased the Bodyweight pack – no exercise equipment needed. Just you.

Fair warning, the Bodyweight pack isn’t easy! The first thing I did was look at all the cards, and take out the one that I don’t feel I can perform just yet. I didn’t throw them away; I keep them close and if/when I get into good enough shape to try something more advanced, I’ll slip a few back into the rotation. But right now I’m a loooooong way from that happening.

So every morning, I get out and walk. After I finish my walk and rest for a few moments, I walk up and down a “flight” of stairs. It not much of a challenge with only four steps, so I go up and come down as fast as I can, and keep doing it until I’m worn down. And I aim to do it for one more second that I did it yesterday! And then after I catch my breath, out comes the FitDeck. I shuffle the deck, draw a card, and do that exercise. If I’m not “whooped” (A good Southern term meaning “to tired to carry on!”) I reshuffle and draw again.

While the Bodyweight pack is hard, I don’t want to move down to the Junior version – hey, if I can’t do the kid’s exercises, what does that say about me? – nor do I want to move to the Seniors version. What I am thinking of doing is buying several different packs and mixing and matching the cards… creating Steve’s Congenital Heart Defect Customized FitDeck!

Seriously, I tend to get bored too easy – the same routine, day after day, and pretty soon I am not looking forward to it at all. I can give you 16,735 good reasons NOT to get outside and walk, and that is without really trying. And it’s too easy to let it slip.

But my defective heart needs all the strength I can build. And if the FitDeck can keep enough variety in my exercises to keep me interested, that’s just what I need!

Don’t just survive, THRIVE!

October 24, 2008

Live your life.

That’s probably the best three words of advice I can give you. You (or your child) has a Congenital Heart Defect. Certainly there will be times that care has to be taken, adjustments have to be made. With a bad heart, you must take care of yourself first. Don’t volunteer to be on the “tote and load crew” and don’t let anyone volunteer you for something that you aren’t capable of doing. Sometimes you have to use a little trickery; when I worked at the museum I’d always volunteer for a job “if someone will help me.” When I got tired, I’d say “Hey, you look a bit tired, let’s take a quick break so you can catch your breath!” (Sneaky, huh?)

You have a Heart Defect, but the defect does not have you. Never give up and never give in. Exercise will build your stamina and allow you to do more later. Don’t have an exercise program? Talk to your doctor. Personally, I walk. Start at 15 minutes a day and walk until you are used to walking that 15 minutes. The next day, walk 20 minutes. Increase your time every few days – you’ll feel pretty tough those first few days, but after a while, you’ll feel your extra stamina kicking in when you need it. (Don’t take medical advice from me, since I’m not a doctor. This is what works FOR ME. Ask your doctor’s advice!)

Get involved. Find a good Congenital Heart Defect support group and participate. Share your story – who cares if you stumble and stutter at first? The more times you tell it, the more comfortable you will be. Be there for others when they are going through a rough time. Stand duty in a hospital with a family that needs your support. Volunteer to stay while they get lunch or some much needed rest. Support one another in person and online.

Teach by example. Wear a CHD Survivor T-Shirt. Participate in fundraisers. Get a customized license plate like one of my blogger friends has: HRT MOM. My friend Rachel has it right: “I’m a heart warrior!” I LOVE THAT PHRASE! I think that from now on, I’ll refer to adults with a Congenital Heart Defect as Heart Warriors. We fight battles that you can’t even begin to imagine!

Encourage research. Write your Representative at all levels of government. Make sure CHD issues become a priority. And hope for the day when all Cardiac Kids, Heart Moms and Heart Dads, and Heart Warriors can say, “There will be no more like us.”