Thursday, April 24, 2008
Stronger Than Ever
When I was in the hospital a therapist told me he heard that, for a paralyzed person, taking a shower was the cardiovascular equivalent of an able-bodied person running up a flight of stairs.
That idea stuck with me and I remember later thinking as I was struggling up a flight of stairs and out of breath, how many showers does this equal? And still later as I reached our apartment door with a bag of groceries: How many Everests was that?
I can go up and down stairs a bit faster now. When I first got home, it took about three and a half minutes per flight –– with someone guarding my every step. But I still get out of breath every time. So it occurred to me to wonder, is my average trip to the store equal to an aerobics class? Well maybe it’s not that intense but I think I’m seeing some of the benefits.
I’ve been noticing that lately I can cycle faster. I can swim an entire pool length on a single breath. At a recent doctor’s visit, a nurse who didn’t see me walk in, took my pulse and blood pressure and told me I must be a runner. (ha!) I just figured the instruments were inaccurate, as they often are. But this morning I counted my pulse and it was 56 (!). I remember well from having my vitals checked three times a day in the hospital, my normal rate then was about 75.
Could all my struggling and huffing and puffing be a form of physical conditioning? Is all this making my heart and lungs stronger?
Thinking back to the hospital again: I was in a Guided Imagery class once and the therapist suggested an image I’ll never forget. He said, “Picture yourself, some time from now, stronger than you’ve ever been.”
I held on to that idea for a while, thinking, “I’ll be all better and get in good shape, to boot.” Later it became, “I’ll be able to handle anything after this,” and then “With all the love and caring surrounding me, I’ll become spiritually stronger.” In some ways I think all of this has come true.
Pictured: A little bit of Belgian candi sugar I fashioned for Lisa while making the latest batch of beer.