Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dream Team

Gyms are like a second home to me. I have logged countless hours doing cardio, weights and stretching in rooms with multiple sweaty and smelly bodies. I may glance annoyingly at the thirtysomething with a great tan and taut muscles working out next to me, but I have never been intimidated by whoever or whatever I encountered during my workouts. That changed after surgery last fall. At the recommendation of the surgeon and with encouragement from Dr. Scheinberg I embarked on a 24 session program to rehabilitate my remaining lung and restore muscle tone to a body that had not lifted a free weight since April 2008.

The prospect was daunting. Last November I strapped on the oxygen and spent 10 to 15 minutes on various machines trying to build up respiratory capacity. Then I was handed a set of pink free weights. Not a good sign, I thought, and I was right. Two lbs. That was an emotional punch for someone accustomed to (relatively) heavy lifting. Then came the December setback and I retreated from even this mild exertion.

In January, with a few weeks of Tarceva under my belt, I was determined to once again participate in the rehabilitation program. 10 to 15 minutes of cardio turned into 15 to 20 minutes, gradually increasing to 45 minutes on a single machine. A little incline and some speed didn't make me sweat but I knew I was getting somewhere. I'm not doing any heavy lifting, and may never get back to where I was, but I have definitely progressed from the pink two pounders.

The thing is, I did not do any of this on my own. With every step I took and every weight I hefted there they were. Kim, Prince and Megan (r to l). At first I needed oxygen, and frequent O2 saturation, blood pressure and heart rate measurements. Gradually I stabilized and the need to monitor my every move subsided. But whenever I looked out of the corner of my eye, there they were.

I have now graduated from the program and received my certificate. I am free to exercise wherever and whenever I please. But I just can't seem to leave the warmth of the small gym and the watchful eyes of the therapists. Maybe someday. But not yet.