In preparation for my trip to Europe, I have intensified my fitness routine. My routine is already fairly grueling for a lung transplant patient. But in anticipation of extended walking periods, including hills and steps, I feel I have to up my workouts to two times a day, three to four days a week.
Currently, my oxygen saturation hovers around 93 percent when I am at exertion. I would like to get that number to 94 percent and my heart rate in the 80 to 85 range. My heart rate at exertion is 90 to 95 at the present.
My wife and I will be going to Poland, Italy, Greece, and Austria. Each of these countries will present its own obstacles for me. I received a single lung transplant in December 2015. Essentially, I am working with one lung. I’m also carrying about 250 pounds on a large frame.
I do take precautions to avoid overly exerting myself and having my oxygen saturation fall below 90 percent. One of the precautions I must take is to make sure my wife does not walk too fast because I will try to keep pace with her. I rectify this by holding her hand when we walk; at least I can slow her down to my speed.
I don’t walk at a super slow pace (1 mile in 27 minutes), but I am not as fast as most people. I am the most successful at keeping a steady pace when walking on a flat plane; however, when there is any sort of incline, I have to slow my pace. I carry my oximeter most places. Some may think I am anal, but this is how I control my oxygen saturation and heart rate.
The prednisone that transplant patients take can limit our ability to attain muscle mass and gain strength. In my ongoing recovery from transplant surgery, I feel I have overcome this tendency. I work hard trying to remain fit and keep my lungs in shape. I do various forms of cardio and lift weights, working on all parts of the body, but placing extra emphasis on building up the strength and stamina in my legs.
During preparation for the trip, I will be working each body part twice a week instead of once per week. I plan to increase the weight I am lifting and the number of sets. Getting my weight down to 240 pounds would be a plus; it would make my doctor extremely happy. I can do this by increasing the intensity of my cardio program and eating healthier.
I feel lucky to not have any other transplant-related comorbidities; this allows me to focus on continued rehabilitation. I stay healthy 90 percent of the time; however, every March, I seem to catch some respiratory virus. My doctor thinks my wife might be a carrier of these viruses, as she works as a teacher. Even when taking precautions, things happen.
From now until we leave — and for the duration of the trip — I’m going to cross my fingers and pray I stay healthy. The last thing I would want is to become ill in another country.
How do you prepare yourself for a trip? Leave your comments below.
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